I always wondered since my childhood, how these people travel from far off places of Rajasthan and Gujarat to different parts of country especially Maharashtra with their camels, cows and hundreds of sheep together. They carry their whole life with them. We usually see them in our area at the beginning of summer and when the crops are harvested from the fields. The fields are empty during hot summer.
When we are told not to go out in the hot sun except in case of an emergency, these people spend whole day in a tent, raised in the hot sun. They do not care for luxury life, what we enjoy at home like television, ACs, coolers, cosmetics and other stuffs. They just carry their essentials like beddings and clothes with them. They are the nomads of Rajasthan.
There are about 32 communities of nomadic and semi nomadic groups with a total population of about 35 lakh. They have no homes or even spaces for the burial for their dead. Many of these communities have traditionally earned their living moving from place to place, making weapons, performing on streets, herding livestock, selling traditional medicines made with herbs or hunting wild animals and selling their parts. Their biggest asset is their livestock.
The worst affected of all are their children, who are kept away from schooling. Their childhood has been stripped from them. They too have to wander with their parents. No formal education, no uniforms, no sports, nothing for them. How can I forget their innocent smiles? When I asked them for photos, one of the children asked me if I would give her 'Lakh Rupees', then only they would pose for the photograph. How innocent was she!
We are an independent country now. We have our own constitution. We boast, state is for all. It's going to be 70 years since our independence. Have we ensured a decent life for all of our fellow countrymen? Do they not belong to us, to India? Do they not exist? I even wonder, whether they are counted in census!
Reports say, members of these communities, after so many decades of independence have no documentary evidence of their citizenship- they hold no voter identification or Aadhaar Cards, no Ration Cards, nothing to show domicile proof.
We talk of Shining India, Digital India, Cashless Economy, 4G and many more technological advances, but we failed at this front. We failed in bringing them to mainstream, as a society, as a state. We failed our constitution.
We are least bothered, it may be because of we are the lucky ones, we are fortunate enough that we are not at their place.
"The future belongs to the common man with uncommon determination."- Baba Amte, Indian Social Worker.