Traditional Handicrafts of Yobin People

Crafts I have photos.

DAXA

Daxa (Large basket) is used to store food packets during weddings and festivals. For weddings used Daxa is not acceptable.

Photo: A person making a Daxa.

Photo: Daxa used in a wedding party in Shidiku village.

XAJO

This is primarily used in weddings when volunteers make them. It is used for distribution of naphu (local roti) and meat.

Photo: Yobin ladies with a basket before them.

Photo: Xajo with local bread.

NAKHWA

Nakhwa is winnow.

Photo: A woman making nakhwa.

Photo: Varieties of nakhwa. The middle one is used for sifting the rice from paddy.

KHATHU

This is a load carrier used for carrying almost everything, firewood to rice etc.

DAGU

Basket for carrying lighter items. It is usually used in fishing.

NATO

Nato is a local large basket to carry like rice and other things. It is pretty common and widely used.

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Traditional Knowledge: Three breeds of Bees

Lisu people domesticate bees called Jeyo (the apis) in a hollow chiseled wood of about three feet long.

Photo: A wooden box for rearing bees.

An elderly person told me there are three varies of jeyo – shokhwaje, dasoje and ngekoloje.

Shokhwaje: this bee is named after a hardwood called shokhwa. Je is honey or it can mean bees.They produce more honey than others and are larger in size. They are hairy and black. They extract sweets only from flowers, never seen on ground.

Dasoje: Daso is a kind of trees, usually used for making bows. In local Assamese it is called bolagas. They produce honey lesser than Shokhwaje.

Ngekoloje: The name comes after a bird called Ngekolo. This kind of bees do not grow larger size honey and therefore less productive. They do not always feed from flowers. Sometimes they collect honey from ground where urinated.

Photo: Closer view of bee colony.

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Yobin Tribe Still a “Play Tool” for the Powerful

For those engaged in power games, it is just a tactic and perhaps even fun. But for us it is life and threatens our very existence.

This particular insight is better described in a book called “Walking with the Poor” by Bryant Meyers of World Vision. Here is a quote on why poor remain poor:

… the identity of the poor is distorted, and is kept distorted, by a “web of lies” that entraps the poor in ways far stronger and insidious than physical bonds or material limitations”.

How true this is in the history of the Yobin tribe.

  • The Yobin people became homeless in their hometown when the Assam Rifles forcefully settled in our own villages. And all those villagers were then sent to join the villagers of Shidi (now Gandhigram). To reproach further, the Assam Rifles and shamefully the local administration, named Shidi a “Refugee Camp”. Our land became land for Settlers and they proudly lie that they had been settled in a “no man’s land” to justify to the Central Government’s direction to settle in Vacant Land.
  • Further distortion efforts were on. All our villages where Settlers were allotted were renamed to erase Yobin’s footprints from history. Just see how many pictures have seen published from the 1961 Srijitga Expedition. I saw just two photos in 2013 from a publication. That’s it. Because efforts were endless in order to erase our memory.
  • The Yobin’s citizenship and ST status was cut off in the late 1970s, making lame excuses and leaving us no clue what actually happened. Some older people told the government made false stories that Yobin “ran away” from Chinese atrocities. This first step of marginalization made our tribe struggling for our identity as Indian citizen and as Arunachalee in the last 40 years.
  • Another lie from the Namdapha Authorities. Our land was unilaterally taken and declared us “encroachers, hunters, smugglers” overnight. Thus making us look bad. We were greatly surprised to find from the intelligence department, the lies and distortion of stories the Namdapha people had branded our people.

The list is endless. The GoAP is in no mode to correct this distortion. Why do Yobin people remain poor? It is because the Government of AP:

  • Does not do anything regarding our land that was robbed and given to Settlers free of charge. Nothing is free in this world.
  • Does not WANT to rectify our ST inspite of pushes from Central Government.
  • Want to keep us cut off from the rest of the state both in rights and distance. MV Road does not seem to be in plan to complete.

How should we move ahead? Lets use other avenues that challenges those lies and distortions.

Traditional Technologies of Yobin Tribe

In absence of modern technologies, indigenous minds come into use.

