Sunday, September 07, 2014

How James Watt contributed in the criminal act of ‘The Criminal Tribes Act’?

James Watt patented the steam engine in 1781, which took the shape of the Railway locomotives by mid nineteenth century and eventually motivated the British rulers in India in 1845 to construct the railway line. This decision of the East India Company changed the fate of hundreds of communities, tribes and millions of people in India, who were in romance with nomadism. According to History of East India Railway written by G Huddiston, Sir Macdonald Stephenson was the founder of the East India Railway and signed the first contract of constructing the railway first railway line in India of around 1000 miles on August 17, 1849. This contract changed India forever.

Soon British realized that, tons of wood and thousands of human labor will be required for this giant task, which was distributed in different phases. In 1871, when the railway line construction was in progress the British passed a law called The Criminal Tribes Act and the families were confined in settlements. The females were forced to remain home, while males of these tribes were used as the labor to construct the railway lines.

At the center of this law were over a hundred tribes (Chhara was one among the first tribes to be notified as the criminal tribe) and the number kept on increasing. When the act was repealed in 1952, there were 191 tribes notified as criminal tribes (like Chhara).
James Watt, in 1781 would have not imagined that his invention will change the lives of not only few hundreds of tribes, but always their coming generations.

The stigma of the criminal tribes still continues and Budhan Theatre has been working to wipe out this image. For this we have been making and performing the plays that connect to these communities. The performances are either in the street theatre form or in the proscenium format.   
Budhan Theatre (BT) had been selecting and performing the classic plays of national and international relevance as well as the plays written by its members, but a continuous pressure to perform a play in Gujarati language always remained, especially by the writer community, theatre artists and other friends from the state. All of them had one common question – why don’t you do a play in Gujarati?

Well, here is the answer to the question. To mark the celebration of sixty-third Denotification day, BT presented a play called Pata (literal meaning in English is the Railway Track) on September 7, 2014, Sunday at the Diamond Jubilee Hall of Gujarat Vidhyapith. The play, even though does not peek into the historical aspect of the railways and the NT DNTs but reveals the struggle of these stigmatized communities.

The play, was applauded by around 200 people, including the people from different segments of the society like artists, activists, writers and students. The one hour play connects three different stories of the nomadic and denotified tribes(NT/DNT) of Gujarat and their struggle to survive while in conflict with the government and the mainstream society.

The play depicts the stories of three different communities – Nat, Chamtha and Nayak communities and the problems that they face while living in Gujarat. The script is originally written by Gujarati writer and DNT activist Kanji Patel, while Dakxin Bajarange had added more elements to it. The play is performed by the artists of Budhan Theatre, while play got its music from Nomad Band of BT through Anish Garange Chhara.

It was meeting between me, Dakxin and Kalpana held at his office in Navrangpura before few months that gave us the idea of requesting Kanjibhai to write a script for us. We were thinking of adapting any Gujarati play and reframe it in Budhan’s style, but eventually the idea of Pata hit us.

The performances of the play will be held more in the city.

You can call Dakxin (9712677042) or Kalpana (9638999759) for any other details about the play or can email me. 

What people said after seeing the first performance:-

photo courtesy: The  Hindu
SD Desai, theatre critic, said, “I have seen Budhan Theatre from its very first production. Giving 44 productions in 15 years is not a joke. Let’s redefine the meaning of ‘Amazing.’ This play is truly amazing. I don’t want the Budhan Theatre to thank to the people to come and watch the play, but I on behalf of the audience of the Ahmedabad want to thank Budhan Theatre for giving such marvelous productions. I am a witness to formation and development of Budhan Theatre and also in the development of its members like Dakxin and Kalpana.”

Rajendra Patel, Writer Gujarat, Board Member, Budhan Theatre Society: 
“This is amazing play. I appeal to the people to please give funds to Budhan Theatre for further performance of this production.”  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Every Sunday Happening Sunday

Dear Friends, This is an announcement to everyone who follows the activities of Budhan Theatre. If you are here in the city on any Sunday, do not forget to visit Chharanagar Library - the headquarters of Budhan Theatre. We have recently launched a program called Every Sunday Happening Sunday (ESHS), under which everything and anything that connects to Youth, Kids and Professionals of the community will be either discussed or some events related to these groups will be followed. 

