Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chief Justice of India inaugurates National Law University, Orissa, Oct 31, 2009

Report by Dipti Ranjan Kanungo, Bhubaneswar: The National Law University, Orissa (NLUO) promises to be an exciting new development in the field of legal education. Envisaged as a “third generation” law school, it seeks to becoming a leading player on the global stage as well. More significantly, it seeks to break beyond the confines of conventional legal education where black-letter law predominates. In other words, it focusses on “justice studies” rather than law as it is usually understood; its goal is to address law in its larger context, and ensure that its students and research output are finely attuned to ethical and social relevancies. NLUO was inaugurated by the Chief Justice of India and Visitor, NLUO   Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, in the presence of the Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik  and  Other dignitaries  including  Justice. I. M. Quddusi, Chancellor, NLUO and Acting Chief Justice, Orissa High Court; Sh. Devi Prasad Mishra, Minister of Higher Education, Government of Orissa; Sh. Bikram Keshari Arukha, Minister of Law, Government of Orissa; and Prof. N. L. Mitra, former Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU Bangalore and Founder Vice-Chancellor, NLU Jodhpur.
In his address Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, emphasised the importance of legal education in today’s world. Noting that throughout history, the legal profession has played decisive roles in shaping the course of our political and social development, he regretted that the present decline in professional and ethical standards had cast a shadow on the reputation of the bar and the bench alike. He expressed the hope that new law schools such as NLUO would succeed in arresting this trend.
Sh. Naveen Patnaik, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Orissa, touched upon the remarkable economic progress Orissa had made in the last twelve years, and spoke of the state as an emergent knowledge-hub as well. He pointed out that though other states had spent lavishly on national law universities in their states, an institution of learning was not merely about bricks and mortar. He expressed his firm belief that NLUO will achieve its vision of being a ‘third- generation law school’. He extended his fullest support to the institution, and expressed his firm commitment to the University’s cause, particularly in matters of funding and infrastructural development; he assured the audience that a lack of money will never impede NLUO’s progress.
Sh. I. M. Quddusi, the Hon’ble Acting Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court and Chancellor, NLUO, recollected his personal association with the University right from its inception. He spoke on the need for such institutions to emerge and revitalise the legal profession, particularly in a state like Orissa which is witnessing a renaissance in economic development.
Sh. Devi Prasad Mishra, the Hon’ble Minister of Higher Education, Government of Orissa, highlighted the impressive achievements Orissa had made in the field of pedagogy. He pointed to the several prestigious educational institutions that have chosen to set up base in the state, and expressed confidence that Orissa will soon emerge as a global leader in providing education-related services. He pointed to NLUO as a sterling example of this trend, and conveyed his warm wishes to the University.
Sh. Bikram Keshari Arukha, the Hon’ble Minister of Law, Government of Orissa, stressed upon the importance of the law and the legal profession to society. He said that while today the law has become a financially lucrative profession, thanks to high salaries paid by corporate houses and top-flight law firms,
young law professionals such as the students of NLUO should not lose sight of the social responsibilities that they must bear.
Prof. N. L. Mitra, former Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU Bangalore and Founder Chancellor, NLU Jodhpur, began by recalling his long association with the city of Cuttack. Turning to more serious issues, he emphasised that in the highly competititve world of legal education, no institution could survive without paying due emphasis to fundamental research. Moreover, in today’s globalised world, the interests of not only the state but also the nation lies in securing a highly qualified cadre of experts in fields such as corporate law, intellectual property and information technology law.

A Letter to Railway Minister: Rail connection to Bhawanipatna

The Railway Minister, Smt Mamata Banerjee

The President of India, Smt. Patil
The Prime Minister of India, Dr. Singh
The Chief Minister of Orissa, Mr. Patnaik
MPs from Orissa

Dear honorable Railway Minister, Ms. Banerjee,
Kalahandi region is considered along with special category states by Union Government of India when it comes to irrigation project. However, infrastructure development is the key to the success for such a backward region. Unfortunately in railway development Kalahandi is being neglected severely and has not yet been considered by our honorable Prime Minister to give special status along with special category states.

It is clearly evident from struggling ongoing projects such as Lanjigarh road – Junagarh in Kalahandi. In last couple of years Indian Railway has committed 50,000 crore investment only in Bihar for various ongoing and new projects where as above line is struggling for completion since past 20 years.

Fortunately, in the 2009-2010 railway budget Lanjigarh road- Bhawanipatna railway was scheduled to be completed. Kalahandi must be connected to rest of the country. Therefore, we request you to kindly extend Howrah-Titlagarh Ispat Express, Bhubaneswar-Balangir express, Raipur – Kesinga passenger, Vizag - Rayagada passenger, Vijaywada – Rayagada, Jharsuguda-Titlagarh Passenger to Bhawanipatna in the coming railway budget. Similarly, new train should be introduced from Bhawanipanta to Vishakhapatnam.

In the past Central Government has established HAL project in Sunabeda, Koraput and Ordinance factory in Balangir, both of which has brought employment potential in the local level. However, Kalahandi region was never considered by Union Government of India for any major industrial development such as in engineering, railway units etc and rather has been marginalized since independence due to political negligence.

On the other hand, national politicians have often used backwardness of Kalahandi to show case their eagerness towards the poor people in the society though they fail to scrutinize high rate of unemployment rate among semi-skilled and skilled laborer in the region.

Indian Railway has proposed to establish new factory in UP, Bihar and Kerala. Kalahandi is centrally located in South and Western Orissa including KBK, Kandhamla, Boudh, Gajapati and Bargarh districts. A factory based on engineering in Bhawanipatna region will enormously benefit Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur, Bargarh and Malkangiri equally as it is centrally located to all the districts.

Similarly, a new East Coast railway division in Kalahandi will help to speed up the railway projects in Kalahandi, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Boudh, Nuapada, Balangir, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Gajpati, Sonepur, Bargarh and Malkangiri districts many of which are poorly connected by Indian railway.

For overall development of the region development of Kalahandi is important and I urge you to specially consider railway project in Kalahandi region as urgent and

(i)                 Extend Howrah-Titlagarh Ispat Express and Bhubaneswar-Balangir express to Bhawanipatna by renaming as Howrah – Bhawanipatna Ispat Express and Bhubaneswar – Bhawanipatna express respectively. 

(ii)               Extend Raipur – Kesinga passenger, Vizag - Rayagada passenger and Vijaywada – Rayagada passenger to Bhawanipatna.

(iii)              Similarly, extend Jharsuguda-Titlagarh passenger to Bhawanipatna and Rourkela

(iv)             Accomplish Bhawanipatna – Jungarh line completely in coming financial year and extend the railway link to Dharamgarh

(v)               Approve new Kantabanji – Khariar – Dharamgarh – Ampani – Nabarangpur – Jeypur railway line

(vi)             Establish a Coach factory in Bhawanipatna region

(vii)           Establish a new East Coast railway division in Lanjigarh road/Bhawanipatna for railway development especially in KBK-Kandhamal-Boudh region. 

Thanking You

With best regards

Friday, October 30, 2009

Update on AIIMS-like institutions tenders/nits worth Rs. 1908 Cr for the main civil packages for six new AIIMS-like institutions invited

PIB, Oct 30, 2009

Government of India has launched the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) with the objective of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable/reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education and research in the country. Under the Ist phase of this scheme, six new AIIMS-like institutions are being set up, one each in the States of Bihar (Patna), Chattisgarh (Raipur), Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal), Orissa (Bhubaneshwar), Rajasthan (Jodhpur) and Uttarakhand (Rishikesh) at an estimated cost of approximately Rs 820 Crores per institution. Each of these institution will have a 960 bedded hospital (500 beds for the medical college hospital; 300 beds for Specialty/Super Speciality departments; 100 beds for ICU/Accident and trauma. In addition 30 beds for Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PMR) and 30 beds for Ayush have been kept. This would be full fledged multi-disiciplinary healthcare institution offering facilities in 42 speciality/super-speciality disciplines. Medical College will have an annual intake of 100 UG intake besides imparting PG/doctoral courses in various disciplines. Nursing College will also have 100 UG intake and 25 PG intake annually.

The respective State Governments have provided 100 acre land free of cost. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India engaged eminent architectural firms to prepare the designs and drawings. The architectural/DPR Consultants were selected on global competitive basis. The Project Consultants have also been selected for each site on the basis of open competitive bids. Project Cell at the sites comprising engineering, finance and administrative set up has been constituted and posts are being filled up on deputation basis from other Central Govt./State Govt. organizations.

The construction work has been split into 7 different packages, depending on the functional /sequential requirement and core specialization needs. Tenders/NITs for the main civil packages viz. (i) Civil works for Medical College, Nursing College, AYUSH and Hostels, (Patna, Raipur, Bhopal); and (ii) Civil works for Hospitals – OPD Complex including all internal services and specialized works are being invited. The total cost of these two packages is between Rs.250 – 300 Crore for each site, totaling Rs. 1908 Cr. for all six sites.

The salient features of the tenders /NITs issued on 2nd Nov. are as follows:-
(i) All detailed engineering drawings have been prepared.
(ii) Environmental clearance has been obtained for 5 out of 6 sites and is being obtained for the remaining site (Bhopal).
(iii) Medical College Complex will be built in 15 months time.
(iv) The Hospital – OPD complex is to be built in 24 months.
(iv) Apart from ensuring timely payment, there are very strong incentive clause for early completion with a bonus of 1% of the tendered value per month computed on per day basis, subject to maximum of 5%.
(v) Like-wise there is a strong disincentive clause/penalty if the project is delayed.

Pre-bid Conference is scheduled for 16th November, 2009. Last date of receipt of bids would be 3 Dec 2009

A good article by Dr Sanjib Karmee in "Dharitri" to establish University in Kalahandi by Vedanta

Dharitri, Oct 29, 2009

Put an end to ragging on campuses

Expressbuzz, Oct 30, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Governor and Chancellor of Universities Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare today directed all the universities in the State to ensure ragging-free atmosphere in their campuses.

Acting on a communique from the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Chancellor Bhandare convened a meeting of Vice-Chancellors of all universities to review the steps taken by the authorities of the institutions to end the menace of ragging and harassment of students. He instructed the authorities to adopt a zero-tolerance stance towards such activities and deal with them firmly.

The Chancellor also reviewed the progress of his brainchild “Project Gyanlok”, which involves universities through their NSS wings to improve literacy rate among tribals, educating girl children and bringing back dropout children to schools. Every university is required to adopt villages for interventions.

As per the reports produced before him, North Orissa University has adopted six villages resulting in enrolment of 300 students. About 110 NSS units with 5,500 volunteers are involved in the project. The Fakir Mohan University has brought about enrolment of 295 students of which 150 were fresh and 145 dropout. The interventions covered 113 villages.

Sambalpur University has adopted 247 villages and Sri Jagannath University 21. Berhampur University has adopted 240 villages and effected an enrolment of 1,831 students of which 223 are fresh and 1,608 dropouts. OUAT has adopted six villages in three tribal districts of Nuapada, Kalahandi and Kandhamal effecting enrolment of 170 students. In a positive move, the Krishi Vigyan Kendras in the districts have been involved to hold skill enhancement programmes for students as well as villagers. Ravenshaw University has adopted two slums Behera Sahi and Dasa Sahi in Cuttack for the project.

Bhandare also took stock of the progress of Telemedicine in the State.

Vice-Chancellors of all Universities and Nodal Officer of Orissa Telemedicine Project Prof BN Mohanty were present among others.

Non-coastal districts more vulnerable to floods

Expressbuzz, Oct 30, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: If you think coastal districts have high relative vulnerability to flood, then you might be wrong. For, tribal dominated non-coastal districts like Gajapati, Kalahandi, Boudh, Koraput, Kandhamal, Jharsuguda, Nabarangpur and Sundargarh are with higher risk index because of the low exposure to the population.

On the other hand, lower relative vulnerability is found in developed districts like Kendrapara, Jajpur, Balasore, Bhadrak and Puri as majority of the population is exposed to flood.

On an average about 16 lakh people are found exposed every year to flood risk, according to a report, ``Orissa Natural Hazards and Disasters: Vulnerability Analysis and Risk Management.’’ During the last 38 years more than 11 crore people were affected and nearly 50,000 killed by natural disasters. In Orissa, for every person killed about 2,224 are exposed to the disasters like flood, cyclone, fire and health hazards and for every one lakh exposed population, the number of houses fully destroyed is 1,250 and that of partially damaged ones is nearly 3,000. For every one lakh population, the loss of property is nearly Rs 8 crore, it said.

While four major hazards are responsible for 88 per cent of the total number of deaths, the report has found that human casualty being the only major impact parameter, data regarding other parameters like loss of property, population size, loss of property seems to be partial and less dependable.

Principal investigator Prof. GK Panda of the department of Geography, Utkal University, said while up to 4 lakh people were found exposed in a year to tropical cyclones, about 26,700 were exposed to fire, 8.5 lakh to health hazards and 70-80 casualties occurred due to lightning and heatwave.

While high relative vulnerability was found in Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Ganjam and Angul districts for tropical cyclones, Nuapada, Mayurbhanj, Koraput, Kalahandi, sambalpur and Rayagada and Jagatsinghpur experienced maximum risk from fire, he said.

On an average health hazards kill 700 persons in a year and Rayagada, Jagatsinghpur, Koraput, Boudh, Malkangiri and Kalahandi districts show higher risks.

Likewise, more deaths due to lightning were reported from districts like Cuttack, Mayurbhanj, Khurda, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Ganjam and Kendrapara and due to heatwave from Jajpur, Sambalpur, Nayagarh, Jagatsingpur, Angul and Cuttack.

The report was prepared in collaboration with Orissa State Disaster Mitigation Authority and the UNDP.

Panel soon to monitor executing agencies

Expressbuzz, Oct 30, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The State Government has decided to constitute a sub-committee headed by the Development Commissioner to monitor progress of strengthening integrated tribal development agencies (ITDAs) for implementation of Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Project (OTELP).

