Peaceful Societies

Alternatives  to Violence and War

 

 

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News and Reviews

April 24, 2014. Birhor Boycott National Elections

The Birhor are so jaded about the value of their votes—they have been so ignored by the power structures of their district—that they saw no reason to vote in the recent Indian elections. According to The Telegraph, one of India’s major papers, at least 80 families living in several villages in the Gomia block, the Bokaro district in Jharkhand state, felt that voting meant absolutely nothing to them. So they stayed home.

Birhor menWhen asked about the parliamentary elections, one Birhor man said, as translated by the paper, “Does [the] election provide rice? No food, no water, no power, so no vote.” The local voting for parliament was held last Thursday, April 17.

The Telegraph summarizes the poverty of the Birhor people. Most lack sufficient food, access to clean drinking water, and sources of a livelihood. Beyond those essentials, they also do not have electric power, schools, or roads. They are, basically, ignored.

Political candidates did not venture into their remote villages anyway, perhaps to avoid the difficult questions that the villagers might have raised, despite the fever pitch that campaigning had reached across the rest of the state. Furthermore, no district or Election Commission officials had visited the villages to alert the Birhor about their voting rights.

Sumri Birhorin, from the village of Birhortand, told the reporter that their member of the legislative assembly did visit the village once to distribute blankets, but the member of the national parliament has not visited “even once in the last five years to know about our conditions.”

Puran Birhor, another villager, made a similar statement. Until January, they had been given supplemental food grains, but that supply has been terminated.

The journalist found that village elders—Phulo Birhor, Jhamu Birhor, Phulmati Birhorin, and Campa and Sita Birhorin have never seen a ballot box, much less an electronic voting machine. They have never in their lives felt that there was any reason to vote. As The Telegraph summarized Birhor reactions, “elections mean nothing” to them.

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April 24, 2014. Kadar Boycott National Elections

While national elections in India made headlines worldwide in recent weeks, a Kadar hamlet decided to boycott the polls in Kerala to make their own statement. An article in The Hindu explained their reasoning.

Athirappilly FallsThe various candidates for office in the state have not clarified their positions on the controversial 163 megawatt hydropower project on the Chalakudy River that threatens the famous Athirappilly Waterfalls as well as entire Kadar communities. The government calculates that 163 Kadar families would be displaced in the hamlet of Vazhachal and 71 in Pokalappara. Environmental concerns had stopped the dam project several years ago, but the state has revived the planning once again.

In order to avoid the polling process, the Kadar left town. Over 340 potential voters fled into the nearby forest to spend the day collecting so-called minor forest products—their traditional occupation anyway. Their boycott was an attempt to clarify what the state is planning to do to them, and to peacefully dramatize their situation.

At dawn on voting day, the people abandoned more than 70 houses in the two hamlets to go out and collect honey and gooseberries. While that sort of collecting is a normal, daily routine, the people hoped to avoid confronting government officials and political activists who might try pressuring them to go to the polls and vote.

M. Lakshmanan, a Kadar elder, told the paper that none of the candidates had been inclined to clarify what was happening regarding the Athirappilly project, which the Kerala State Electricity Board had recently revived. He unloaded his irritation on the reporter. “Politicians [have] always cheated us. We have no agricultural land here and our livelihood is at stake due to climate changes affecting fish wealth in the Chalakudy river and minor forest produce in the Athirappilly forests,” he said.

A mother of two children, J. Vineetha, said at the Pukalappara settlement that employment with the Forest Department does provide minimal earnings, but “we are also facing [a] dearth of health and educational facilities. Some prominent candidates even ignored visiting our hamlets,” she told the reporter.

Some time ago, the Kadar were promised land about 40 km away on which they could resettle, but they found out that the proposed area was too dry for farming—and it had no forests. It would be difficult for them to survive. They indicated that they would be willing to be part of the voting process if their genuine needs would be met. The settlements in the upper Chalakudy River basin represent their original, and only, homeland, The Hindu concludes.

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Older News and Reviews

News and reviews of publications relating to peaceful societies—and sometimes to related topics—are normally posted here on Thursday mornings (U.S. time) and are kept on this page for one week. Older news and reviews for 2014 are listed below, and ones from previous years are listed on the News and Reviews 2004-2005 page, the 2006 page, the 2007 page, the 2008 page, the 2009 page, the 2010 page, the 2011 page, the 2012 page and the 2013 page. All stories are also included in the News and Reviews Subject Listing. Recent ones are listed at the bottom of each society entry in the Encyclopedia of Selected Peaceful Societies, after the heading: Updates: News and Reviews. News and reviews about peacefulness in general are referred to from the bottom of the Facts page, while news stories about this website are linked from the About This Website page. News and Reviews can also be found with the Google search bar.

April 2014

April 17, 2014. Hutterite Colony in Japan

April 17, 2014. Raging Violence, Nubians Versus Arabs

April 10, 2014. Paliyans Exploited in Tamil Nadu

April 10, 2014. Storytelling Preserves Traditions of the Lepchas

March 2014

March 27, 2014. Presentation on Tristan Coming to Toronto Area Library

March 27, 2014. Philippine Conference Promotes Indigenous Languages

March 20, 2014. Proposed Port Threatens Yanadi Villages

March 20, 2014. A Jewish Scholar Visits an Amish Family

March 13, 2014. Seminar Presentation on Rural Thai Culture

March 13, 2014. Ladakh Political Status Challenged

March 6, 2014. Inuit Languages Celebrated

March 6, 2014. Rules for Maintaining a Peaceful Society [journal article review]

February 2014

February 27, 2014. Zapotec Linguistics Analysis

February 27, 2014. Schooling for the Lepchas

February 20, 2014. Endangered Species and the San

February 20, 2014. Drive-by Horse Shooting

February 13, 2014. Nubians Recognized in Egyptian Constitution

February 13, 2014. Inuit Sex Trafficking

February 6, 2014. The Semai of Pos Betau

February 6, 2014. New Dictionary for Ju/’hoansi Children

January 2014

January 30, 2014. Preserving Lepcha Culture

January 30, 2014. Rural Thai Culture of Rice Farming

January 23, 2014. Hutterite Colony School Burns Down

January 23, 2014. Batek Suffering from Logging

January 16, 2014. The Tamaraw and the Buid

January 16, 2014. G/wi are Being “Treated Like Dogs”

January 9, 2014. Central California Zapotec Festival

January 9, 2014. Birhor Poverty Finds Relief in a Picnic

January 2, 2014. A Semai Christmas

January 2, 2014. Nubian Recognition in New Egyptian Constitution

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