Tata Steel plans to build bridges with tribals

About 2,000 tribals from 20 states will participate in a 4-day event
Dillip Satapathy | Bhubaneswar November 3, 2015
Come November 15, Tata Steel Managing Director T V Narendran will step out from his corner office in Jamshedpur and tap his feet to the beats of nagada played by tribals draped in their colourful traditional attire at Gopal Maidan here.

The occasion will be inauguration of second tribals’ convention by Tata Steel at Jamshedpur, which is being made a calendar event at the steel city, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda, a noted tribal leader and freedom fighter from central India.

About 2,000 tribals, most of them belonging to particularly vulnerable tribal groups, drawn from 20 states will participate in the four-day extravaganza. The event, christened ‘Samvaad’ or ‘engaging in conversation’, will see participation from chairman Cyrus Mistry, too. Mistry is likely to attend the event on November 17, the penultimate day.

But what is there for a corporate house to organise a tribals’ convention instead of a business meet, particularly when it is facing market slump. “Tribals form an important stake holder in our operation. Jamshedpur is located in a tribal belt. From the beginning, Tata Steel has been doing a lot for the development of the communities living around its plant. The objective is not only to showcase and preserve rich tribal culture, but also to explore tribals’ views on development instead of imposing the industry model of development on them,” said Biren Ramesh Bhuta, chief (corporate social responsibility), Tata Steel.

That makes sense for the company that has most of its projects (not only Jamshedpur) in tribal dominated areas in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The timing of the initiative to build bridges with tribals could not be better as many corporate houses, including Tata Steel, are facing protests from “original” inhabitants at their project locations on the issues of displacement, land acquisition, livelihood and environment protection.

Tata Steel had started this event last year with the participation of 1,500 members belonging to 40 tribes from 19 states. “This year, the participation will be higher. In future, we intend to involve aborigines from other parts of the world like Australia, Africa and Canada,” Bhuta added.

Unlike last year, when different sessions at the fete deliberated on livelihood, tribal medicinal system and environment protection, this year’s event will focus on tribal language and culture.Courtesy:BussinessStandards.

“We are promoting development and use of tribal scripts, particularly for Santhali and Ho tribes. We are running over 300 centres at Jharkhand and Odisha to teach tribal scripts. There will be special sessions on tribal language at the meet. Also, there will be paper writing competition among students of 40 top universities of the country on the theme ‘tribes in contemporary India’. We will also have exhibitions of tribals art, music and dance and also screening of award winning movies on different tribes,” Bhuta said.

“But the main objective is to build a bridge of trust and equity with the tribal community, particularly when the government and corporate houses largely ignore their prospective of development,” he added.

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Author: madhubaganiar

Madhubaganiar loves to write on social issues especially for downtrodden segment of Indian society.

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