Van Gujjars

Van Gujjars

The people of northern India’s Van Gujjar tribe are nomadic water buffalo herders whose lives revolve around caring and finding food for their animals. Originally from Jammu and Kashmir, the tribe has over time spread out across the ranges of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in search of rich forests and meadows for their cattle. A Muslim community, Van Gujjars have their own dialect called Gujjari, which is a linguistic fusion of Dogri (a Kashmiri tongue) and Punjabi. For most of their history, the nomads were known as Gujjars. They only added the word Van (forest) to their tribal name in the late 1980s. Winters are spent in the lowland wilderness of the Shivalik Hills, where the thick jungle foliage provides plenty of fodder – and plenty of isolation from the rest of the world. There are no roads, no electricity and no fixed addresses on this journey that takes them across high plains, treacherous passes and picturesque Himalayan valleys.

By April, however, temperatures soar above 110 degrees; leaves and grasses wither and die; creeks run dry. With nothing left for their buffaloes to eat or drink, the Van Gujjars must move. Entire families, from infants to the elderly, trek with their herds up into the Himalayas, where melting snows reveal lush alpine meadows laced by gurgling streams. When the cold sets in at the end of September, they head back down to the Shivaliks, where the jungle has sprung back to life following the monsoon rains.

There are two things that the Van Gujjars have to reckon with to optimize the timing of their ascent. If they reach alpine grasslands too early, the meadows will still be covered with snow. But if they linger too long en route, they will waste money (earned by selling milk on the way) to buy fodder and food they don’t actually need. So they move strategically, analysing the ground conditions, aiming to reach the meadows as soon as the grass comes up.

Each member in a Van Gujjar family has a well-defined role (based on age) with the animals: the adults walk with big buffaloes and horses while the children follow at a slower pace with the calves.

True nomads, they’ve followed this cycle of seasonal migration – shunning settled village life – for over a thousand years. These tribes are of the mountains and for the mountains as they have lived in the jungles from the beginning.

Problems faced by the community:

This life of constant movement and relative isolation from the urban world has led them to build a self-driven community. However, with changing times and urban development they have been deprived of some health and educational benefits that stand crucial in today’s times and for the community to grow.

  • The new younger kids are not able to gain the basic education.
  • Due to the lack of proper representation as a community they have not been able to reap the benefits of India’s judicial, social and health industry.
  • The community has been living in the jungles for so long that they have developed their own sustainable means of living.
  • Constant movement and no permanent address also puts them on a backbench of reaping the benefits by the government.
  • They have not been acknowledged by the Forest Department which makes their lives even riskier.

Building the community

  • The Van Gujjar community should be given designated rights under the Forest Rights Act.
  • The sustainable means of living that they have developed over the years can be turned into business models for the other villages to apply in their living
  • They should be given proper access to education so the younger generation can go beyond the forest areas and build a stronger community.
  • They should be given access to health centres to be treated during ailment.
  • The community can be given vocational training for growth.

And our team is working relentlessly over the same.

Agriculture

Agriculture

The state of Uttarakhand’s connection with the nomadic pastoral Van Gurjrar community is centuries old and their history together runs deep. The ‘Van Gujjars’ have been living at the foothills of the Himalayas before Independence. In addition to the Gujjars, many tribal communities such as the Bhotia or Shauka, Buxa or Bhoksa, Banravat, Jaunsari, Tharu, and Mahigir live in these forests. Inhabiting the state’s lush forests, the people earn their livelihood by rearing their cattle and performing sustainable farming over the year. These communities are commonly victims of poor living conditions, poverty, and malnutrition.

THINK ACT RISE FOUNDATION with the help of other NGOs, researchers and locals initiated CNPFC (Center for Nomadic, Semi-Nomadic, Pastoralist, and other forest-dwelling communities). They have strived to collect authentic data and documents to present facts to the government and advocate on the behalf of the nomadic Van Gujjar community, the NGO was authorized by the Gram Sabha of the Van Gujjars to legally represent them.

The problem was that the Gujjars from Tarai East reported that the junior officers did not permit their agriculture activities, despite having no such orders relayed by the DFO. On the other hand, the Gujjars of Tarai West and Tarai Central were able to carry out their agriculture activities in peace. Upon closer inspection, the only problem barring them from carrying out the agriculture operations is the prima facie arbitrary actions of the junior officials.

Before; when the Gujjars were not permitted to cultivate the forest land

Upon the advisory of their legal advisor, Juris Lexum, TARF wrote to the DFO of Tarai East that the Van Gujjars shall cultivate in the forest land and the reasons for why this action is completely legal.