The program was launched on Sunday - August 25 2013, with an event of Drawing Competition as the Library. One hundred and fifty students enrolled for the competition and 90 turned up during the competition. The participants were divided into three groups - Class 1 to 4, Class 5 to 10 and Class 11 to above. A total of three awards in each group were given and the competition was judged by Nationally renowned Painter Shri Bhanwarsingh Pawar.

Seeing to the enthusiasm of the participants, Shri Pawar promised to conduct a five days Painting Workshop for the kids of chharangar. We are in process to plan this workshop.   

Budhan Theatre is committed to provide creative platform to the upcoming artists in all any field of art. Such competition will prepare the students to face the competition, to evaluate them as well as help us to know the interests of the kids and accordingly the activities which interests the kids and youths of chharanagar can be planned.

See the photographs of the first event. 

Keep watching for the next activities. 



Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Barack Obama's victory speech: Full transcript

Barack Obama: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. 
Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. 

It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people. 

Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.

I want to thank every American who participated in this election. (Cheers, applause.) Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time -- (cheers) -- by the way, we have to fix that. (Cheers, applause.) Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone -- (cheers, applause) -- whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference. (Cheers, applause.)

I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign. (Cheers, applause.) We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service. And that is a legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. (Cheers, applause.) In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

(Cheers, applause.)

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America's happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden. (Cheers, applause.)

And I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago. (Cheers, applause.) Let me say this publicly. Michelle, I have never loved you more. (Cheers, applause.) I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you too as our nation's first lady. (Cheers, applause.)

Sasha and Malia -- (cheers, applause) -- before our very eyes, you're growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom. (Cheers, applause.) And I am so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now, one dog's probably enough. (Laughter.)

To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics -- (cheers, applause) -- the best -- the best ever -- (cheers, applause) -- some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning.

(Cheers, applause.) But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together. (Cheers, applause.) And you will have the lifelong appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way -- (cheers, applause) -- to every hill, to every valley. (Cheers, applause.) You lifted me up the whole day, and I will always be grateful for everything that you've done and all the incredible work that you've put in. (Cheers, applause.)

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym or -- or saw folks working late at a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you'll discover something else.

You'll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who's working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity. (Cheers, applause.) You'll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who's going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift. (Cheers, applause.)

You'll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who's working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home. (Cheers, applause.)

That's why we do this. That's what politics can be. That's why elections matter. It's not small, it's big. It's important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight. And it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter -- (cheers, applause) -- the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America's future.

We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers -- (cheers, applause) -- a country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation -- (scattered cheers, applause) -- with all of the good jobs and new businesses that follow.

We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened up by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. (Cheers, applause.)

We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this -- this world has ever known -- (cheers, applause) -- but also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being.

We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag -- (cheers, applause) -- to the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner -- (cheers, applause) -- to the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president.

That's the -- (cheers, applause) -- that's the future we hope for.

(Cheers, applause.) That's the vision we share. That's where we need to go -- forward. (Cheers, applause.) That's where we need to go. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock, resolve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward.

But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. (Cheers, applause.) A long campaign is now over. (Cheers, applause.) And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead. (Cheers, applause.)

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. (Cheers, applause.) You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.

And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together -- reducing our deficit, reforming out tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do. (Cheers, applause.)

But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us; it's about what can be done by us together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self- government. (Cheers, applause.) That's the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth, the belief that our destiny is shared -- (cheers, applause) -- that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, so that the freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights, and among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great. (Cheers, applause.)

I am hopeful tonight because I have seen this spirit at work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job. I've seen it in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back. (Cheers, applause.) I've seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm. (Cheers, applause.)

And I saw it just the other day in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care. (Cheers, applause.) I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd, listening to that father's story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes because we knew that little girl could be our own.

And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That's who we are. That's the country I'm so proud to lead as your president. (Cheers, applause.)

And tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future. (Cheers, applause.) I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We got your back, Mr. President!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the road blocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. (Cheers, applause.)

America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunities and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love (ph). It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. (Cheers, applause.) You can make it here in America if you're willing to try.

(Cheers, applause.)

