Ishwarbhai is a snake charmer: He used to cut snakes from jungles, bushes and other areas where snakes can be easily found. Then, he used to tame these snakes and then goes to town to town and show the snake charm and the game to people. People are very fond of snake charming games and they were giving some money after the game. That money was his livelihood for his family.
Ishwarbhai is a snake charmer and he was forced to adopt begging due to the advent of the Wildlife Protection Act. Wild Life Protection Act snapped the snake from him. Snakes were his medium of lively hood. As a result of this, he was forced to beg. He had no education. He was devoid of any specialized skills. He was forced to do begging. Otherwise he would have to die without food.
Now, there are two and half lakhs of snake charmer dwelling in Gujrat and they are resorting to begging in order to fulfil the want of their belly. They are the invisible people, who are unwanted from every class of society and they are resorting to some other acts in order to earn a livelihood. Some are going way to do acrobat with fire in the mouth and some are begging. What is sad that they are leaving behind their age old profession, which is passed through them from generations.
They are caught between law of the land. According to the Wild Life Protection Act prohibition of hunting. – No person shall hunt any wild animal specified in Schedule, I, II, III and IV except as provided under section 11 and section 12. The hunting of wild animals is permitted in certain cases. In reality, the entire process is such an elaboration that an illiterate person like Ishwarbhai is not going to pursue that route.
The killing of a wild animal is allowed in certain cases like that of education, scientific innovation and scientific research purposes. My father is a banker and during my childhood days, I was experiencing some of snake charmer games as well as monkey games. They were reaching to schools and would be taking permission from the principal and then they would be showing snake charmer games to pupils.
School principal would be giving some money to a snake charmer. Snake charmer’s passion for showing snakes was phenomenal and wonderful. He was using his intelligence to show the snakes to little kids as if he was showing some magic. The box from which the snakes were there giving some awful nightmares for us as small kids.
Now, that snake charmer game is not there. Current generations are understanding what is it in this, the sheer joy in seeing the snakes in the open and with it he was giving many advices of how to keep a safe distance from snakes and how to stay out of it. In this manner, the small kids in the past were learning the dangers of touching snakes. Now, the profession of snake charmer is almost over. If you are seeing this, then they are doing this illegally.
The invisible people:
There are some people who can be included with invisible people are that of a tribe of “Sarania”. Their profession is to sharpen knives and tools. There are many Hindi songs from these professions. There are some songs when lady actor is roaming around the village with this knife sharpening machines here and there, and singing a song to attract people to sharpen knives. The nomadic tribe “Natda” is walking on the rope suspending on the air and show their technique to people. Bollywood films also featured these classes of people. They are showing their talent and people all around will give money in appreciation of their efforts. The nomadic tribe “Bhavaiya” performs folk-plays. Folk plays are mirrors of society. They are preserving culture. They are sometimes performing the role of Kali.
The nomadic tribe “Turi Bharot” used to play dhol. People were paying to them. The nomadic tribe “Bahurupi” is making a self disguising pose to people at the traffic and they are asking for money by showing their self disguised Poses. They used to take the guise of a king or some other character from epic and show cases them to people to earn their livelihood. The nomadic tribe “Gadalia” is making iron tools. They are doing these acts from ages and transferring from one generation to the other. Now, most of them are leaving behind these age old work. The nomadic tribe “Kangasia” make comb made of, wood. They have no villages and native lands. “Lawaria” nomadic tribe sells cooking stoves made of Iron. All these materials are born out. Everyone is experiencing their presence.
The British Government Settlement:
In 1872, British Government notified 200 odd these communities’ criminals. This was done in de-notified tribe settlement during British rule. It was mandatory for them to attend to police station on an interval basis. They were considered as born criminals according to British government settlements. In 1952, they were declared as free citizens. It was sad that they have to wait for five years after independence to receive this status. Nevertheless, they were getting their due though after some dalliance. Though they were cleared of criminal tag, but still normal citizen considers them as outrageous and they are fearing and apprehending of their present when these nomadic tribes reaches of their locality. In India, more than ten core of people is nomadic and they are living their life in isolation. They are ghostly people as they are not stopping at a single place.
Then who would be interested in the action of these communities?
We are in the middle of extreme modernization age. When the entertainment is available at the click of a button and when we are experiencing a high speed internet and broad band services, people are no more interested in their traditional entertainment. They can watch these in video sharing sites and can keep it in their smart phone to watch it time and again. By pressing the sole key of remote control one can enjoy plenty of channels. With the advent of Internet, one can find innumerable ways of entertainment. There are various ways to download movies and other forms of entertainment and thus one is not interested in enjoying traditionally form of manual entertainment mode.
