A Challenging Period In The Life Of Ekta Parishad - Newsletter February 2014


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A challenging period in the life of Ekta Parishad

Back to the Village” – Ekta Parishad’s new campaign heralds a change of strategy for the organization. In a letter by Rajagopal PV, which is published in the current newsletter, the leader of Ekta Parishad explains the inherent message of the new campaign and describes its impact on the organisation’s near future: “a challenging period in the life of Ekta Parishad.”

You will find a lot of other interesting stories and reports in our revised and newly designed newsletter. We hope you enjoy it and we welcome your feedback at info@ektaparishad.com.

Meanwhile, very best wishes for 2014.

Jai Jagat!

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A Challenging Period In The Life Of Ekta Parishad - Newsletter February 2014

  1. 1. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 Dear friends, A challenging period in the life of Ekta Parishad „Back To The Village” – Ekta Parishad’s new campaign heralds a change of strategy for the organization. In a letter by Rajagopal PV, which is published in the current newsletter, the leader of Ekta Parishad explains the inherent message of the new campaign and describes its impact on the organisation’s near future: “a challenging period in the life of Ekta Parishad.” In “Empower The People”, we follow the new campaign into the villages of Madhya Pradesh to answer the question: how have non-violent actions of Ekta Parishad changed the way of thinking in the communities? IN THIS Issue - Back To The Village - Millions Can Walk - Empower The People - Ekta Parishad’s European Tour - Economic Activities - A Long Way To A Life Of Dignity “The Long Way to a Life of Dignity” follows a similar path and highlights both the improvements and setbacks in a rural Baiga village. “Millions Can Walk” is a breathtaking movie on Jan Satyagraha, which premiered at the “Solothurner Filmtage” in Switzerland. It is going to be shown in several countries around the world later this year. “Ekta Parishad’s European Tour” gives you an insight into the European visit of Rajagopal and other activists which included meeting several partners and representatives of the United Nations. Finally, “Economic Activities” takes a closer look at some of Ekta Parishad’s projects in the villages. We hope you enjoy this newsletter and we welcome your feedback at info@ ektaparishad.com. Meanwhile, very best wishes for 2014. Jai Jagat!
  2. 2. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 Back To The Village A challenging period in the life of Ekta Parishad by Rajagopal PV - M obilization of marginalized communities by Ekta Parishad began back in the 1980’s. This was a time taking process. Many years of cadre building followed by many years of expansion leading to many years of foot-marches and other actions finally shaped an organization with energy and commitment to influence policies and programs at regional and national government levels. What we witnessed in 2007 during Janadesh and again in 2012 during Jansatyagraha was a culmination of nonviolent energy that was building since 1980. For many years the major thrust was to address the policies of the government through struggles and dialogue. Having brought about many policy changes, now it is time for the organization to guarantee implementation of these policies and programs. While Ekta Parishad focuses on policies related to land there are others who are trying to bring about a change in policies pertaining to information/transparency, employment, food rights etc and we have a responsibility to support such efforts whenever possible. The basic agenda of the ‘Back to the village’ campaign is reorganizing the political, social, and economic space of the village. We are also planning to give a special focus to the economic space by setting up an economic committee at the national level. This committee, with the help of activists and village leaders will create a database of people’s current economic positions by including the current land holding of our communities and activists. Identifying the quantum of land our community members got because of struggles, the current utilization pattern of these lands, the next steps to further develop these lands, the kind of agriculture that is suitable for different contexts will be some of the focus areas of this database. Identifying the resources that are needed to increase production, storage facilities that are needed to take advantage of agricultural production, encourage communities to move from individual agriculture to group agriculture, from individual assets to group assets are some agenda items within the economic domain. In areas where the community did not get land we need to be exploring non landbased economic activity. This will include medicinal plant collection, beekeeping, bamboo crafts, forest produce collection & processing etc. In the process of building a village economy around what is available today, each community can start saving for our next action in 2020. A strong village level economy will provide greater possibility for this action. Exploring financial resources through governmental institutions will be helpful in developing a live economic space for marginalized communities. Organizing non-violent actions on Forest Rights Act and