'Radios are useless when we have nothing to eat'
Submitted by admin4 on 18 March 2012 - 1:51pm
By Imran Khan, IANS,
Patna : What do we do with a radio when we have nothing to eat? This
is the refrain of many of the poor Mahadalits in Bihar who are selling
off free radios given by the state government to buy meat and country
More than 1,500 Mahadalits, the poorest of the poor in Bihar, in
Dhanarua block in Patna district are reported to have sold their
radios for just Rs.150 to Rs.200 in the last few days.
"What will we do with a radio when we have nothing to eat? Where is
the money for its battery? That is why we have sold the radios,"
Brahamdeo Manjhi of Anjani village, a beneficiary of the Mahadalit
radio scheme, told IANS.
He said the money he got was used for a small party with his friends.
"We enjoyed country (locally brewed) liquor," he said.
Radios were distributed to educate the Mahadalits about the importance
of literacy, sanitation and kicking bad habits like consuming alcohol
Another beneficiary of the Mahadalit radio scheme, Doman Manjhi, said
the radio will not benefit Mahadalits. "We are fighting for survival.
Songs and news sound bad when we have empty stomachs," he said.
Doman admitted that he along with dozens have already sold radios
provided by the government. "After I sold my radio, I purchased
country liquor and chicken for dinner," he said.
Dhanarua Block welfare officer Sadhna Kumari said there was
information that Mahadalits in some villages had sold their radios.
"What can we do? We cannot check it," she said.
According to block officials, till date, 5,552 radios have been
distributed and 663 are yet to be distributed among Mahadalits.
Last month, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launched the Mahadalit radio
scheme under the Bihar Mahadalit Vikas mission. The government has
decided to provide radios to about 2.2 million Mahadalit familes.
As per the 2011 Census, Dalits constitute nearly 15 percent of Bihar's
104 million population. A total of 21 of the 22 Dalit sub-castes have
been identified as Mahadalits. They include the Musahar, Bhuiyan, Dom,
Chamar and Nat communities.
In 2009, the state government had decided to directly hand over Rs.400
to each family to purchase radios.
However, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said it was decided not to give
the money as officials of the SC/ST welfare department and the
Mahadalit Vikas Mission apprehended that the money might be misused.
Bihar was the first state in the country to constitute a Mahadalit
Commission. It was decided that the commission would study the status
of the neglected sub-castes among Dalits and suggest ways to uplift
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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