It is learnt that 2,442 men, women and children from a refugee population of about 32,000 Reangs, died not of some mysterious disease but of known preventable, curable and common diseases like cholera, diarahoea and blood dysentery between 1998 and 2002 and many more by now. These figures taken from the birth and death register were quoted in a letter of the refugee leaders to the Chief Minister of Tripura.
I, as spokesman of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, sent an SOS and letters to the Union Health Minister and others including the NHRC chairman, a retired Chief Justice of India, enclosing a list of 70 infants and adults who had died of cholera and diarrhoea within 45 days in May and June, 2002. Result? An eyewash.
Sports and Athletics
Let not the above picture depress the readers. Kalyan Ashram has something pleasing and invigorating for the tribal youth-sports and athletics-to promote the spirit of ‘khel khel mein’ (unity through sports). Besides, some 2,300 daily and weekly khel kendras in Vanvasi villages, a sports and athletics festival on national level, is organised every four years.
Starting from Kandivili (Mumbai) in 1988 with 392 Vanvasi young men and women participants, three more meets have been held-in Indore in 1991-92 with 750, in Udaipur in 1996 with 991 and in Ranchi in 2000 with 1,317 participants. The Sports Authority of India has been able to scout some promising talent from amongst the participants.
I hope writers and analysts of Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram’s work culture would also take into account the combative face of the selfless, service-oriented organisation.
(The author, a retired bureaucrat and is associated with Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, can be contacted at B-79, Swasthya Vihar, Delhi-110 092.)