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

And together, with your help and God's grace, we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you, America. (Cheers, applause.) God bless you. God bless these United States. (Cheers, applause.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

My visit to the OCCUPY WALL STREET on November 5, 2011

I visited Occupy Wall Street on November 5, 2011 with few of my friends in New York. It was great experience to see the type of agitation planned by the group of people. Of course, there were some homeless people who came there for temporary shelter, but there were large group of people who were really there for a change. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

NAC recommendations submitted to United Nation on Nov 3, 2011

Since I started making the plans to visit America, I was planning to visit the United Nation. When I entered in the Muncie at Indianapolis through the Cincinatti Airport on October 17, 2011, and I represented the denotified tribes of India at the Permanent Forum on the Indigenous Communities of United Nation at its headquarters in New York on Nov 3, 2011. 

Dr Henry Schwarz, a good friend of Budhan Theatre and one of the producer of the film ‘Please Don’t Beat Me Sir’ made on Budhan Theatre, was trying hard from the first day of my visit to fix up an appointment with the Secretary, however, somehow it was not possible and he told me to directly write an email to Ms Chandra Roy-Henriksen, the secretary of the forum.

I managed to write her about myself and the struggle of Budhan Theatre for the fight for self respect to the denotified tribes of India. The appointment was fixed at 10:30 am at the UN office located at Two Plaza, Room DC2-1454 in New York. 

However, after a meeting of around half an hour, I gave a written application to this forum of United Nation. Ms Chandra Roy-Henriksen after hearing about the DNTs of India said that she is aware about the situation of these people in India and have assured me to do whatever is under their mandate for the DNTs of India.

I submitted a petition to the forum requesting it to write to the Indian Government to implement the Suggestions and Recommendations of the National Advisory Council ( as soon as possible. She was first, made familiar  about the formation and failure of the Denotified / Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Commission and later on was informed about the continuous struggle by various activists groups including the Budhan Theatre under the leadership of Dr Ganesh Devi and Mahashweta Devy.

I also submitted a paper on the denotified tribes of India, written by Mr Dakxin Bajrange, one of the key member and director of Budhan Theatre. The petition comprising a covering letter, NAC recommendations and Dakxin’s paper have been submitted to the UN.  

Budhan Theatre, in its long struggle for the rights of DNTs of India and presented itself at many forums, many times with the help of theatre, seminars and talks. Dr Devi and Bajrange earlier represented the DNTs to the same forum in 2007 and this time I represented the forum on November 3, 2011.

Even though the forum works in the limited mandate it will take the relevant actions as well as it will also direct to the Special Repporteur (It’s a French term), to look into the matters of the Denotified Tribes.

I wish something very concrete to come out of this representation.  

Roxy Gagdekar
(Honorary Director, Budhan Theatre)

Monday, March 14, 2011

We will not allow you to live and stop you from dying

At one side when Aruna’s application of Euthanasia was heard in the supreme court of India in Delhi, exactly at that time three Sansi girls of around 10 to 13 years of age were picked up by the Mumbai police from the Kala Ghoda area, when the girls were attaining a fare and were accompanying their parents who came there to sell the new year calendars and maps in the fare.

Every year thousands of people gather at the Kala Ghoda in the month of February for a fare. However there is no importance to any denotified tribal to attain this fare unless their Maps and calendars are sold here. Neelam, Kajal and Neha three girls were attaining the fare when a man in khakhi approached them and offered them a chocolate.

As soon as the three girls in their early teens went to take the chocolate, the man in khaki hold them hard and push all the three girls in a car, which directly was taken to the Dongri.

Dongri is the children’s jail or rehabilitation centre around seven kms away from the Sansi Basti of Kalaghoda. Before the parents could understand anything about, what was the fault of their daughters, the three girls were booked for the begging case. ‘As they are the beggers, they should be put in the jail.’ A cop told to their parents. The parents, including a widow and mother of Neelam, begged before the police officers about their condition and poverty but as we all know nothing happened to the body made of flesh and blood and covered with a khaki uniform.

The girls were booked for the begging case, however, the parents were not informed about the exact sections under which all the three girls were booked. One of their parents called his relative-Ramswaroop Dabghar, in the Sansi basti of Ahmedabad, who eventually informed me about the entire incident.

Initially I struggled to know the exact details of the case. However the details were not known for many days and by that time the families hired a local advocate. The advocate, again was also lacking sensitivity. He took around Rs5,000 from these three families but did not bothered to sign even a single paper to rescue the girls.