Grounding paddy is a tedious task. Below is one such to relieve such labour. This is actually run by water. It takes overnight to remove husk from the paddy.

Photo: Abandoned rice mill at Shidiku village.

There is no life with roti. But it is hard work to ground rice into powder. Taste is good.

 

Photo: a local dikki.

All Yobin habitations are along the Yimapha (Noa-Dihing). Crossing the river is either by bridges or boat.

 

Photo: Canoe dragged ashore near Lominayi (Burma Nala).

 

Photo: Bamboo bridges are usually active during winter; do not stand beyond March.

 

Photo: A hanging bridge over Yibolo.

 

Photo: Making of Tsongo, cooked in oil.

Travel Woes to Dawodi Circle

When planned well, a person can arrive Miao from anywhere in the world within 24 hours. But from here to Dawodi (Vijoynagar) for the 157 km distance, you never know when you will reach there.

Two ways to get there – both consume lots of time and energy.

The actual flight duration from Miao to Dawodi is just 30 minutes. But to get to travel is a long story. You never get to travel within a month.

For the population of about 7000 people, bi-weekly flight is a joke. Top up to that, flights are not regular so much dependent on weather, availability of helicopter and whims of authorities.

Photo: AirOne Helicopter MI-172, bound for Dawodi, landing at Miao Helipad. Passengers’ luggage seen in the front.

Only the lucky travelers of about 10% get flight. The rest resort to four to five day foot march.

Short distance walk is fun and even healthy, but full day rigorous walk with heavy load is not.

Photo: A traveler with loads walking past muddy part of MV Road.

Sleeping on the road is not pleasant either especially in winter’s below zero degree. Travelers do not have luxury of warm blankets.

Photo: a leftover of a camp.

Getting home necessary items from Miao is hard work and very expensive. Whatever meager income villagers have, large chunk is spent on transport.

Photo: People carry dismantled rice mills on bicycle.

Very often its faster to walk along the Noa-Dihing River. MV Road has lots of turns and is very slippery to walk.

Photo: people use bamboo bridges to cut short their travel from MV Road.

My grandparents walked on this road. My parents too walked the same road and now they are in their late 50s. I still have to walk on this road. My two daughters aged 4 and 5 walked (actually carried) on this road. Our suffering is huge.

Dawodi Circle: Deprieved Essential Services

Among all the circles in Changlang District, Dawodi (Vijoynagar) is most neglected in every sense of the word.

THERE IS NO BANK: Only an SBI Customer Care Centre is there. In such absence what development can happen. Every circle nearby has at least one SBI Bank with staffs. Miao, Kharsang, Diyun and Jairampur to name a few has one. Not one in Vijoynagar.

THERE IS NO GAS STATION: Firewood is the only fuel available for cooking our food. Prime Minister’s PM Ujjwala Yojana remain only a dream for the villagers of the circle.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana is an ambitious social welfare scheme of Narendra Modi Government launched on 1st May 2016 from Ballia in Uttar Pradesh. Under the PM Ujjwala Yojana, the government aims to provide LPG connections to BPL households in the country. The scheme is aimed at replacing the unclean cooking fuels mostly used in the rural India with the clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). Source

THERE IS NO ELECTRICITY: Till the 1990s the government provided electricity to Vijoynagar Headquarters by generator. Then stopped until recently when solar electrification began, only to become unfunctional soon after installation. We are without electricity.

THERE IS NO MOBILE NETWORK: While even remote villages are extended 4G network, our area is without a basic mobile network. For now only a few Satellite PCOs are available. To utilize its service, one has to walk over a kilometre and for some more than 10 km. Arriving does not end the trauma, one has to stand in line for the turn. Provision of a mobile network will ease a lot in our communication system.

THERE IS NO PETROL PUMP: We have to carry four to five days to use petrol in villages for running generators and chain saws. What a trouble… but we need it for daily survival.

THERE IS NO PROVISION STORE: You cannot drop in a buy provisions such as rice, salt, atta, maida. Simply because they are not available. In the whole circle you cannot find a provision store.

Vijoynagar Circle is a funny circle where the government has deliberately closed its eyes.

