Czech Republic: Kumar Vishwanathan, an NRI in the Czech Republic and a part of Indian diaspora, aims to alleviate the ‘Romas’, a ‘marginalised’ community which is believed to be having roots in India. He proposes the initiative by integrating them into mainstream society in that country’s industrial city of Ostrava.
“They (Romas) are a severely stigmatised and marginalised ethnic minority in Europe,” Kumar Vishwanathan who landed in the Schengen country, then Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s told agencies during a visit here.
Vishwanathan’s efforts resulted in the formation of a unique housing project, now known as the “Vesnicka souziti” or “Coexistence Village”.
The Romas and non-Romas both reside in the village, along with some poor elderly white families.
He noticed the suffering of the Romas or gypsies, as they are addressed derogatorily in Europe. Romas basically reside in a neighbouring industrial city of Ostrava.
He claims the Romas have their roots in India, “often sharing features from the sub-continent”.
Vishwanathan completed his Masters’ degree in physics from the Patrice Lumumba People’s Friendly University in Moscow. He later on married Ladislava Universalova, an art student and Czech national, and settled down there.
After the plight of the Romas caught his attention, he left his former career as a physics teacher in the ‘historic’ city of Olomouc and decided to turn into a human rights activist.
Romas basically witnessed their major downfall after the floods of Czech in 1997.
According to him, the Romas probably are an ancient Indian diaspora but later on, gradually mixed with other groups.
There are about 20,000 Roma people in Ostrava, which is about 120 km from Olomouc and about 250,000 Roma of a total 10.3 million Czech population.
“It is said they left India in the middle ages.” After quitting his teaching job, he floated the ‘Vzajemne souziti’ or ‘Life Together’ along with some students of Ostrava University and Roma community members in 1997. (Inputs from niticentral.com) (picture courtesy: masterdmc.com)