shelter land provision at the village level can bring more land to the people. Provisions like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and Right to Food also offer possibilities for organizing non-violent actions to bring justice to marginalized communities. It will also be important to work on using and expanding the political space within the gram sabha and panchayat. Opportunities in the sociopolitical spaces that open up at various points of time need to be fully used. These interventions in the village in the economic and political space can also be used for training and promoting new leadership that will carry out the action in 2020. In a globalizing world that seeks to transfer land and livelihood resources from communities to corporations and where democratic space is shrinking to enable this using available spaces effectively and bringing a positive change in the villages is indeed a big challenge but I believe that we at Ekta Parishad are ready and capable to take up this challenge. With thanks and regards, Rajagopal PV
  3. 3. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 Millions Can Walk The March For Justice Premiere in Switzerland Christoph Schaub and Kamal Musale created a film on Jan Satyagraha which highlights the power of non-violent action in a philosophical and emotional way. The film premiered to an international audience in January. H undreds of thousands of Indian men and women, many landless farmers and Adivasis – Indian aborigines – are underway on foot along dusty roads through villages and cities on the National Highways. Large-scale exploitation of mineral resources, the construction of immense plantations and tremendous infrastructure projects have resulted in these people being driven from their homes and robbed of their peaceful existence. Led by Rajagopal, the charismatic leader and pioneer of the movement they have come together from all across the country to fight for an honorable existence. Their protest march leads from Gwalior to Delhi – 400 kilometers away. They endure the heat, defy illnesses, suffer hardship and deprivation. But one thing is clear to them: they will persevere and only return home once the government heeds their demands. In January, „Millions Can Walk“ premiered at the Solothurner Filmtage, where the film has been nominated for the Prix de Soleure the prize of the festival. The whole film crew and Rajagopal PV attended the festival and earned rave reviews. The event was accompanied by media coverage from a number of Swiss newspapers and magazines. Rajagopal gave several interviews and was invited to a discussion on Swiss national television SRF1. A recording of this discussion is available online on the website of SRF1. It is as if the poor and oppressed of the whole world are rising up and speaking out. They insist in pointing out that they are not willing to accept the violation of their rights. More information on the movie is available on the official website and the facebook page: Their march, based on the idea of Gandhi’s philosophy of passive resistance, will go down in history and will be covered by the most important international media. The world can no longer look away. How can one fight for one’s rights without using violence? Since this is such an important question, this film spreads far beyond the borders of India. It shows the multiple layers beneath this impressive protest march, revealing what is happening along their way. And it focuses over and over again on some of the participants and their moving stories as well as into daily life of these proud people. fb.com/millionscanwalk.film “Millions Can Walk” is a political yet philosophical and emotional film with surprising images of great metaphorical power. It is captivating to the very end: Will these men and women be successful? Will the government fulfill their demands? www.millionscanwalk-film.com 1
  4. 4. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 Empower The People Another view on the legacy of Jan Satyagraha While most of our readers know about the political achievements of Jan Satyagraha 2012 the psychological impact has been even more extensive for Adivasi and particularly on Adivasi women. equally powerful effect. This is the direct impact of this non-violent mass action on the people who were actively involved. In November 2013 a delegation of Ekta Parishad supporters and activists visited several villages in the rural parts of two districts of Madhya Pradesh. We took this opportunity to speak to some of the people actively involved in Jan Satyagraha in 2012. One year after the march of 100 000 landless people from Gwalior to Agra, we asked them what Jan Satyagraha’s impact on their lives was. An experience of unity and dignity Two Baigas in front of their home by Jim Knopf* “When we went there in the first place, some other villagers were gossiping and joking about us, saying we were too lazy to work. It was only when we came back from Jan Satyagraha, that they realized its true value.” - Adivasi women in a rural village of Madhya Pradesh M ost articles about Jan Satyagraha 2012 have focused on the institutional impact. The 10-point agreement on land reforms signed by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh in Agra led to the Draft National Land Reforms Policy in July 2013. Some experts say that about 80% of the agreement has been implemented, but two major points