“Bfore coming here, I didn’t know we Nagas have better livelihood and facilities than tribals in states like Odisha and Chhattisgarh,” says Maram Students Union general secretary Bosco Kashung, who was among young tribals from 25 Indian states and 11 other countries at the recently concluded annual Samvaad hosted by Tata Steel at Jamshedpur as part of its CSR activities. In its fourth annual edition, the platform resounded with inspiring tales of leadership, entrepreneurship, and individual and community efforts to improve the social and financial status of neglected, deprived or exploited tribals. “It’s a learning experience on how we can resolve our differences and help each other,” says Rakesh Bhuria from Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. “After all, from New Zealand to Africa, tribals everywhere face issues related to land rights, forest conservation and protection of their culture.”
Kishen Mandavi from Bastar, Chhattisgarh, narrates how the Koel Bhumkal Kranti, started 15 years ago to conserve the environment, has finally taken off. “Only if villagers are given rights to water, land and forest will they take the onus to protect and conserve it for future generations,” says Mandavi. Women and child rights activist Shantha Sinha feels Samvaad gives a chance to become more aware. “The stories are of tribals striving for their rights and to conserve their identity, but within the system,” she says.