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

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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.

Ordeal of a pregnant woman

/ February 9, 2017

It has been a long, long haul for Ranjana, and she is quieted by exhaustion and apprehension in equal parts. This is the second hospital she has been admitted to that day and both have treated her with superb disdain, making her wait for hours together, refusing to give her...

Ordeal of a pregnant woman

/ January 12, 2017

It has been a long, long haul for Ranjana, and she is quieted by exhaustion and apprehension in equal parts. This is the second hospital she has been admitted to that day and both have treated her with superb disdain, making her wait for hours together, refusing to give her...

20 year old shelterless Anganwadi Centre in West Bengal

/ July 29, 2016

Launched in 1975, the integrated child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is one of the world’s largest programmes for early child development. The primary objective of the scheme is to improve the nutritional and health status of children aged 0 to 6 years and pregnant and nursing women. In 2005, the...

A March across the Tea gardens for Justice

/ May 18, 2016

About 400 tea gardens workers from of Dooars and Terai regions of West Bengal joined a 10-day rally organised by the Progressive Tea Workers Union (PTWU) on January 5, earlier this year. The 390-km rally started in the village of Kumargram Sankosh and ended in the city of Siliguri of...

Provident funds worth eight years not paid to tea workers in Bengal

/ April 28, 2016

The cup of refreshing morning tea in front of you has a tale of rampant labour exploitation and corruption. The area of North Bengal, where tea cultivation is the primary industry, has been dealing with a gruesome wave of starvation of more than 1.1 million tea-workers due to low or...

No morsel of food for tea-garden workers in Bengal

/ April 11, 2016

As we sip our morning tea in comforts of our home, tea workers in this tea estate of North Bengal are struggling to survive, eating dried leaves as their meal because their only source of income, the tea estates, owned by Duncans Industries Ltd have shut down since last year...

Dima Jatra Cultural festival in Tea gardens

/ March 17, 2016

Every year in October, tribal communities from different areas display their arts and crafts at the Dima Jatra cultural festival which takes place at the Dima tea gardens in West Bengal. In 2015, people celebrated 60 years of the Dima Jatra festival.  “Participating teams are welcomed in the field with joy....