A decision to this effect was taken at the eighth programme steering committee meeting presided over by Chief Secretary TK Mishra. As the OTELP is being executed through the ITDAs, it was decided that the agencies will be strengthened by more funding and filling up of vacancies. The ITDAs can also outsource the implementation of the OTELP.

OTELP launched in October, 2004 will be implemented in three phases. The first phase has been executed between 2004 and 2006 while the second phase started in 2007 will continue till 2011. The third phase will be completed in 2013-14.

The Rs 450 crore project is being funded by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the World Food Programme and the Centre.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has requested the DFID to extend the funding of the programme beyond March, 2010.

The review of the project implementation revealed that so far Rs 125 crore has been spent on the project. The budget for this year has been fixed at Rs 63.5 crore of which Rs 13.64 crore had already been spent. This includes Rs 1.34 crore for programme management, Rs 1.28 crore for capacity building and Rs 11.01 crore for livelihood enhancement.

Official sources said that 7,321 landless families were identified in the areas covered by the project of which 3,524 families have been provided with homestead and agricultural land. Applications of 3,020 families have already been processed in the district committees.

So far OTELP has covered 56,018 households having a population of 2.2 lakh in the project areas. OTELP is being implemented in Koraput, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Gajapati districts. Eleven non-government organisations (NGOs) were selected at the meeting today for execution of the programme in Rayagada, Nabarangpur and Malkangiri districts.

Following the implementation of the project, farm output has increased in the covered districts. Besides, there has been 40 per cent increase of income among the targeted population.

Students take out awareness rally

The Pioneer, Oct 30, 2009

Bhawanipatna: School students here took out a mass rally on the occasion of the Odisha Disaster Preparedness Day and National Day for Disaster Reduction on Thursday. The rally, an attempt to create awareness among the people, was flagged off by ADM Chudamani Seth. A prize distribution function felicitating meritorious students was also held at the Collector conference hall, with district Collector R Santhgopalan gracing the occasion as the chief guest. Former Principal Akshya Kumar Nanda and DRDA Project Director Lingaraj Rath were also present on the occasion.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kalahandi and Nuapada gets centrally assisted polytechnic colleges

NOTE: This is what Prof. G. B. Behera had pointed earlier in Kalahandi Sikhya Vikash Parisad, however, I had missed in the news and was not sure. It is confirmed now. I was also informded that Odisha cabinet had approved a polytechnic college in 1986/1996 in Kalahandi, which did not matarialize later on.

Centre grants funds for polytechnics
Expressbuzz, Oct 29, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has sanctioned funds for establishment of Government polytechnics in 14 districts of the State.

Each of the institutes will receive a one time grant of Rs 12.30 crore from the Centre for infrastructure development while the State Government will take care of the recurring expenditure, including staff salary and administrative expenses.

The Government polytechnics will be located in districts having no such institutes.

Orissa has 13 technical institutes including three women polytechnics offering diploma courses in various trades. However, these institutes are limited to only nine districts and most of them are located in coastal region.

The new polytechnics will be opened in seven Naxal-affected districts of Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Gajapati, Sambalpur, Jajpur, Nayagarh and Deogarh.

The other districts selected for the Centrally assisted technical institutes are Boudh, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Sonepur.

Sites for the proposed polytechnics have been selected in respective district headquarters.

The Government will provide at least 10 acres of land for each of the polytechnics free of cost.

The new polytechnics will start functioning from the next academic session. The new institutes will use the facility of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) wherever available and subsequently shift to their own campus, Director of Technical Education and Training VVS Yadav told this paper.

Construction of administrative buildings and industrial training sheds of the new polytechnics will be done by Infrastructure Development Corporation of Orissa Limited, Orissa Small Industries Corporation and Public Works Department. The construction contract will be awarded next month, he said.

The Directorate of Technical Education and Training has reportedly submitted a proposal on the number of branches to be opened, intake capacity in each trade and the number of teaching and non-teaching staff to be recruited to the Government for approval. Senior officers of the Industries Department recently discussed the issue with the Finance Department as the Government will bear the expenditure towards staff salary.

According to a conservative estimate, each polytechnic will have at least 50 staff. The Government will take a decision on recruitment of staff on permanent or contractual basis.

The Government had already submitted a proposal to the Centre for financial assistance for opening Government polytechnics in the remaining seven districts.

Does mining always lead to hazards?

By Dr Bhagban Mallick
Retired Professor of Geology

While delay in execution of industrial projects has become a matter of concern for the State, some already operational projects are being opposed by different groups of people over different issues. In this context, I want to cite the example of the protests against the mining project of Vedanta Aluminium Limited at Niyamgiri Hills in Lanjigarh of Kalahandi district. Many people and organizations are opposing this project despite a Supreme Court judgment which has approved it. They are raising voice against the project on the grounds of apprehensions regarding environmental hazards and adverse effects on the lives and livelihood of the Dongria Kondhs residing in this area. But before reaching any conclusion, we must verify whether these apprehensions are true.

In this context, I want to give the example of Panchapatmali bauxite mining site, where Nalco is carrying out its mining operations since a long time. Villages still exist in the foothill of the mining site and people are engaged in agricultural activities. While the anti-Vedanta activists and NGOs are repeatedly claiming that bauxite mining will dry up all rivers and streams from the hill, this is not true. The environment of the area will also not be adversely affected as mining will be carried out in an environment-friendly manner. So, the opponents of Vedanta should stop misleading the innocent tribals.

The other concern of the anti-Vedanta activists pertaining to the socio-economic condition of the Dongria Kondhs will also be addressed as per the directive of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) has already been set up for the welfare and sustainable development of the people of the Lanjigarh in line with the judgement of the Supreme Court and it’s first meeting under the chairmanship of the Revenue Divisional Commissioner of Southern Range Mr Satyabrata Sahoo was held to discuss the further course of action.

So, the allegations and apprehensions of the anti-Vedanta people seem to be unjustified and vague to me. As an aware citizen and retired academician , I think Vedanta should be allowed to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri Hills for the proper utilization of the resources of the state. I request the people of Orissa and the locals of Lanjigarh to support the project without being biased by the opinions of some people with vested interests.

Locals support Bhakta’s package for Vedanta

The Pioneer, Oct 29, 2009

Bikash Khemka | Bhawanipatna

As the debate over the Vedanta Alumina Limited (VAL) is hotting up in Kalahandi district, the locals are now questioning political leaders about their pre-electoral commitment.

On October 15, Bhakta Das had proposed a package containing 35 points for mining at Niyamgiri hill. If VAL did not consider the package it should go for other alternatives at Sirjimali and Somamali for mining bauxite, he had said in the meeting.

On Tuesday, the second round of debate concluded at Town Hall taking the public opinion into account. However, Bhakta did not clarify his political stand at the meeting. But he was successful in clarifying to the people regarding the proposed package in his one hour speech.

Bhakta asserted that VAL has not yet replied over the peoples demand adding that the officials have not even given any further statement to media regarding the proposed package. He also said that another meeting will be held between December 20 and 30 after Parliament session is over and people would decide whether the industry will continue or not with the acceptance or denial of the proposed package.

He maintained that he would continue his agitation in non-violent ways. He said all the decisions were made in favour of the VAL by the CEC and Supreme Court. “So there is no alternative lying with us unless people join the mass movement. Public decision will be more powerful regarding the establishment of industry,’ he added.

Among others, Junagarh MLA Goberdhan Das, Lanjigarh MLA Shibaji Majhi, Green Kalahandi convenor Sidhartha Nayak, CPI(M) president Naba Kishore Pattnaik, CPI general secretary Dama Behera, Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti president Kumti Majhi were present.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

KDDF proposed education development in Western Orissa

Merinews, Oct 28, 2008

Koshal Discussion and Development Forum proposed higher education development in Western Orissa to the Higher Education Task Force and chief minister of Orissa. One of the serious concerns for lower GER in higher education is political negligence.

WELCOMING FORMATION of Higher Education Task Force, members of Koshal Dishcussion and Development Forum (KDDF) has send a proposal to the chief minister of Orissa, Higher Education Task Force and government of Orissa to focus on the development of higher education in various neglected centers of Western Orissa viz Sambalpur, Bargarh, Kalahandi, Balangir and Suderdarh. The members have categorically presented the various reasons for which Western Orissa is having poor literacy rate as compared to coastal Orissa and has lower gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education. One of the serious concerns pointed out was political negligence.

Political negligence
Politically, Western Orissa or Koshal region of Orissa has been seriously neglected in higher education. Most of the new Central government institutions are coming in Cuttack-Bhubaneswar and South Orissa region and not a single one is established in Western Orissa which lacks sufficient number of higher educational and research institutions despite consisting a vast area and population. The state government has at the last moment betrayed for a Central University in Kalahandi and ignored demand of IIT in Sambalpur. Recently, Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) Medical College was also not feasible in Balangir whereas, National Steel Institute was established in Puri instead of Sundergarh. The continuous political negligence towards Western Orissa should be stopped for the betterment of this region in higher education.

Improving faculties in existing major colleges
Without improving present infrastructure GER in higher education will never enhance. Most of the major colleges in Western Orissa are being neglected by state government. Presently, there are many regular vacant faculty posts existing in G M Autonomous College Sambalpur, Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna, Panchayat College Bargarh, Rajendra Autonomous College Balangir, Government Autonomous College Sundergarh etc. In fact, condition of higher education in Western Orissa is further downgraded in the last 10 years by directly affecting GER. For example, Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna (GACB) has 38 vacant regular posts at this moment unlike a decade ago.

There were eight faculties serving in Chemistry department of GACB a decade ago and now only two of them are serving for the whole college. Same is the case in other departments and colleges in Western Orissa. Without adequate number of faculties, how GER in higher education will improve? We propose that within a year, sufficient number of regular faculties should be recruited for the above colleges in Western Orissa on regular basis. As state government claims most of the time faculties from other parts of Orissa are unwilling to serve in Kalahandi, Balangir and other regions of Western Orissa, therefore, regular faculties in this region should be recruited in the local level through local level tests opening the possibility for candidates from the whole state.

Unitary universities and autonomous colleges
G M Autonomous College, Sambalpur and Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna were among first three colleges along with Ravenshaw Autonomous College Cuttack chosen by UGC as ‘Potential Centre of Excellence’ in Orissa. Ravenshaw Autonomous College was converted to a Unitary University by the state government which helps in its growth and getting UGC funding, whereas both G M Autonomous College Sambalpur and Government Autonomous College Bhawanipatna are still being neglected by the state government. These two colleges should be immediately converted to Unitary Universities. Similarly Panchayat College Bargarh, Government Autonomous College Sundergarh and Rajendra Autonomous College Balangir should be expanded to full-fledged educational institutes by opening PG courses including computer sciences, management, biotechnology and nursing.

New Central and state government institutions
Since Western Orissa lacks sufficient number of higher educational institutions and opening new campuses is as expensive as establishing new institution, establishing new central and state government institutions and upgrading present existing institutions to higher level would be beneficial for Western Orissa in general.

A branch of Central Rice Institute should come-up in Bargarh. An Indian Institute of Management should be established in Sambalpur and steel institute in Sundergarh. National University should be established in Western Orissa. Along this line, keeping sentiment of Kalahandi people, the proposed National University in Bhubaneswar should be pursued with the Central government to establish in Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi. Also, we urge to establish the proposed Health University Balangir.

Converting to university
BPUT in Rourkela should be converted to a full-fledged science and technology university having education and research in the line of Anna University Chennai. Similarly, Agriculture College at Bhawanipatna should be converted to a full-fledged agriculture and animal husbandry university. The Harishankar and Gandhamardan Mountain provides adequate atmosphere to have a university for ayurvedic and herbal medicine. We urgue to combine Sri Nrusinghanath Ayurvedic College, Paikmal, Bargarh and the Government Ayurvedic Colleges in Balangir and establish University of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine. VSS medical college should be pursued to be made an AIIMS type institution.

Church's enquiry is illegal, says Vedanta

Merinews, Oct 28, 2009
CJ: Harihpanda

Vedanta Aluminium Company said the enquiry of the church in its project area is against the constitution of India and also violates the guidelines of the Supreme Court. Its promoter Anil Agarwal has expressed his concerns over its investor.

ANIL AGARWAL, promoter of Vedanta Aluminium Company has expressed his concerns over its investor- The Church of England. It said that the enquiry of the church in the project area is against the constitution of India and also violating the guidelines of the Supreme Court.

“But, we respect our investors and they should respect the constitution and also the highest judiciary,” said the chief executive officer of Vedanta Aluminium at Lanjigarh, Mukesh Kumar. “We are happy to show the project area to the church officials. And also make them sure that not a single habitat will be affected by the project. They are respecting the development of the local communities, culture and livelihood,” added Kumar.

Earlier, the Church of England, one of the shareholders of Vedanta has asked its officials in charge of the church's investments to look into this mining company with controversial activities. Where it has a £2.5m share in the mining firm, has been under mounting pressure to withdraw its stake. The officials may come during the second week of November.

When asked whether the company will help the church officials in this matter of enquiry, Mukesh Kumar said it is the duty of every company to respect its investors. And the company will definitely help the officials in full support respecting the constitution and the court. Kumar also said if they remain unhappy with the project, it is their wish to withdraw their money or not. If they withdraw, then it will not affect the company added Kumar.

Vedanta plans an open-cast mine on Niyamgiri mountain in Orissa. Activists believe it will destroy the area's ecosystem and threaten the future of the 8,000-strong Dongria Kondh tribe, who depend on the hills for their crops and water. In the name of investments, the government is also doing a blunder by affecting the environment appealed Prafulla Samantra, secretary of Lokashakti Avijan.

Several non-government organisations (NGOs) like Survival International, Amnesty International, the Bianca Jagger Humanrights Foundationa, Action Aid with support of some local NGOs has been in constant campaign in pressurising the Indian government to withdraw its support. Some of these NGOs have met the church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group on several occasions in an attempt to inform them about Vedanta's activities in Orissa.

