Pariah By Association Part 2

Original Marathi by: Anuradha Bhosale
English rendering: Arun Chavan

Anuradha Bhosale Pariah By Association in Kolhapur India saving childrenFor a long time the nethermost deprived sections of society were not taken notice of by the economic planners of the country. Now we are in the XII five year plan period and the 66th year of independence. Yet the special development needs of these sections, which mainly comprise nomadic and denotified tribes, were not given due consideration. In 2004 the central government appointed an Enquiry Commission. The report submitted by the Commission to the Central Government in 2007 has not been placed before the Parliament, which means no action is initiated on it.

See also – Pariah By Association part-1

These tribes are subjected to a deep apathy by the ruling class as such. The people at large also share the same kind of attitude, bordering on suspicion and hostility. AVANI’s school for these children is situated in a suburb of Kolhapur called J.N.Park.

My residence being in the vicinity of the school would be a convenience for me and other members of the staff for so many reasons. I have therefore always tried to get a hired house in the same locality. Due to the provisions of the Rent Control Act it is risky for the house owner to allow a tenant to stay in his house beyond eleven months.  Which means that the house I get on hire I can occupy only for eleven months and then shift to another. In a way this procedure has perforce made me a nomad. My young friends who are nomadic by birth right come into their elements and within no time my shifting operations (like professional packers and movers) are accomplished with remarkable expertise, and without hassles of any type.

Sometimes I feel that the Rent Act is an excuse that the house owners trot out. The real reasons need to be searched elsewhere. Basically, the house owner does not betray much affinity for me because of the company I keep. Some even tell me blandly that their sacred house must the kept out of bounds for the refuse of society. This is a cruel kind of apartheid which victimizes me along with the children. Against this background the unconditional and open – armed gift of a building by our Chairman to house the AVANI school (though on a modest rent) deserves a hearty three cheers. Otherwise, this project could not have been launched and continued so smoothly.

This oppressive social order based on birth – premised inequality which flies in the face of reason and science can be junked only by the cultural resurgence of the oppressed. And it is a long drawn process. Those who enjoy privileges due to the accident of birth will not feel induced to see reason and help scrap the hierarchical system based on a biological fallacy. I am gratified I am getting this chance to be of some help in this epochal ferment of transformation. Marching in the foot steps of Mahatma Jyotiba and Savitribai Phuley and Shahu Maharaj my commitment to the cause will continue till the last. I have braced myself to face all odds and my determination to overcome obstacles in the path will be unflagging.

When the last month of my tenancy of a place approaches these children fan out and comb the colony to find an alternative shelter for me. When one is finalized they move with wonted alacrity and finish the job of shifting and rearranging the things in the new place in a jiffy. I feel relieved and am immensely pleased with my ‘monkey brigade’. This is one more reason for me to be grateful for life’s blessings, big and small.

teysha avani dream of gandhi children india

Free English rendering : Arun Chavan
Original Marathi by : Anuradha Bhosale

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Anuradha Bhosale graduated from the Tata Institute for Social Work in Mumbai and worked as an apprentice to Arun Chavan at Verala Development Society. After understanding the needs of the area she branched out on her own creating a small organization called AVANI which is a Marathi language acronym for Clothes, Food and Home for the poor children.
Arun Chavan was a professor of English Literature at Kolhapur University when he saw the poverty and destitution that surrounded him. He decided to give up his job and devote his life to working for the poor. He founded the Verala Development Society and has been working for the past 40 years to bring about a socio-economic change in the area.


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