A Tribal Affair – Jhara community demands ST status

The Jhara community of Chhattisgarh is in all aspects a tribal community. Their art also exemplifies that of the Bastar tribals. The Jhara community makes beautiful art sculptures primarily out of molten metal. Their art has been recognized by the government of India and continues to feature in government exhibitions across the country. Their lifestyle, their traditions, their art – all exemplify those of scheduled tribes in India. Yet, their community is not recognized as a Scheduled Tribe which disheartens the community & puts them right inside a kaleidoscope, searching for their definitive identity. 

A lot of artists from the community have been recognized and awarded by the government of India – From national awards to merit certificates from the President of India himself. They earn a small sum if & when these exhibitions help them sell some of their work. Sadly, the art is dying since the cost of materials is going up with time. Only 6 out of 100 members of this community practice this art now. The community used these sculptures as their primary source of income. With a majority of people dropping out to find new source of livelihood, it has become paramount to save this art form. Being recognized as a Scheduled Tribe will not only help the Jhara community recover their astray identity but also help them continue to practice this art without any unnecessary worries. This inclusion will bring them shelter, food and above all, happiness. 

CC Savita Rath, who has documented this case feels that the communities demands are logical and just. This inclusion has both economical and sentimental value – a value that the government needs to recognize. In pursuit of their goal, the community along with CC Savita have filed documents, testimonies and video documentation of the issue to the District Collector. The Tribal Ministry has also requested a screening and presentation of the cause. The community hopes that their demands will be met with justice. 

Call To Action – You can help CC Savita & the Jhara community in attaining their goals by calling the District Collector of Raigarh, Mr. Mukesh Bansal at +9425274165 and asking him to take immediate action. 

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