A Study on Quality of Life of People in the Forest Hideouts (With special reference to Sulebaavi Haadi, Kodagu.)
This paper aims to provide a clear picture of ground reality of the quality of life of tribes in the forest hideouts. In this democratic era all nations act like welfare country. Here, the welfare means nothing but the welfare of people. It will be meaningful if every one of the nation is included in the process of welfare. But many groups of people are still marginalised. In India, quality of life of tribes is felt apprehensive. The study is based on both primary and secondary sources of data. This study tries to focus on hurdles in implementing government projects for tribes, and differences between government reports and reality.
Key words: quality of life, tribes, government projects, programmes for tribes.
India has second rank in the size of the tribal population after the South Africa. The population of the Scheduled Tribes in the country is 10.45 crore as per Census 2011 constituting 8.6% of the total population of the country. Scheduled Tribe (ST) male population is 5.25 crore and ST female population is 5.20 crore.
Kodagu is home to many tribal communities with diverse ethnic origins, such as Yerava, Kudiya, JenuKuruba, KaduKuruba, and Soliga. Just like other areas, the tribal communities in the district, especially, the forest based tribes are vulnerable and significantly lag behind other social categories in the issues of education, health and livelihood opportunities. Further, with a large area covered with forests, tribal rights and resettlement of tribes are other major issues that affect the development of these tribes.
Together with discrimination and other social oppressions prevalent against these social groups elsewhere in the state and the nation, the isolated locations where these populations exist also prove to be a challenge in government interventions reaching them and effectively helping them in coping with their vulnerabilities. In this context, this study explores the status quo of such communities within the district and highlights issues and areas of importance that the district has to focus on, for improving the quality of their lives.
II. Review of Literature
The Indian tribal society is a unique society with diversity of nature and people. From the British colonial period many efforts have been done to understand the Indian tribes in various angles.
Vemer Elwin (1943) suggested that tribes should be kept isolated in their hills and forests. Elwin’s theory is known as ‘public park theory’. He suggested that ordinarily the non-tribal people should not be allowed to enter into tribal pockets without permission of the state government. This system would guarantee the isolation of the tribes.
G.S. Ghurye (1943) contested the theory of Public Park. He argued that the tribes were nothing more than backward caste Hindus. They should be treated at par with the Hindus.
Dean Joros (1973), in his study, presents his views on the relation between political socialisation of the tribes and integration process or the effect of tribal welfare programmes on their political socialisation. He reveals that by analysing the political socialisation process of tribes, a more complete evaluation of tribal welfare programmes would be ensured. This view is also explained by P.R.G. Mathur (1 977). He points out that induction into political culture and integration into the mainstream of national life are part of one and the same process and without political socialisation being achieved, tribes integration into the national social life is impossible. Political socialisation must precede their integration into national life. Motivation and objective underlying the tribal welfare programmes and political socialisation are common.
Devendra Thakur (1986) made an elaborate study about the Santhals in Bihar. The study highlights their socio-economic conditions. It has been observed to what extent they were responsive to the projects and programmes undertaken during the different developmental plans. Before the introduction of Five Year Plans, during the colonial rule, the tribals in the country as a whole remained in isolation. If the problem of untouchables in pre-independent India was that of pollution, vis-a-vis purity, the problem of tribals or adivasis was that of isolation. They were considered backward and savage. Lamenting on such an approach to the study of Indian tribes, tribal communities were treated as isolates and the primitive condition was described as a state of Arcadian simplicity.
S.R. Bakshi and Kiran Bala (2000) presents the socio-economic status of several scheduled tribes inhabiting in various regions of our sub-continent. Their life-style, customs and traditions are quite different from the population in our rural and urban areas. In fact ‘they live in their own world’. Their social backwardness has been assessed at various levels and schemes have been launched for the education of their children, to provide them health facilities and jobs for their daily needs.
Dr Subarna Roy, in his article, ‘Tribes in Karnataka: Status of health research’, health status of karnataka’s tribes is explained in detail including Sex ratio, Literacy rate, Genetic studies, Availability and utilization of health care, Nutritional status, Chronic and lifestyle diseases, Oral health, Ethno medicinal practices, Efforts from Government and non-Government organisations (NGOs) on tribal health.
But till now no effort have been taken to study the quality of life of any tribal people in Karnataka.
