November 27, 2018 – In the 21st Century, the world is moving towards Robotics, Genetic Engineering, Hypersonic Transportation, Nanotechnology, Antigravity, Human Cloning, and Hydrogen Powered Cars, but certain parts of the world is still highly ignorant in our own society, certain indigenous tribal communities are not privileged like others to get better life, health, education, hygienic food and water and access to modernisation.
One of them is called “BONDA”. They are based at Mudulipoda of Khairput block Malkangiri District, Odisha, India, it is 3000 feet above the sea-level. They are way behind today’s modern world but without being aware of it, very innocently and naturally they are pretty happy with their own heritage, culture and lifestyle. Unfortunately, the agony is it seems like they are often used as a showpiece by the world for different purposes.
Due to their very different outfit, they are often subject photography. But they are neither only meant for photography nor for the news, they deserve a normal and better life like others. For their betterment, tribal leader Dambaru Sisa (http://dambarusisa.in) came out from the BONDA community and has given his entire life for their betterment and growth with the help of the ODISHA Government and certain national and International communities. He is one of the greatest inspirations of the tribal group and has devoted his life to give a better future to the most ignorant society of the world.
He has started his journey as a young political leader at the age of 26. Mr. Sisa is not only an ICON of the tribal youth but also Proud BONDA and now he is one of the most respectable parts of the government as “Member of Legislative Assembly” in the Odisha State Government under Biju Janatadal Dal (http://www.bjdodisha.org.in) a regional party headed by Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha state, India. He is not only the first MLA from the BONDA community but also among all the primitive tribal groups.
Who is Bonda?
Bonda are one of the most primitive tribes of Odisha. There are seventy-five primitive tribal groups in India and out of them there are thirteen in Odisha. They are living in the lap of nature, amidst rolling hills and a tropical forest. The Bonda habitat – a wild and picturesque territory rich in flora fauna lies at about an altitude of 3000 feet above the sea level. They are living in the most inaccessible and hilly area with most vulnerable conditions. They are very shy, economically backward and isolated from other main stream communities. They are struggling with a stagnant or declining population, extremely low literacy and subsistence level of the economy.
Identity of Bonda:
They are known as “Bonda” but they refer to themselves as REMO – The Human Being/Man. Their Unique style of personal appearance distinguishes them from the rest of the world. Bonda men wear a narrow strip of loin cloth. The women’s attire is remarkable. A taboo backed by legend states that their culture is against their women clothing themselves above the waist. They make up this very patent deficiency by wearing mass of brass and bead necklace and by large heavy circular collars (Neck Ring) of brass and aluminium. This ornament covers most of the front part of the body.
Bonda Community stand in sharp contrast from the neighbouring communities of the State for their unique personality due to geographical isolation for centuries being the Highlanders, bad-tempered, independent spirit, aggressive tendencies, courageous, individualistic, vengeful attitude, and their women dressing scantily.
Occupation and Economic Condition:
The main occupation of the Bonda community is shifting cultivation and horticulture plantation/agriculture. They cultivate paddy, Ragi, Niger, maize, minor millets, pulses, vegetables, and spices. The main occupation of the Bonda is agriculture and collection of forest product. They are both settled and shifting cultivators, their economy is still essentially the barter economy. About 93% of each household depends on the agriculture and 56% of the family depend on both shifting and settled agriculture. Among the Bonda all people irrespective of age and sex work according to their capacity. Children, Old Men and Old Women don’t sit idle. Those above 10 years of age help their parents in indoor and outdoor activities.
Organization and Social Control:
Bondas are organised into small territorial clan groups like (Khillo – Cobra, Hantal – Tiger). The clan follows exogamy and practices polygamy. The Bonda Village is traditionally autonomous. Social order is maintained by a set of traditional functionaries.
Sociocultural practices like clan feds heavy drinking habits ritual lead to deficit economic taboo in depthless and vulnerable to explanation by the local money lenders.
Settlement and Housing:
Bonda settlements are situated on high level lands such as hill tops and hill slopes surrounded by nature. Access is difficult through zig-zag hilly tracks. The village may be large or small. Large villages often have small hamlets around. The Bonda live in small thatched huts. The walls are made of bamboo frames plastered with mud and cow dung. The roof is thatched with a kind of wild grass called ‘piri’. Now due to lack of piri, people make use of tiles, asbestos etc.
