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Woman bureaucrat brings social miracle, hailed as ”Mother Goddess”

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By Nityanand Shukla

Ranchi: In a primitive Jharkhand tribe, a woman bureaucrat has effected a social miracle. In this village, women had crafted artifacts but there was no market for them. Because of her efforts, this woman bureaucrat is worshipped as ”Mother Goddess” in more than 25 villages of the area.

Suchitra Sinha, currently Jharkhand’s tourism director, is worshipped as “Devi Maa” with her photograph occupying a prominent place among the other gods and goddesses in the prayer room of tribal homes.

“She is our mother. Our Devi mother. We have not seen God but for us this mother has always stood by us whenever we have needed her,” Manju, a Sabar tribe woman who resides in Samanpur village of Nimdih block, some 135 km from Jharkhand capital Ranchi, told a visiting agency correspondent through a translator. It’s not just the 250 families of Samanpur village but also those of Makula, Bhangad, Bindubeda, Biridudih, Chirubeda, Bereda and other villages where Sinha is venerated.
The reason for this lay in a huge hall behind the village school where large numbers of men and women were hard at work making artefacts and other items of daily use from forest produce.

“It is maa (Mother) who has made sure that food is prepared in our homes, our children are fed and the male members were put on the right track of life,” Manju explained.

Sinha had cleared the Bihar Public Service Commission examination (Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar) in 1988 and was familiar with the underdeveloped area that was a hotbed of Maoist rebels as well from the time she as posted as Jamshedpur’s deputy collector in 1990. However, her visit to Samanpur village in 1996 for attending an event was the turning point.

She took up the matter with the Deputy Development Commissioner (DDC), who, instead of hearing her out, suggested she concentrate on her official duties. Jeeringly, he said it was naive to believe that the villagers could be pulled out of the state of intoxication they lived in for most of the time.

Even Sinha’s family members laughed at her intentions.

However, this did not deter Sinha and she made repeat visits to Samanpur village, speaking to the men to turn a new leaf, making the women realise their exceptional talent and soon earned their trust.

Gradually, people started listening to her; even the youths started to associate with Her. She suffered a setback when she was transferred to New Delhi but she was committed to ensuring that her efforts see the light of the day.

Sinha took the items made by the villagers to the Development Commissioner for Handicrafts and informed him about the talent of the villagers. The commissioner encouraged her and also suggested that the villagers be trained in modern techniques.

By now, word of Sinha’s mission had spread and the residents of other villagers too began to enthusiastically join in.

She later formed a self-help group named Amabalika and in groups of 10, the villagers were brought to New Delhi, where they were trained at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT). These villagers, in turn, trained others in their own villages and the rest, as they say, is history.

Her efforts translated into reality and soon the handicrafts started getting markets for themselves.

In all this, Sinha is extremely self-effacing. “Please do not highlight me. Highlight the problems of the primitive tribes who need immediate help. I will be happy if corporate houses adopt the villages and develop basic infrastructure in the area. The area lacks electricity, roads and basic facilities. We are planning to develop the area and develop the craft village,” Sinha said.

“I do not want to be worshipped as a goddess; neither do I want to be in the limelight. I have just made sure that the members of the Sabar tribe, who are on the verge of extinction, get economic benefits through their skills,” she said.

Asked whether family responsibilities have come in her way, Sinha said she has beautifully managed to strike a balance between her roles as a wife, daughter-in-law and mother and is fully supported by her family members in her efforts.

Her husband, an Indian Revenue Service officer, is posted in New Delhi and her children are settled. She lives alone in Ranchi and wants to continue her work for the betterment of the Sabar tribals. (IANS) (Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at nityanand.s@ians.in)

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Congress To Use Tribal Card to Regain Power in the Country

Congress to use tribal card to improve countrywide position

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Congress Chhattisgarh
Congress will be using the tribal card to regain dominance and their plan of action will begin from Chhattisgarh. Wikimedia Commons

BY SANDEEP PAURANIK

In order to regain dominance in the country, the Congress is mulling using the tribal card. This plan of action is to be first implemented in Chhattisgarh.

Riding on the success of the Assembly and urban body elections, the Congress feels that it can increase it base through tribals as they constitute 8 per cent of the total population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the first three Assembly elections in the state, after its formation in 2000, recorded huge victories and came to power. But after the Assembly elections held last year, the scenario changed. After registering a victory in the Assembly elections and then in the urban body polls, the Congress showed that it still dominates the tribal areas.

Rahul Gandhi Congress
Former President of Congress Rahul Gandhi gave an important message while innaugrating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur. Wikimedia Commons

The Congress gave the responsibility of the tribal areas to the tribal leader of Madhya Pradesh Umang Singhar which eventually helped the party. Now, the party is planning to spread out nationwide through Chhattisgarh.

Former party president Rahul Gandhi, while inaugurating the National Tribal Dance Festival in Raipur, gave a message to the tribals who are here to participate in the festival that the Chhattisgarh government is working for all the sections and this is the reason why there has been a downward trend in naxal attacks and the state economy has also improved.

The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country because the tribal population in the state is 32 per cent.

BJP media panellist Sandeep Sharma, however, claims that the party’s base has not shrunk. He said till Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were not divided, the Congress was strong in the area but in the elections held after three years of the bifurcation, the BJP won the Assembly elections and was in power for 15 years. Though we faced defeat in the 2018 elections, the only reason was that people wanted a change but they were not angry with the BJP, he claimed.

The BJP won in the Lok Sabha elections and the margin in the urban body elections was also not much. So, it would be inappropriate to say that the BJP’s base has shrunk, he said adding that in one year the Congress’ base has declined by 9 per cent whereas in Assembly elections it got 12 per cent more votes and in urban body elections the margin was 3 per cent.

Congress
The Congress is planning to publicise the improvements in Chhattisgarh throughout the country. Wikimedia Commons

Analysing the political landscape of the state, political analyst Rudra Awasthi said, “When it was Madhya Pradesh then the Congress had stronghold in Chhattisgarh. Several big leaders were also from the state but after the formation of Chhattisgarh since Ajit Jogi was accused of being a fake tribal the Congress lost its stronghold over the tribals. Though it continued to dominate in some of the areas which helped it in regaining the power.

“As of now, the Congress has started including the tribals with the backward class. First Bhupesh Baghel was the state chief of the party and he was replaced by Mohan Markam as he became the Chief Minister. During the Assembly elections, the Congress talked about the identity of the tribals which helped the party. After winning the elections, the decisions of the Congress government were in favour of the tribals which helped the party in the urban body elections,” said Awasthi.

Also Read- Unity in Diversity is the Strength of the Country: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress is mulling over spreading its message to the tribals across the country through the three-day festival going on here. For this several senior leaders of the party will attend the festival and share the government’s schemes while giving the message that the Congress government in the state has brought a positive and a significant change in the lives of the tribals. (IANS)