III. Objectives of the study
1. To measure the quality of life of Jenukurubas,
2. To assess their quality of life,
3. To study the government projects and programmes for tribes,
4. To analyse the impact of government projects and programmes on Jenukurubas of Sulebaavihaadi which is taken for the study,
5. To identify the obstacles in the path of improving their quality of life.
IV. Research Methodology
This is a descriptive study and analytical in nature. It attempts to analyse government schemes in improving the quality of life of tribes. The study was conducted through primary data collection, consisting of individual interviews and group discussions. The interviews documented socio-cultural practices, status of education, health and livelihoods and awareness and utilization of government schemes. And other data was used from secondary sources according to the need of the study.
V. Profile of Scheduled Tribes
The table below presents the comparison of the proportions of ST populations in the district. The proportion of STs is higher in the district, in comparison to the state and national figures.
A total of 15433 ST families live in Kodagu district. Most of the ST populations in the district are concentrated in the rural areas of the district. The proportion of STs is higher in the district, in comparison to the state and national figures.
Kodagu is home to tribes such as Yerava, Kudiya, JenuKuruba, KaduKuruba, and Soliga who are believed to be the original settlers of the area. The majority of the tribal population of the district are either leaving within the forests or in resettled colonies in very interior rural areas. Some of them are still dependent on the forest substantially for their livelihoods. Kodagu also has dispersed settlements of three specific nomadic communities: Golla, Haavaadiga and Hakki-pikki.
Jenu Kuruba Tribe
Jenu Kuruba tribes of Karnataka are the original residents of the forests regions of the western ghats of south India. In the kannada language, the term “Jenu” signifies honey and “Kuruba” stands for caste. Therefore their name suggests that these JenuKuruba Tribes have adapted the profession of honey gathering. JenuKuruba tribes have settled down in several forests hideouts, quite naturally these tribal people embraced the natural habitat of the forest region. Due to elongated alienation the JenuKuruba tribes have developed their own culture and ethnicity. The JenuKuruba tribes lead a seminomadic lifestyle adapting to various occupations like conventional food collectors and shifting cultivators. The Jenu Kuruba tribals inhabit the forest area that forms a conclave of the 3 states: Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Jenu Kuruba tribe is distinct in its appearance and cultural practices. They have negroid features. They are of short stature, have curly hair and are dark complexioned. They are shy and timid by nature.
SulebaaviHaadi, which is taken for the study,is located in Somavarpet Taluk, Kodagu district. Thirty seven households are distributed sporadically in the forest hideouts. 15 housholdsamong them are located in one place. All people, living in the haadi, are Jenukurubas. They follow patri-local society and follow patrilineal decent. Monogamy is the norm. Both consanguineous (within close relatives) and non-consanguineous marriages are practiced. In consanguineous type of marriage, one’s father’s sister’s daughter and mother’s brother’s daughter are performed. Endogamy is also present, wherein the marriage rule is at the group level. Early marriage prevails in Jenukurubas like boys and girls are married off around 12 to 16 years, respectively.
The age at menarche (first menstrual cycle) among girls is found to be between 12-14 years. Majority of the families are nuclear. Family size extends from 4 – 10 members. All tribes were aware of family planning. Tubectomy as a family planning method was adopted among some households. The study revealed that infant and child deaths reported among them andmaternal mortality ware not reported recently.
VI. Quality of Life (QOL)
Quality of life (QOL) is the general well-being of individuals and societies, outlining negative and positive features of life. It observes life satisfaction, including everything from physical health, family, education, employment, wealth, religious beliefs, finance and the environment. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. It is important not to mix up the concept of QOL with a more recent growing area of health related QOL (HRQOL). An assessment of HRQOL is effectively an evaluation of QOL and its relationship with health.
Dimensions of quality of life
In this study eight dimensions are taken for the measurement of well-being and the findings are as below.
1. Material living conditions
Material living standards are measured on the basis of sub-dimensions: income, and material conditions (deprivation and housing).
An average annual income of all household, as they said, is Rs.10,000/- to Rs.11,000/-. Based on other information gathered in the time of visits it may be Rs.20,000/- to Rs.25,000/-.
Good: Houses which do not require any repair and are in fairly good condition.
Liveable: Houses which need minor repairs are recorded in this category.
Dilapidated: Houses which show signs of decay or those breaking down and required major repairs and are far from being in conditions that can be restored
No households of the Haadi are yet to get the “hakkupathra’ (title-deeds) for their land and the data shows that 10 families are living in liveable houses and rest are in dilapidated houses.
According to 2011 census, about 48% of the population of the district has access to drinking water through piped water supply, with the highest percentage of households reported in Somwarpet taluk.. But the condition in haadi is different. Ther is no proper water supply for the haadi and people are using water in small pit and this pit is filled with water flown from paddy field. This water is not potable.
The proportion of households having electricity connection in the district is significantly less in comparison to the state. And no house of this Haadi has electricity connection.