Vedanta is so powerful in that area that there is a culture of fear in the area of Vedanta's refinery. So, when the church goes to the area, it is important that they meet people who have been affected by this.

Regional Diagnostic Centre in Kalahandi in Misery

Dharitri, Oct 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Commuters suffer immense difficulties in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Oct 27, 2009
PNS | Bhawanipatna

In wake of western Odisha bandh call on Monday, by the Student Congress all schools remained closed on the directions of Kalahandi district administration. The students of Government Autonomous College locked the college since morning and blocked the road.

The district Student Congress led by president Trilochan Panigrahi, burnt tyres at College Chowk and blocked roads at several places in the town where four wheelers, trucks were stranded for hours. The commuters suffered immense difficulties due to the bandh.

The bandh was also supported by BJP activists who blocked the main road at Ghodaghat Chowk and burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik blaming him for the students’ death at Balangir town.

Business establishments remained closed from 10 am to the evening hours to support the bandh call. Private and Government buses went off the roads.

Speaking to The Pioneer, Kalahandi Superintendent of Police Harmohan Das said that seven students were arrested under section 149 at Bhawanipatna town. The bandh was peaceful with no reports of any untoward incident in the district so far amid heavy deployment of police forces.

Another farmer ends life in Nuapada

The Pioneer, Oct 27, 2009

PNS | Nuapada

In what appeared to be a premeditated step Kusha Dhwaja Majhi, in his forties committed suicide by hanging himself in his house at Tarbod in Nuapada district. Family sources admit it was a case of poverty and large amount of loan from fellow villagers which drove him to take this extreme step.

Jema Majhi, the widow had no inkling of such a drastic step her husband had contemplated when she was sent to her mother’s house a couple of days ago.

Majhi had been cultivating fellow villager Amar Pradhan’s 3 acres of land . The paddy that was grown in the said land was damaged due to drought in the area. Jema admits her husband had taken large loans from more than six persons in the village for cultivation.

The dire condition of the crop had always been a cause of concern for the family. He had borrowed some rice the previous night to cook, informed Majhi’ s neighbour S Majhi . The family neither had cash savings nor foodgrain in the house.

Basanta Panda, former Nuapada BJP MLA has demanded a compensation of Rs five lakh to Majhi’s family. The State has a mandate to provide livelihood to the people & since the State has failed in its duty, it should immediately pay a compensation of Rs five lakh to the family.

The failure of the State’s social security schemes can be gauged from the fact that there has been no NREGA work in the village in the last one year, said Bhanu Prakash Joshi , president of the Nuapada district Congress. Though the Centre pumps in unlimited amount of money under NREGA, the State mechanism has completely failed to utilise such funds to provide livelihood to the people, he added.

Though politicking has gained momentum as agitationists blocked National Highway 217 passing through the district to draw the attention of the Government, Jema looks blankly at the horizon. Majhi had already lent his job card to a middlemen for some money.

Heaving undergone sterilisation operation just a week before, she is unable to do any work. Who will feed my four children, she acclaims helplessly. Though Majhi was allotted an Indira Awas House, his inability to arrange initial money to open a bank account had stalled the entire process.

The claim of the administration of facilitating zero balance accounts is a hoax & the vulnerability of such people have never been understood by the officials which drove him to take the extreme step, added Panda. The administration was quite mum when handing over Rs 10,000 to the family for cremation expenses.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bandh paralyses normal life in Western Orissa

Hindu Buisness Line, Oct 26, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Normal life was paralysed in western Orissa on Monday and train and bus services hit due to a Congress-sponsored bandh to protest the death of two students at Balangir.

Shops and business establishments were closed besides educational institutions and offices. Functioning of courts was also affected as lawyers boycotted work in support of the shut-down in nine districts in the region called by state Congress student wi ng. BJP also backed the bandh in several places including Sambalpur. The bandh was called in protest against the death of two students.

While one died after being knocked down by a police van on Friday at Balangir, another was killed in subsequent violence and police action. With bandh supporters blocking railway tracks at various places three trains were cancelled in Sambalpur and aroun d five others stranded at Brajrajnagar, Jharsuguda and Bargarh, railway sources said.

A large number of vehicles were also stranded due to blockade of NH-42, NH-6 and other important roads. Road traffic virtually came to a halt in most places of districts like Balangir, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Deogarh, Sundargarh, Nuapada and Kalahandi.

The tribal belts of central India and the infamous Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) belt of Orissa have not progressed beyond the medieval ages

- Tribals betrayed A vicious circle More equal
Telegraph (Kolkata), Oct 26, 2009

India is precariously perched between China and Pakistan. The two countries seem to derive a vicarious pleasure in needling this emerging economic power. China has become almost aggressive in asserting its claims over Arunachal Pradesh, even objecting to the innocuous visit of the Dalai Lama. Activities along the Line of Control, both on the Sino-Indian and Indo-Pak borders, appear to have increased in recent times. For reason best known to India, it has underplayed these undesirable intrusions. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met in Thailand this weekend. But it is obvious that such meetings are embellished with high diplomacy where the current face-off will barely be discussed.

On the home front, the Maoists have virtually declared a war on India. The Maoist violence did not come upon this country overnight. The recent war-like posture by the Maoists is the cumulative effect of years of neglect and apathy by those mandated to govern this country.

It is no coincidence that the tribal belts of India, while being resource rich, have also been the most backward. For decades, the tribes have lived like subservient menials serving the needs of the privileged. But subservience has now reached a boiling point.

While the condition of large sections of tribes in the Northeast is no better than that of the Adivasis in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh in terms of human development indices, the hill tribes have had better access to education, thanks to the Christian missionaries. Without the benefaction of the missionaries, the tribes here, too, would have been much worse off than they are today.

Tribals betrayed
A country that boasts of being the hub of a liberal, pluralist democracy should have had a clear roadmap for developing the tribal belts alongside the habitat of the more advanced categories of people that inhabit this land. Positive discrimination in terms of access to education, health and livelihood should have been the agenda of the government at the Centre and in the states. But the Adivasis, who actually are the original owners of forests and land, have been suddenly made to feel like usurpers and interlopers in their own natural environs. Their indigenous knowledge, farming methods and healthcare are given scant importance.

Instead, we have modern agricultural technology dumped on them, replacing some of the sustainable farming practices that they knew and which did not exploit the environment.

The tribal belts of central India and the infamous Kalahandi, Bolangir and Koraput (KBK) belt of Orissa have not progressed beyond the medieval ages.

Any perceptible change in the living standards of people is due to some NGOs that have been working ceaselessly with great dedication to improve the people’s economic status and raise it from the subsistence to the next higher level.

While we have heard of Dalit movements for decades together, the Adivasis have not accumulated enough clout to raise their voices. Those from among them who have had the benefit of enjoying political power, like Shibu Soren, have proved to be traitors to the cause and done little to alleviate the plight of their fraternity.

Poverty has a very debilitating effect. The poor are burdened by under-nutrition which makes them vulnerable to infectious diseases. For women, it is a double burden since anaemia and malnutrition are responsible for unsafe delivery that leads to the deaths of the mother and her newborn. It is not that the poor do not know how to look after themselves, but it is the lack of resources that is killing them.

A vicious circle
If we take into account the human development index of the Adivasi-inhabited regions and the tribal belts of the Northeast, there would be many similarities. It is too early for us to go the Bhutan way and find the happiness index of people in these dismal regions for the graph would dip to the bottom. Happiness cannot come from sub-human living conditions where the basic needs are yet unattainable and the people are made to feel defensive that they should be having those needs.

The rationale in this country seems to be that if you were born poor you should also die poor. Malaria, and recently some rare diseases like meningococcal meningitis, have claimed several lives in Meghalaya and Tripura as well. Although vaccines were available for the latter, only those who could afford it could buy the injection which cost Rs 350 a vial.

Many deaths occurred even in and around Shillong but the government did not stir until the media raised a hue and cry and the issue caught the Centre’s attention . Only after that was the general population of Meghalaya innoculated against meningococcemia. But even then there were disparities. People living in the vicinity of the state capital were vaccinated first. The vaccines reached the rural hamlets much later. In the Garo hills, not everyone has been innoculated, although many more people died of meningococcemia in that part of Meghalaya. The poor die many times before they are actually buried. It is this frustration and anger that turn them into volatile desperadoes ready to take on those who they believe are the reason for their continued deprivation.

Those who understand the genesis of such violent assertions will confirm that it is not easy to take up a gun or start killing those who represent the exploitative and apathetic state. But once the movement gains momentum, there is no way of stopping the impetus.

More equal
Maoist leaders like Koteshwar Rao are in no mood to listen to the Union home minister’s plea for unconditional talks. They know the trajectory such talks finally take. Seldom ever do negotiations with the State result in a win-win situation. It is fine for P. Chidambaram to say that armed insurrection is unacceptable in a liberal democracy guided by a written Constitution and that all talks have to be within its ambit. But does democracy also mean the growth and development of only a certain segment of people who are privileged by birth or by political connections? Does democracy not envisage a more egalitarian society where the basic needs of every person are met and no one goes to bed hungry?

It took hundreds of suicide deaths for the government to come up with the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). Were the planners of this country blind to the plight of the tribals and the Adivasis until people like Jean Drèze woke them from their blissful apathy? What afflicts the Adivasis and the tribals today is landlessness. This is a major threat because people have no land to grow crops and many are still bonded labourers.

In the Northeast, tribal land is now preyed upon by big business sharks who set up huge, smoke-stacked industries and violate all environmental norms. Industrial waste is dumped into rivers and streams, making them undrinkable. Now that the tribes are more aware of their rights, they are crying halt to further desecration of their land and forests. But such cries evidently fall on deaf ears. No wonder revolutions are born and become the only to make those in power sit up and take notice. So while denouncing violence, it is also important for the Union government to go into the root of the matter and change some of its development strategies. It is time to turn the searchlight on delivery mechanisms and find out why they have failed so miserably.

Declare Nuapada drought-hit: Bhakta

Expressbuzz, Oct 26, 2009

NUAPADA: Thousands of people led by Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das gheraoed Nuapada collectorate yesterday to press for their demands. The demands include declaration of Nuapada district as drought-hit, putting a stop to unscheduled power cuts, uninterrupted quality power supply to help operate LI points and small scale industries smoothly, expediting work on the proposed power grid, steps to prevent largescale corruption by government officials, land pattas to tribals in possession of land for generations, opening of paddy procurement centre in every gram panchayat and payment of Rs 500 over and above minimum support price of paddy to farmers.

Addressing a protest rally, Das accused the State Government of hijacking Central welfare schemes and adopting a lackadaisical attitude for their implementation. Alleging that the State Government is misleading people, Das said the tribals have constitutional rights over forest lands which are under their possession for generations. But the State Government has failed miserably to ensure land rights to tribals, he charged.

On the prevailing drought situation, he said people have been badly hit as agriculture is their main source of livelihood. The State Government should initiate steps to ensure that the situation is not repeated in rabi season, he said. He charged the State Government of underplaying the drought situation and said had the State Government taken steps much earlier, the situation would have been better.

Among others, Nuapada DCC president Bhanu Prakash Joshi and District Youth Congress president Saroj Kumar Sahu spoke.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rs 100 cr 'Konark Knowledge Park' to come up in Bhubaneswar

Economic Times, Oct 25, 2009

A knowledge park is coming up here at an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore. This is the first public private partnership integrated industrial park 

by Government of Orissa and Bharat Biotech International [BBI].

Work at the 100 crore ‘Konark Knowledge Park’ at Mouza-Andharua near the state capital here began today with the ground breaking ceremony held here on Sunday. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik presided over the function and planted a sapling and unveiled details of the park named as Konark Knowledge Park.

The project aims to boost investments in the areas of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in the state of Orissa. When completed, this infrastructure will create world-class, state-of-the-art research and development enterprises in an exceptional environment designed to foster novel approaches to healthcare and its delivery.

The state government has allocated 64.86 acres of land (30 acres in Phase I and 24.86 acres in phase II) including 10 acres of land for development of Biotech Incubation Centre through a Special Purpose Vehicle [SPV] for development of an integrated industrial park to attract and promote biotechnology, pharmaceutical and information technology industries here. The land for park has been allocated in the form of a long term lease to the SPV named Konark Knowledge Park Pvt. Ltd.

The SPV will execute the Lease cum Development Agreement with Orissa Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO). The project is expected to be completed over a period of 8 years.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Patnaik said his government is keen to develop Mouza-Andharua, as a major Biotech, IT and Pharma hub in the state. “This PPP project demonstrates my government’s vision to successfully collaborate with the private sector to not only create world class infrastructure but also create new avenues for jobs and increase investment in our local economy”, he remarked.

BBI chairman Dr. Krishna Ella asserted that the park would accelerate the growth of entrepreneurship in the area of Biotech, Pharma and IT and help nurture local talent in the areas scientific in addition to technology based research and development. “This is a symbolic and a great moment as we start the construction of the Konark Knowledge Park”, he said.

Orissa Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) will provide all external infrastructure facilities, such as four-way lane roads to the gate, uninterrupted water supply, uninterrupted power with 33KVA sub-station, sewage etc to facilitate rapid development of internal infrastructure.

BBI has successfully developed an integrated Agri-Biotech Park in Bangalore and establishment of Genome Valley BioPharmaceutical cluster located in the outskirts of Hyderabad.

