as others see us…
We the Adivasis1/Dalits of this our Greater Jharkhand homeland (encompassing the Adivasi regions of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal) trace our history from our ancestors, whose resistance to all forms of colonialism spans 200 years. Today, in their footsteps, we continue the fight to protect our identity, culture, and economy. Our identity and survival depends on our ability to protect our land, forest and other natural resources.
In order to sustain these struggles, our movement needed a space for reflection, documentation and training. In 1986 a group of activists and intellectuals set rolling the process of developing an institution to fulfil this need. They founded Bindrai Institute for Research Study & Action – BIRSA and in 1987-88 it received its registration under the Societies Registration Act.
From an abandoned shed in Amlatola, Chaibasa, BIRSA today has grown into four branches as shown in the diagram on the next page. Each branch has been planned to address a particular sector of our society. They all function as resource centres for reflection, documentation and training for communities impacted by a articular sector of State intervention or Industry penetration.
We built BIRSA on our Adivasi systems of self-governance, with which we are well acquainted. BIRSA’s principles, policies, and methods of functioning have thence been based on our time-tested traditional spirituality. As the legal requirements of the law as well as mainstream values and practices are, unfortunately, different from ours, it has been a struggle in itself to maintain a balance between the two.
In order to function within mainstream civil societies we needed the support and guidance of numerous like-minded NGOs as well as well-wishers. We approached a few of them to introduce us to the wider world so that like-minded thinkers and NGOs could get to know us and could continue to help us to do better.
In the following pages we are happy to share with you their letters. Thank you for the trouble you will take to read them and please journey with us……
Adv. Chandrabhushan Deogam
Bindrai Institute for Research Study & Action -BIRSA
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