Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mittal Patel - Working For The Betterment Of The Nomadic And Denotified Communities

We, the privileged people, have started taking the basic rights of living for granted. We have a place to live, food to eat, access to education and a valid identity. However, there are several Nomadic and De-notified Communities of Gujarat who do not have any of these. They live in isolation, devoid of the basic amenities needed for survival, and dwell in darkness away from the sun.

The Nomadic Tribes used to earn their livings by entertaining people with several tricks and skills which were their specialities.  Ishwarbhai was a snake charmer who now fell victim to ‘The Wild Life Protection Act.’ As he can’t use snakes anymore, he has to resort to begging. Today, the world is ruled by technology. Who would like to watch the skills of this tribes when entertainment is available to them with a few clicks? Nomadic tribes such as Nat (playing acrobat), Sarania (sharpening knives and tools), Natda (walking on rope), Bhavaiya (performing folk plays), Turi-Barot (playing dhol), Bahurupi (self disguising), Gadalia (making iron tools), Kangasia (making wooden combs) and Lawaria (selling iron stoves) have thus been victims of technological advancements.

The British Government in 1872 notified 200 odd communities as Criminals. Even though their current generation is not involved in any sort of crime, they are still enlisted in police records. They have no permanent address, nor counted by any form of census. Their children can’t go to schools, and they are not acknowledged by the villagers. Quiet shockingly, in Vadia (a village in North Gujarat), the whole of nomadic tribe ‘Sarania’ is involved in prostitution.

The concerns of these communities were finally addressed by Mittal Patel and VSSM (Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch). VSSM works for the right and welfare of Nomadic (Vicharti) and De-Notified (Vimukta) Communities. It helps to mainstream these communities by enabling them to fight for their rights. Today, almost 22000 families are connected with VSSM in 9 districts of Gujarat. VSSM runs 26 alternate schools where 1040 children are enrolled, 1000 of them being main streamed. VSSM has also provided access to these communities to Voter ID Cards, Houses, Residential Plots, Ration Cards, Bank Accounts and several Government Welfare Schemes. With the help of the Chief Electoral Officer and the identification given by VSSM, for the first time more than 20000 people of these communities got their Election Cards. Also, VSSM arranged for mass marriage ceremonies where 8 girls of Vadia Village got married and 12 got engaged. This was done to free the women from prostitution.

In days to come, VSSM aims that these communities have social and economic development so that they can live a dignified life.

This is my official entry to "The Idea Caravan" contest organized by Indiblogger in association with Franklin Templeton Investments and TEDxGateway Mumbai. Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.


  1. My family back in Europe is still very much transient ... being a Roma gypsy, always felt close to India ... Be well, Mr. G ... uhm, Amrit Sinha ... :)

  2. Never knew these kind of unfortunate stories... Thank you Amrit for highlighting it

  3. Amrit I have been moved after I saw the ignorant reality of communities .. thanks to Mittal Patel's video .. you have expressed it rightly and its time we do something to help organizations who have initiated tasks of availing support and identity to these nomads
    Nice article!