Dawodi Circle: An Administration Unit Under Erosion

I fear the Vijoynagar Circle’s fate would become like the Deban Circle. Till 1977 Deban was the Headquarter of Deban Circle with a Circle Officer in charge. Later it was shifted to Diyun and renamed as Diyun Circle. Moreover, all the villages in Deban area were brought under Miao Circle.

Similar situation which I call “Reverse Development” is in progress in Vijoynagar Circle.

First, the GoAP recalled all their officers out of the Circle. The Casual Labourer (LC) is often in charge of CO in Vijoynagar. The Circle Officers are stationed at Miao in the last one decade and had never set foot in his duty bound Circle. All Vijoynagar Block operations are exclusively from Miao. The rest of the departments degraded as well. There are often one or two Police Constables. The Engineers of PWD disappeared. The Veterinary personnel went off about 30 years ago. The PDS is in horrible shape. We never know where the rations disappear.

It is mandatory that all designated government officials return to their own station on site. Remote operations are not acceptable.

Second, education system looks pathetic. Take this year’s Class X result. Only one passed out of the 59 students of Government High School of Vijoynagar. Perhaps the worst result in the state. Look at the headmaster in charge. He is not a qualified teacher. Qualified teachers are not posted there. Then what result can we expect. Moreover, in a shocking revelation by the Cluster Resource Center (CRC) in charge informed that the Vijoynagar High School might loss CBSE affiliation due to non submission of required report.

Qualified teachers are needed. And loss of CBSE affiliation will attract stiff oppositions and demand for suspension of those responsible.

Third, drinking water taps were in place until 1990s. Now those worn out pipes are rusted. In villages which are surrounded by rivers and streams, drinking water for families became a rare commodity.

Proper water supplies will ease life of many people.

Fourth, the road remained unmotorable since its inauguration in 1975. Complete negligence of the Miao – Vijoynagar Road left the area total inaccessible. Even the PMGSY initiatives since 2011 remained ineffective and useless. Now the GoAP is talking about a highway from Jagun to Vijoynagar, making complete fool to the people.

If Vijoynagar area is a part of Arunachal Pradesh, then better government do something.

Fifth, medical facility is a mockery. For a Circle of about 7000 people, only a Community Health Center is provided that too a doctor on rotation. Nothing is available in other villages. Basic health care is in great trouble and people suffer from ill health.

We need several medical centres in the Circle.

There are plenty more where we need upliftment. Otherwise, what is the use of being a citizen of the country?

 

A Brief Report of Peaceful Rally in Itanagar

A rally that will be remembered as one forcibly stopped by AAPSU

Photo: Students with placards during the rally.

The Arunachal media and the powerful people wanted to remove even a trace of this protest.

The jointly organized rally by the All Arunachal Pradesh Anti-Corruption Students’ Union (AAPACSU) and the All Yobin Students Union (AYSU) did not do this for fun. This was the result of much frustration as the authorities ignored to all their demands. See the summary of prior initiatives by the two unions.

The rally was scheduled from Akash Deep to Tennis Court IG Park in Itanagar City on the 3rd May 2018. However it did not go as planned as the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) intercepted them right at the start and then again at Petrol Pump, where no further progress was possible.

Photo: Protesters holding the banners.

“Arunachal Bachao Andolan” was the theme of the protest. Since the rally is a genuine matter, the Deputy Commissioner of Itanagar granted NOC for the day. The four charter demands were:

  1. Removal of Panchayati Raj illegally extended to the Settlers of Vijoynagar Circle.
  2. Provide rationale for allowing the Settlers of Vijoynagar in Panchayati Raj system in VIjoynagar.
  3. Immediate suspension of Deputy Commissioner of Changlang, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Miao and Circle Officer of VIjoynagar, for favouring the Settlers at the expense of the local tribe.
  4. Immediate completion of Miao to Vijoynagar Road.

None of the Arunachal dailies published about this protest, except on in Eastern Sentinel where AAPSU was projected as the hero instead of the leaders of the rally, entitled “AAPSU calls for restraint on Yobin issue”.