Earlier, the communities received permission to cultivate on forest land from the forest department as per the Indian Forest Act 1927. But after December 13, 2005, no individual requires permission from the Forest department if they have been carrying out agriculture on or before the stated date.

The Gram Sabha of the Van Gujjar community has already filed their claims in Tarai East and the adjudicating authority is the District Magistrate even though the forest department does not fall under the FRA.

The NGO has submitted numerous documents that were required as evidence to prove the community’s dependence on the forest land for bona fide livelihood needs, these documents were submitted to the PCCF office and the DM of Nainital back in March of 2019.

Earlier, the Van Gujjars were considered other traditional forest dwellers, which means a member of the nomadic community who prior to13 December 2005 has primarily resided in the forest for at least three generations. They depend on the forest’s land for their bonafide livelihood needs. A generation equates to a period consisting of twenty-five years. The Van Gujjars have been living in the forest for more than 100 years, this is a known fact in the working plan of Tarai East.

The Van Gujjars were permitted to sow crops in 2014 by the government of Uttarakhand while clearly stating that any individual who meddles or breaks up any of the community’s land for cultivation or any other purpose shall be punished. The punishment being either imprisonment for a term of up to six months or with a fine of about five hundred rupees or both. In addition, the individual would be responsible for compensation for the damage done to the forest as the court sees fit.

The fact that the Gujjars of Tarai West and Central have been able to go about their daily agricultural activity while the Gujjars of Tarai East have been prohibited from doing the same falls under the violation of Article 14 and Article 21. This is because the prohibition is not a legal order but rather the arbitrary actions of junior officers. If any such legal order did exist, the right protocol would be to present it in front of the community in order to give them the chance to take the rightful action against it.

Think Act Rise Foundation acts as the Pro Bono Legal Representative of the pastoral nomadic Van Gujjar Community for the reason that they lack the education and resources to represent themselves, as authorized by the Gram Sabha. TARF advised the community to sow crops on the agricultural land which they were using earlier for the same purpose. The Gram Sabha holds the right to determine the extent of representation as

The state of Uttarakhand’s connection with the nomadic pastoral Van Gurjrar community is centuries old and their history together runs deep. The ‘Van Gujjars’ have been living at the foothills of the Himalayas before Independence. In addition to the Gujjars, many tribal communities such as the Bhotia or Shauka, Buxa or Bhoksa, Banravat, Jaunsari, Tharu, and Mahigir live in these forests. Inhabiting the state’s lush forests, the people earn their livelihood by rearing their cattle and performing sustainable farming over the year. These communities are commonly victims of poor living conditions, poverty, and malnutrition.

THINK ACT RISE FOUNDATION with the help of other NGOs, researchers and locals initiated CNPFC (Center for Nomadic, Semi-Nomadic, Pastoralist, and other forest-dwelling communities). They have strived to collect authentic data and documents to present facts to the government and advocate on the behalf of the nomadic Van Gujjar community, the NGO was authorized by the Gram Sabha of the Van Gujjars to legally represent them.

The problem was that the Gujjars from Tarai East reported that the junior officers did not permit their agriculture activities, despite having no such orders relayed by the DFO. On the other hand, the Gujjars of Tarai West and Tarai Central were able to carry out their agriculture activities in peace. Upon closer inspection, the only problem barring them from carrying out the agriculture operations is the prima facie arbitrary actions of the junior officials.

Before; when the Gujjars were not permitted to cultivate the forest land

Upon the advisory of their legal advisor, Juris Lexum, TARF wrote to the DFO of Tarai East that the Van Gujjars shall cultivate in the forest land and the reasons for why this action is completely legal.

Earlier, the communities received permission to cultivate on forest land from the forest department as per the Indian Forest Act 1927. But after December 13, 2005, no individual requires permission from the Forest department if they have been carrying out agriculture on or before the stated date.

The Gram Sabha of the Van Gujjar community has already filed their claims in Tarai East and the adjudicating authority is the District Magistrate even though the forest department does not fall under the FRA.

The NGO has submitted numerous documents that were required as evidence to prove the community’s dependence on the forest land for bona fide livelihood needs, these documents were submitted to the PCCF office and the DM of Nainital back in March of 2019.

Earlier, the Van Gujjars were considered other traditional forest dwellers, which means a member of the nomadic community who prior to13 December 2005 has primarily resided in the forest for at least three generations. They depend on the forest’s land for their bonafide livelihood needs. A generation equates to a period consisting of twenty-five years. The Van Gujjars have been living in the forest for more than 100 years, this is a known fact in the working plan of Tarai East.