Census data of 2011 shows that 69.42% of households in the district are dependent on traditional fuel (firewood, crop residue, cow dung, coal, kerosene) for cooking, in this Haadi, all households using traditional fuel only.
During the field visit to the Haadi it is observed that there is no houses have access to toilets. The practice of open defecation is common.
2. Productive or Main Activity
A number of activities fill up citizens’ lives every day, the most prominent one being their work. Indicators measuring both the quantity and the quality of jobs available (working hours, safety and ethics of employment) are some of the indicators used in the study to measure this aspect of quality of life.
Earlier their economy was based on honey collection, hunting and gathering of minor forest produces. In later stage these traditional occupations have changed drastically.
All are working as daily wage labourers in estates, forests and agricultural fields. There is no guarantee of employment for whole year. Nobody have MNAREGA Card. It is well understood that the main source of income for these people is daily wage. They do not save any money as they are completely depended on daily wage which is a hand and mouth condition.
Health is an essential part of the quality of life of citizens. Poor health can affect the general progress of society. Physical and/or mental problems also have a very detrimental effect on subjective well-being. Here Health conditions are mainly measured using indicators such as Infant Mortality, Maternal Mortality, and Access to Healthcare.
Maternal mortality is probably the most important indicator of the status of maternal health of a region. NRHM had set the ambitious goal of reducing Maternal Mortality Ratio (Number of maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births) below 100, by 2012 in India. Between 2010-12, 42% of maternal deaths and 30% of infant deaths in Kodagu occurred among STs. Due to NRHM no maternal death occurred in the Haadi.
Access to healthcare
An important aspect of health infrastructure is the accessibility of health institutions. The district has only 2 tribal mobile medical units. Kudige Primary Health centre, the nearest health centre, is 9 KM far from the Haadi.
All are little aware of different health schemes. They did not perceive the need for regular health check-ups. They use neem twigs or other roots to clean the teeth and some of them use tooth brush and paste. Few kept the surroundings of their households clean whereas flew did not perceive this as necessary. All most all men interviewed consumed alcohol and majority had the habit of smoking.
Breast feeding is given normally for 12 to 18 months among all the tribes, they start preventing after 6 months and are aware of primary immunization. Maternal deaths weren’t reported recently.
In our knowledge-based economies, education plays a pivotal role in the lives of citizens and is an important factor in determining how far they progress in life. Levels of education can determine the job an individual will have. Individuals with limited skills and competences are usually excluded from a wide range of jobs and sometimes even miss out on opportunities to achieve valued goals within society. Currently available indicators of education that are relevant for quality of life are a population’s literacy rate, the number of early school leavers.
Educational is the most effective instrument for empowering the tribal, efforts were made during the year by implementing the schemes with the objective of enhancing access to education.
Literacy Rate among STs in the country is 59%, in Sulebaavi Haadi is just 19%.
Education is a crucial platform for marginalized communities to attain the opportunities provided by the welfare state and plays an important part in empowering them. With the advent of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, enrolment drives and compulsory admission of children above 6 to schools, admission and enrolment of SC and ST children is not as difficult an issue as retention.
Nobody from the Haadi is finished 10 years of schooling till today. At present 4 students, aged between 3 to 6, are going to Anganavaadi, 6 students to Primary school, and 4 to Higher Primary School. These schools are near by 2 KM located in Yadvanadu village.
5. Leisure and Social Interactions
The power of networks and social connections should not be underestimated when trying to measure the well-being of an individual, as they directly influence life satisfaction. Here this is measured in terms of how often people spend time with others at sporting or cultural events or if they volunteer for different types of organisations. Women of the Haadi use to gather at evening and other days when they are free. Every member of the Haadi gather in wedding function, and in the time of festivals and other ritual functions. Hence, all members are good in communication and all are in well contact.
6. Economic and Physical Safety
Security is a crucial aspect of citizens’ lives. Being able to plan ahead and overcome any sudden deterioration in their economic and wider environment has an impact on their quality of life. Safety is measured in terms of physical safety and economic safety.
Since they are working as daily wage labourers in estates, forests and agriculture field, have no physical safety, and their main source of income is daily wage, they don’t have any savings and accounts in bank.
Schemes like “Mechanism for marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Development of Value Chain for MFP”, National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC), The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED, ‘Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY), which were introduced by the Ministry of Tribal, are yet to implement till reach each and every tribal community.
7. Governance and Basic Rights.
The right to get involved in public debates and influence the shaping of public policies is an important aspect of quality of life. Moreover, providing the right legislative guarantees for citizens is a fundamental aspect of democratic societies. Good governance depends on the participation of citizens in public and political.