But the local Itanagar TV channels released the videos:

  1. Itanagar News with the comments: “A Peacefull rally of All Arunachal Pradesh Anti-corruption Student’s union and All Yobin Student’s Union has been stopped by All Arunachal Pradesh Students’union and claims protest as unconstitutional.”

  2. Arunachal Mirror TV entitled “Students protest for development” and with comments: Yobin students protest for Development and Equality in Vijay Nagar under Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh. Vijay nagar is a place where people pay Rs 200 for a KG of sugar and Rs 150 for an equal amount of salt.

It is now over a month since the protest, we still await for government’s response. Hope the Unions do not have to push further movements.

Oram assures inclusion of 5 tribes of Arunachal in ST list

This kind of news is like fresh air for our society. We have been pressed down from getting up as a tribe. When we struggle in the core of our identity as an arunachalee, it is almost impossible to dream of bigger visions. Now I look forward for the final day when our tribe appears in the Central’s list of ST. (AP Times, 7 June 2018)

Few days later I read another news piece where MOS Kiren Rejiju asked Ninong Ering to directly talk with the State Government where the Yobin’s case has been forwarded. There seems to be a gap. Source: Arunachal News. 

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Oram assures inclusion of 5 tribes of Arunachal in ST list

NEW DELHI, Jun 6: Member of Parliament Ninong Ering said he has received assurance from Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram that the Yobin, Nocte, Tutsa, Tangsa and Wancho tribes will be included in the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST) of Arunachal Pradesh “in a time-bound manner.”

Ering on Tuesday met the tribal affairs minister here, and requested him for early inclusion of these tribes in the list.

“Non-inclusion has deprived them from availing various government facilities and jobs,” he told the union minister.

The parliamentarian from the state has been raising the issue since 2016 by introducing a private members’ bill for inclusion of these tribes in the Arunachal Pradesh ST list.

Recently, Ering communicated with the union home ministry’s registrar general and census commissioner, requesting for inclusion of these tribes in the state’s ST list.

“The registrar general was of the opinion that the ministry of tribal affairs, being the nodal ministry in matters pertaining to STs, can take a final decision regarding this issue,” Ering said.

Two Articles

I share two articles in this post.

The first is from Settlers: As expected the reaction from the Settlers did not talk about rights because their participation in the Panchayati Raj in Arunachal Pradesh is illegal. They argued at other reasons such, (1) There is no competition at village level only at ZPM level, (2) They had Panchayat in the 1970s and later, (3) AYSU is misleading others.

An RTI information from the ADC Miao said there is NO order from GoAP to grant Panchayati Raj for the Settlers. Then who is allowing and under what pressure?

Another thought – The ex-service people were “Settlers” in the late 1960s. Now they are claiming “Gorkhas”. What a change of identity!

The second article is from a reporter of The Hindu.  This is a news analysis but there is one major error in assumption. He seems to suggest that the Settlers were settled to protect our land from Chinese intrusion as he writes “After Chinese war”. It is not always to blame or take advantage of Chinese. The Vijoynagar area is three sides surrounded by Myanmar, not China. 

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Gorkha settlers rubbish AYSU claims

(AP Times, 12 April 2018)

ITANAGAR, Apr 11: In a response to the demands made by the All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU) pertaining to disallowing participation of retired non-local Assam Rifles’ personnel in Panchayati Raj Institution in Vijoynagar circle under Changlang district, the All Settlers Welfare Association, Vijaynagar, Gorkha Development Society and Gorkha Youth Committee, Vijaynagar, have in a release on Wednesday, stated that there is a separate representation and voting in Panchayati system at Vijaynagar for the two groups (Ex-Assam Rifles settlers and Yobins) on the basis of geographical variations and ethnicity, except at the ZPM level.

The NGOs claimed that there is no competitiveness within the two groups in the grass root level. “As far as Panchayati Raj is concerned, it was already introduced in Vijaynagar since 1975.

Lal Bir Gurung, an Ex-Assam Rifles personnel was the first ASM or Panch Pradhan of Vijaynagar circle. He held the post of Panch Pradhan till 1980, thereafter Panchayati Raj system remained defunct in whole of Arunachal Pradesh.