are still lacking. The national land reform is one and the other is the “right to land for shelter”. The present article brings a less discussed aspect of Jan Satyagraha 2012 had an On our visits to the villages hundreds of Adivasis shared their stories with us. Shocking and moving stories of defeat and loss, as well as impressive stories of hope and triumph. They told us about their lives, the issues they have to face and the goals for which they are struggling. In the center of the discussion stood Jan Satyagraha and the effect it had on them. One of the most frequently mentioned impacts was the fact that they gained the ability to meet on an equal footing as the authorities. Some Adivasis told us that they were no longer afraid of uniforms and did not hide when Forest Department or police authorities came to their village. Instead they were ready to answer their questions with dignity and self-confidence. campaign and the march itself equipped them with knowledge of their rights and possibilities within the system to address their problems as well as an understanding of the strength of community. “As an individual we have no power, but together we are strong!”, said one woman. “When the police or the Forest Department officials arrive, we stand together, they don’t have the power to take someone in custody or away from us.” The reduction of fear in the relationship between villagers and local authorities It is obvious that fear has been reduced not only with regard to the Adivasi’s behavior and enthusiasm but also in the way the authorities treat them. Some people are critical that the expected visible impact on the ground in terms of land titles has not yet arrived. However, the authorities have started to listen to the people and are now taking their issues more seriously and show them respect. “After Jan Satyagraha the Forest Department‘s behavior changed completely”, an old man explained. “There has been a lot of harassment in the past, Adivasi’s property was taken away, huts and fields were burned down and destroyed by authorities. Now they tell us that we should leave these old bad stories behind and focus on our future relationship. This changed after Jan Satyagraha. They allow us to collect products of the forest. They are not harassing us anymore.” Besides a decreasing level of fear and increasing self-confidence among the Jan Satyagraha spread the knowledge and the strength to fight on a nonviolent level in discussion of the issues they face. The whole mobilization “As an individual we have no power, but together we are strong!”
  5. 5. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 Adivasis, the incentive and motivation to continue the struggle was clearly noticeable during our trip to the villages. The attention from the media in 2012 and from people around the globe as well “After Jan Satyagraha the Forest Department‘s behavior changed completely” as the gathering of different Adivasi tribes from all over India gave them the acknowledgment that they are fighting for a significant and important goal: We realized that it is a big issue which affects a lot of people and that something can be done about land, water and forest. Ekta Parishad’s campaign of ‘no land no vote’ is getting increasingly popular and some people told us, that they are already looking forward to a new march to keep the pressure up on the politicians. The empowerment of women Women’s are playing an increasingly important role in the land-struggle and many took part in the march. They now get out of their houses, engage in activities and organize meetings. In some villages women groups have formed and there are some Adivasi women representatives in the village councils. Thanks to their empowerment Baiga Family talking about issues like domestic violence is not longer out of bounds and in some places it is even put on the political agenda. The women are able to claim their rights at village level as well as from higher authorities. Concerning joint pattas**, some women who have already got their land titles expressed their satisfaction that the woman’s name is shown first on the document. One woman told us: “Even if this might be only a symbolic act, it makes me happy.” Some of the Adivasis have a decadeslong history of cultivating their land without any legal documents. They faced harassment of government authorities as well as from landlords. In addition, some were displaced by dam-projects, others by national parks, still others by multinational as well as Indian companies. Only a few received compensation. Land is the main source of income and dignity for these communities. It is a sustainable ground for livelihood and might be more important than government welfare actions and funded food programs. After their non-violent action against these inequities, some Adivasis finally got their land titles. But they are still a minority. The large majority is still struggling, but Jan Satyagraha increased their courage to keep on fighting for their dignity to struggle for their own piece of land. Land on which they were living for generations, land that was taken away or is in danger of being grabbed by corporations and politicians under the cloak of “development”. * the author of the present article is a Swiss volunteer, who worked for Ekta Parishad for half a year ** joint pattas are land titles issued not only on the men’s name but also on the women’s name.