Needed: Rs 14,000 crore for free education

Expressbuzz, Oct 25, 2009

BHUBANESWAR: Orissa would require at least Rs 14,000 crore of the Rs 200,000 crore of additional expenditure that implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RCFCE) Act, 2009, will necessitate over the next five years to achieve the set goals.Given the level of improvement the Act demands at every level - academic as well as infrastructure - the financial implications would be huge.According to Secretary, School and Mass Education Department, Vandana Jena, first year itself will require an additional Rs 8,000 crore by Orissa while by the end of the third year, another Rs 3,000 crore would be needed. By fifth year-end, the total expenditure is estimated at Rs 14,000 crore.Vandana was speaking at the State-level workshop on RCFCE where stakeholders of various sectors of education including teachers, principals and civil society members took part.The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education guarantees education to children in the age group of six to 14. Currently, there are over two lakh out-of-school children in the State, and at least 3,000 schools have to make do with just one teacher.The challenge to implement the legislation is huge, she said adding, Orissa will execute the Act from the next financial year.As part of the plan to put the Act into practice and achieve the objectives, the Government has planned to upgrade 18,000 schools up to Class VIII by 2012. This will make the schooling structure compatible with Act’s goals.For the KBK region, where these parameters run further below the yardsticks, the State Government has sought special permission for relaxation of norms for establishment of schools and student intake.Jena said that the Government would recruit over 17,000 teachers to meet the student-teacher ratio of 30:1 because the current status is 32.8:1.Speaking on the occasion, Vinod Raina, who was instrumental in drafting the legislation, said the Act will require the government to ensure enrolment, attendance and education of children in the age group of six to 14 years as anyone staying out of the ambit of the school will amount to violation of the legislation. The states, too, will have to act in tandem with the Centre to provide a fair ground. School and Mass Education Minister Pratap Jena spoke.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Appolo Group to Establish Nursing College in Bhubaneswar

The Samaja, Oct 24, 2009

Orissa now Odisha, Oriya becomes Odia

Times of India, Oct 24, 2009

NEW DELHI: Just when you were getting used to Bengaluru, they've decided to add another tongue-twister to your vocabulary. Orissa is Odisha and Oriya is now Odia. And for anyone who says `what's in a name' ask director-producer Karan Johar who was forced to not just issue a public apology on the use of `Bombay' but also add a disclaimer to his film `Wake Up Sid'.

In times where being politically correct means not asking uncomfortable questions, the change in nomenclature was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday without discussion. It will get Parliament's nod soon enough.

While Shiv Sena turned Bombay to Mumbai and similar political compulsions dictated changing Calcutta to Kolkata, our history is replete with examples of regional demands for name changing -- whether it is state, language, street or chowk. Erasing fancy sounding British names to earthy Indian ones is a favoured political pastime though it is unclear what dividend it pays.

The proposed change will now require an amendment to the first and eighth schedule of the Constitution which is likely to come up in Parliament soon.

The Orissa assembly had moved a resolution in August to change the state's name to Odisha and its official language from Oriya to Odia, saying the names had been used wrongly. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik moved the resolution in the House which was approved by a voice vote.

Officials said the state was keen to change its name owing to disparities in pronunciation due to the wrong spelling of the state's name. It is written as Udisa in Hindi and Orissa in English.

Major cities that have been renamed after Independence include Kanpur (formerly Cawnpore), Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), Kolkata (Calcutta), Pune (Poona) and Kochi (Cochin).

38,000 metricton paddy collected targeted in Kalahandi: selling paddy through agents at cheaper price by farmers to be avoided

Dharitri, Oct 24, 2009

Proposal for Ministadium in Lanjigarh and C.S. Rampur

Dharitri, Oct 24, 2009

Kumar is new KBK Chief, Oct 24, 2009

KBK Administration always needed a tough Boss.

So the State Government on 23 October posted 1974 batch IAS Santosh Kumar as Chief Administrator KBK.

Mr.Kumar will do justice to these neglected areas, feel insiders.

Present Chief Administrator KBK Rajalakshmi an IAS of 1974 batch IAS posted as Member Board of Revenue.

1991 batch IAS Satyabrata Sahu RDC Southern Division posted as Commissioner-cum-Secretary Commerce & Transport.

Mr.Sahu during nearly two and half year of tenure as RDC has not only endeared with people, but also was the driving force behind the 10 District Administrations for taking up developmental projects.

Credit goes to Mr.Sahu for faster completion of the Maa Taratarini Shrine, which was the dream project of the Chief Minister.

1992 batch IAS Chandra Sekhar Kumar, Registrar Coop Societies has replaced Mr.Sahu.

Mr.Kumar was earlier Malkangiri Collector and has worked long time in KBK, will be able to do justice to the area, feel Babu Watcher.

1995 batch IAS S K Lohani Commissioner CMC Cuttack posted as Director Special Projects Panchayati Raj Dept

1996 batch IAS Bipin Bihari Mohapatra Additional Secretary General Administration posted as Registrar Co-op Societies

1999 batch IAS Bhaskar Jyoti Sharma, Collector Puri posted as Director Agriculture & Food Production

2000 batch IAS Tenjenwapang Ao Joint Secretary Agriculture posted as Director Tourism

Senior OAS Gangadhar Singh Additional Secretary Higher Education posted as Director Fisheries

Senior OAS Fakir Charan Satpathy Secretary State Election Commission posted as Collector Puri

Senior OAS Rabi Narayan Nanda Director Tourism posted as Commissioner CMC.

Educationist for National University in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Oct 24, 2009

Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

Eminent educationist and Oriya NRI Dr Digambara Patra has requested Union Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal to establish the proposed National University or a New Central University in Kalahandi as it was done for Jammu and Kashmir.

Patra, who is an assistant professor, department of chemistry, American University of Beirut has also asked Sibal to establish the National University, which is proposed to be set up in Bhubaneswar and in Bhawanipatna as it is only 200 km from Raipur airport with many social and local advantages in the region just like the case for the proposed National University in Mysore.

Patra has also sent copies of the letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Patra rued that recently both Jammu and Kashmir got two Central Universities due to public protest whereas similar demand in Kalahandi for a Central or National University was undermined after establishing Central University at Koraput. Struggle for a Central or National University in Kalahandi has been since the last two decades and many memoranda and protest letters have been sent in this regard to both Central and State Government, he informed.

Bhubaneswar already has NISER, IIT, AIIMS, Vedanta University, etc which are of the same stature as the National University, apart from the proposed railway medical college and many national level research institutions. Unfortunately, not a single Central Government-sponsored institution that were recently proposed in Orissa like IIT, NISER, AIIMS, Central University, IIIT and medical colleges by the Ministry of Coal and Defence Department is located in Western Orissa, he regretted. Even the State Government is reluctant to support an Indira Gandhi National Tribal University off-campus in Kalahandi, he rued further.

Institutions like IITs, IIMs and National Universities should be distributed not only among various States but also based on rural and urban areas which are far away from State capital, he observed.

Thus for the larger interest of the State four to seven out of proposed 14 National Universities should go to such locations like Bhawanipatna of Kalahandi to bring equal distribution of such institutions across rural and urban regions, he justified.

Many economists agreed investment while establishing such new and large institutions mainly goes to construction sectors directly boosting the local economy. Such investment is always given to State capitals of the country and small towns or semi-urban rural India or backward regions which are far away from the State capital are totally ignored, he pointed out in his letter.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Govt plans skill varsity in State: Minister

The Pioneer, Oct 23, 2009

PNS | Bhubaneswar

Inaugurating the Partners’ Meet organised by the Skill Development Wing of the Human Development Foundation (HDF) at its campus near Trishulia, Minister for Higher Education Debi Prasad Mishra revealed that the State Government is trying to set up a Skill University in partnership with the Central Government, which would give a major boost to the efforts of skill development in Orissa.

The event attended by almost 100 training institutions from different parts of the state, were keen to work with the HDF to take the Modular Employable Skills (MES) programme of the Ministry of Labour and Employment extend to all eligible youth in the State.

The programme was also attended by Director, Apex Hitech Institute, Bangalore and Regional Director of Apprenticeship Training SG Amalan, who emphasised the potential of Orissa's workers and artisans as well as the untapped opportunities in the areas of services sector — tourism and hospitality. Amalan, appealed the gathering to become a part of the important initiative of Union Government. Painting a very optimistic picture for the youths of India in light of the worldwide shortage of skilled labour, Amalan committed his support in achieving the goal of creating 15 million trained workers in the 12th Five Year plan.

Earlier in the day, director of Skill Development Wing of HDF KM Pattnaik welcomed the guests and elaborated the important features of the MES scheme. Chairman of HDF DK Mishra, introduced the work of the foundation and highlighted its importance in the area of skill development given the large number of school drop-outs who had little options in building a career. Sudarsan Das, secretary of HDF highlighted the need for certification of existing skilled workers to enhance their income generating potential. State Programme Officer of UNDP Ambika Prasad Nanda, spoke on the impact of migration as per the recent Human Development Report published by the UNDP. Director of HDF School of Management Haribandhu Panda presided over the meeting. Later, an interaction was held to work out the modalities of the partnership between the organisations and HDF.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Text of letter by Shri Bhakta Charan Das, MP from Kalahandi, to Shri Nabin Pattnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa to set up National University of Orissa in Kalahandi

Date: 17th October, 2009


Sri Nabin Pattnaik
Chief Minister, Orissa

Dear Sri Pattnaik
Wish you a Happy Diwali 2009.

I would like to draw you attention to Kalahandi, which has been utterly neglected by the Government of Orissa since many years. Recalling my earlier struggle for Kalahandi on the floor of Orissa Assembly along with your father late revered Biju Patnaik in 1986, we demanded and fought tooth and nail for a separate resolution on economic, health, education and communication development for Kalahandi district. In 1987 under the leadership of Late Biju Pattnaik, the then Chief minister of Orissa, WODC was formed. Kalahandi has been neglected in the field of Education, Health and Communication.

While lauding your recent decision to set up Engineering College and Agricultural College at Bhawanipatna, I must say that the establishment of these two technical institutions is the first step of development. But the undivided Kalahandi requires a holistic approach to fullfil its basic needs. I have been fighting since last three decades to upgrade Kalahandi in the sphere of Education, Health and communication. You will agree that education is the basic need for development.

Thus it is high time to give a boost to the Education, Health and Communication systems of this neglected districts. In this context, I would like to propose the following for Kalahandi.

Let the proposed National University of Orissa be setup at Kalahandi


The existing Government Autonomous College, Bhawanipatna may be given a University Status. This will minimize the regional imbalance and the steps would also bring home to the aspirations of the neglected peoples.

Immediate step may kindly be initiated by your Government in this regard.

With regards.

Yours faithfully,

Bhakta Charan Das

Video on Central University Struggle in Kalahandi in YouTube

There are many interesting things to note.

  • Kalahandi was among the first to demand for a Central University in Orissa.
  • Location wise the site selected (as given in the Video) had many advantages for KBK Central University, and resembles University of California at SC.
  • Delegation from Kalahandi met Chief Minister of Orissa in May, 2008 who promised to take initiative
  • The same video was sent to Chief Minister of Orissa in July, 2008 by people of Kalahandi

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The video concludes:

Alaas! Kalahandi was denied the Central University in Orissa.

hope the struggle continues by people of Kalahandi …………..


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Requirment of airport for national university, how much fair in India !!!

Recently central Government of India is establishing quality higher educational institutions like National University, also known as World Class Central University, in the state capitals/major cities across India and not a single one is being built in semi-urban rural region that are far away from state capital. Main criteria given for identifying such locations is available infrastructure, it’s the airport. Air-connectivity does not come automatically to any city unless it is commercially vaiable. In developed countries like USA smaller cities do have airports becasue the average population can easily afford air travel due to economic reasons. Large part of India, at least 80 % population, rarely or never depends on air travel because of economic reasons. Unless new investment, industries and establishment come to a region, air connectivity is not commercially viable in India. It is also true once such large institution like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), National University is established in any location in India it encourages industrialization in the local level by encouraging air connectivity in later stage.

Few academicians argue that air connectivity will encourage fast movement of people within and out side the country. However, for only 2 % of people taking such step is how much fair, when many institutions in smaller cities acorss the world have maintained international standard without having any airport. There are examples in national level itself like IIT Kharagpur, IIT Roorkiee, BITS Pilani etc. In addition many academicians do not hesitate to travel to such interier locations without having airport as per their requirments. On the other side, existing institutions in large metros in India with international airports like IIT, All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Madras University, Calcutta University, Mumbai University, Delhi University etc and having decades of experience in education and research are not yet made true world class University, thus, in the name of world class University public investment should not be concentrated in one area of a state. Many economists agree that huge investment while establishing such new and large institutions mainly goes to construction sectors which directly boost the local economy.

The failure of many other state and central Universities located in capitals or major cities was never analyzed before putting restriction on establishing such national institution in semi-urban rural region far from state capital like Bhawanipatna in India. Requirement of airport for such establishment in India could be game played by few following a model for their own convenience that are blindly getting support. Not only during establisment of general Universities, model colleges etc but also while establishing quality higher educational institution through public funds such as IIT, IIM, National University in India, there should be equal distribution based on various states and semi urban rural areas far aways from state capital. For instance one can compare National Universities in Kalahandi and Delhi, but not a state University in Kalahandi with a National University in Delhi/Bhubaneswar. Since every part of India has the right to use public fund unlike private fund, and there is equal chance of failure in all these locations, among 14 National Universities proposed across India 4 to 7 should be built in smaller town in rural India far aways from sate capital like in Bhawanipatna and should be left for the future generation to evaluate.

Putting such institution only in capital region is encouraging large rural mass migration from rural place like Kalahandi, Nuapada, Balangir etc directly affecting the local economy there and making Indian metros/larger cities over populated, polluted and stressed compared to western cities. Kalahandi has more appeal for a National University not only for its infamous backwardness in the nation, available basic infrastructure, distance from state capital and rural mass migration in the nation but also due to its ideal location in eastern state of Orissa, surrounded by equally backward districts. By establishing such national University in those localities will reverse the migration process and control rural migration towards larger interest of the nation.

During medieval period, development used to focus in the capital region in India bringing large difference within a state, which ultimately was forcing division to smaller states or kingdoms in India. The same policy is still followed in modern days democratic India, having a huge population, large geographical area, multi-language and multi-ethical society, by the modern policy makers; though 70% of India still lives in such rural areas.

