ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kalahandi’s Poverty and Dana Majhi

The course of historical injustice and feudal-led colonisation in Kalahandi remains uncorrected through a structural exclusion of the marginalised.

Dana Majhi, a tribal man from the Kalahandi district of Odisha, first caught the nation’s attention in 2016 when he carried his wife’s corpse on his shoulders for over 10 kilometres because the district hospital at Bhawanipatna could not spare a vehicle. He was in the news again in 2021 when his daughter, who had accompanied him on that harrowing walk, passed the Class 10 board exam. This became an interesting titbit for mainstream Odia and national media. Celebratory narratives were created around Majhi and his daughter. However, it is a cause for intellectual discomfort to celebrate the matriculation exam success without a critical note on Kalahandi’s poverty and what it means for people like Majhi.

Majhi’s individual experience is just the tip of the iceberg. The big picture reveals the naked truth of a defective society, economy, politics, and governance in Kalahandi especially and Odisha in general. Thus, simply sympathising with his experience without delving into the deeper issue of his marginalisation and generational poverty is violence on him. Celebrating his daughter’s success against the background of their reality as an isolated case is parochial. It trivialises the historical injustice and systematic structural exclusion of native tribes, Dalits, and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) of society over centuries. It also covers up the exclusionary practices of the dominant post-independence politics led by feudal and upper-caste groups.

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Updated On : 27th Jan, 2022
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