Saturday, August 22, 2009
where are they now?
looking through my papers i came across this photograph. gangabada village, gajapati district, 1996, a group of saura women and children in a remote village accessible only on foot. one goes down the valley from champaghati near koinpur, then across two mountains and valleys to climb up again to gangabada. the walk down from there across the border into andhra pradesh is shorter. the sauras here eke a difficult and miserable living practising "bogodo" or shifting cultivation on the hill slopes. with shrinking forest available to them, they come back to the same patch of land at progressively shorter intervals, leaving little time for the soil to regenerate itself. this, along with the soil erosion caused by deforestation has resulted in diminishing returns on the cultivation done on the slopes. ragi and corn are the main crops grown.
malaria, malnutrition, tuberculosis, outbreaks of meningitis - all are common here, and health services are virtually absent. infant and maternal mortality at that time were way above national average. this part of orissa was marked out as "naxal infested" even then.
i wonder whether anything has changed there over the past 13 years. how many of the children and women in the picture are alive today?