Eastern state Orissa’s state capital is proposed to have National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER), (similar to Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and Indian Institute of Science Bangalore), IIT, AIIMS etc which are of the same stature of national university, apart from railway medical college and many national level research institutions. Bhubaneswar is the only location in India where NISER, IIT, and National University are coming in one city. Beside that Anil Agrawal foundation is establishing a world class University with Rs. 15,000 crore (3 billion USD) investment within 70 km from Bhubaneswar. Vedanta has not yet established a national standard University in Kalahandi where it is affecting environment directly before establishing Rs. 15,000 crore (3 billion USD) world class University for the purpose of philanthropy. Does not such region need investment in infrastrucutre and higher education? In reality such place need more and special attention for various social aspects. This is another form of exploitation of rural mass and interior India at the intelectual level, which could trigger social problem in the society.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bhakta Das opens a window of opportunity in Kalahandi

The Pioneer, Oct 19, 2009

Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das appeared to suggest last week that Vedanta’s aluminium project in Kalahandi can go ahead if the mining giant agrees to spend Rs 1000 crore on assorted welfare and environmental activities in the district. This is a sliver of encouragement for the Vedanta project which is also facing strong disapproval from the British Government for its perceived threat to ecology and the tribal way of life in the project area. The actual amount the company would spend is less important than its willingness to address the concerns of the affected people. Pitch-dark business practices will not endear it to the doughty tribals; open dialogue and transparency in its dealings will. The window of opportunity opened by Das should be seized forthwith. Das realises backward Kalahandi can’t be preserved in aspic; but certain special characteristics of its tribal life and ecology must be maintained. The multi-national’s acceptance of Das’s reasonable and actionable suggestions would help it shed its wholly unjustified image as a business monster with lethal appetite for plundering profits. The new model that would emerge out of Vedanta’s engagement with the local community would serve as a beacon for others to follow. The State Government which describes itself as a promoter of industrialization with compassion should catalyse the process. Otherwise, the only big project that is taking some shape will choke off in its prime.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Minister requested for a nursing or dental college in Kalahandi

The Samaja, Oct 16, 2009
Following report says minister has requested ESIC for a nursing or dental college in Kalahandi.



K’handi Vedanta Varsity urged, Oct 18, 2009


All the Policy Makers in Government very well know that Orissa’s overall development revolved round the growth of Kalahandi-Koraput-Balangir-Kandhamal (KBKK).

Unless these most backward areas of the state achieve accelerated growth, Orissa will never become a Developed State, they know.

However till date Policy Makers and Administrators have been neglecting these areas little understanding that their move to develop the state will be a futile exercise unless KBKK develops.

Take the case of Kalahandi, poorest region of the state, where Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) is investing Rs.4000 crore in alumina complex.

But what about the social infrastructure like health and education, which will go a long way really to develop the area.

Justifying the issue, leading Non Resident Oriya (NRO) Sanjeeb Kumar Karmee has outlined the agenda for VAL to develop the area by setting up a Multidisciplinary University in Kalahandi.

Establishment of such an educational institute in Kalahandi area will change the socio-economic scenario of this underdeveloped area and neighbouring districts by providing a boost to the human resource and economy of the district and other tribal dominated districts, said Dr.Karmee, who teaches in Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.

Aluminium Major, Vedanta along with the state/central government should transform this tribal dominated undeveloped Kalahandi region to a major educational and economic hub of India, said he.

Furthermore, location of Kalahandi is ideal for such a University.

It is the central district in KBK and central point for KBKK + Gajapati + Bargarh (The tribal and backward regions in Southern and Western Orissa).

This location strongly suggests that a multidisciplinary world class University in Kalahandi region will have a huge impact in both South as well as Western Orissa; which are educationally and economically backward place in our country.

Simultaneously, it will help thousands of displaced people (tribals and landless persons) to have access to higher education.

In that way, they will realize their dream of becoming a manager or job holders in companies like Vedanta.

Not only that, these noble steps of Vedanta will inspire many other companies in the state to take similar initiative.

In addition, Vedanta will fulfil an important concept related to “human value”; that is, industrialization, development of the region and displacement of tribal community should take place in one go.

This way Vedanta will be able to win the trust not only of local people but also thousands of poor who are displaced will enjoy the real development.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What has Driven the Tribals of Central India to Political Extremism?, Oct 17, 2009
Saturday 17 October 2009, by B K Roy Burman

