Written By: Arpita Macwan, Programme Coordinator, West Zone
Edited By: Communications Team
Sheopur: The Anganwadi at Mohanpur in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh has a long history of suppression, discrimination and struggle; struggle for basic human rights. The village comprises of 40% scheduled tribe, the Seria community, most of which falls below the poverty line. The rest of the village comprises of the Dakads, Yadavs and Bagers, who are considered as the upper caste in the village. The lower caste community of this village is deprived of the basic resources because of flagrant inequality in their availability. The ownership of land and the control of the village economy lies primarily within the hands of the upper castes, while the people from tribal communities worked mostly as agricultural labourers in large farms or mine workers.
The Anganwadi did not have a separate building or land of their own. The Seria Community children were disrespected and sited separately, often being reminded of their caste, as a result of which, they received insufficient food and other basic supplies. The Anganwadi functioned from the building owned by the upper caste community which made the space inaccessible to the children of Seria Community. To ensure individual space to the Anganwadi, the Panchayat put in an application with ICDS for the construction of a permanent building.
To help better the situation, a Seria community leader donated his land for the construction of the building for Anganwadi. However, the struggle remained. The managers of the building refused to mingle with the community which stimulated friction. All efforts made by the village heads to make the environment less hostile and more accessible to the Seria community have been in vain and the dialogue between the various stakeholders to resolve this issue is extremely slow paced.
The reservation for the STs in the Panchayats has furnished them the physical space in local government. However, actual representation and fair participation still seems far-fetched. Though there has better political sensitization across each class and caste, skills to use the knowledge and information need to be appropriately groomed and piloted several times for desired results of equity and justice.