December 26, 2010 in Uncategorized
BY ADELA DEYAEN WAYAS
BAGUIO CITY – She started at a young age. She unblinds herself to understand the things around her. She talks of culture preservation and the advancement of Indigenous Peoples’ rights and self-determination.
Meenakshi Munda is the chairperson of the Asia Pacific Indigenous Youth Network (APIYN). She belongs to a family in Jharkland, India that is very traditional who has inspired and influenced her in the struggle of the Indigenous Peoples.
At the global scene
She attended the conference of APIYN held here last November 2010 where she was elected. Meenakshi challenges all IPs of the world to unite in the struggle for the recognition of their rights. She said all countries must be one for the effective execution of the goals and objectives of APIYN in their communities.
“It is a great responsibility and I am honored (as a chairperson of APIYN),” she said. Being challenged by the proximity of the countries, she said regional reports will be submitted to the national focal point and from the national to the international headquarter of APIYN through social media as the channel for information.
She said all indigenous peoples of the world face common problems. “IPs are related with common problems on land, forest and water, and the recognition of their identity and rights,” she added.
The different governments of the countries, she pointed out, do not recognize IPs. They are being marginalized as fruits of development do not reach the regions because of the corruption in their governments, she continued.
Militarization became rampant in the regions all over the world she said. She said this causes the displacement of the IPs and violations of their rights.
“These are the reasons why there is a need for the IPs all over the world be one in the struggle for their recognition and their rights,” she stressed.
Meenakshi also attended different forums and conferences of IPs in various countries. Some of which she had attended were in the 3rd Session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in July 12 to 16, 2010 held at Geneva, Switzerland where she presented a paper on Naxal (armed rebellion) movement in India.
She also attended the United Nations Committee on World Food Security in Rome, Italy last October, 7th (2007) and 8th (2008) permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,International Training Center of Indigenous Peoples in Greenland, 23rd session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (2007), United Nations Higher Commission for Human Rights in Geneva (2005). She has also presented a paper on the importance of Indigenous Language for the welfare of the community in the national and regional meetings concerning IPs in India.
In her own land
At the age of 15, Meenakshi became an active member of Mundari Literary Council, a non profit organization established in 1968 in Jharkland that preserves their mother tongue. According to her the organization has been working for culture preservation and for the Mundari (language of the Munda Tribe), Santhali (language of the Santhali IPs) and Ho (language of the Ho IPs).
Meenakshi added she started here as a ground worker with the goal of promoting their language since it was endangered. At this age she started to motivate youth and women for the preservation of their language. She said many from the youth were forgetting their mother language.
Later on, as the president of the youth wing of the organization, she said they include other issues concerning IPs. “I was never contented with the amount of work we were pursuing, there are more issues to address,” she added. She with determination then joined other IP organizations.
Jharkland is the most exploited state, she said. It is the center of economy for rich mineral resources, hydro electric potentials, great avenues of industrialization and other kinds of development that affects the IPs.
She added migration of tribal members especially the women is on its peak. “Women moved to metro cities where they are exploited sexually and economically.” Agents who are not IPs, she explained, lure the women and sell them in the cities. Until now, Meenakshi said this is one problem they have been working on.
Moreover she said “displacement, unemployment, migration, poverty,and poor programs for health and wellness became our identity.”
Meenakshi grew observing her grand father’s dedication towards the development and upliftment of Indigenous population in India. She said her grand father has done much for their tribal society by educating them and at the same time documenting oral myths and stories, songs etc.
“ Personalities from my family had influenced me right from the beginning,” she shared. Her father Paras Nath Singh, and her mother Usha inspire and guide her in the struggles of the IPs in their state. Dr. Ram Dayal Munda, her uncle, gave her insights on what she could do for the plight of the IPs in their place.
According to her, constant activities at their house and outside gave her an immense exposure to understand her society and her social participation.
Meenakshi graduated Bachelor of Science in Social Anthropology in Jharkland and got her Masteral degree in New Delhi in 2005. At present she is pursuing her PhD at the Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi.
“Being an anthropologist I had a fair understanding of the life of the IPs and how to respect other culture,” she said. Meenakshi added “Anthropology basis its foundation on empathy where we look into different aspects with the eyes of the person of the respective community. This discipline has given me humanitarian insights.” #