What can we do?

 

I went around Rajasthan with a few friends recently and was lucky enough to come across this camel driver named Dayam Khan in Sam desert. I have a habit of talking to people. Everyone I find even remotely interesting, I talk to. I asked him about himself and got to know about many things.

He lives in a community near Sam and it’s even smaller than a village. It is a ‘basti (Hindi word meaning something like a tribe or community) consisting of 100 houses. His grandfather lived in so much poverty that he used to live on goat’s milk and vegetation growing in desert as what Dayam told me. The language they speak there is local Marwari which is very much like how Sindhi sounds. 

Dayam Khan hasn’t studied. He has never gone to school and he doesn’t know how to read or write at all. The reason he is a camel driver is because that’s the only thing he knows and he can do. However, he is very smart, sharp and very approachable at the same time. He talks to everyone easily. He said he would have been working in affiliation with the government directly if only he had the opportunity to study at least till grade 10. The local camel owner whom he works for, barely pays him 2000 rs. a month and he has to make a living out of it as well as feed his family being the sole breadwinner of the family. He says the travellers and mostly foreigners generously give tips to him which is the only reason him and his family can fulfill their basic necessities.

Upon knowing all this I asked him a question “How are your kids? Do they go to school?” and this exposed me to a whole new chapter of issues that him, his community and many communities like his are facing. He says his kids can’t go to school and even they drive camels now.

So, why can’t his kids go to school?

Because Dayam and his kids live in a ‘basti’, the government has allocated only one primary school there and if they want to study beyond grade 7, they have to move to Jaisalmer as that’s the only one nearest place where there is a high-school. However, if the kids move to Jaisalmer, Dayam can’t bear their lodging and boarding even if the kids get full-scholarship for their studies.

Leave alone high-school, even primary education is difficult. The schools being in remote areas, teachers placed there don’t bother enough going to the school regularly because there is barely anyone to make sure they are working. Dayam says the teachers don’t come to teach at all and there is no one responsible they can report to.

In this situation, Dayam does his best and gets the kids to start working as soon as he can so that there is at least some decent income for them and their family. The kids now work for the same employer as Dayam does…

Problem of water supply

The only way they can get water is from a nearby well. Because the place is so remote, there is no government water supply around that area. The only way they get water is from a nearby well.

Problem of Dune Bashing

Dayam literally got someone to write a letter to the government in English in order to have someone solve this problem. He says and believes that the government pays attention to their issues if only they are approached by foreigners and in English.

To,

The disctrict Magistrate & collector,

Jaisalmer.

Sub: Dune-bashing by LAMA TOURS near Lakhmano ki Basti.

Respected Sir,

There are high rippling, serene and unexplored sand-dunes near the above mentioned hemlet.

Lama tours conducts roller-coaster ride by 4×4 fortuner cars every day. On account this dune-bashing, the serenity of the sand-dunes are being receded.

The city of Jaisalmer which is famous for its Fort & high rippling sand-dunes is loosing its popularity among the tourists those who are visiting Jaisalmer.

The impact of it will appear in the near future. We urge, that this dune bashing should be stopped with immediate effect.

We hope for a Prompt action.

Thanking you.

Sincerely yours,

This issue was addressed by one of the collectors and the dune-bashing stopped for a nearly a month. Then after the responsible person gave some money to the government and put pressure on the collector to allow the middle eastern businessman to continue what he was doing before and since then he has always been driving his car on the dunes for no real reason. The hight of the dunes have gone down significantly since when this started happening.

The localities affected by all these issues are:

  • Lakhmano ki Basti
  • Kesvaan ki Basti
  • Turke ki Basti and
  • Lootu ki Basti

The nearest graam panchaayat is ‘Sam ki Panchaayat’ in Jaisalmer District in the state of Rajasthan.

The motive behind publishing this is to be able to solve issues of our brothers and sisters and I have come across. Today when I write this, I don’t know where to start from. A way of going about this is to use contacts and make this a public issue using the best media possible and it does start from my blog here. We all have seen petitions being signed and how it does make a difference to get the right thing done.

  1 comment for “What can we do?

  1. Nicole Parsons
    February 22, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Have read this article and believe that something has to be done for Dayam and his family. It is distressing enough that he is in this desperate situation, but more so because there is a community of around 100 houses that are in the same situation and are unable to make a change for their children. The issues for his family seem to be related to the main problem which is that his basti, or village community, is simply being overlooked. As you mentioned, it isn’t viable for him to send his kids away to receive an education and I assume this is the same for many other families.

    Problems regarding a lack of accessible drinking water as well as the destruction of their land also comes down to the fact that they are simply being overlooked and ignored. A petition might work but it would require the names of all the people living in this area as well as a detailed list of all of the issues which are affecting these people in order to grasp the attention of the government department or whoever is responsible. What department is supposed be to looking after this region? Is it the district Magistrate (Jaisalmer)? Would it be possible to write to them first just to let them know that people are aware or some of these matters? If it is a possibility, that would seem like a good place to start. This issue is very important because if big problems like these have been unnoticed then when is this cycle going to end?

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