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

Community Survey

After Seven Decades of Independence West Bengal Tea Garden Workers Yet to be Free From...

/ August 27, 2020

  While India celebrated its 74th Independence Day, workers at Madhu Tea Garden and several other tea estates in Alipurduar, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts marked the day with launching their campaign for basic rights. Community Correspondent Harihar brings us this news report from the thick of the action. He grew...

Community Survey

Low Wages, Lockdown Lead West Bengal Tea Garden Workers to Protest

/ July 22, 2020

Tea garden workers, who migrated to cities in search of better opportunities, have returned to their villages in tea gardens of North Bengal and have very little work.

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No Work From Home for Tea Growers | COVID 19 | West Bengal

/ April 10, 2020

While the whole country is under lockdown to combat coronavirus, work continues as is in the tea estates of Alipurduar district of West Bengal. These estates are in such far off areas that information regarding the virus has not reached everyone and they are willing to work without any protective...

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Women Tea Pluckers distressed by badly implemented Creche Houses

/ February 24, 2020

Community Correspondent films the bad state of creche houses at Tea gardens

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VV Correspondent Reports from Ethiopia, Bringing an International Conference Back to Tea Estate Workers in...

/ December 2, 2019

“Nothing About Us, Without Us, is For Us:” A community video flips the lens and shows us how development conferences can be more inclusive of the people they talk about.

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Anwesha Clinic: Educating Adolescents About Menstruation and Mental Health

/ July 10, 2019

Anwesha Clinic in West Bengal is an initiative in creating awareness around menstruation, mental health, and hygiene among adolescents.

Impact Story

Human-Elephant Conflict: Victim’s Family Receives Compensation in 20 Days

/ March 25, 2019

Community Correspondent helps a victim’s family from tea gardens of Bhatkawa, West Bengal to get compensation, who was attacked by an elephant.

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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.