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KVIC to Give New Way of Life to Tiger-Widows of Bali Island in Sundarban

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In the mangrove thickets of Bali Island of Sunderban, tigers have mauled the men widowing women. Life was torn to rags by the claws for 30-year-old Sumitra Midha till Saturday, as besides bearing the intolerable pain of losing her husband in Tiger attack – this Bag-Bidhoba (tiger-widow in local parlance) was fighting the aftermath of the fateful incident including bereavement and coping, the cultural stigma related to being killed by a tiger and the consequent discrimination, deprivation, and social rejection, and the impact on her mental health.

Thanks to the novel initiatives being taken by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) – who first studied the impact on the survivors in terms of health, both physical and psychosocial, disruption of livelihoods and food insecurity, and opportunity and transaction costs of conflict and then planned to provide a new lease of life in form of Gandhian Charkhas and bee-boxes for Bag-Bidhoba Sumitra and many others like her, to eke out their livelihood.

The KVIC Chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena himself visited the Bali Island on Saturday, to take stock of the pain and agony that the tiger-widows are facing. And, taking it as a prime task for KVIC’s rehabilitation principles, he decided to give 50 Charkhas, besides selecting among 75 of those victims for training in the first phase. Christened as ‘Tiger Victim Khadi Katai Kendra’ Bali, the KVIC officials have been asked to kick off the training programme of spinning and bee-keeping from 30th July and the supply of 50 Charkhas and 500 bee-boxes must be ensured by the last week of August, so that the Kendra is inaugurated during the first week of September this year positively.

Consequently, it would be a significant stride by the KVIC by encouraging the villagers to take up apiculture and Khadi activities right in their native villages and to stop villagers from collecting honey and fishing in deep waters of the Sundarban forest for eking out bread for their families – risking their lives – prey to tigers, crocodiles and poisonous snakes.

KVIC Chairman explains: “We want to bring down human deaths due to tiger attack to zero. Keeping this in mind, we will help villagers in taking up apiculture and weaving in all possible forms right in the villages so that they do not need to venture deep into the forests.”

However, for KVIC – successfully giving dignified ways of eking out the livelihood to the victims across India – is not a new phenomenon. First, it was the turn of Nagrota village in Jammu and Kashmir, where the migrant women of terrorism-infested villages there were rehabilitated in the Napkin Stitching Centre. And now, the handkerchiefs made by those women are being used as gifts to the noted national and international dignitaries by many government and non-government organisations. After that, the KVIC derived a novel way to cut out illegal poaching and maintain flora and fauna in and around Kaziranga National Park in Assam. It first started a new training-cum-production centre setup in association with Assam forest department, giving 25 charkhas, five looms and other accessories to the village artisans of Silimkhowa village under Karbi-Anglong district in Kaziranga forest area. After that, On May 20 this year on World Honey Bee Day, the KVIC distributed as many as 1,000 bee-boxes among 100 Mishing Asamese tribal people in Kaziranga – for rebuilding their lives and secure their future.

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