It is almost two months since the three girls are lodged in the prison, and their only fault was just to accompany their parents in a fare and help them to earn bread and butter. I was shocked to see Neelam’s mother who was begging for the help and was describing the condition of the three girls in the Dongri.

“They are forced to do all the work, they are forced to wash all the dishes,” the woman told me. My daughter has not done anything and the police just picked them up without any fault, I want my daughter back please help me.” It has been over a month that the girls are still lodged in the prison and there are no chances of them being rescued even for a month more.

After hearing the widow woman, whose husband died because of consumption of excess liquor, I thought to myself, is she at fault at somewhere? What was the fault of her daughter? Why is the family in pain? Does it happens to other people also? Or is it happening with them because they belong to the ex-criminal tribes Sansi. Whatever it may be, currently I am working hard to secure the bail of these three girls. I think to myself as the government want to say—We will not allow you to live and stop you from dying.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

just try to answer the following questions

had you rehearsed for a drama in 45 degree temperature?
Does the heavy sounds of a marriage procession disturbs you, when you are rehearsing for a play?
Do you spend lot of time to remember your lines in the play?
Can you rehearse for the play if, you have to manage all your education expenses on your own?
Can you remain motivated if the people near you don't accepts you and treats you as a second class citizen?

Answering the above mentioned questions could be difficult for any child or person undoubtedly and most of the answers may be negative. But the story is different for the kids of Budhan Theatre, who, irrespective of whatever happens to them just keep on performing.

If someone want to see the real sense of the famous sentence-the show must go on- it is worth visiting the chharanagar library, run by budhan theatre.

A group of young teens are always busy rehearsing in the plays like Charan Das Chor, Accidental Death of an Anarchist and even the plays on the social taboos in the chhara culture.

Do visit us, waiting for you......

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A member of BT to USA for studies.

No one would have thought that the struggle for survival started by the Budhan Theatre in August 1998, will result into the admission of two of its members in National School of Drama and would given enough exposure to Uttar Bajrange to fly to New Jersey in USA to do his post graduation.

Even though Bajrange has nothing to do with the active theatre activism, but he was fortunate enough to get enough exposure for being an active member of Budhan Theatre, which motivated him to contribute to his community by concentrating on his career.

He got support and guidance from the people associated with BT and able to fly to USA to study. For instance he got support from the film maker couple from New York (now in Taiwan) Kerim Friedman and Shaswati Tadulkar. The couple is making a film on Budhan Theatre.

Bajrange is the first one from the chhara community from Ahmedabad to go abroad for studies. He will study in Steven’s college in New Jersey for 21 months starting from January 2008.

Budhan Theatre wishes him a very best of luck and wish he will also play an important role to change the fortune of entire DNT community of India.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

DNT Commission to submit interim report within fifteen days.

*The members of the community and representatives of NGOs demanded the commissioner to submit the report before commencement of next five year plan.
*The commission has not yet submitted the TAG report to the Union government.
*In a close group meeting organised in Baroda on Saturday, the members of DNT/NT/SNT demanded the resignation of the commissioner of the commission.
*The chairman of the commission announced that the commission will sit with some of the members of such communities and the members of TAG on Tuesday, to prepare the interim report.

Roxy Gagdekar

The commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Tribes (DNT-NT-SNT) is expected to submit its interim report by March 31, 2007, after pressure from various representatives of DNT/NT/SNT of the country including Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. All these states have maximum number of DNT/NT/SNT tribes in the country.

In a close group meeting with the representatives of DNT/NT/SNT tribes like Bajanias, Sansis, Madaris, Vadis, Daffers etc,. People from 30 such tribes were present in the meeting along with the members of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG). “The delay in the submission of the report will surely deprived around six crore DNT/NT/SNT people of the country from the provisions for them in the eleventh five year plan,” said an activists and member of TAG, Kanji Patel. The eleventh five year plan will commence from April 18, 2007.

At the end of the meeting the chairman of the commission Dr. Balkrishna Renke announced that the commission will sit with some of the members of such communities and the members of TAG on Tuesday. “One representative from each state Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra will meet the commission on Tuesday,” said the chairman of TAG Dr.GN Devy. Dr.Ajay Dandekar and Dr.Devy will also be present in the meeting to help the commission to submit the interim report within next fifteen days.

