On the occasion of World Indigenous People’s Day on 9th August, I present the song ‘Ḍuṅgri Latar’ (At the foothills) that talks about the struggle and plight of Muni (name changed), a 14 years old girl, the third generation member of the family working at a stone-quarry situated at the border area of Birbhum and Dumka district. Once it was a serene place, but it has paid a heavy price for the so-called modern development. Now-a-days, it became an area from where thousands of trucks loaded with stone chips move to various towns and cities of our country leaving behind hundreds of Santal villages covered with stone dust and sound pollution. This is also the area where worst human rights violations occur by extracting Adivasi’s Jal, Jungle and Jamin by force, manipulation and even by non-Santals marrying Santal girls to get property and set up stone-quarries.
I met Muni along with her companions and a middle aged Marango (aunt) who works as the mediator of the manager of the stone-quarry to accompany the grown up girls to work in the quarry every day. Muni’s father died of tuberculosis when she was just three years old. As Muni’s mother was unable to provide for herself and her children, a manager of the quarry took responsibility of their family. Muni grew up seeing how her mother interacted with the manager and his friends, the truck drivers, the fellow male workers in the quarry and later joined her mother in the same profession at the age of ten. Muni never went to school. She neither have any idea about the life beyond the world of quarry nor she ever witnessed the rich cultural heritage of her community. Muni is one of the many Santal girls who are trapped in the system which is controlled by local mafia and political leaders.
I dedicate this song to the thousands of Munis who want and hope their plights be discussed in the public domain to find a way out from this modern day slavery.
Source: “Dungri Latar (At the foothills) ll”
Date Visited: 26 October 2021
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“As per a study on human trafficking, the state of Jharkhand has emerged as India’s trafficking hub with thousands of tribal women and girls being trafficked out of the state each year to Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and beyond [while] human traffickers are also involved in many cases of missing children.” – The Wire | Shakti Vahini | Tourism locations | Adivasi tribal bondage slavery trafficking (Safe search) >>
Many brick workers in India are trapped in a cycle of debt-bondage, forced to toil in harsh conditions with little recourse to the law.
Anti-Slavery has recently concluded a successful project on this issue.Working with our partners, we supported improvements in working conditions at 31 brick factories and secured the release of 2,251 workers from debt bondage.
Source: India in 2019: Addressing debt bondage- Anti-Slavery International
Date visited: 21 June 2020
Dr. Boro Baski works for the community-based organisation Ghosaldanga Adibasi Seva Sangha in West Bengal. The NGO is supported by the German NGO Freundeskreis Ghosaldanga und Bishnubati. He was the first person from his village to go to college as well as the first to earn a PhD (in social work) at Viswa-Bharati. This university was founded by Rabindranath Tagore to foster integrated rural development with respect for cultural diversity. The cooperation he inspired helps local communities to improve agriculture, economical and environmental conditions locally, besides facilitating education and health care based on modern science.
He authored Santali translations of two major works by Rabindranath Tagore, the essay “Vidyasagar-Charit” and the drama Raktakarabi (English “Red Oleanders”), jointly published by the Asiatic Society & Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy of Letters) in 2020.
Other posts contributed by Dr. Boro Baski >>
Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust
Registration under Trust Registration Act 1982
P.O. Sattore, Dist. Birbhum
West Bengal-731 236
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