The Bonda community numbered 2565 in 1941 Census, 3641 during 1951 Census, 4677 during 1961 Census, 5338 in 1971 Census, 5895 in 1981 Census, 7315 in 1991 Census and 9378 in 2001 Census. This means the growth rate was 41.9% during 1941-51, 28.4% during 1951-61 and this shows a growth rate of 14.3% as against 20.08% for the tribal population and 24.99% for the general population of the State during 1961-71.
Icon of Bonda “Dambaru Sisa”:
Dambaru Sisa is one of the greatest figures of “BONDA” who was born in a Bonda family and both parents are illiterate and passed away when he was just ten years old but he never gave up his dreams and education, He completed his schooling with the help of a NGO called “Sarvodaya Samiti Koraput”.
After schooling he could not get any support from the NGO or any family member for his higher study, while facing a huge financial struggle he started the part time job for his accommodation, food, books and college fees and successfully completed his Bachelor of Science with Mathematics Honours from DAV College, Koraput. Later he did Post graduation in Math (MSc. Math) and Law (LLM). Now he is pursuing PhD. in law from KIIT University, Bhubaneswar. Now he is a highly qualified young and dynamic primitive tribal leader.
He is closely associated with not only tribal organisations but different other communities. He is working for tribal human rights and women rights. Formed many local tribal organisations like Bonda Samaj Loc Sangathans (BSLS), Adivasi Ekta Sangathans (AES), Bhumia Samaj, Dedai Samaj, Paraja Samaj, Odisha Adivasi Manch (OMA) and National Advocacy Council for Indigenous People Forum (NACIPF).
He says BONDA are semi-clothed even in 21st Century. Bondas are making their own clothing using local forest products. Nowadays, due to deforestation, they are unable to get access to the forest products. Bondas are far away from the main stream culture, tradition, custom and clothing but gradually they are adapting it. As a tribal leader, his stand and responsibility would be to preserve his language, cultural tradition, customs, clothing etc. as well as to adapt the system of modernisation and globalisation.
He took many initiative for the tribal development but he could not move forward on issues related to Health, Education, Communication and Portable drinking water, non-awareness of the government scheme, lack of knowledge to attain their own rights due to a number of issues. Finally, he decided to be part of mainstream politics to be able to highlight the issues to the government and joined BJD Odisha under the supervision of Mr. Naveen Patnaik, Hon’ Chief Minister of Odisha, India.
People of Chitrakonda Constituency accepted his decision and made him Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Odisha Assembly.
1 – Indian Best MLA award – 2016, Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad (Student Parliament), World Peace University, Pune, India.
2 – One of the IVLP (International Visitors Leadership Programme – USA) by USA Government in the year 2015-16.
With the help of Odisha Government, Dambaru Sisa achieved the following:
One Gurupriya Setu (Bridge), Four Highway, around 60 PMGSY Road connected, 12 Biju Setu (Bridge), 10 valley bridge, around 20 Mega Bridge and 9 under construction road and 3 bus stands.
Odisha Government started SSD Tribal High School for both Boys and Girls at the Bonda Hills and promoted education at the BONDA Hills. Thirty two (32) villages now have primary schools with basic facilities. State government is running an education complex for 250 GIRLS and 250 boys from primary to higher education. Three SSD Schools upgraded to Higher Secondary school, Four Adarsh Vidyalaya (Advanced school), a Kalinga model school, a Navodaya Vidyalaya. Also, many hostels constructed for boys and girls starting from 100 to 500 capacity. One ITI and DIET college started. Last but not the least Four private colleges have been opened by the Government of Odisha for the benefit of Bonda.
Two CHC upgraded as sub divisional medicals for better facilities. There are 21 new MBBS doctors appointed, every PHC and CHC has supplied 108, 102 and ambulance. Govt. has provided RS 500K per annum for each CHC under RKS fund for development purposes. All CHC and PHC are smoothly functioning. An ambulance boat has been provided to the cut-off area for better treatment facility by govt. of Odisha.
iv. Drinking Water:
187 overhead tank water supply projects has been constructed and more than 200 solar base water supply projects have started and people are benefitting from this by having portable drinking water. Two mega water treatment plant projects are under construction.
More than 100 check dams has been constructed for irrigation, two mega irrigation projects has been completed and four mega irrigation projects are in progress.
More than 30,000 FRA land entitlements provided to the tribal people.
Electricity is now provided to 61 panchayats and more than 1300 villages under “Biju Jyothi Yojana” and “Rajeev Gandhi Vidyut Yojana”.
Dambaru Sisa says there is a long way to go. Indian Government and International forums should come together to give better life to the tribal people. They deserve a better life and they are not only meant for the photography.