“No provisions have been made for the DNT/NT/SNT as the commission failed to submit even its interim report to the union social welfare department,” said another member of TAG, Dr. Ajay Dandekar. TAG had submitted a report of recommendations to the commission, four months, which was supposed to be submitted to the union government in December 2006.

The representatives of the community as well as some NGOs from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka are worried about no provisions for DNT-NT-SNT in the eleventh five year plan if the report is not submitted within next fifteen days. “The commission should submit the TAG report, as interim report to the government so that some provisions can be made in the next five year plan for such tribes,” said advisor, Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch (VSSM), Harinesh Pandya. VSSM is a Gujarat based organisation working for DNT/NT/SNT.

As a result of non-submission of the TAG report into the government there are no provisions for DNT/NT/SNT in the union budget this year. “Similar case would also arise in the eleventh five year plan if the report is not submitted to the government,” said an DNT activist from Karnataka, Dr.Balaguru Murthy.

The commission which was supposed to last up to December 2006, was extended because the it was not able to submit its report to the central government. “The commission is further extended for one more year, but it has even not submitted its interim report, which indicates that the commission is not working properly,” says a representative of Madari Community Babunath Madari.

According to the commission there are around 15 crore DNT/NT/SNT people residing in India.

The mentioned News story written by me, appeared in DNA Money in Ahmedabad Edition on March 20, 2007. It was posted by on my blog on March 22, 2007.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Daffers fight ‘criminal’ tag, turn security guards in villages

*The tribe has entered into a contract with village panchayats to protect farms for a handsome remuneration
*Daffers were one of the 191 tribes labelled as ‘criminal tribes’ by the British
*They continue to be harassed by police

From eking out a living as highway robbers, members of the once “most dangerous” denotified tribe - Daffers - seem to have turned a new leaf earning their livelihood out of guarding fields and doing odd jobs.
The rise in remuneration from guarding fields in the past five years has been the main magnet for the members of this tribe. “We guard fields from thieves and cattle round-the-clock throughout the crop season,” said Latif Usmanbhai Daffer, a resident of Vasna village in Sanand at the inauguration of a photo exhibition organised by Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch (VSSM) in the city. The week-long exhibition, which is an initiative by VSSM and Janpath to bring all denotified and nomadic tribes of Gujarat on one platform, is being held at Seva CafĂ© on the CG Road.
Many of the Daffers engaged as ‘farm guards’ earn over Rs 2-3 lakh per year.
“Earlier, we used to be paid around Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 per month for protecting the fields in a village. But the rate has increased to almost Rs 16,000 motivating many of us to take up this work,” Ahmed Ibrahim Sindi, a Daffer leader of Vijapur town of Mehsana district told DNA Money.
The farm protection business has prospered so much that many Daffers have entered into contract with village panchayats to decide the rates.
“We have standardised rates for protecting farms in various regions. An acre of farm in Saurashtra costs Rs 20 while the same in north Gujarat will cost Rs 100,” said Sindi.
Many members of the tribe have also turned to transport business.
“Those who are in the transport business earn Rs 5000-6000 per month as goods transporters,” Sajan Daffer, a Daffer community leader in Mehsana told DNA Money.
However, the tribe continues to be harassed by police despite the criminal cases against them coming down considerably in the last five years.
“Some of the Daffers are continuously harassed by the police due to the stigma associated with their community. We have even passed a memorandum in our community panchayat to ostracize any member who participates in a criminal activity,” said Sindi.
Explaining how the community got its ‘criminal tag’, Mittal Patel, Co-ordinator of VSSM said, “The British in 1871 had marked around 191 tribes including the Daffers as ‘criminal tribes’ under the Criminal Tribes Act 1871. They even kept them in special jails called settlements.”

published on December 22, 2006 in Ahmedabad Edition of DNA Money.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


One of the friend of budhan theatre, MANJU RAMANAN has written anexcellent article on some of the brave DNT women of India. It is seriesof article, six stories of DNT women have been published in the firstphase.It is good to read this special feature if one wants to know about theINDIAN WOMEN.One of the founding member of 'Budhan Theatre' and theatre activistKALPANA GAGDEKAR'S interview has also been published in it.BUT the most impressive thing to know is the interview of SHYAMLISABAR, the wife of BUDHAN SABAR of West Bengal, the man whose custodialdeath had made a history.