The Van Gujjars were permitted to sow crops in 2014 by the government of Uttarakhand while clearly stating that any individual who meddles or breaks up any of the community’s land for cultivation or any other purpose shall be punished. The punishment being either imprisonment for a term of up to six months or with a fine of about five hundred rupees or both. In addition, the individual would be responsible for compensation for the damage done to the forest as the court sees fit.

The fact that the Gujjars of Tarai West and Central have been able to go about their daily agricultural activity while the Gujjars of Tarai East have been prohibited from doing the same falls under the violation of Article 14 and Article 21. This is because the prohibition is not a legal order but rather the arbitrary actions of junior officers. If any such legal order did exist, the right protocol would be to present it in front of the community in order to give them the chance to take the rightful action against it.

Think Act Rise Foundation acts as the Pro Bono Legal Representative of the pastoral nomadic Van Gujjar Community for the reason that they lack the education and resources to represent themselves, as authorized by the Gram Sabha. TARF advised the community to sow crops on the agricultural land which they were using earlier for the same purpose. The Gram Sabha holds the right to determine the extent of representation as it is a matter of facts and not related to the law.

As Rabi season is upon us and the community has to sow their seeds for animal fodder, the Van Gujjars will sow the crop over the area under their occupation as long as there is no objection. In this way, the Gujjars were able to sow 1,000 acres of agricultural crops.

After; where the Gujjars cultivated 1000 acres of forest land it is a matter of facts and not related to the law.

As Rabi season is upon us and the community has to sow their seeds for animal fodder, the Van Gujjars will sow the crop over the area under their occupation as long as there is no objection. In this way, the Gujjars were able to sow 1,000 acres of agricultural crops.

Shield

Shield

The fresh guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry made wearing masks mandatory for anyone stepping out of the home. With masks running out in stores, a group of youth named TARF Corona Warriors team made available face shields and masks for health workers and policemen. iKEBANA apartment resident Sachin Pawar and other members of the group have made available approximately 13,000 face masks from their pocket which were then distributed to doctors, health workers, and support staff at more than 65 hospitals across the state.

Sachin himself is an Indore Air Quality Consultant and has done extensive research and orders on pollution in collaboration with the government and private organizations. The police distributed the face masks to the helpers for free. Satendra Nagar reported that in the last 3 days, the team has given 12,500 face masks to healthcare workers and doctors & 11,000 to UP Policemen. 7,500 face masks were distributed among the sanitization workers and 6,000 to those serving in sealed hotspots. The TARF Corona warrior team included Devendra Khari, Lieutenant Lalit, Arjun Kasana, Sunil Nagar, and many more.

Many have come forward to contribute to this cause; Mr. Vijay Nagar, the director of CIS Worldwide provided us with the raw material for 8,000 shields. Deputy Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Fuldiya pledged raw materials for 5,000 face shields, 100 PPE kits, and 10,000 face masks

The Indian Post Office came to the aid of the organization to deliver 2,000 face shields to 5 destinations while the Indian Railways delivered 5,500 face shields to 3 destinations.

As the second wave of coronavirus took a dreadful form in the country, the Think Act and Rise Foundation made viable efforts to curb the hapless situation. During these times of distress, when resources were scant and health workers and security personnel were put in the greatest danger of catching this contagious virus, this team of young and motivated individuals was on the go. This mission by the foundation made it possible to provide affordable face masks.

Initially, Sachin Panwar got this idea from the recurring lack of PPE kits and face shields in the country. With the help of a new technique, which made use of projection sheets, elastic and double-sided tapes, he made and delivered ten thousand face masks free of cost, to the corona troopers across Delhi NCR. The outcome of all these efforts made the 150 rupees masks available at rupees 30 for the public.

Officers and beneficiaries highly liked and appreciated the efforts made by the organization. In addition to this, the organization had provided the Delhi and UP police with 11,000 face shields across more than 59 units engaged in the enforcement of law and order. Jitendra Singh, the district journalist, had ordered hundred face shields and granted them to police and doctors. Sachin Panwar and Arjun Kasana aimed at creating the covishield masks at an economical price and were successful.

These masks were requisite to curb the second wave of virus, as they acted as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from reaching others. When you wear a mask, you safeguard others as well as yourself. A mask is not an alternative to social distancing. Masks should still be worn adjunct to staying at least 6 feet apart, particularly when indoors around people who do not live in your domestic environment. It should cover the nose and mouth and fit compactly against the sides of the face without gaps and should be worn anytime you are traveling on a plane, bus, train, or other forms of public conveyance. Also, putting on a mask inside your home if someone you live with is sick with symptoms of COVID-19 would be a  prudent measure.

