Community Correspondents

Harihar Nagbansi

Harihar Nagbansi

Since childhood, Harihar loved listening to people and engaging with them. Growing up in a hostel, vacations for him meant festivals and meeting people from his community.

Harihar belongs to a family of tea estate workers residing in Bhatkawa Tea estate in Alipurduar, West Bengal, and has been an active member of various organisations like the Dhumkuria Trust working for labour rights and for the Nehru Yuva Kendra. His multi-pronged engagement through various organisations have added to his knowledge bank and he is certainly acknowledged for his work by the people of his community.

Being in the northern part of West Bengal means being close to international borders with adjoining Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, and it also means large-scale migration and a high incidence of human trafficking. With 80 percent of the Adivasi population in the region being dependant on tea plantations, many of which are shutting down, people have limited livelihood options.

”Due to low wages, the trafficking agents often provide monetary incentives or supply essentials like food grains to lure people so that as soon as their children hit adolescence, they are taken away on the pretext of providing better employment opportunities or for marriage. They are trafficked to metropolitan cities like Delhi for different kinds of labour, mostly exploitative, or for marriage to states with alarming sex ratios like Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. It is not just the women but men as well, with more and more men leaving, households are run entirely by women.”

Belonging to a marginalised community, Harihar wants to work towards eliminating atrocities against Adivasis and upgrading their quality of life. For instance, when Harihar found out that in Nimti Ragabasti village, home to the Rava community, there was no sanitation infrastructure, he immediately decided to make a video.  The area is densely forested and people had to go to the forest even to relieve themselves, making it extremely risky. When Harihar made the video and showed it to the local administration, the hamlet of 30 families got toilets within three months, under the Nirmal Bangla Scheme.

“My friends in the defence and public administrative services pat my back and are extremely proud of my work, always encouraging me. However there are a few who doubt the sustainability of the work that I do, especially my friends who are involved in politics and my family, but when village communities come home to congratulate me for any accomplishments, they feel extremely proud!”

Working with Video Volunteers sets him free, Harihar believes. He believes that all issues are important and none of them can be measured in the same vessel; each and every matter is of utmost importance for those who are affected by it.

“I feel liberated and supported, although the Community Correspondents are scattered across the country but we are all together. The videos are what binds us. I did not think it was possible to intervene through this medium, but I have come to the realisation that it inspires people and also serves as evidence for government officials, and even makes them feel threatened. These videos become the voice of the unheard and the issues brought up through this medium are the ones which have been either brushed under the carpet or have never been given due importance. This also becomes a bank of issues for the mainstream media to cover.”

Harihar believes that unlike other jobs, the work he does is not boring at all, it keeps him excited. He now aims to create a team which can work for the community, educating people about this model of intervention so that it can be taken up by more people in the future.

Videos from Harihar

Take Action

No Relief for Families Affected by Human-Elephant Conflict

 
/ December 14, 2018

The tea gardens of West Bengal have become a hotbed for human-elephant conflict. Affected families continue to wait for compensation.

A Community’s Decade Long Struggle for Water in West Bengal

 
/ October 25, 2018

North Bengal suffers from an acute water shortage and from water contamination but both the government and the tea industry have been slow to act.

No Cards

Human Elephant Conflict on the Rise while Families Await Compensation

 
/ October 5, 2018

The Dooars are known to be human animal conflict zones; infrastructure development, illegal mining and land fragmentation are only adding to the problem.

Impact

Tea Gardens of North Bengal: A Hotbed of Human Trafficking

 
/ July 30, 2018

Tea gardens that once brewed the world-famous Darjeeling tea have now become a hotbed for trafficking, owing to the undermining of labour rights and rising deprivation.

Take Action

Community School Strives to Keep Native Language Alive

 
/ June 18, 2018

In the tea gardens of West Bengal, an Adivasi community school is taking the first steps to preserve its native language amidst political and cultural turmoil.

No Cards

Trafficked at 11, Pregnant Teen Comes Home to Police Inaction

 
/ December 8, 2017

For nine long years that Nagma was missing, the police took no action to trace her and is doing little now to punish her traffickers.

Take Action

No Water for Bengal Tea Garden Despite Repeated Petitions

 
/ September 13, 2017

Some of the richest tea gardens in the country cannot even assure clean drinking water to their employees, the local government is doing nothing either.

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Only Iron-Contaminated Water for Village at Himalayan Foothills

 
/ August 4, 2017

For three years, this Bengal village has been thirsting. The handpumps spurt harmful, iron-rich water, and there is no pipeline water supply in sight.