Orissa Nari Samaj is the state level federation of these 54 block level tribal women’s organisation (Samajas) in Orissa state. While Orissa Nari Samaj is the tribal women’s movement catapulted with the active involvement of these 54 samajas is not registered, each block level women’s organisation (having minimum 30 villages to maximum 270 villages with their outfits of different Sanghas as member village in the organisation) is registered under society registration Act 1860.
THREAD supports these organizations mainly through training and advocacy interventions. It’s deep rooted commitment to its mission to develop these community based organizations as a self reliant, independent value based organization, motivates to ‘do anything and everything’ for transformation of individuals and collectives for establishing new just world order in particular the tribal society. The profile of the samajas presented in this document is just to get a glimpse of the essence of these 54 organizations. While the profile of each samaj, present in this document will highlight the present status of each samaj, the data given in the next page is in nutshell may throw some light on these collectives at macro level. Visit to these organizations of simple tribal women will strengthen one’s belief that “CHANGE IS POSSIBLE AND IT STARTS HERE & NOW.
State level data of the ORISSA NARI SAMAJ
No. of block level tribal women’s organisations ( Samajas) in the state : 54
No of villages covered by all these organisations in the state : 2490 ( Sanghas)
No. of active registered members in all the samajas in the state : 76251
Amount tapped from Govt by all these samajas during the last
Four years 2002-2005 : Rs. 694,019,81 (Rs.69.4 Million)
No of villages and samajas owning PDS dealership :Villages=118 Samajas=33
No of villages involved actively in organic farming : 547
No of tribal women members preparing themselves for
Contesting the post of Panchayat President and Panchayat Samiti :1100
* Issues taken up by these samajs:
– Liquor issue ( Govt decision to provide new license for opening 2000 liquor shops in the State)
– GM seeds issue ( Govt draft policy to introduce GM seed and grains in the state)
– Seed bill 2004 ( Govt’s proposed bill affecting farmers and seed banks)
– Sponge Iron plants issue in the state( mushrooming of hundreds of sponge iron plants affecting the health of the people and agriculture. Pollution that causes cancer among other diseases)
– Industrialization and tribal land alienation
– Tribal land Forest bill ( Land patta for tribals )
Orissa Nari Samaj
Nearly 200 ONS members (3 GB members and 2 VTI from each Samaj) met for three days during the period 16 to 18 March 2007, to discuss their vision, mission and strategy. 12 small groups with 20 members with two facilitators (Field Organiser and Senior Field organizer) assisted by senior staff and a few GB members deliberated. This is the first time; ONS was developing its own vision, which in itself was a learning experience. Since they were non-literate, [would suggest to remove non-literate] the consultation could capture their thinking in phrases such as people’s power, care for nature and environment, food security, equality between men and women, human rights, tradition and culture, self-reliance, expanding educational activities which then were integrated in their mission. ONS members reflected that they have become more caring for others within the Sanghas and other Sanghas and Samajas. While some of these values were part of their traditional Adivasi culture, many of these have eroded overtime. Renewal of collective cultivation, which has removed wage labour. Coming under one umbrella of ONS and its support systems has given them lot of confidence and political power. Greater clarity on the changing role of THREAD and their own responsibility was obtained during this process.
Collective Base in 55 Samajas
At a tangible level, the ONS backed by the 55 Samajas have several achievements. While not all of these Samajas are mature in terms of leadership skills, resource base and capacities to function autonomously, it is worthwhile to systematically track the health of these Samajas – based on qualitative and quantitative criteria. Capacities have to be given to strengthen these Samajas in terms of technical, managerial and financial skills. THREAD has identified this as one their thrust areas for strategic intervention. It is pertinent to mention that a few Samajas (6 or 7) have become Mega-Samajas. A few of them located in the most remote areas have plateaued and should be given special focus with innovative strategies.
One third of the governing body of the Samajas rotates every two years. However, elections of office bearers have not been held for some time. THREAD plans to hold the elections of all the GBs of Samajas and revisit their byelaws and organizational functioning.
For the Adivasis, identity with their community has always been a core value. Values such as sharing, community living, preserving their tribal dialect, living with nature and celebration of agricultural seasons are closely embedded in tribal culture which THREAD values.
While the Adivasis are divided into tribes with singular identities, THREAD has worked to promote a common plural identity, which aims to dilute inter-tribal conflict.
The ONS has used its village, block, district and regional structure to integrate the Adivasis on single platform.