Unreached India: Voices from Chattisgarh - A talk by Himanshu Kumar
Thu, June 23, 2011 • 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM • ENS 109
A spectacular land of rivers and forests. A native population being forced off its lands by vested interests. A disingenuous state. Sound like a Hollywood movie ? But this is reality for the people of Chattisgarh, a state of 35 million people in central India. Known for its great natural beauty and wealth, the Chattisgarh of today has become a site of violent confrontation, with its tribal population trapped in a conflict between insurgents (also called 'Naxalites') and the government.
Himanshu Kumar arrived in this land twenty years ago to live with the tribals and follow up on a promise he made to them on a visit from Delhi with some friends. He and his wife painstakingly learnt Gondi, the local language and settled into the local milieu. Travelling on foot into villages deep inside the forests, they focused on teaching tribals about their entitlements, slowly tugging isolated communities into the democratic system. They set up the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA), an organization that served as a nerve-connection between Adivasis and an indifferent government, until it was razed to the ground last year by local police. Now branded a sympathizer of the insurgents by the police, Himanshu Kumar has set out to tell the story of Chattisgarh's tribals to his fellow Indians and the world.