By Smita Ram, Rang De Team
Last Diwali, I had a chance to embark on a road trip from Chennai to Hyderabad. On this slightly longish road trip, we ended up taking the wrong route which made us cut through several villages. This was Diwali day and when I gazed out of the window to see how people were celebrating the festival, it seemed to me like it was just another day for them.
No fireworks, no diyas, no new clothes, no sweets or a feast seemed to be on the cards. It made me feel ashamed and a tad guilty as here I was trying to be with family desperately to ‘celebrate’ the festival and alongside me were several thousands of people who could not afford to care much about the festival.
We were greeted by friendly hosts!
This time too, not long before Diwali, I was on a field trip to a community that lives a few kms from Jungle Lodges Resort alongside the river Kabini. Holiday revellers go all the way up to Jungle Lodges for a vacation not knowing that a few kilometres down the road there are people who are yet to experience development of any sort.
Electricity is still unheard of here. The annual income of an individual ranges from Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 10,000.Yes, we are talking annual numbers here. The only occupation, for most people, at this point seems to be crossing the river Kabini to get employment as coolie workers.
The first batch of applications are almost ready for Rang De Loans and we continue to work with our partner organisation to create alternative sources of income for the community.
As we began our journey back to Bangalore, I began to wonder, perhaps even this year, Diwali would be just another day for this community.
Hopefully the community will have something to smile about before next Diwali!