T A R U N
B A N A R J I
S A G A R I K A
B A N A R J I
We are social work activists living in the Manicktala neighbourhood of Kolkata (Calcutta), India. We work with groups of young people and children in the neighbourhoods and in rural villages in West Bengal. We have developed a wide variety of programmes that include scientific modelling, dance, mime and yoga, song and drama, artwork, football, and campaigns for women’s rights and environmental concerns. Our work is part of a broader movement – Bijñāna Bhavna(science thinking). We catch young people at risk of falling out of school or getting into trouble and help them towards a trade and self-employment. We are green socialists and we believe that social work must have the raising of political awareness at its heart.
We chose the Martyrs’ Monument at Gandhamarden Hill because …
… it represents, for us, the importance of social workers fighting for social and economic justice and working directly alongside people to achieve this.
Gandhamardan Hill is in the state of Odisha (Orissa) in India, part of a range of mountains that spreads through three districts – Bargarh, Balangir and Noapara. In the southern part of the hills is Harishankar, with a waterfall, and the northern part of the hills is Nursingnath with Kapilbhara Fountain. There are 22 naturally occurring waterfalls and 500 species of medicinal plants, of which 42 are very rare. These plants are in dense forest and jungle where 50,000 tribal people live. These tribes people are the Kondhs, the Oraon and Obadas.
From the epic story of Ramayana we find one story that Hanuman brought this hill from the Himalayas to save the life of Lakshman by using bisaya koroherbs – life-saving herbs found here in this district.
In 1983 the Government of India and State of Odisha decided to explore the region for bauxite ore. The BALCO company starting blasting dynamite at the mouth of the sacred Kapildhara waterfall and immediately the waters stopped flowing.
We took part in the movement to stop the stripping of the mountainside and the desecration of the waterfalls. Many people were shot dead and they have become martyrs to the struggle. Ultimately the Government backed away and mining was discontinued in this particular location. But in recent years there is again pressure to resume mining activity.
Social work activists are always needed.