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 125 districts spread over nine States in Central India and adjoining areas have come under the influence of Left radical groups, loosely called Naxalites. On June 22, 2009, the Government of India has declared the most important among the Naxalite groups, the Communist Party of India (Maoist), as a terrorist organisation and banned it.
The precursors of the present phase of Naxal activities first surfaced in Naxalbari of North Bengal; Gopiballabhpur and Nayagram Police Station areas close to the meeting points of West Bengal and Jharkhand; Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh; Malkangiri in Orissa; the adjoining areas of Bastar in Chhattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra mainly among the tribal people. Currently though many areas and people in North India outside the predominantly tribal region have come under Naxal influence, it seems from the report of the Expert Group constituted by the Planning Commission to examine the development challenges in extremist affected areas that the epicentre of the upsurge “is the region in Central India with concentration of tribal population, hilly topography and undulating terrain”. This may not be fortuitous.
On August 18, 2009, addressing a meeting of the Chief Ministers the Home Minister of the Government of India, P. Chidambaram, stated that the Maoist challenge would be met by development activities and police action. This was an utterly unrealistic approach; he was silent about the most important issue, namely, the systematic dispossession of the tribal people from land resources, which they have been holding for generations.
Here it would be noted that the dispossession I am referring to is very much different from development related displacement. Conceptually at least, project related displacement is not dispossession. Displacement is the unwanted outcome of particular type of development, and the government accepts the right of the displaced persons to be compensated. It is a different matter that compensation may not be adequate, or only notional.
As against involuntary displacement, in many predominantly tribal areas the tribal people are deliberately dispossessed of their lands and resources thereon in a meticulously planned manner. This is a serious charge. But this is true. I shall now give the relevant information in support of what I have stated.
In November 1985, the Planning Commission had set up a Study Group on Land Holding Systems in Tribal Areas with myself as the Chairman and Dr Bhupinder Singh (at that time Adviser, Planning Commission with the rank of an Additional Secretary, Government of India) as Member-Secretary. The other members included one retired High Court Judge, one retired Chief Secretary who also had served as the Adviser to the Governor during President’s Rule in Nagaland, one former member of the Union Public Service Commission, the Agricultural Commissioner of the Government of Bihar, one Professor of History, Economics and Sociology each. I am a retired Professor of Anthropology. We made a field study in Orissa and found that during the land survey and settlement operation carried out in the late 1950s and continuing in the 1980s in some areas of Koraput district, hardly one per cent land in actual possession of the tribal communities was recorded in their favour. The Study Group could not visit other States because of the inability of the Planning Commission to provide logistic support.
In fulfilment of an assurance in respect of a Lok Sabha USQ No. 678 dated April 15, 1987, a statement was tabled in Parliament vide Planning Commission QM No. Pc/Bc/16—(67)/87 dated 1988. It inter alia mentioned:
As regards cadastral survey and settlement operations above 10 degree slope which have been declared forest, there may be some difficulty in carrying out these operations because this may come in conflict with the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980. Even in cases where the provisions of the Forest Act are not attracted the State Government of Orissa seems to have avoided such a survey in order to prevent alienation of fragile hill-slopes.
During our visit to Orissa, apart from interacting with the tribal people in their habitats, we had held discussions with leading citizens, the concerned Minister, Commissioner-cum-Revenue Secretary, Member, Board of Revenue, Land Reforms Commissioner, former Survey and Settlement Officer, Koraput district, District Collector, Keonjhar, and other officials. Nobody mentioned that cadastral survey could not take place on a slope beyond 10 per cent because most of these were declared forests. Perhaps some of these areas were declared village forests under the Village Forest Act 1972 after the survey-and-settlement started in the late 1950s. The time when some of the areas beyond 10 per cent slope might have been declared village forest should be checked.
However, the Planning Commission’s statement submitted to Parliament admits that even in those areas beyond 10 per cent slope that did not attract the provision of the Forest Conservation Act, the rights of the tribal people were not recorded as “the Government of Orissa seems to have avoided even a survey in order to prevent alienation of fragile hill slopes”. Here it should be noted that the statement of the Planning Commission is incomplete. On behalf of the Government of Orissa the Deputy Director, Land Records and Survey had submitted a note in which it had been mentioned that the land beyond 10 per cent slope was entered in ‘Government Khata’. The note has been attached to the report of the Study Group (Annexure V). Perhaps, the officer of the Planning Commission who drafted the statement failed to take cognisance of the note submitted by the Government of Orissa. Otherwise the statement submitted to Parliament would have clearly mentioned that the areas beyond 10 per cent slope were recorded as state land in a single entry.
Details of why lands beyond 10 per cent slope, which were under actual possession of the tribal people, were not recorded in their favour have been furnished in the annual report of the Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for the year 1960-61. During its visit to Orissa in 1986, the Study Group found that the position had remained unchanged even after the lapse of a quarter-of-a-century and no remedial measure had been taken even though the Commissioner’s report was presented to Parliament.
The report of the Study Group had included extracts from the report of the Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Tribes at para 8.4. The relevant portion from the same is reproduced here.
During the Second Plan period an amount of Rs 6.93 lakhs was provided for implementation of the Jhum control scheme on Assam pattern and an amount of Rs 30.00 lakhs was provided for implementation of rehabilitation and soil conservation schemes. The Soil Conservation Department of the State has mainly concentrated on two types of activities, viz (1) contour bunding below 10 per cent slope, and (2) plantation above 10 per cent. Figures published by the Soil Conservation Organisation show that 6574 acres were bunded and 28103 acres of land were terraced. Three new watershed management units were also started during the year under the report, bringing the total number of units to eleven. These units covered a total area of 6.8 lakh acres.
As a result of perfunctory entry in the record-of-rights, in one village of Bisum Cuttack Block while out of 936.13 acres of land only 2.50 acres below 10 per cent slope was recorded in favour of the 44 households of Dongria Kondh [a community listed as primitive tribe in the State], around two thousand mango trees located above one to ten gradient slope which were owned by the Wadaka lineage, were recorded in favour of the State Government. The value of these trees was estimated to be around Rs 40 lakhs.
In Bondo Hills, less than one per cent land owned by the tribals belonging to the Bondo tribe who are also categorised as primitive, were recorded in their favour. In a recent communication Prof L.K. Mahapatra, a former Vice-Chancellor of Utkal University, informed me that in the Upper Bondo Hill only around 0.25 per cent land owned by the Bondo people was recorded in their favour.
In Keonjhar district, the data supplied by the Survey and Settlement Officer in respect of another officially listed primitive tribe, the Juang, show that 2.48 per cent to 23.50 per cent land owned by them in different villages were recorded in their favour.
Massive dispossession of the tribal peoples from their life support resource base had taken place because of the government policy of treating tribal possessions beyond 10 per cent slope in the hills since time immemorial, as encroachment.
It should not cause any surprise that today some of these areas are hotbeds of political extremism.
As regards the effect of these measures and attitude of the tribals, the Commissioner reported as follows:
No attempt has been made to obtain the consent of the population concerned for undertaking the scheme and for ensuring their active partici-pation. There has not also been any follow-up programme and maintenance of the contour bunds has posed a difficult problem.
Thus what the Commissioner revealed was that land structure and land use of about eight lakh acres of land under occupation of the tribal people were changed without obtaining their consent.
But the Commissioner did not end here. What he further revealed was unthinkable in any democratic polity. As mentioned by the Commissioner,
At present an attempt is being made to obtain the consent from the families concerned to the effect that these will be maintained and repaired by the Government and the cost will be realised from the families concerned.
As maintenance is a continuous affair the people were required to pay all through their life, for what the functionaries of the state had imposed on them without obtaining their consent.
But the story does not end there. There were more shocking things to come. As the human drama unfolds in the Commissioner’s report:
There are several other clauses in the bond. Some of the more important ones are (i) the assessment on land where contour bunding work has been executed shall not be reduced merely on the ground that the unprofitable area has increased as a result of any work; (ii) the “beneficiary” shall give up cultivation above 10 per cent slope; (iii) the beneficiary agrees that in view of the benefit accrued and accruing to him because of contour bunding, he shall transfer a portion of his land as may be decided by the Collector to the government free of consideration for giving the same to other persons who may be losing cultivation above 10 per cent slope.
While the Commissioner’s report gives the key to the mystery of non-recording the land rights of the tribal people beyond 10 per cent slope, they were expected to part with such quantum of land as the Collector might decide, because of the so-called benefit accrued to them through the action of the minions of the state, without their consent.
Naturally, as reported by the Commissioner,
the people concerned did not agree to sign the bond and the revenue personnel have now been entrusted with the task of getting the bonds signed by tribals concerned.
While the mix of cynicism and environmental fundamentalism in the actions of the Orissa Government, as revealed by the Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as early as in 1960-61, and the continuation of which was confirmed by the Study Group on Land Holding Systems in Tribal Areas in 1986, is unfortunate, the presentation of a sanitised version of the same in the statement submitted on behalf of the Planning Commission in Parliament would certainly cause doubt about the nature of India’s democracy.
I visited Sundargarh district in 1991 at the invitation of an NGO. I learnt that the tribal people had successfully resisted the coercive measures unleashed by the state to sign a bond to relinquish their right in full on lands located above 10 per cent slope, and in part below 10 per cent slope. I was also told that their right above 10 per cent slope was not recorded as a confiscatory action on the part of the state. This is a serious charge, but as it targets the subjective attitude of the policy-makers, I would like to keep my judgment in suspense till I get more clinching evidence.
In 1989, I paid a short visit to Orissa as the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Indigenous Systems of Conservation in the Tribal and Hill Areas, set up by the Committee on National Strategy of Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forest. The Committee and Sub-Committee were set up as preparatory to the Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992. On this occasion I enquired about the functioning of the Watershed Management Units and contour bunds. I was told that in many areas the tribal people had damaged the contour bunds, as these had been constructed without taking care about the flow of water. I could sense that tension was mounting up.
The Secretary of the Harijan and Tribal Welfare Department gave me an interesting information. The Government of Orissa had approached the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for assistance to take remedial measures against drought in the Kalahandi district where it had become endemic for years. At the insistence of the IFAD, the Orissa Government had agreed to allow cultivation up to 30 per cent slope. It was good news and bad news. It was good news in that the right of the tribal people was at least partially restored; it was bad news as the government, which ignored the report of the Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the report of a Study Group of which a retired judge of the High Court was a member, yielded readily to the pressure of an international funding agency. However, later I learnt that the government agreed to make relaxation only in the Kalahandi district, where the funds provided by the IFAD were used.
Official sources have tried to justify the government approach by telling me that the real intention of the government in derecognising the rights of the tribal people beyond 10 per cent slope was to discourage shifting cultivation. I enquired whether there were any scientific data in Orissa on the extent of soil erosion caused by shifting cultivation. I was told that no scientific data had been collected in Orissa. It is unfortunate that without scientific data non-stop campaigns against shifting cultivation had been carried on and are being carried on in the name of scientific land use. This is like a modern-day witch-hunt.
The ICAR Regional Research Complex in Shillong collects data from time to time by fixing a measurement gauge in the experimental field at a place called Barpani near Shillong. The data show that depending on the degree of slope of all farming technologies next to bamboo shifting cultivation, if carried on below 40 per cent slope, has the lowest soil erosion. But if carried out on 60 to 70 per cent slope it has the highest soil erosion. Unfortunately to persuade the people to give up shifting cultivation the National Committee on Development of Backward Areas in the report on the North-Eastern Region has published data on soil erosion in case of shifting cultivation carried out on 60 degree to 70 degree slope only. And for comparison it has included corresponding data in respect of the natural bamboo forest.
At a seminar held in the North-East Hill University the tribal students accused a member of the National Committee, who was attending the seminar, of presenting the data in a perfunctory manner. They pointed out that less than one per cent of the farmers could have practised shifting cultivation on 60 degree to 70 degree slope. Shifting cultivation was normally carried out on lands below 45 degree slope. They asked why data relating to normal practice in shifting cultivation were not given. They pointed out another bias in the report. While in most tribal areas individual ownership of land is subsumed within community rights, the report under reference suggested that district and village councils should be persuaded to adopt a “progressive policy” of individualisation of their lands. This, they alleged, was interference with their system and that this would accelerate alienation of their land. In protest they would not allow the gentleman to speak. I was present at the meeting. With great difficulty the students could be persuaded to allow the gentleman to speak. I mention this incident to highlight the point that while bias against shifting cultivation per se is contributing to the alienation of tribal land, this in its turn is alienating the administration from the tribal people. In fact the report of the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, already referred to, has given an example of the same. It is reproduced here:
Cashew nut plantation has been taken up by the Soil Conservation Organisation of the Orissa State Government on hillocks, some of which were used by the tribals for grazing their cattle or collecting dry shrubs for use as fuel. Some of the tribals even used to cultivate some of these highlands and had title deeds and paid rents for the lands utilised by them; but the Soil Conservation Department did not give them any share of the amount realised by the sale of cashew nut plant on eight hillocks.
During the visit of the Study Group, this matter was further examined. We were told that in great frustration the tribal people had burnt cashew nut land on one hillock in the early 1960s. Prof Mahapatra, the former Vice-Chancellor of Utkal University, provided us more information. In Koraput district, cashew nut plantation had been carried out on around one thousand acres of hill slope lands, out of which only 56 acres were passed on to the tribal people. He was not aware of any justification given by the government for appropriating more than 900 acres of land, which were under possession of the tribal people from time aeon. After it became clear that the government had no intention of giving them just share of the plants grown on their land, the tribal people uprooted the cashew nut plants on one hillock. Even then the government action of dispossessing the tribal people of their land by carrying on cashew nut plantation on hill slopes under the shifting cultivation control scheme was extended to other areas also. But the tribal people did not acquiesce passively. In 1984, they uprooted cashew nut plants on 95 acres on land at Jiljira at Kashipur Block. During a subsequent visit to Koraput district in mid-1990s I enquired from a senior official of the Orissa Government about the Kashipur episode. He confirmed the correctness of the information given by Prof Mahapatra and added that in addition to uprooting cashew nut plants, the tribal people had also burnt some plants. I was told by a social activist that most of the cashew nut plants grown over tribal land had been handed over to a corporate body, and that the tribal people were extremely sore about it. I, however, could not verify this information.
Already mention has been made of the concern of the tribal students of the North-East Hill University, Shillong about their community land. In Orissa we found that not only the tribal people, even some conscientious social activists and government officers were deeply concerned about it.
It was Gopinath Mohanty, the great humanist of Orissa, who pointed out that Kondh villages were sacred space to them. They occupied the villages after getting divine omens. The tribals considered that not only did they own the village, but also the village owned them.
This is a very significant observation. In this perspective the attempt made in some quarters to equate the World Bank-sponsored entity “common property resource”, community land and resources is denial of tribal heritage.
In my keynote address at a seminar on “Communal Land System”, organised by the Indian Social Institute on August 28-29, 2002, I had spelt out the differences between the communal land holding system and common property resources system as follows:
1. Communal Land Holding System (CLHS) versus Common Property Resources System (CPR)
A. Modality of delineation of territorial jurisdiction:
CLHS: Belief in supernatural bestowal or sanctification by long historical association with or without concurrence of any centre of power including State CPR—assigned/endorsed by the state or ancillary centre of power.
B. Sustenance of relationship with delineated territory:
CLHS: Conviviality orientation encompassing animate and non-animate phenomenal world.
CPR: Power orientation underpinned by the ego-centric need satisfaction as in village commons in rural India.
C. (a) Nature of right of community in CLHS
CLHS: (i) Jurisdictional right as well as undifferentiated economic right of the community as a whole. Individuals have the right to a fair share but not the right to a specific area or plot within the jurisdictional right of the community.
(ii) Within jurisdictional rights of the community economic rights of clans or lineage and of functionaries serving different needs of the community or enjoying special prerogatives derived from some events supposed to have taken place in the past.
(iii) Jurisdictional right of the community exercised by special functionaries belonging to particular clans or lineage in mundane aspects together or separately and individual rights of different types being conferred/recognised by the special functionaries as in modified Khuntkatti system of the Mundas, Bhuihari system of the Oraons.
(iv) Jurisdictional right of the community exercised by special functionaries belonging to a particular lineage who secures assistance of different lineage or clan elders and balances power equation among them according to his own prudence and assigns fair share to the members of the community with the assistance of the lineage or clan elders (Kuki-Mizo system).
(v) Access right of specific community to specific resource for sustaining a specific livelihood pattern within the territorial jurisdictional right of a larger community with primarily a different livelihood pattern (Birhor’s right to siyari plant for rope making within the territorial jurisdiction of the Santal, Kheria and other tribes).
(vi) Access right of different communities to the same territory in different hours of the day.
(a) Fishing right of the Keot in early morning and of the Kandra during other hours of the day in shallow water near the coast of Chilka Lake.
(b) Nature of right of community in CPR
Usufruct right according to rule framed by the authority/recognising the right.
2. Change in case of Non-traditional Use of Traditional Right
