Narmada Bachao Andolan Helps to Fill Educational Gap

About The Video: Narmada Navnirman Abhiyaan, the social welfare program of the Narmada Bachao Andolan has started 13 schools for the children from the tribal and marginalized communities who were affected by the Government’s Naramada Valley Project. Prior to the setting up of the schools which are funded by philanthropic donations from across the world, these communities had no access to education. These 13 schools are spread out along the Narmada River in 3 states- Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are known as jeevanshalas (schools of life). They focus on the all-round development of the children and one of the major programs they organize is the sports camp – a once-a-year sports meet where children from all 13 schools come together to meet, participate, compete and cheer.

Community Correspondent says: Last year, the sports camp was held in Bidwani, Madhya Pradesh. IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent Rakesh Khanna who has long been a part of the Naramada Bachao Andolan was present at the event. He describes the camp as festive and joyful. “The parents of these children have been a part of the legacy of the people’s movement called Narmada Bachao Andolan. These children are the second generation of the fighters who changed the discourse of India’s development. As a long time worker of the NBA, I feel a sense of pride as I look at these young sportsmen and women. What I admire is that there is a strong focus on traditional tribal games like archery. Sports are a part of the tribal culture and this competition is a great way of putting the children in touch with their roots.”

The Issue: There are 84 million tribals in India. They are one of the largest minority groups within the country but yet they are far away from the nation’s mainstream. As a group, they have been acutely sensitive and borne the brunt of India’s march towards progress. The ecology on which they are dependant has been violated. They have displaced from their native lands. India has failed to assimilate them into the national consciousness.

Adivasis have represented India at an international level in sports especially the national sport – hockey and archery. Adivasi sportspersons have to face some of the biggest odds. The training they receive leaves much to be desired. They equipment they work on is archaic. They face blatant discrimination by the sporting bodies. In spite of these hurdles, a few have managed to work their way through the system and shine at the international stage.

The sports program in school is essential to the development of a budding sportsperson. Educational experts have commended the team building, bonding and morale boosting capabilities of sport. It has been proved that sport and games not only help the physical development of a child but it also an important emotional outlet to channel youthful aggression.

Call to Action: Rakesh hopes that the government itself could take some tips from the ‘jeevanshalas’ and include a compulsory sports program in the government schools. The government must have a special focus on the development and training of adivasi athletes. Upgrading the equipment, setting up specialized training centres and sports camps and competitions and identifying and rewarding excellence would go a long way in helping adivasi sportsperson make an impact in the field of sports.

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IndiaUnheard is the world's first ever community news service where news is produced by the poor and the marginalized communities of India.