Vishwa Mohan-NEW DELHI: Union home ministry has written to district magistrates of naxal-affected districts, which are covered under the Integration Action Plan (IAP) for development activities, to replicate Madhya Pradesh’s Balaghat model. The Balaghat model uses ‘soft’ power to make people aware of the local goings on and instill a sense of pride for something that they have created.
Tribal-dominated Balaghat has recently brought out a newsletter – ‘Jai Johar’ (welcome or mamaste) – that aims to involve locals in creative activities under the “Redeem Self Esteem” programme. The authorities are now toying with the idea of setting up women and youth clubs to integrate the locals with the mainstream.
The newsletter, brought out by the district administration, has carried write-ups of tribal school students about their customs, songs, art and rituals in local Baiga dialect. The exercise aims to give the local community an identity.
It is believed that such activities will help them absorb the benefits of development initiatives which may, otherwise, bring many unintended consequences like accrued income fuelling alcoholism, outsiders cornering the major share of economic upsurge or rise in inequitable social practices particularly against women.
“Sensing the importance of such an initiative, the home ministry has written to all DMs of naxal-affected districts to replicate this model. We, along with development works, need to do a lot of other things simultaneously which may bring a sense of belonging among the locals,” said a home ministry official.
Brainchild of Balaghat DM Vivek Porwal, the newsletter has struck a chord with the tribals, who were earlier exposed to only pamphlets brought out by Maoists, and inclined to believe them as gospel truth – whatever Red Ultras disseminated through their vitriolic writings against the state machinery.
Porwal said, “Discovering that self-esteem is a critical determinant of ability to withstand change, we have convinced local communities that their creativity is good enough to be shared with others. We are also going to use this newsletter as spring board for our next level of ‘regenerating self esteem’ programmes like women and youth clubs under IAP.”
The IAP is being implemented in 60 naxal-affected districts with 100% block grant from the Centre. The allocated funds (Rs 25 crore and Rs 30 crore per district during 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively) were placed at the disposal of a district-level committee – comprising DM, SP and district forest officer – that identifies and implements the basic development and infrastructure projects. The scheme will be implemented in 18 more districts from the next fiscal (2012-13).