  6. 6. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 Ekta Parishad’s European Tour Touching base one year after Jan Satyagraha From Nantes he moved on to Angers, where he co-organised a pre-meeting of young people about a future International Initiatives training on nonviolent struggles around land in Europe. Co-organised by Tchandra Cochet, JeanPierre Dardaud and Gilles Changeon (La paix en marche) this pre-meeting also welcomed young participants from Germany and other parts of France, and will hopefully lead to the organisation of a training on non-violence and land issues in 2014. To keep informed about this topic, contact Tchandra Cochet by e-mail. tchandra@hotmail.fr Meeting with David Nabarro, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition One year after Satyagraha, Rajagopal and the Ekta Parishad team test the response to the march in Europe. O ne year after the success Rajagopal and other activists from Ekta Parishad in India visited various partners in Europe to share the impact of the march and explain their strategies for the years ahead. They also reinforced the need for European support for the poor in India. After a short journey to Belgium and Germany, Rajagopal came back to Bordeaux in France for the Pessac Historical Film Festival. Here he was invited by the local groups of Peuples Solidaires and the Collectif SSI of Pessac to stay with them from November 18th to 23rd and during that time he made several public speeches on Gandhi’s legacy, nonviolent struggles and agrarian reforms in India. This was also a good opportunity to meet not only local activists, but also policy makers and to make new potential partners. More details on the Facebook page of the Collectif SSI Pessac: fb.com/CollectifPessacSSI Rajagopal at Pessac Historical Film Festival Rajagopal then continued his French trip with a visit to Nantes, where he participated in the International meetings of Lascaux, from November 25th to 27th, on the theme “Thinking about food democracy”. More details on the website of Droit Aliments Terre: www.droit-aliments-terre.eu After a couple of days in Angers and Rennes, Rajagopal rushed to Montpellier to participate in several showings of the film made after Jan Satyagraha by François Verlet and Louis Campana, Cent mille et une victoires pour le monde, organised by the MAN Montpellier in Montpellier and Rhodez on November 30th and December 1st. You find more information on the MAN Montpellier on their website. Rajagopal then spent a couple of days in Paris to meet with high profile Members of the European Parliament (MEP) like Karima Delli and Noël Mamère (from the French Green, EELV), and to participate in a public event co-organised by Solidarité and Alter Eco on December 4th (read more about this in French: http://solidarite.asso.fr/Entretien-avecRajagopal-Pourquoi). The Parisian journey made it possible to participate in a meeting organised at Peuples Solidaires with the French collective against land-grabbing, together with representatives from ENDA Senegal, GRAIN, CCFD, MAN, Confédération Paysanne, Ethiopia and Indonesia. More information on Peuples solidaires
  7. 7. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 and the collective against land grabbing: www.peuples-solidaires.org/ les-accaparements-de-terres-menacepour-la-securite-alimentaire/ Let 2014 be a year of international solidarity and unity! Happy New Year to all! Best wishes, Most of the members of Ekta Europe and Ravi Badri, Shraddha Kashyap, Ransingh Parmar, Birendra Kumar and Rajagopal from Ekta Parishad India then gathered in Geneva for an international workshop on «Jan Satyagraha: one year after: what’s next?». The Ekta Europe meeting took place over two days. (The report of the above mentioned workshop is now available, contact info@ektaeurope.org) More information can be found on the Ekta Europe website. www.ektaeurope.org/ Marie Bohner, European communication & advocacy coordinator for Ekta Parishad and Ekta Europe Following his trip to Europe, Rajagopal headed to Nicaragua to facilitate a debate on non-violent struggles and land rights for International Initiatives. For more info on the meetings of Rajagopal in Bern and Zürich, contact Küde Meier. k.meier@gmx.ch This was the end of a busy year for Rajagopal consolidating the links between Ekta Parishad and Ekta Europe. These meetings created new expectations on both sides, new partnerships, new alliances to unite against injustice and poverty. Those days in Geneva also allowed some meetings of the Indian activists with UN representatives. After this, the Indian team flew back to India while Rajagopal participated in several meetings in Bern and Zurich. He spoke to former partners like Swissaid but even more, had some great exchange with HEKS’s Desk Officer of Cambodia, India and Vietnam, stressing the importance of connecting Ekta Parishad’s experiences with similar struggles in different countries (e.g. land grabbing). Rajagopal also had several appointments with influential Swiss media editors, to raise the awareness of Ekta Parishad’s work in Switzerland on a national level. Within January, there was print and national television coverage, which was accompanied by the cinema release of the movie “Millions Can Walk”, a documentary capturing some of Ekta Parishad’s main struggles and the impressions during Jansatyagraha. All these actions combined will help Ekta Parishad to get more acknowledgment and publicity for its work which will certainly help to get more support from Europe. If you wish to get involved and participate to our struggle, please check our website (where you can find the local contacts of the Ekta Europe members in various European countries).
