Where tribal kill hunger with flower
Most children belonging to the 400 tribal families in the foothills of the
Vindhyas in Uttar Pradesh's Banda district have a prominent rib cage or a
heavily protruding belly - both signs of severe malnutrition. Children don't go
to the nearby school - because it never opens.
This means that the mid-day meal is out of the question, and most children,
like their parents and grandparents, will be illiterate adults. The tribal
settlements have an anganwadi (child care centre) that's always shut, and the
nearest community health centre is 18 km away. The adults have two occupations :
picking up wood or collecting
flowers from the forests or from the highway. The two tribes are not listed in
the state's SC list. They bring the flowers home, dry them in the sun and store
|The Mavesi and Gaund
tribes living in a cluster of seven settlements - Gobri, Alamganj,
Chaudhari Ka Purwa, Karmadadhi, Bajrangpur, Gubrampur and Udhao Ka Purwa
- have a diet largely comprising mahua flowers..
They then eat them whole or mixed with rice or wheat gruel - if such a luxury
is available. Dr S.K. Ranjan, a homeopath from
Gana Parishad, said most tribal children below 10 suffer from scurvy and anemia.
"In extreme cases, when mothers don't have something substantial to give their
children or when children refuse to eat the same food, the mothers rub
tobacco in the children's gums to make them sleep," Ranjan said.
Government schemes such as the mid-day meals, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Integrated
Child Development Scheme, old-age pension and Janani Suraksha Yojna (for
pregnant women) are unheard of in this part of Uttar Pradesh. District
magistrate Ranjan Kumar said if government schemes were not being implemented
properly, action would be taken against errant officials. "The quota from the
central government is limited, so (below poverty line) cards cannot be
Mahua flowers being dried. Villagers either eat
them whole or mix them in rice or wheat.
Director, Prawas Society,
Distt - Banda ( Uttar Pradesh )