Should every hungry hand pick up arms?
This is in reaction to reports coming post Dantewada. Some revolutionary writers are trying to defend the naxal movement saying it stems from poverty. Just because people don’t have ‘roti’, they pick up arms.
To some extent, it can be justified. No mother can bear the sight of her wailing hungry children day in day out. But is that the only way to fight hunger?
Perhaps not! There are reports emanating from all over the country about brave men and women who are finding legal ways to fight hunger – that too without depending on the government aid. Sometimes, I feel the government’s policies of providing easy loan and subsidies actually kill the killer’s instinct.
Here I recall a lesson that I learnt from women of Bhandara in Maharashtra. Every day they trek on the road to their economic development, layered with danger. Guess what gives them strength—their traditions and beliefs.’ One of them told me, “Baba would never harm us.” I thought she was referring to robbers or dacoits, active in the dense forest that she trudges every day to earn bread and educate children.
“We call a tiger Baba. He often warns his presence by pounding the mud; either we move away or yeroo (tiger) goes away. He also guards us from other wild animals,” Sushi Kala Dhurve in Koknagad village had told me. She has been going to the jungle for past 25 years.
Hard to believe, but they insist: “The tiger is our God, how can he harm us.” Other animals that they encounter every visit are wild elephants, leopard, deer et al.
Women from Koknagad, Golewada, Munsi, Khapa, Ranwadi villages surrounding the thick Sakoli forest in Bhandara visit forest every alternate day to pick up leaves for making patravali- leaf plate. They go deep inside the dense forests, plucking and picking leaves, putting them in their sacks they carry on their backs. The only precaution that they take is of moving in a group of 20 to 25 with two men providing the protective cover.
Next day they tie these leaves into disposable ‘patravalis’ still considered cheaper and hygienically better than the paper and plastic plates.
What worries them, however, is the growing scarcity of Char Mahua leaves, from which pattals are made, and Sheelka, used for binding them. Thanks to the flourishing Indian customs and ceremonies, these courageous women have never been short of work.
And look at the men, they work as daily wagers only to spend their earnings on liquor.