The Rongmei Naga people of Manipur have the traditional right of barter by individuals of the forest produce grown in nature in their respective shifting cultivation (Jhum) fields during the inter-Jhum period. When some of the Rongmei villages were connected by the national highway, some people in a village started to extract large quantity of forest produce and transport the same by trucks. This was a non-traditional use of resources. If large numbers of individuals transport forest products in this manner, there will be ecological degradation. The village council decided not to allow the individuals to make this non-traditional use of traditional resources. Instead it decided that truckloads of forest products from inter-Jhum fields would be marketed in a planned manner to ensure that environmental degradation did not take place. Further, the council decided that the money thus earned would be used to appoint an additional teacher in the local school. Thus it endorsed the view that a living traditional system itself has within its ambit the provision for change.
3. Viability of Communal Land System
A recent report from Panama indicates a trend of revival of the communal land system to provide a frame for collective resistance to encroachment as ancestral domain by unscru-pulous operators who mercilessly exhaust the land resources leading to environmental degradation. Besides, with appropriate institutional arrangement the communal land right has been found to provide collective security to productive investment.
With growing awareness unbridled consumerism of the West has created a condition that unless massive environmental retrieval is brought about within a short time, continuation of life on planet earth by the end of the century may become problematic; the whole of humanity is tending to become a moral community at the global level. At the same time there is a parallel development. Of late scientific resources’ appraisal at the surface and sub-surface levels has generated a realisation that there is a concentration of major resources of the earth in the ancestral domains and current habitats of the tribal and analogous peoples (known as indigenous peoples in the United Nations parlance). Though defined in a manner which is not wholly satisfactory, global networking of the indigenous peoples has already taken place. With the creation of a Permanent Forum under the aegis of the United Nations, the indigenous existence as a part of an emerging global connectivity is becoming politically and legally surcharged, though currently on a low key. The significance of the presence of communal land and resource management systems of the tribal people is to be understood with a mix of ethical-cum-politico-juristic matrix as the backdrop.
In a general way the Study Group on Land Holding System of the Tribals was sensitive to the foregoing emerging reality. Perhaps this has scared the policy-makers at the mid-level. It is a pity that we were not allowed to complete our task. In the report itself it was indicated that it was an exploratory one. The nation deserves a complete report.
Though our report was presented to Parliament in 1987, the then Commissioner, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes did not make any mention of it in his annual report. I personally handed over a copy of the report to him and drew his attention to the fact that to a large extent the core finding of our report was tied up with what one of his predecessors had reported a quarter century ago. I thought that he would like to inform the nation through his report that the serious malaise of the system that one of his predecessors had revealed a quarter century ago had remained to be redressed. Instead of referring to the concrete dereliction which had become public knowledge, he published a political manifesto-type write-up of a hypothetical problematic about tribal command over resources. It was an act of magnificent evasion and this was not the first and last act of such evasion.
We were, however, impressed by the sense of commitment of the local officers in general in Orissa. The note submitted by the Collector of Keonjhar categorically mentioned that traditionally the Juangs and Bhuriyans residing in the respective pirs (village clusters) considered that the lands of the village belonged to the village community and they were free to use the same in any manner they liked. The pirs were not subjected to any land survey and settlement operation till the operation was taken up in the year 1970 and completed recently. It was further mentioned in the note that shifting cultivation was indirectly recognised. The village headman had the power to distribute land for cultivation and to apportion the produce rent. Even then in the survey and settlement operation the land subjected to shifting cultivation had not been recognised, although the practice was still in vogue.
It was brought to the notice of the Study Group that in many tribal areas legal recognition of possession of individual and raiyati holdings did not cover all possessions. In fact the State Tribal Research Institute had already reported that among some tribes, individual rights were subsumed within community control, management and ownership. But no heed was paid to this. The survey and settlement rule was not adjusted to this contingency. It is obvious that as a sequel to non-recognition of communal rights, the embedded rights of the tribal individuals also failed to be recognised. The operation for preparation of record of rights turned out to be operation denial of tribal rights in respect of their land resources.
While formulating the recommendation the Survey Group observed that where individual rights are embedded in communal rights, removal of the community as the intermediary removes the necessary condition for the concerned individuals to enjoy their rights. The Study Group recommended that keeping the foregoing fact in view, the land reform policy and programme in the tribal areas should be subjected to most thorough re-examination.
The statement, placed in the Lok Sabha on behalf of the Planning Commission, mentioned that the Department of Rural Development agreed with our recommendation about the need for an intensive study of the communal land system, their persistence, change, decay and reinvigoration with a view to identifying measures which might lead to the formulation of policy guideline regarding the communal land system.
Two decades have lapsed since the commitment made to Parliament that intensive studies would be made based on which the land reforms policy focusing on communal land ownership, management and control among the tribal people, could be formulated. It is not known whether studies as promised have been done and whether any policy formulation in the near future is under consideration. In the meantime two developments are taking place.
First, there is more awareness about the importance of the communal land holding system among the tribal people. Second, in the absence of a clearly formulated policy, dispossession of the tribal people from their life support resource base is going on and there is reason to believe that this will further roll up in the future.
As regards the first, it is encouraging to note that the Expert Group on Prevention of Alienation of Tribal Land and its Restoration, set up by the Ministry of Rural Development, in its report (2004-06) has acknowledged that community ownership of land continues to be the dominant mode in the tribal societies and takes precedence over that of individual ownership. (p.iii) At page 157 of the report it has been recommended that in addition to individual land rights, the rights of the communities are also identified and recorded. On page 158 the recommendation is that the entire land traditionally used for shifting cultivation on rotational basis shall be recorded in the name of the tribal community and individuals who cultivate particular patches of land on rotational basis, rather than being recorded in the name of the government or any agency.
As regards the second, I would like to present here processes through which dispossession of the tribal people from the resources under their command is currently taking place.
Dispossession through Neo-feudalisation
The neo-feudalisation process was started by the colonial rulers. Faced with resistance against encroachment in tribal areas, in strategically located places they adopted a policy of co-opting local warlords as subsidiary allies by declaring them as owners of the lands under their political-military control. But due to underdevelopment of communication and administrative infra-structure this policy could be implemented only in some areas. In other areas these remained paper laws. In the post-independence period rather than renegotiating on the paper laws, these were treated as the framework of administration. In those areas the tribal people felt that they were being dispossessed of their rights in independent India.
The neo-feudalisation process is currently taking place in other forms also, frequently under the cover of the economic development programme. A case study relating to a Munda village in Khunti district of Jharkhand will highlight some aspects of the process.
Sutilong is a Khuntkatti village, which is in existence since the pre-colonial period. There are 84 households in the village (ST 40, SC seven and OBC 37). While 488.46 acres of land are held by the 84 households, there are 129.06 acres of gairmazurwa khas land (non-revenue paying wasteland) and gairmazurwa aam land (state owned common land).
Mundas of Kamal lineage are considered to be the original settlers of the village. Currently in Sutilong there are 15 Munda households belonging to Kamal lineage and as such traditionally they are considered to be joint owners of all land of the village. The post of the headman is hereditary in a family. The house-holds belonging to Kamal lineage individually do not make any payment to the government other than what the headman pays on behalf of the entire brotherhood. But the headman appropriates to himself the entire amount received from the non-Khuntkattidar households. While gairmazurwa aam is mostly used as grazing land and cannot be converted into korkar or land which can be leased out by the headman, gairmazurwa khas is exclusively at his disposal. He generally leases out portions of the khas land to non-tribals of a different village. When asked about the reason for doing like this, the headman and his lawyer explained that if a resident raiyat, particularly a tribal of the village, was allowed to carry on cultivation on any part of gairmazurwa khas land, he might later on claim occupancy right on it. Traditionally the headman did not enjoy this prerogative. The households other than those belonging to the Khuntkatti lineage were regarded as tenants of the entire Khuntkatti lineage. Since 1977 the Revisional Land Survey and Settlement Operation is being carried on in this region. It has been suspended several times because of strong opposition from the people. One of the reasons centres on the issue of the nature of entry in the record-of-rights. In the previous survey operation the name of the Raja of Chotanagpur was entered in Khewat No. 1. As since then zamindari has been abolished the Mundas demanded that instead of the Raja of Chotanagpur, the names Khuntkattidars should be entered in Khewat No. 1. But the government had decided that the ‘Government of Bihar’ should be entered in Khewat No. 1. As there was no agreement on this issue, the survey and settlement operation was suspended in some areas. However, the government could win over the headmen of some Khuntkatti villages by showing them separately from the other Khuntkattidar members, and conferring special prerogative on them. Sutilong was one such village the collaboration of whose headman could be obtained by conferring on him the special prerogative indicated. It was a development veering towards the neo-feudalisation process.
State-sponsored feudalisation came out very sharply in some parts of North-East India, particularly in the Kuki area of Manipur. During the colonial period, the Kuki-Mizo chiefs were projected almost as landlords. After independence at the initiative of the Mizoram Autonomous District Council the Chiefship Abolition Act was passed.
It is significant that at the time of abolition of chiefship in the early 1950s, in Mizoram the Autonomous District Council decided to pay compensation to the chiefs for the number of households under them and not for the quantum of land within their jurisdiction. The chiefs had control over the labour of the persons, not over land. For instance, when a person hunted a game the chief had a share of it. Even if the animal ran away to the area in the jurisdiction of another chief and the hunter bagged it there, he gave to his own chief a part of the animal as his share.
In Manipur in Naga areas the village council as a whole controls and manages the resources of the village; the headman does not enjoy any special prerogative. In Kuki areas the chief has the political right of management of community resources. He has the right to determine which plot of land to be allotted to which person for cultivation. But he has to exercise this right in consultation with the clan elders. Ordinarily the chief-in-council cannot deny altogether the right to fair share of a resident member and cannot reduce the aggregate share of the members of the community. The Kuki chief is entitled to some payment from the members of the village community. This is considered as tribute for the responsibility he bears. Though in some quarters there is a tendency to project the payment as rent, on a holistic analysis it becomes clear that it is not so.
The Manipur State Assembly enacted the Manipur Land Reform Act 1960. It recognised only individual rights on land, not community right. Originally it was confined to the valley, but in the early 1970s the State Assembly decided to extend its operation in the hills. The tribal people offered resistance. The Governor informally sought my view in this matter. I suggested that appropriate sections should be inserted in the Act covering the systems prevailing in the hills and with such modifications as may be agreed to. Accordingly the Governor withheld his consent. But in the early 1980s the new Governor gave his consent. The Directorate of Land Survey and Settlement issued a circular that land survey would be carried out with the cooperation of the chiefs. It was interpreted to mean that the chiefs would be paid compensation as owners of land and with their collaboration survey and settlement would take place. This attempt to take over tribal land by arbitrarily abrogating the collective right of the village community and by vesting feudal right on the chiefs, did not, however, meet with much success.
It is to be noted that till the 1980s though there were inter-tribal conflicts and organised violence, there were not much violent anti-India activities in the hills, except for Ukhrul district to some extent. It is only since the early 1980s that the anti-India insurgent activities have gained momentum in the West and South districts. Some ascribe it to the attempt on the part of the government to usurp the collectively owned resources of the people by promoting the neo-feudalisation process in the hills and thereby dispossessing the hill dwelling tribals from their traditional land rights.
Dispossession through Primitivisation
Since the Fourth Five Year Plan within the category Scheduled Tribe, a sub-category, primitive tribe, is recognised for being provided special assistance for coming up at the same level as the rest of the population. Certainly among the Scheduled Tribes, the people categorised as primitive tribes constitute in general the most disadvantaged and vulnerable segment of the population. But some of us opposed the use of the term primitive, primarily for three reasons; (a) The term primitive is a pejorative term. Historically it means that they are having lower level of mental capacity. Researches have established the fact that the average intelligence quotient of different human groups does not differ much from one another. Their behaviour patterns differ from one another through adaptation to different ecological niche including human ecology and due to differences in historical experiences. (b) When some people are called primitive, the onus for not being able to take advantage of development inputs provided by the state and other agencies lies with them. (c) Categorising the people as primitive provides rationale for intervention in the affairs of the people thus categorised by the politico-administrative establishment of the state. As early as 1784 the German philosopher, Herder, observed that by stigmatising a people as primitive invasion and conquest of lands across the oceans were legitimised.
Apart from the primary objection, we had a secondary objection. One of the main criteria for identification of primitive tribes is that they are in the pre-agricultural stage of the economy. We hold that some of them may be non-agricultural, but it need not necessarily mean that they are in the pre-agricultural stage. In contemporary world there is no economy which is not in direct or indirect symbiotic relation with agricultural economy. Besides, there is no consensus about what is agricultural economy. There are many people, particularly among the policy-makers, who do not consider shifting cultivation as agriculture. They consider it as a rudimentary form of cultivation which has to be carried through to the level of agriculture “proper”.
Currently many of the so-called primitive tribal people are engaged in gathering forest products and trapping wild life for bartering the same with agricultural and village industrial products. Some of them process the forest products and dispose of them in local markets. Some of the goods collected by them have even an international market. Pulses, oil seeds, spice, cotton grown by the shifting cultivators are on record to have had demand in the regional and national markets even in the 19th century. Harvey Feit [Politics and History of Band Societies, (ed.) Eleanor Peacock and Richard Lee, Oxford University Press, 1982] suggests that the societies of this category should be helped to specialise in their respective fields by providing them appropriate technologies, linkages and networkings. But as the stereotype in respect of them is that they are pre-agricultural people, the action agenda for state intervention in respect of them is to transform them into agricultural people. The experience so far is that this has a disastrous effect.
One such so-called primitive tribe is the Toto in West Bengal. They live in only one village—Totopara, located at the meeting point of West Bengal and Bhutan. In 1951, their number was 319; currently it is more than 600. In the Survey and Settlement Report of 1907-14, the entire land of Totopara was recorded in the name of the headman “on behalf of the community”. This was the only case in West Bengal of a community being recognised as owner of the entire village land. They were engaged in shifting cultivation, with barter in horticultural and forest products as subsidiary occupations. After independence the welfare state decided to develop their economy as settled agriculture economy. To facilitate this, it was further decided to parcel out the community land into individual holdings. A survey and settlement operation was undertaken in 1958. The lands, which were under shifting cultivation of different households that year, were recorded in their favour. The Totos were told that in future they would have to practice settled agriculture on those very lands. As the Totos did not have plough and cattle for settled agriculture and were not adept at adjusting the operations with the climatic conditions, they entered into share-cropping arrangement with Nepali farmers of the area. During this very period I visited Totopara in connection with my research and came to know of the development. I immediately got in touch with the Survey and Settlement Officer and impressed upon him the inappropriateness of parcelling out community land to individuals without the consent of the legal owner—the community. Besides by doing this, the government’s objective of transforming the shifting cultivators into settled agriculturists would not be served, as the lands would pass out of their hand. B. Raghavan, the Settlement Officer, was a sensible person. With the permission of the Secretary, Revenue Department, the operation was cancelled.
Two decades after the episode of 1958, when the Totos were officially declared as a primitive tribe, prodded by the Centre, the State Government decided to implement a big programme in Totopara. For 74 Toto families a Junior Secondary School, a Grameen Bank, a large Agricultural Multipurpose Corporative Society, and a Maternity and Child Welfare Centre were sanctioned. The Totos were persuaded to spare land not only for the offices but also for the staff quarters of these institutions. But after settling down in Totopara, the Grameen Bank threw a bombshell. They argued that, as without having separately delineated lands in their favour the individual Toto households were not in a position to offer any collateral, it would not be possible for the Bank to advance any money to them for productive and other purposes. To meet the requirements of the Grameen Bank, the government took a quick decision to get a survey and settlement operation done. Because of their experience of 1958, this time the Totos were more cautious. They got only their homestead and adjoining kitchen garden land recorded in their favour. In this way out of around 2100 acres of land, only around 300 acres could be covered. The survey staff did not know what do with the remaining 1800 acres. The then Land Reforms Commissioner was approached for advice. As normally a community is not recognised as a legal person, he advised the remaining 1800 acres to be provisionally recorded in a single entry as government land. On these lands there were thousands of catechu trees, worth several million rupees. The district level revenue officers quickly got these auctioned and felled. The landscape of Totopara completely changed. The vacant lands, however, did not remain vacant. Large numbers of immigrant population were settled on them. The Totos became completely marginalised. Not only did they lose their land, they lost their home. Mandarins of welfare decided that the stilt houses in which they were living for generations were not good for them; they were “persuaded” to change their house type. Though the homes with the social and cultural functions bequeathed to them by their ancestors had gone, mercifully they still had shelters where they could continue to “exist”. I have got a pathetic letter from the son of the last Toto chief describing the calamity that had befallen them. Even before I got this letter I was informed of the catastrophe by a visiting anthropologist on phone, and I had taken up the cause of the Totos with the then Revenue Minister of West Bengal. He was a very sincere person. After due inquiry he told me that while he shared my agony about the tragedy of Totopara, the thing had gone completely out of his hand. At that stage it was politically impossible for him to intervene. It was decided in the Advisory Committee of the State Tribal Research Institute that the Minister of Tribal Welfare, an MP who was an eminent economist, and myself would visit Totopara to ascertain what could be salvaged, but it never materialised due to bureaucratic intransigence.