People of the haadi who crossed 18 years have voter cards, are voting in elections. Since no one from the Haadiis contested in any election, and nobody is elected for Panchayath Raj Institutions.
8. Natural and Living Environment.
The vast majority of people believe that protecting the environment is important. Exposure to air, water and noise pollution can have a direct impact on the health of individuals and the economic prosperity of societies. Environment-related indicators are very important for assessing quality of life in general. Both subjective (individuals’ own perceptions) and objective (the amount of pollutants present in the air) indicators are included. Since the Haadi is located in the middle of forest people are leaving nature friendly life. Few kept the surroundings of their households clean whereas flew did not perceive this as necessary. Though they are using traditional fuel (firewood for cooking, kerosene for light), the amount of air pollution is less. But, the sadness is they are using non potable water for drinking and cooking.
VII. Overall Living Conditions
With regard to the living conditions of this haadi people are not satisfactory since most of them lived in Kaccha houses, made of temporary materials. All of them are depended on fire wood for cooking, only a few families use LPG. For drinking water they depend on a small pit.
There is no toilet and drainage facility and they practice open defection. There are no drainage facilities available for them. They do not have electricity connections for their houses and use oil lamps, whereas a few families use solar lamps.
The Jenukurubas had arable agricultural lands, but did not cultivate them. Household poultry rearing was visible in the households of the Haadi. Since their income is low, they don’t have any savings and are not in need of bank account. Therefore no economic safety for their lives.
Lack of transportation facilities, specialist health personnel, poor sanitation in hamlets, superstitious beliefs, addiction to alcohol and lack of nutrition remain major hurdles in achieving better health status among STs.Till today they are not aware of importance of education for their lives. Hence the living conditions of these people are not satisfactory.
VIII. Suggestions for Improving their Quality of Life
The status of some of the very basic amenities like housing, electricity, sanitation and assets required for humans to lead a productive life. To provide housing the Central as well as the State Government have launched several schemes and programs like Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY): Unit Costs of houses (Rs)- 63500,Ambedkar Rural Housing Scheme, Rural Ashraya Scheme. PR Institutions should take initiatives to make these schemes and programs reach these needy people.
Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED) undertakes marketing of tribal products through the network of its retail outlets “TRIBES INDIA” throughout the country. The agencies like Tribal Development Co-operative Corporation, Odisha Ltd. (TDCCOL) should be established in Karnataka for implementation of the scheme.
The protection of the environment should be given first priority from the government.The district should have two more tribal mobile medical units. And should appoint a separate ASHA Workers for every tribal Haadis.
To aid the education of vulnerable groups, the Ministry has funded projects covering residential schools, non-residential schools, hostels, libraries, mobile dispensaries, ten or more bedded hospitals, computer training centres, rural night school, agricultural training, etc. and providing scholarships such as Pre Matric Scholarship, Post Matric Scholarship (PMS), Scholarship for Top Class Education, Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship and National Overseas Scholarship for ST students. An awareness should be given to these people to make use of these schemes and an honest initiative should be taken from education departments to bring back drop out children.
Local Governance is a well-developed mechanism for decentralized governance and planning ensures inclusive decision making, responsiveness to local needs and transparency and accountability in achieving development outcomes. Hence the district administration should put its honest effort to make them participate in local governance by encouraging them to participate in Panchayat Elections.
India has several socially disadvantaged communities and Scheduled Tribes are the most deprived ones. Tribal communities are isolated from general population and are socially and economically vulnerable. They are ‘at risk’ due to geographical isolation, primitive agricultural practices, socio-cultural taboos, lack of formal education, poor infrastructure facilities, improper health seeking behaviour, malnutrition, lack of safe drinking water and hygienic conditions, poverty and the like. Hence the quality of these people’s lives is not satisfactory.
Though Our Constitution has given some provisions, The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is set up, many schemes and programs are introduced for assisting the tribes, the quality of life of these people is not satisfactory. Thus, this study tried to investigate the utilization of various government schemes and the impact of such interventions on the lives of the people. The proper and effective implementation of all the programmes, policies and schemes of governments is the only remedy for the hurdles in the path of improving the quality of life of vulnerable people like Jenukurubas of SulebaaviHaadi.
Dr. R. Shivappa
Associate Professor and The Chairman, Department of Studies in Social Work, Manasagangothri, University of Mysore, Mysuru.
Mr. Lokesh Bharani M N
Research Scholar, Department of Studies in Social Work, Manasagangothri, University of Mysore, Mysuru.
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