  8. 8. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 Economic Activities A closer look at some village projects - In Katni, a project for training on organic farming is led by Nirbhai Singh, the convener of the Ekta Economic Forum. An offshoot of this includes a collaboration with a young student from Mumbai led to a project, where the Panika tribe’s hand-woven cloths were provided with a modern-art print to make consumer items for people in cities. At exhibitions held to promote the product, the feedback showed that customers were impressed by the quality of the products. Ekta Arthik Manch, Ekta Parishad’s economic wing, is actively working to improve the livelihood in the villages to reduce forced migration into overcrowded and polluted cities. I t is crucial to understand the current economic situations in the villages and to identify the next steps to further develop the land that was successfully gained after many years of struggle in a sustainable manner, as it was mentioned in the lead article by Rajagopal. Ekta Parishad has many years of experience in providing villagers with support in the economic domain. Its own dedicated wing called Ekta Arthik Manch (economic wing) is actively working to improve the livelihood of people in the villages to reduce forced migration into overcrowded and polluted cities. Therefore, it is critical not only to give assistance to people to get the land titles, but also support them in finding a way to use that land to provide themselves with food and basic necessities. To achieve this aim, Ekta Parishad works closely with several partners and institutions: - Since 2001, The Ekta Foundation Trust has supported projects intended to preserve and promote the cottage and handicraft industry and to increase opportunities for rural employment. - A project with the aim of vegetable cultivation by women’s groups is supported in Kerala. The women organize themselves in the form of self-help groups (SHG) which sell growbags containing soil, organic manure and coir pith to provide an income to support their families. In some villages, ‘mutual help groups’ (MHGs) can be found. These are SHGs engaged in saving money and lending it out to members in need of investment in individual ventures and in times of need. The money that women save in their MHGs is often used for agriculture, marriage of a child or health emergency. Generally, these MHGs are led by a president, treasurer and secretary who between them would decide on the management of the groups and keep records on the contribution of each member to the savings fund as well as their repayments. - In addition there are many small groups working on grain bank systems in different villages. This is just a snapshot of some of the active projects that Ekta Parishad is running. Future newsletters will include more information so that you can get a better insight into Ekta Parishad’s economic activities in the villages. Readers interested in finding out more about our economic work will find two great online resources to get more insight into past and current work. Firstly, a great overview is given by the economic wing that can be found here. Secondly, there is a an interesting movie by Emma Baus that gives a great insight into the work of1 Avani Kumar and Ekta Parishad, who have worked closely together for several years. The movie impressively shows the hard work that is done by villagers on a daily basis. Avani helps citizens to create a sustainable livelihood with their non-violently manufactured products. The movie is available online.
  9. 9. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 A Long Way To A Life Of Dignity A report from the Baiga village Ranjara In December 2013 a team of documentary filmmakers and Shoba Tivari an Ekta Parishad activist visited Ranjara, a secluded village, in rural Dindori District of Madhya Pradesh. by Jim Knopf* - W e drive through forests and valleys, pass Adivasi villages, shepherds with their cows and goats, cross rivers and get across country to reach the village. Mobile connection was lost about one hour before the driver suddenly stopped the car. In front of us appeared a deep hole in the dirt road. It was late afternoon before the driver found the courage to conquer the hole and move on and we decided to walk the last kilometers to Ranjara. The Baiga (see info box below) village lies in the hills of Dindori District in Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India. The only motorized vehicles which make their way to this secluded place are 4x4 and motorbikes. Both of them are rarely seen. During our stay we once saw an employee of the Forest Department, who drove his motorbike through the village, another time we met a businessman who visits the village with his vehicle. Those few Baigas who can afford it buy a bicycle, but most of them have to walk all the way on foot. On the way to the village, we meet a lot of Adivasi heavily loaded with bags of rice and salt. In the neighboring village the authorities are distributing food rations. The food program of the government of Madhya Pradesh supplies essentials to those who are lucky enough to have a ration card. These rations are a supplement to the