Central funds herald uplift of tribal women

BANKURA, Jan. 22 : In districts like Bankura, tribal women have remained uncared for since the pre-Independence era. Now, however, with the new initiatives of the Centre, and efforts taken by the state to help implement the Central plans, the scenario is changing for the better. The district has already spent Rs 3.12 crore to help elevate the status of the tribal women; the mission is to make them self-reliant in one year.

According to the 2001 census, tribal women make up 11.32 per cent of the total rural population in the district. In urban areas, however, their presence is less significant and is recorded at a mere 0.71 per cent. The condition of the tribal women, especially those in remote villages in Khatra sub-division, “has reached the worst and they are forced to live under male domination”, said Mrs Syed Sahidara Begum, secretary, Women’s Association for Rights & Development, an NGO in Bankura.

“The women do the maximum work in the tribal villages. They manage the domestic chores and also other work like collecting leaves from the forests for cattle and goats,” she added.

But with the recent efforts of those in power, the living conditions of tribal women are slowly but surely changing. Mrs Srimati Sardar and Mrs Ramoni Baske, residents of Satnala village in Khatra, were seen nursing a herd of goats. “We were BPL. Now we are APL. We feel proud of it,” said the housewives together, referring to their uplift from below the poverty line. Their sentiments are echoed by Mrs Chumki Tudu, a resident of Purnapani village in Ranibandh.

Women in similar happy and busy circumstances could be found in villages like Motgoda in Raipur; and Golokpal and Bohodadanga in Ranibandh. The women were given Central fund assistance under the scheme for self-reliance. The Tribal Welfare Development Corporation has joined hands to ensure the projects in the district are implemented properly. Altogether 23 blocks in Bankura have benefited out of the schemes.
At Motgoda village, 62 goats were distributed among the tribal women four years ago. The animals have helped the women become self-sufficient. “The women have started repaying the loan amount,” said Mr Dilip Ghosal, a TWDC executive. “Their performance is encouraging, and we have plans to extend the scheme.”