Plenty of homework has been done on the Gujjar-Bakerwal community!
That’s good but the problem is that these people are not aware of the fact as to what exactly is being done for them. Even in these times they continue to live in a confusing mosaic of things and events!
By: M S Nazki
- Gujjars and Bakerwals are two names of one tribe popularly known as Gujjars in Indian subcontinent. Gujjars form an important ethnic and linguistic group.
- A country like India is a place with a variety of population with their separate culture, traditions and living styles. India is a home to almost more than half of the world’s tribal population. Gujrat, the state of India, was once called Gujjar- Rashtra, which indicates the meaning of the Kingdom of Gujjar’s.
*From this area Gujjar’s established their kingdom and spread over other parts of the country.
*They have their own distinct culture, rituals, customs and traditions.
- I told you that plenty of literature has been written on them, many Government schemes are there but still they are there where they were once upon a time.
- Nursed in poverty they acquired a hardihood which enabled them to sustain severe privations (a state in which food and other essentials for well-being are lacking). As the simplicity of their life gave vigor to their body, so it fortified their mind. Possessing a frame and constitution thus hardened they were taught to consider courage as the most honorable virtue, cowardice the most disgraceful failing. Gujjars and Bakerwals are like that.
- Testimony to the fact is that in the initial phase of militancy Gujjars and Bakerwals had no option but to help the militants and terrorists as they were all over them. But when the terror mongers went on to target them and their girls the empire of the nomads struck back ruthlessly and they assisted the Army and the Security Forces in the pile driver in the Pir Panjals. The Hizb-ul Mujahideen’s Pir Panjal regiment was decimated within no time!
- They are born with a mental tonic, even more than to the bracing air of the heights, unwearied spirit which nerves them to walk more leagues upon the mountains than they could walk miles upon the plain. For in the lowlands they walk with the body only; in the highlands they walk with the mind.
- Toughness wise they are unmatched and wit wise incomparable. They live in their own world but are extremely helpful. Simplicity is their forte and doing the job at hand the peculiarity!
- In any case there’s no place on earth with more of the old superstitions, mysteries and magic mixed into its daily life than the Pir Panjals, their mountainous home lands!
Awareness, Benefits and Bottlenecks in the Schemes relating to Gujjar and Bakerwal Women meant for the Empowerment of the Tribal Women of Jammu & Kashmir is missing and hence these tribes still keep struggling. Organizations, social scientists and social reformers. There are Constitutional provisions for social, economic, educational, political, administrative, health and sanitation attainments of the tribal people of our nation. Since our independence countless policies, strategies, approaches and models to tribal development have been anticipated.
I. Gujjars & Bakerwals, Tribals Women, Schemes, Welfare, Empowerment:
Till a woman is empowered in a household, it could be any, nothing much moves and that is a proven fact down the ages. Majority of the targeted beneficiaries do not get the benefits from the welfare schemes just because of their ignorance about them. Majority are unaware about the different schemes while a very few know about some of them. Schemes meant for the Gujjars and Bakerwal are:
I. Gandhi National Creche Scheme for Children of Working Mothers. The main purpose of this scheme is to help working mothers especially women belonging to poor families, who require support and relief from childcare as they struggle to cope with a burden of activities, within and outside the home and also to improve nutritional and health status of children and to promote physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of children along with educating and empowering parents and caretakers for better childcare.
II. It seems that they are aware about the scheme of support to training and employment imparting skills related to employability and entrepreneurship, including agriculture, horticulture, food processing, handlooms, tailoring, stitching, embroidery, zari work and other handicrafts. Computer & IT enabled services along with soft skills and skills for the workplace such as spoken English, Gems & Jewellery, Travel & Tourism and Hospitality.
III. Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent girls (SABLA) (the scheme is not implemented in Rajouri and Poonch districts). This scheme aims at empowering adolescent girls for self-development and empowerment, improve nutrition and health status, promote awareness about health, hygiene, adolescent reproductive and sexual health (ARSH), family and child care, upgrade home-based skills, life skill and vocational skills, encouraging out of school adolescent girls into formal/nonformal education. Provide information/guidance about prevailing public services such as public health centers (PHCs), community toilets etc.
IV. Scheme, Janani Surakha Yojana (JSY), State Marriage Assistance.
V. Yojana (AMSY), Ladli Beti Scheme. The fact is that amongst the Gujjars and Bakerwals the awareness about the different women specific schemes is very low.
- The problem is that Gujjar and Bakerwals traditionally live in remote and far-flung areas closer to forests and mountains. Most of these tribals put up in inaccessible and far flung areas. These areas are economically backward and the living conditions of the people are very pathetic. Most of these areas are underdeveloped. The public facilities like schools, hospitals, banks, post offices etc. are almost non-existent or located at long distances from the habitations. Besides, rampant illiteracy and ignorance of these tribals, extreme poverty of this tribe, corruption in the implementing agencies, nomadic life style of this community, and lack of extension services of the Government also contributed to the unawareness and ignorance about these schemes due to which these tribals are not able to derive optimum benefits out of these schemes and thus the status of these tribals does not improve drastically.
- The Gujjar and Bakerwal women are unaware of their basic rights and the pace of�progress in the modern age. The nomad Gujjar and Bakerwal women had been the victim of superstitions and despite their extreme work and contributions, she has not received the due respect and position in the tribal society. Although, the Central as well as the State Governments have launched a number of programs and schemes for the benefit of rural as well as urban women, but the Gujjarand Bakerwal women are still unable to take any advantage from these schemes as they are living in faraway places in remote areas where they hardly get any awareness.
The highlands have a steady spirit, an ambient loving ether that gets into your soul, that heals and speaks of home. These people keep smiling, living in adverse conditions yet living life with unbounded joy and happiness. Probably for them the art of living counts on this.
But Indian Army is always there to help them and they conducted an interaction cum awareness lecture for Gujjars and Bakarwal Community at Kulali. The derivation of the lecture cum awareness capsule was:
- Gujjars and Bakarwals are one of the major Nomadic groups of Himalayan region and have successfully maintained their identity by preserving their rich culture and ethnic traditions. *The aim of this lecture was to create awareness regarding various schemes designed for uplifting the Community of Gujjars and Bakarwals and provide knowledge in respect of Education, Health & Employment of Youth.
*They were also educated on all symptoms of COVID- 19 seen in the 2nd strain of COVID surge and basic preventive measures like maintaining social distancing, washing hands with soap, wearing masks, avoiding social gathering etc. A total of 13 civilians attended the event.
Sometimes love for life is not enough and the road gets tough. But as far as these highlanders are concerned, it still has to be traversed, I don’t know why. But that has been their routine down the years that have gone by in fact centuries. Coming out of your comfort zone is tough in the beginning, chaotic in the middle, and awesome in the end because in the end, it shows you a whole new world! That is the reason as to why they never like to leave their comfort zones and that happens to be forests and mountainous highlands. In fact they will never make an attempt to do so! So far incidentally they haven’t!