Not only the Totos, it appears to me that as a rule the so-called primitive tribes are destined to be victims of welfare.
In 2004 accompanied by activists of an NGO, the Orissa Development Action Forum (ODAF), I visited a hamlet of Birhors—a traditional hunting and gathering tribe of Orissa, West Bengal and Bihar. As a part of the Primitive Tribe Development Programme, a good number of them were removed from their forest abodes and made to stay in small hamlets in the outskirts of settled agricultural villages. I was surprised to see that all the houses they were sheltered in were ramshackle leaf structures. I have seen them living in similar hut-like structures in the forests of West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. But while in the forest environment they harmoniously fitted into the rhythm of life—the whisper of the silence, the muse of the cosmos, in the backdrop of the mud houses of the farmers, they tell the story of distant approximation, of condescend accommodation of homeless shelters.
Some farmers in the main village were having houses constructed under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) scheme. I asked a Birhor elder why they could not have at least a few houses under the IAY. Without batting an eyelid the elder replied: “We cannot have it, because we are a primitive tribe.” One of the officers accompanying me, however, explained that they could not have the benefit of the scheme from the local panchayat or the integrated Tribal Development Agency, as there was a separate Primitive Tribes Development Officer and specially earmarked fund for the primitive tribes. As the Special Officer’s headquarters was located at a distance of around 30 km from the Birhor colony I visited, it was not possible for the Birhors to visit the Special Officer’s headquarters too often. They could, therefore, hardly derive any benefit from being categorised as a primitive tribe.
Prof N.K. Behura of Utkal University in a paper contributed to a seminar jointly organised by the Kolkata University and Indian Council of Social Science Research in 2004 has pointed out that though a good number of the tribal communities have been categorised as primitive tribes in Orissa and though a number of administrative establishments have been set up to take care of them, actually they have not derived commensurate benefit from being put in a special category. Further, he suggested that rather than being called primitive tribe, they should be called vulnerable tribe.
The vulnerability of this category of people came out sharply in case of the Sauria Paharias who were settled on the Rajmahal Hill in the Santal Parganas by the British as early as in 1778.
In 1990 along with several members of the Committee on Indigenous Systems of Environmental Management and accompanied by several officers of the undivided Bihar Government, I visited Dumka, the headquarters of the Santal Parganas district. We were told by the district officials that for protecting the environment and improving their quality of life the Sauria Paharias, who had been categorised as a primitive tribe, were being brought down from their habitats on the hills and settled in a colony constructed for them in the outskirts of Dumka itself.
The background of the Sauria Paharias is as follows:
In the third quarter of the 18th century, in the wake of colonial expansion, large scale influx of migrants took place in the areas of traditional jurisdiction of the Sauria Paharias. They considered this as encroachment. They did not fight the British in the open, but from time to time swooped down on the highway located close to the foothills and then retreated deep inside the helps. This disrupted trade. The British ultimately adopted a practice of pacifying the Pahariyas by making periodical stipendiary payments to the chiefs and headmen. This was initially started by Captain Robert Brook in 1772 and was successfully implemented by Cleveland in 1780. The essence of this system, called “indirect rule”, was to co-opt the leaders of the community in a system of sharing power. Earlier, this system was tried in Africa also.
In 1782 the Rajmahal Hill Tract was withdrawn from the jurisdiction of ordinary courts and the hereditary leaders (called sardars) constituted a sessions court, which used to meet twice a year and try offences. Besides, the lands under the occupation of the Paharias were pooled together to constitute a government estate. Legally the Paharias were dispossessed; but it seems that they were not aware of it. The government allowed them to continue where they were, free of rent. In lieu of this concession made to them, the Saurias accepted the overlordship of the British.
It seems that in and around 1990, the Bihar Government decided to end the façade of Saurias occupation of land, which the British manipulated to be government land under law two centuries ago. Environmental protection and concern for the welfare of primitive tribes provided a good alibi for bidding farewell of the Saurias from what they knew to be their ancestral home.
Some officers of the Bihar Government, who accompanied us, told us informally that Saurias were maintaining the environment at the hill-top quite well; the real purpose of the government was to get the hill slopes vacated, so that commercial forestry could be undertaken thereon. However, we could not visit the traditional Sauria habitat to check the correctness of the allegation.
We visited the colony established by the government. We were shocked to find that a barrack-like structure had been constructed to lodge a people who had been living in spacious, though kachcha, houses for centuries. Then we found that the government could not reclaim the barren land in the proximity of Dumka which was planned to be allotted to the Sauria Paharias, because of the opposition of the Santal villagers in whose jurisdiction the barren lands were located. In the alternative the government had given them hand-pulled rickshaws for eking out their livelihood. No wonder they fled back to the hills. We were told that thrice they went back to the hills and thrice they were brought back to the colony. During our visit we found that many of the apartments were unoccupied.
Years afterwards during a short visit to Dumka I learnt that in the long run the government had succeeded to dislodge the bulk of the Saurias from the hill-top and cover their erstwhile habitat with commercial plantation. I could not personally verify it, but there is no reason to think that the information was not correct.
Primitive development planning of a modern state snatched away from the so-called primitive people their home and whatever had been given was a caricature of dignified living. Nothing had been given to them so that they could at least dream about the future. Under the canopy of unpunctured emptiness they lost their capacity to dream.
By a time machine as it were they have been transported to the world of eternal nothing.
They have been primitivised.
Dispossession through Fractured Humanitarianism
At the core of humanitarianism is compassion. It is a subjective attitude of mind. It can be admired; but it cannot guide action. Humanitarianism with vision of expansion of human freedom—freedom from hunger, from threat to living and life, from submission to indignity, from being forced to action or inaction and so on—is humanism. Humanitarianism is a fractured approach to reality; humanism is an odyssey for a holistic approach to reality. In humanitarianism there is the illusion of knowing the final word; in humanism there is no final word. Humanitarian action in closed orbit may strengthen human bondage and intensify human misery. This is what happened in a specific situation in Orissa.
In the Koraput district of Orissa, the zamindar of Jeypore had a category of hereditary functionaries called mustajars. Though they were revenue collectors, they had developed feudal pretensions. In the pre-independence period they used to exact four days forced labour from all the households under their respective jurisdictions. Very rightly the mustajari system was abolished after India attained her freedom. But along with the mustajar the corporate character of the village was also abolished. Earlier through mustajar the households collectively used to make payment for the village land as a whole including the wasteland. After abolition of the mustajari system the villagers were required to pay revenue only for the lands recognised by the state to belong to respective individual households. The wasteland in the new dispensation became state land. During one of my visits to the interior of Koraput distict, the village elders told me:
When mustajari was abolished we celebrated it. But when we came to know that along with the mustajar our access right to our life support resources had also gone, we wailed in our heart both for the mustajar and for our right. We feel cheated.
But there is another side of the story. There is one more entry in the deficit column of the national account book of humanism.
Dispossession through Withholding Decision
In the hot summer of 1980, as the Chairman of the Forest and Tribal Committee, Government of India, I was in Chotanagpur. At about 11 pm there was a mild knock on my door. When I opened it, I found about half-a-dozen senior officers of the Bihar Government of the ranks of Joint Secretary, Director and so on, belonging to the Munda community, standing before me. They told me that they had arrived all the way from Patna to meet me for half-an-hour and then they will go back to Patna the same night. They requested me to keep to myself their meeting me in this manner. Now all of them must have retired. I, therefore, feel free to narrate the incident. They asked me whether I knew that next day I was scheduled to distribute pattas for 36 acres of social forestry land to six leading persons of a village. When I confirmed that I knew it, they made a request to me. They wanted me to ask the Forest Officers to show me the 300 acres of the Khuntkatti forest within the jurisdiction of the village, which the Forest Department had taken under its management control in 1948 for protection and scientific development. I wanted them to tell me some more about it. But they submitted that as they were senior government officials, they should be excused from telling me more. Within ten minutes of their arrival they left.
Next day, along with the Forest Commissioner-cum-Secretary and the Additional Chief Conservator of Forests, I reached the Forest Bungalow about 50 km away from Ranchi. As scheduled, I distributed the pattas. After that while taking tea, I casually asked in the presence of the villagers about the 300 acres of scientifically managed Khuntkatti forest. There was an embarrassed silence. Then an ill-clad tribal elder stood up. He begged tobe excused, as he did not know about scientific forestry. Then he showed me a barren land by the side of the Bungalow. It was having barbed wire fencing. He said:
This barren land was a dense forest when the Forest Department had taken it over. Now through scientific management, the forest has become invisible. But the Forest Department is there.
When I asked him what he meant by what he said, he replied:
If through breaches in barbed wire our goats stray into the barren land, they disappear. This is a clear proof of the presence of the Forest Department.
The Secretary of Forest was an IAS officer. It seems that he was not aware of all these. He asked the Additional Chief Conservator of Forests to explain what all these meant. The latter explained that on the eve of independence and immediately after independence the zamindars and other private forest owners, under apprehension that in independent India forests would be completely nationalised, started cutting down trees on a large scale and then selling the same to timber merchants. To protect the forests, the Bihar Private Forest Act was passed in 1946. The Khuntkatti forest was also treated as a private forest. Under the 1948 Act the Khuntkatti forest, along with other private forests, was taken over. For scientific management the forest in this village was clear felled around 15 years ago. The felled trees were auctioned and sold out. The sale proceeds were deposited in the treasury. As no rules had been framed as to how to disburse the money to the owners of the forests, no disbursal could be made. Similarly as no rules had been framed about how to invest money for afforestation of private land after clear felling, no afforestation was done and the erstwhile forestland was remaining barren all these years.
I wrote to the Chief Secretary narrating what I had learnt in the village. He did not send me any reply, but I understand that the Forest Secretary was transferred to another department and that the Forest Officers were unhappy for his inviting me to visit the area. Had I not visited the area the embarrassing facts would not have become public.
In November 1980 Dr K.S. Singh, who was for the some time the Commissioner of South Bihar, published more details about the State takeover of the Khuntkatti forest.
Under the Bihar Private Forest Act, the management and control of Mundari, Khuntkatti Forest vested in the Forest Department, but the Khuntkattidars remained legal owners and proprietors. In 253 villages 53,000 acres of forests have been demarcated. An unknown quantum of the Khuntkatti forest still remained to be demarcated. The Mundas were to be paid 10 paise per acre as rent but during the 30 years after the Khuntkatti forest was taken over, payment had been made only in seven cases. For many years no Forest Settlement Officer had been posted, and the Mundas also did not press their demand—of late, however, they were agitating on this issue. They were also angry that while clear felling of forests had been done in some areas, the owners had not been paid anything. Also they were angry that some forest land had been used for non-forest purpose.
During a later visit to Ranchi I enquired about the matter. I was told that feudal rights of the former zamindars and members of the erstwhile royal family had been raked up by vested interests to complicate the problem. I shall not be surprised if the bureaucratic-feudal nexus is still continuing to be able to deny the tribal people their rightful dues.
A senior Forest Officer, who himself belonged to a tribal community, confided to me that apart from the 53,000 acres of the Khuntkatti forests, there were several thousand more Khuntkatti forests, which the government could not take over due to lack of communication infrastructure. Later those forests were also connected by good roads and the government made a bid to takeover the forests. But the Mundas offered stiff resistance. They themselves took up the management of the forests and these were managed much better than even the reserved forests. But even then the convetous eyes of the Forest Department were there. He, however, felt that if necessary the people might go to the extreme to prevent any further takeover of their forests. Since then I have not heard anything about further development on this tricky issue. I presume that no news is good news.
Dispossession not through Amnesia
When formats for preparation of records-of-rights of Jharkhand and Orissa are compared, it is found that in Chotanagpur community rights are also recorded; in Orissa this is not done. It seems to be a deliberate omission. A comparison of the records-of-rights of all States will perhaps bring out many such cases, which are not the result of amnesia.
Dispossession through State-centric Command Law sidetracking Living Law of Life
In 1960, the Judicial Commissioner of Manipur, who had the status of a High Court Judge, in his judgement on a civil writ petition filed by Luitang Khullakpa and others decided that in the hills of the State the village communities were the ultimate owners of the land and land related resources. [AIR 1961 Manipur 31 (V48C10)] In making this judicial pronouncement the Judicial Commissioner took the following facts into consideration.
In the absence of other records the Judicial Commissioner had mainly depended on information available in T.C. Hodson’s book, The Naga Tribes of Manipur, published in 1911. As described by Hodson:
(a) Each village possesses a well-defined area within which the villages possess paramount rights of hunting or fishing and of development of cultivation.
(b) In the case of villages which possess terraced fields, there is customary stipulation of equitable distribution of water throughout the terraces.
(c) Whild land is held in several ownerships, no alienation outside the clan is permitted.
(d) The Manipur State Hill People Regulation, 1947 indicates that each village has a Khullakpa or Chief and other officers like the Luklakpa, who collect from each household or family house tax at a fixed rate.
There is no system of assessment of lands in separate ownership and possession of lands among villages. But there is a provision in sections 60 to 64 of the Regulation of 1947 for settlement of disputes regarding ownership of land or the right of cultivation of land, and also regarding village boundaries. This would show that while ownership of land and right to cultivation are recognised in the hill villages, the actual enjoyment of the same appears to be a matter of internal arrangement in the villages, and the government does not interfere.
After taking note of the facts on the ground, the Judicial Commissioner concluded:
It is too late in the day for the Government to say that the villagers are in possession only during the pleasure of the Government. The Hill villagers have been dealing the lands in their possession with heritable rights and with rights of alienation at least within their own clan and within their own villages.
Such rights amount to property within the meaning of Article 31 of the Constitution.
Mandarins of the Manipur Government never concealed their unhappiness about this judgment. In Manipur more than 90 per cent of the area constitutes the hills, only around nine per cent is the valley. On the other hand three-fourths of the population live in the valley. It is extremely difficult for any government to ignore the demographic imperative, but the hill people also cannot be expected to gift away their right based on the principle of lex loci rei sitae. Thus the polity in Manipur has always been marked by an undercurrent of tension centring on this conflict of interests.
Frequently the political and administrative establishment in Manipur would take the stand that the judgment in the Luitang case related to the specific area of Luitang only, it did not cover the whole State. But except for attempts here and there by the administration, there is no general attempt to sidetrack the operation of the judgment by administrative action.
In 1995, the Government of Manipur set up a Social Policy Advisory Committee with myself as the Chairman, one former Chief Minister, three Cabinet Ministers, Chairman, Hill Area Committee of the Assembly with Cabinet rank, one former Cabinet Minister, two educationists and one former MP as members. Along with other matters, we examined the issues of communal land system in the hills. We found that in some cases the concerned village communities had proportionately very large areas within their jurisdiction. We suggested that the State should not interfere with their ownership rights. But like the Maori incorporations of New Zealand, the State can regulate their resource use pattern, and appropriation pattern. Out of the income generated through regulated use of the resources, income that can be accrued to a household through the extant Land Ceiling Act of the State can be equitously distributed among all the households of the village; the surplus income should be utilised to create institutions and facilities to which all citizens of Manipur, irrespective of whether hailing from the hills or from the valley, would have equal right of access. In the presence of the Chief Minister, the report was signed by all the members who represented both hills and plain and all the major ethnic entities of the State. But later, on a very different issue, some differences had surfaced. As a result, this attempt to reform the communal land resource management system did not receive the attention it deserved.
I was hoping that after the other issue was resolved, this one will be taken up and a bridge of understanding will be built between the peoples of the hills and the plain. But then came the shattering blow from an unexpected quarter. While delivering the judgment on a case lodged by the people of a different hill village claiming compensation for appropriation of the community land by a public sector undertaking, the Supreme Court not only rejected the claim of that village, but passed an order setting aside the judgment of the Judicial Commissioner four decades ago.
In a single stroke of pen the hill tribal people of Manipur have been legally disposed of thousands of kilometres of community land. It is a different matter that politically it may not be possible for the State or any agency to physically take possession of all those lands. But the judicial time-bomb for a future explosion has been laid.
This raises the question about the source of law. With exceptions, by and large the judiciary in India seems to be informed by the Austinian orientation of state-centric command law. Today when the state is receding from many of its functions such orientation is more likely to serve the interests of the corporate sector.
An all-out discourse should be launched relating to the relative significance of Austin’s command law orientation, Duguit’s social solidarity orientation and Kelsen’s living law orientation. If dispossession of millions are to be averted, judicial pronouncements must be required to make the underlying epistemic orientation clear.
Like any other fundamentalism judicial fundamentalism also must be subjected to social x-ray, so that dispossession of the type mentioned above does not go unchallenged.
In the early part of this paper, I referred to the statement submitted to Parliament on behalf of the Planning Commission about the main thrusts of the report of the Study Group on ‘Land Holding Systems of the Tribals’ and the response of the State Government of Orissa. From the details of the Study Group’s report and of the State Government’s action I have presented in this paper it would be obvious that the statement given on behalf of the Planning Commission was an incomplete version of what the report revealed and what the state did.
If one has to conclude what has led a large section of the tribal people to political extremism, obviously it cannot be ascribed to any particular cause in isolation. But apart from the executive and the monitoring organisation, roles of institutions like the Planning Commission and judiciary will also have to be examined and anslysed in great depth.
Prof B.K. Roy Burman is the former Chairman, Study Group on Land Holding System of Tribals, Planning Commission, Government of India (1985-86), and former Chairman, Committee on Forest and Tribals Backward Classes Unit, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (1980-82).