Baigas’ predominantly self-sufficient agriculture. Sometimes they are able to sell their products in regional markets, yet a good many times there are middlemen involved who earn their part of the deal. Alongside agriculture, the forest is the main base of livelihood for the tribe. The Baigas collect firewood, herbs or other forest products like honey or bamboo. In the past, their activities led to a lot of conflict with the authorities of the Forest Department: “They were asking for money, mahua* and other things”, explains Lalla Singh, Ekta Parishad-activist and member of the gram panchayat (village government). If they were not able to pay, they forced them to work. “On the 25th of September 2004 the authorities burned our crops”, the activist tells me. After this incident, the community started to fight (in a nonviolent way) the injustice done to them by the authorities, with the support of Ekta Parishad. The struggle spread from district to state level. According to Lalla Singh, they also went to court, whereupon the Forest Department promised to pay them compensation. They have never kept this promise. “On the 25th of September 2004 the authorities burned our crops” We remember the famous Janadesh march of 2007, where 25,000 landless Adivasi walking from Gwalior to Delhi. This led to the passing of the Forest Rights Act in January 2008. But in spite of this provision the authorities still stopped the Baigas from collecting minor forest products and firewood, the activist told us. Nonetheless the march brought an improvement of the villagers’ situation. Between 2008 and 2013, 54 families got their land titles. According to Shoba Tiwari, who has spent 12 years in the area as an Ekta Parishad activist, they got about 4 million square meters of land. The land titles were issued in both husband’s and wife’s names, so called joint pattas. This is an attempt to empower women, who were faced with disadvantage and discrimination by former land titles issued solely in the man’s name. It was as a result of Jan Satyagraha that the village was allowed to collect from the forest. The authorities began to show respect for the concerns of the Baigas. The march of 100,000 landless Adivasis, which was covered by media reports all over the world, showed its impact on that level as well. “Is there electricity in the village?”, I doubtfully ask one villager after discovering an electrical tower. He explained to me that the village had light for 3 months when the government built these towers. Then the connection broke down. So far, no one has ever repaired it. When I ask him how long ago this happened, he pondered for a moment before pointing to a young boy standing next to him: “I was the same age as he is when that happened. That was 17 years ago.” According to Lalla Singh, today Ranjara is self-sufficient to a large extent. This fact led to a decrease in migration to the cities: “Only few people are moving to the cities, most of them go there to study.” This is a pleasant development.
  10. 10. Ekta Parishad Newsletter www.ektaparishad.com Winter & Spring Issue Bhopal, February | 2014 Nevertheless, Lalla Singh is not satisfied by all these improvements and the current circumstances: “I am happy about the land we got but a majority of the villagers are still struggling. It is a long way to go until every villager has his own piece of land.” The struggle of the Baigas for a life in dignity continues. * The author of the present article is a Swiss volunteer, who worked for Ekta Parishad for half a year ** Mahua is a spirit, which is locally distilled by the tribe. The Baigas The Baigas are indigenous people of India, a so called Adivasi tribe. They are recognized as a “scheduled tribe” in the Constitution of India and their status is acknowledged to some formal degree by national legislation. The Baigas have their own unique culture and animistic beliefs. They used to live mostly unaffected by external influences in the hilly forest areas of the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and in many places they still do. Baigas generate their livelihood through agriculture and the collection of forest products like wood, fruits, herbs and roots. Other food resources are hunting and fishing. For a long time, the Baigas practiced bewar cultivation, a unique form of slash & burn agriculture. They slash the trees of a certain area with an axe to cultivate the newly-created crop area. Today, bewar is banned by law. The majority of the Baigas are using wooden ploughs to cultivate their land. Tattooing is an integral part of the Baigas’ lifestyle. Baiga women decorate different parts of their bodies like hands, legs and forehead. Most Baiga women are not covering their heads and do not use a bindi. A majority of men have long hair, rolled into a small knot. The Baigas participate in various dances and songs often colorfully decked. The tribe is known for their in-depth knowledge of herbal medicine. Contact and Editorial Information Ekta Parishad International Coordination Gandhi Bhawan, Shyamla Hills Bhopal, 462002 Phone 07554223821 / 07552661800 Website : ektaparishad.com Email : info@ektaparishad.com Questions or comments? newsletter@ektaparishad.com