Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

Journey of a tribal leader

The fight for a GM free Orissa state

Authors Name: Janani Hasda
Organisation: Nari Rashmi Samaj, Orissa Nari Samaj
Contact: Block Bisoi, District Mayurbhanj, Orissa, India
Email:narisamajrashmi(at)rediff.com

I have started my education from the backward tribal area of Mayurbhanj. Here there are lots of hurdles are there to reach my goal to become the tribal leader and social activist. Education of the community was quite a dream for the tribal girl like me. My family was a small time farmer family. In my child hood I have seen my father fight the child labour or bonded labour of the community when I got the education where very limited number of persons has proper education.

Till now in my community education is the major problem and 40% of the population is illiterate. After passing from Rairangpur Women’s College in 1998, inspired by the training of THREAD Siddharthvillage, I joined Orissa Nari Samaj (ONS) as a volunteer zonal activist. Antaswar newsletter of thread circulated in 6000 villages, motivated me to join ONS when I was frustrated at home. I joined a Sangha in Dalkisahi. In 2000 December I took a health care training at Khurda.

When the Siva Shakti sponge iron factory started its industry in Sukruli in Mayurbhanj district polluting all our indigenous peoples' organic agricultural land, I took the initiative to protest the environmental pollution and invasion of the tribal land.

I was arrested at that time for my protests mentioned above. This incident helped me develop my leadership quality, and I felt more determined to start developmental activities in my local areas. I visited the whole block and worked on the educational development in each village.

At the time of recent panchayat elections I participated in the PR training organised by THREAD and motivated to contest as the Panchayat Samiti member and won the local election. I also conducted the workshop of PRI leaders in Jamhila. After winning the local election, transparency in local bodies is the major vision and future goal set my me.

I have declared my constituency as a GM free area and did not allow GM seeds in our area. THREAD Siddharth village has been supporting us with all scientific information regarding this and we, in north Orissa participated in a massive rally in the state capital to ban Bt GM crops. Brinjal experiment in our area which has been very successful with the lobbying and advocacy work of thread, Siddharth village Orissa.

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