Later, government of Arunachal Pradesh re-introduced a three-tier Panchayat in Arunachal in May, 2003 and subsequently at Vijaynagar with four anchal constituencies- two ASM seat each to Gorkha and Yobin community. And by 2013 Vijaynagar was declared as 8-Vijaynagar Block with ZPC and Anchal Chairperson, but proportion of grass root level for GPM’s remains unchanged i.e.15 and 23 respectively,” it added.

While strongly condemning the AYSU’s statement, the organizations further said that the union should not have ignored the historical background regarding the settlement scheme of the ex-army personnel in Vijaynagar in the 1960s and desist from misleading other unions and the state government.

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Don’t let ex-servicemen who settled after China war contest rural polls: Arunachal tribe

By Rahul Karmakar, The Hindu, 24 April 2018

A tribal students’ organisation in Arunachal Pradesh has asked Pema Khandu’s BJP-ruled government to stop retired Assam Rifles personnel, settled in the State’s Changlang district after the Chinese attack in 1962, from contesting the panchayat polls.

The reasons cited are: The ex-servicemen as non-APST (Arunachal PradeshScheduled Tribe) did not deserve to contest the panchayat polls in the first place and have been settled on land whose lease ends in 2020.

The rural polls in Arunachal Pradesh was to have been announced after the term of the last panchayat ended on April 13. But it has been delayed due to a change in structure of the Panchayati Raj institution from three-tier to two-tier in the State.

“In 1962, some 200 retired Assam Rifles personnel and their families were settled in Vijaynagar circle under Changlang district on land leased out to them. Despite being non-APST, they were unethically made eligible to contest the panchayat polls,” Ngwazosa Yobin, president of All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU) said.

The ex-servicemen, he said, should no longer be allowed to contest the rural polls since the lease on the land expires in a little more than two years from now.

The Yobins, the predominant tribe in Vijaynagar area, call the place Daodi. Vijaynagar, a valley bordering Myanmar, was named after the son of Assam Rifles inspector general AS Guraya whose team had first reached the area in 1961.

‘Against the rules’

According to the AYSU, letting the ex-servicemen contest the rural polls is against the provisions of the 73rd Amendment related to Panchayati Raj as well as the Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act of 1997 that are “basically for empowerment of local people.”

But the ex-servicemen are deriving the benefits and rights meant for local people. The retired Assam Rifles settlers can contest the 17 Gram chairperson, three Anchal Samity member and one Anchal chairperson posts.

The AYSU also fears being outnumbered by the ex-servicemen, whose number has increased to more than 2,000.

The ex-uniformed settlers have trashed the AYSU’s contention. The Vijaynagar-based All Settlers’ Welfare Association, Gorkha Development Society and Gorkha Youth Committee have in a joint statement said there are separate panchayat voting systems for two groups — ex-servicemen and Yobins — on the basis of geographical variations and ethnicity.

The three organisations claimed there is no competition within the two groups at the grassroots level. “Panchayati Raj was introduced in Vijaynagar in 1975, and ex-Assam Rifles man Lal Bir Gurung was the first Panch Pradhan of Vijaynagar Circle. He held the post till 1980, after which the Panchayati Raj system remained defunct across Arunachal Pradesh,” the statement said.

No road

The AYSU criticised the government for not constructing a road from Vijaynagar to Miao, the nearest well-connected town of Changlang district 157 km away. Miao is close to Arunachal Pradesh’s border with Assam.

The road project was sanctioned in 2011 for an estimated ₹145 crore. But officials say it might never materialise, as much of the 157 km stretch is through the 1,985 sq km Namdapha National Park, a tiger reserve.

“People of Vijaynagar still lack basic facilities such as electricity and hospital besides a road. As a result, people have to trek for four-five days to reach the nearest equipped town,” Ngwazosa Yobin said.

Porters use the stretch through the tiger reserve to carry essential commodities on their heads. The porterage increases the prices of these commodities by 400-750%. For instance, a kilo of sugar costing ₹50 sells at ₹200, while a kilo of salt priced ₹20 is charged ₹150 at Vijaynagar.

The only mode of communication for people of Vijaynagar with the world beyond is an infrequent Indian Air Force chopper service, which is dictated by weather conditions.