It is true that with the help of the Wildlife Protection Act, the snakes are now released as ever but what about snake charmers, who are employing snakes in the public games to earn their livelihood. They are now jobless. Nomadic who are digging sands near rivers and seas, are not able to do this owing to wide scale commercialization of sands business. They are now jobless and fear to enter into this profession from the threats of sands contractors. Owing to their nomadic habits their children are not able to read at school. They are carrying their entire luggage while wandering from place to place.
Wandering and its difficulties:
Most of the times, they are not under the census. Whenever, it is calculated, they are wandering at some other places. Whenever they stay at some village and the census people are reaching there, the actual villages are not willing to accept as their part of the village. So, in brief individual government record in which they are present is the police register. In Gujarat, the number of nomadic communities lives here is 50 lakh and from which 50 percentages of people are living as nomadic. Nearly 50 percentages of nomadic communities whose population is not less than 50 lakhs in Gujarat are still living a nomadic life. They have no role in contemporary social statures of society. The worst situation is in the place Vadia of Gujarat, where nomadic tribe “Sarania” is involved in prostitution due to absent from their daily earning potential. “Sarania” tribe is involving prostitution for fourth generation. Generally, girls do not marry here. Father and brother act as broker. All these are sad tales. All the girls of this village are engaged in prostitution and they are not marrying but they have children.
Many people think that it is easy to receive a voter id, ration card by putting an application and following the directions. It is going to take one or two months, but ultimately we are receiving this. It is because we are settled in the locality and for this no proper verification is a necessity. We have to address and the basis of our identification. These nomadic tribes are devoid of any addresses. How are they going to receive all these cards? We have voter ID card. These people want to join Indian democratic processes, but are in difficulties to receive the cards. Here is one such example.
From this, the importance of voter id card for these nomadic tribe is better known. Latifbhai Dafer was once a notorious crime but later settle a peaceful life. He was living 20 kilometers outside Ahmadabad. He was doing security guard work in the field. Once, his son was taken by police. He was notorious crime once and was searching by police of three states. Now, he is living happily by doing the work of the security person on fields. In his lawless time, he was safeguarding his children from all these unlawful activities. When police took away his son, he was worried. Police caught his son in the case of highway robbery. The name of his son is Gulab Latif, and police are searching for Gulab Musa. Probably, it was a case of mistaken identity.
With the help of the chief electoral officer and to identify given by VSSM, for the first time more than 20,000 people in these communities, got their election cards. Gu latif received his card and from the card it was concluded that he was Gulab Latif, not Gulab Musa. He was lucky to be freed, but still to date, there is countless such Gulabs from these nomadic tribe is reeling under the bar owing to mistaken identity and no election cards.
Most of them are not aware of which crimes they are behind the bars. VSSM runs 26 alternate schools and is working in nine districts of Gujarat, benefitting 22,000 families. 1040 students are enrolled with VSSM schools. VSSM is able to give proper addresses to more 30,000 nomadic communities. It is providing accesses to voter id card, housing, residential cards, ration cards, bank accounts. They are benefitting from numerous governments to run welfare schemes.
Dream that will become reality one day:
In Vadia village where most of the girls of nomadic communities are involving prostitution, one tradition is there, when a girl engaged or married, she is not going to enter into this profession. In the year 2012, eight girls married and 12 girls engage in vadia village. This is the first time. Marriage of such gigantic manner occurred at this village. There are no policies for such people in this village. It is high time both the state and the central government are going to pay attention to these communities.
We have an aim that the communities have shared, economic development and they live a dignified life. These communities are devoid of everyday foods. Sometime, there are three days when they are not getting foods. Land allotment is a massive achievement for this community. Mittal Patel, journalist turned social workers, is doing great works for the development of these communities. For six continuous years, she was working enormously for these communities. Mittal and her teams spend months to change this and today 20,000 people are enrolled and received their voter id cards.
Different nomadic communities are getting voter id cards. According to government resolution, they are getting permanent lands at innumerable places. This is giving them the authentic identity. Dream that will become reality one day. This is Mittal Patel’s vision. The writer is saluting to this wonderful child of Mother India. She is devoting her time for the uplifting of nomadic tribes and is making them visible.