Kapil Surve

Sahariyas are a tribe residing in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Many of them earn their living by working in someone else’s field, a job known as ‘Hali’. Some also work for the Government Construction programmes on daily wage basis. They normally live at a distance from the city’s central region.

Shahbad, one of the tehsil city of the Baran district of Rajasthan is located at a distance of 140km from Kota and is located on the border between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The city has good transportation facilities due to its location on the side of National Highway 76.

The skill development programme was implemented by the Indian Institute of Rural Development (IIRD), an NGO operating inspired from Nanaji Deshmukh, based on whose ideas many development activities are being carried out in the Chitrakoot region of Madhya Pradesh. IIRD has taken inspiration from the methodology applied in Chitrakoot and started work on large scale in Rajasthan. It operates with the help of Samaj Shilipi Dampatti (SSD) who are active in the developmental activities of villages with the Sahariya tribe in dominating number.

Some of the problems faced by the Sahariya tribe are:

  • Non-functional government aid: The government aid provided in the form of free supply of basic commodities, has led to inactiveness among the people belonging to this tribe
  • Alcohol and other addictions: People here are addicted to alcohol and Vimal (a tobacco product) from the teenage itself because of early marriage. Marriage turned out to be a license for the alcohol consumption. Due to this reason, the Sahariya tribe has a bad reputation across Rajasthan.

SSDs are playing major role in inspiring and educating them so as to improve their lifestyle. But the Sahariyas donot have any concern to the issues raised by SSDs. The inactiveness spread across the tribe has led to improper utilization of crops given by the IIRD resulting in wastage of money for the later.

People belonging to the Sahariya tribe are trained in various vocations such as ladies tailoring, mechanic, horticulture, driving electrician and sports-training. In some cases, necessary financial aid was also provided to them to stand on their own feet. Possibilities of flourishment of these vocations in relation with the geographic conditions was also studied.

In a brain-storming session with some Sahariya youngsters, we came up with some innovative ways to earn a decent living. They include – foreign cuisine eateries, career agency, advanced dairy and young sports club & gymnasium.

Present work is based on the successful implementation of the model established by the late Nanaji Deshmukh in Chitrakoot. For any social work to be carried out in this regard, it is recommended to have a close bond with the tribal people by living along with them and conducting informative sessions with them, thereby, suggesting them innovative improvements for the betterment in their lifestyle.

Kapil is a final year undergraduate student at IIT Bombay. He lived among Sahariya people for two months and worked on skill development initiatives.