While working in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh where we stretch to see hope in despair, working towards attaining rights of the communities involves a great deal of reflection, reassurances and review.
Born and brought up in the financial capital of our country, I moved towards becoming a lawyer, specializing in labour laws. My continued interest in unorganized sector has earned me associations with ‘Girangoan Rozgar Hakka Samiti’ working for the rights of the Textile Mill workers in Mumbai and ‘AROEHAN’, a field action project of Nirmala Niketan focusing on tribal rights. During my work with AROEHAN, I was based in Mokhada, a tribal block in Thane district for 3 years, seeking opportunities to understand the profile of tribal labour, their access to public schemes, the strategy to intervene with them, thus reflecting on the development debate and its different perceptions.
It was during the coursework of MA that I filled in the application for PMRDF and joined in the fellowship after turning down the opportunity of extended internship at Geneva, in the head quarters of ILO.
Conflict areas in India have their peculiarities which needs specific intervention strategy. I have been aware of the dynamics of such areas and resolving these conflicts has been a major interest area since very beginning. PMRDF has conveniently provided the required opportunity. My close association with tribal communities and an understanding of their issues and perceptions vis a vis the ground situation, turned as an asset to take up the fellowship and concentrate on Bastar division, one of the most affected ones in India.
While concentrating to liaison between communities and government officials, involve instances of dilemma, of perseverance and patience.
I am currently looking into effective implementation of IAY, IWMP and Adult education programmes in Bijapur. Bijapur district of Chhatisgarh is like an island surrounded by forest on all sides in the midst of Dandkaranya. The district head quarter is nothing longer than a road stretched for 3 kms known as Gaurav Path.
While moving around in the district during field visits, we could see the scars on democracy in the form of disconnected roads, cut off villages after 4 pm in the evenings and diluted minds shuffling between governance and no governance. However, my belief in change and the need of human mind to move towards progress is strengthened by the acceptance offered by the communities during field visits, their calls that wake me up every morning in lieu of village meetings and the visits they pay to district office reaffirms the fact that the systems can be re-established.
Rahul Tiwrekar is based at Bijapur in Chhattisgarh. He has a Masters in Globalization and Labour from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and as a requirement of partial fulfilment of course, he was selected for an internship at Berlin school of Economics and law, Germany. Rahul worked on the issues related to Legal Aid, MGNREGA, Right to food, schemes in Tribal area and Legislative advocacy for three years before joining PMRDF.