This is just one of the many endeavors the organization has made so far. Our country is going through distressing circumstances and sufferings are abound. The virus took a monstrous form across the country due to the negligence of the citizens. India let its guard down when daily cases of infection fell to fewer than 20,000 in January in contrast to 90,000 in September. Due to a false sense of normalcy that outspread across the country, people resumed social gatherings like religious and festive activities. A chronic shortage of hospital beds is apparent by the desperate cries for help on social media platforms. Perturbing reports of people dying without getting timely treatment are coming from all over the country. The lack of cooperation between states and the federal government over the supply of oxygen and required drugs had further added to the problem. Even the crematoriums are running day and night in several cities, which shows a sorrowful situation.

We have to take advantageous measures by reinforcing safety protocols, rapidly vaccinating people, and reaching out. According to the health ministry, by focusing on containment strategies, testing infrastructure, and health care augmentation, making trained human resources, supply of medical oxygen, ventilators available can curb the second wave, while preventing an inevitable third one in the country.

The ministry of external affairs is working with various government departments, nations, the private sector as well as industry associations to maneuver through this situation. Countries like the US, New Zealand, Europe as well as neighboring nations such as Bhutan, Bangladesh have committed to providing India with medical items and pharmaceutical products that the country momently needs to battle the striking rise in covid 19 cases.

Think Act and Rise foundation is continuously making strides towards uplifting those in hardship during this pandemic. All the efforts taken so far have yielded significant results. The upcoming target is to manufacture and fulfill the need for face marks for fifty thousand or more people. And if demand rises further than our team members comprising Sachin Panwar, Arjun Kasana, Sunil Nagar, Khavindar Chowdhry, Devandra Vikas, Vijay Nagar, Rajiv Maavi and, Chetan Vipin Khari will attempt to meet the same.

Van Gujjars

The people of northern India’s Van Gujjar tribe are nomadic water buffalo herders whose lives revolve around caring and finding food for their animals. Originally from Jammu and Kashmir, the tribe has over time spread out across the ranges of Uttarakhand and Himachal...

Agriculture

The state of Uttarakhand’s connection with the nomadic pastoral Van Gurjrar community is centuries old and their history together runs deep. The ‘Van Gujjars’ have been living at the foothills of the Himalayas before Independence. In addition to the Gujjars, many...

Shield

The fresh guidelines issued by the Union Home Ministry made wearing masks mandatory for anyone stepping out of the home. With masks running out in stores, a group of youth named TARF Corona Warriors team made available face shields and masks for health workers and...

Parindey

Parindey, a cell of the NGO, aim towards enabling the travellers to ‘save’ the planet and make a difference while travelling. It provides them with an opportunity to give it back to the planet. Parindey helps responsible travellers explore the diverse cultures and,...

Parindey

Parindey

Parindey, a cell of the NGO, aim towards enabling the travellers to ‘save’ the planet and make a difference while travelling. It provides them with an opportunity to give it back to the planet. Parindey helps responsible travellers explore the diverse cultures and, also contribute towards the empowerment of the rural areas by indulging in various social roles and causes. It enables the travellers to make memories and leave their footprints wherever they go.

Environmental

We are aware of the current situations in the tourist places these days and how they have suffered at the hands of the ignorant travellers. Parindey is on a mission to create the sense of responsible travelling among the travellers. It has created several drives where awareness is generated among the travellers to adopt ways to contribute, for instance, the creation of cleanliness drives has taken place at affected places, providing effective dos and don’ts while travelling, facilitating guidelines, planting of seed balls in the forests and many more.

Economical

Parindey has been working extensively for creating gateways toward economic development in the rural. It creates an opportunity for the people in the rural to earn a living. It has made special tie-ups with the families in these rural areas of Himachal and Uttarakhand to promote their existing small businesses, providing a better platform to function and also help them adopt better and effective business model. As one of its economy generation project, Parindey has developed homestays in beautiful locations which helps in regular income generation for these families.

Social& Cultural

Parindey becomes an organization working towards the holistic development when it not only serves to create a better environment or Development of business but also when it contributes voraciously towards the social upliftment of the rural societies it wishes to cater. It has established relationships with various NGOs and enables the travellers to contribute their services. The registered ‘Parindeys’ indulge in various services for the less fortunate making an impact on the people and the travellers themselves.  India is an abode of the plethora of cultures, often, unknown to others. Parindey believes in cross-cultural interaction which brings itself the true essence of travelling.

Educational

We are aware of the current situations in the tourist places these days and how they have suffered at the hands of the ignorant travellers. Parindey is on a mission to create the sense of responsible travelling among the travellers. It has created several drives where awareness is generated among the travellers to adopt ways to contribute, for instance, the creation of cleanliness drives has taken place at affected places, providing effective dos and don’ts while travelling, facilitating guidelines, planting of seed balls in the forests and many more.