The intro of the article is as follows....

When the oppressed burst into words, they are unstoppable. Theirlexicon resonates withyears of muffled silence that has just been un-gagded. Women fromIndia's denotified tribes(with 40-60 million people), labelled thieves by imperial rule, stillbear the brunt of subversivelaws, false increiminatio and imprisonment. they have been mob-lynched,tortured evenraped. Manju Ramanan meets six remarkable women (Ther could be moresoon) whoboomeranged the chains of oppression, with great courage.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

'Hole in the wall' in chharangar.

Now a days the kids at chharanagar are not seen on the streets playing cricket or gulli danda. They have very easy accessement to the computers and Internet. Yes, the unique concept of hole in the wall is been started here in chharanagar since 14th January 2006. This unique concept allows the students to access the computers for almost 24 hours. The hole in the wall in chharanagar is first in Gujarat. It is been started in chharanagar by Sneh prayas, an NGO working for the underprivilege students. Of cource the NIIT is behind everything. In other words it is a joint venture between NIIT and Sneh Prayas. The Kids here can access the computer and Internet easily.

Most of the parents of these kids had even not seen a computer. Even the kids had not got any chance to work with the machine before this unique concept. Computer is one of the subjects in schools for these kids, but in a period of around half an hour four to five students are been allotted one computer. So the students are never able to understand the system properly. And the number of cyber cafes is very less near chharanagar. The one which exist charge heavily. So it is nearly impossible for the kids of chharanagar to access the computers. But now it is possible for them to work on computers whenever they want.

There will be around twelve more computers kept in this center other than these two computers as 'hole in the wall.' A computer trainning center will be started soon here, where everyone from chhara community would become computer literate. A huge place is been rented by sneh prayas where vocational training center can be started for the chhara people. So there is still a very long way to go, but some very positive things had started here ever in the history of chharanagar.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Struggle of three years resulted in allotment of six houses to Sansis.

The Sansi basti near Maninagar was last demolished before two months. As a result of modernising the city 191 families living here become homeless since last three years. Budhan theatre took the responsibility to resettled them, as soon as possible.

Daxin Bajrange a active member of Budhan theatre is the person who took the challenge to resettle the residents of this ghetto. It took almost three years to daxin to sensitse some of the officers in Ahmedabad Municiple corporation. "It is really very hard to sensitise the local authorities, but we go on doing our work, we took help of many concerned officers and activists." says Daxin.

The Ahmedabad Municiple corporation had announced that they will give houses to six families out of 191 families. "Most of the families have election card and ration card. But these houses are been provided to only those families who had a Jhuppatpatti identity card(Slum identity card), issued by Indira Gandhi Government in 1976." Says Daxin. Rest of the families were also living with these people but they were not able to take care of this document. I lost it(slum identity card) when the municipality came here for encroachment first time befor three years." says Mukesh sansi, a resident of this area.

"udhan theatre will go on doing its work and will try to provide the rest of the families too with some alternate piece of land." says daxin.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Negative reaction of a protest play 'Mujhe Mat Maro Saab' by Budhan Theatre

No one knew that the result of a protest play in front of the IIM-Ahmedabad would leave 250 families of a slum homeless. The play 'Mujhe mat maro saab.(MMMS)'(Don't beat me sir)was performed on 5th jan at 5:30 pm in front of the gate of IIM Ahmedabad. Now around 250 families of tribes like Bharthari(A artist tribe), Rajbhoi, Nat Bajania(A artist tribe) and Harijans. All of them had to even leave their temporary shelters as a punishment by the AUDA (Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority) and Vastrapur Nagarpalika.

The play MMMS is based on the police atrocities on such tribes and encroachment process of the local authorities. Their present plight is been shown very effectively in this play. All the people here in this gheto survive on the petty labour and petty business. Their condition is same as the condition of the Sansi Basti of Maninagar. This ghetto is located near the famous Management Institute of India, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad.

When the play was performed on 5th jan in front of this institution there were many students present as audiance. And exactly on the next day of the performance the temporary shelters of these people was destroyed by the local authorities. There huts were first time broken in 2004 when Ahmedabad city was declared as a metropolitan city of India. To raise their voice and stand on behalf of them Budhan Theatre has made and performed this play on various location like Tejgadh, Baroda, karai police academy(yet to be performed)and many other places. But the reaction of this play is really very dangerous when it was last performed in front of IIM.

"You go away form here or we will beat you and take away all your belongings." This was the statement of an officer on duty of local authority, on morning of 7th jan. "We are very scared and had to run away from here, we want to save our lives, our children and our very less belongings. So there is no other obtion than to run away from here." says a senior citizen here in Ahmedabad. There were around 250 families residing here before 2004. But later the figure decreased to 25 families as a result of continous ecroachment in this Ghetto.

The local Authorities like AUDA and AMC are not ready to help this poor people to provide some alternate land to stay. Budhan Theatre is fighting for this cause since 2004, but the problem is with the testimonies. Very less among them have election identity cards. "We are living here when the IIM and the Andhjan Mandal(An organisation working to help disable people) here was not established, It was almost like a jungle and we settled here, at that time." Says s senior citizen of this locality."How can we have any testimony, We don't know what documents are required to prove oneself that we are the citizens of India." said Rajubhai, a resident of this locality.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is even dangerous than the Killer quake of Gujarat.

It is neither any earthquake nor the result of any war in Ahmedabad. All the huts here are scattered in pieces and the area with 191 houses is now a big open lane so that the area looks more beautiful. Ramswaroop sansi of Ahmedabad was sitting calmly near his broken hut taking care of his very less belongings. He lives in the Sansi Basti (ghetto) in Ahmedbad. It is a small ghetto of Sansis of Ahmedabad. They live in Maninagar, the area from where Narendra Modi the chief minister of Gujarat fought his last Vidhan Sabha Election (legislative elections.)

It is the Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad, who had forced to live them in inhuman conditions. They were living happily here since early '60s, but these happy days came to an end when Ahmedabad was declared as a metropolitan city in Central Budget of 2004. After this the encroachment work (to beautify the city) of the corporation started in double speed. "We are living here since '60, I don't know why we are being forced to move away from here. We have Election cards, Ration cards and all other residential testimonials. But no one is ready to hear us." says Ramswaroop Sansi (50), the local leader of Sansi Basti.
191 families lives in this ghetto, which includes people of Sansi, Rajbhoi, Vaghri and Dom tribes. Almost all of them are forced to again become Nomads. Because their huts have been broken for 10 times since 2004. "We have to spend Rs.1000 to 1500 to reconstruct our huts. The corporation authorities even takes away the scraps with them after breaking our huts." Says Mukesh Sansi, a resident of this area. As the residents here have no other place to live they comes to the same place again and reconstruct their huts. There are many families in Ahmedabad and in other metropolitan cities of India who are scared of the term 'developing the cities' because they have to pay the highest price for the development of cities, i.e. the land on which they lives since decades.

The law says that any family settled in Ahmedabad before 1965, is to be provided with alternate land by the Govt, if they have to be encroached. But it is not been done here. "We settled here in 1960, at that time this area was not too developed. We had seen Ahmedabad developing since many decades, and now they (govt. administrator) say that we are not a part of it and should go out of Ahmedbad." says a nostalgic Ramswaroop. Since the establishment of this slum it was denied from all type of facilities and basic amenities. There is no electricity, no proper sanitation and no water connection. In other words the people here live in very inhuman conditions. "We are still happy here, we urge them not to throw us out of the city. Where will we go and how will we survive." Says a senior citizen of this locality.
Most of the Sansis here survive through petty business. Almost all the sansis male sell maps and charts on the streets of Ahmedbad while the women are very brilliant in making hair weigh. While the Rajbhoi and Vaghri survives on petty labor work. "Everything is disturbed, we are no more able to go for our work. We have to take care of our belongings. During encroachments Corporation staff comes with the police personals, who many times even does atrocities on our people. So we have to remain present at our residence during the encroachment process, if we want to save our children and other family members." says Mukesh Sansi.

Mukesh was able to earn about Rs.100 a day easily by selling the Maps and charts. But now a day he has to remain at his residence. While his wife begs and brings some food daily for them from the immediate vicinity. This is the condition of almost all the families living here.