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Bihar Agricultural University (BAU), Sabour managed to kill two birds in one stone- promotion of agricultural activities among rural women in inaccessible hinterlands with an aim to fight with social evils especially countering the rising tentacles of left wing extremism in the districts of Bihar which are falling under its jurisdiction.
The theme of 8 th foundation day function of Bihar Agricultural University (BAU), Sabour was women empowerment with special concern on tribal and other backward women’s entrepreneurship in the field of agriculture in remote and inaccessible topography of Bihar districts under its folds.
Echoing the varsities approach for introduction its new experiment on women, the most important element in a society, Sushma Hembrom (53) of Kotoria, a remote block in Banka said with such initiative by parts of the varsity first time in the history of this region has opened new avenues for them. She said women mostly poor and suppressed from her areas now started enjoying income generation opportunities.
Sushma who received prize from the hands of state agriculture minister, Prem Kumar and state’s social welfare minister, Manju Verma in the presence of many important dignitaries on the dais during the foundation day function of the varsity on August 5 for her excellence performance in the field of agriculture, was delighted much. She along with Lili Marandi of Katihar, Babita of Thakurganj, Kishanganj and Sarita Marandi of Pirpainty in Bhagalpur (all for their excellence performance in agriculture) all of them would have been hardly imagine even their wildest dreams to have such life time rewards.
“We are living in remote areas so who would concern for us. But since we are associated with agriculture for our livelihoods and the varsity promoted us, it is indeed a matter of proud for us,” they women entrepreneurs in the field of agriculture acclaimed.
But the story of Sushma Hembroam is something different, a residence of a remote village under naxal infected Kotoria, a block in Banka district in Eastern Bihar, she narrated about poverty, unemployment, lack of agricultural opportunity, water scarcity with recurring drought
, governmental apathy for introduction of developments and above all rising Maoists menaces in details. “People having lands could do nothing mainly for lack of irrigational facilities. There is no alternative income generating opportunities in my areas makes the situation grim,” she pointed out.
A middle aged man from the group of villages who accompanied her to the function at BAU, Sabour interrupted : “Please come to our places, you would find we are living in medieval era, no development yet though government spends huge funds every years on different projects”. On condition of anonymity the man further said that due to the hostile attitude of the government towards a sizable population in such remote inaccessible corners, the denizens gradually make a distance from the government. “And the rebels have the opportunity to turn the situation in their favour while convincing poor illiterate village mass to have their support base,” the man pointed out. “Many villagers who don’t have income generating opportunities, compelled to join with the rebels,” he added further.
It is worth mentioning here that, a few year back a higher cop from this region explained the situation which exactly narrated by the man. The higher cop from this region pointed out the same version in a highlevel meeting of government officials which was chaired by chief minister, Bihar, Nitish Kumar. “The outfits are few in number but taking advantage of this vacuum, they tactfully manage to gain villagers’ sympathy and success in making their support base in such areas while managing shelter and foods from the villagers. And large number of police and security forces hardly could do anything against the few outlaws….,” the top cop pointed out the ground zero reality before Nitish Kumar in that meeting.
However, Sushma Hembrom has collected many dream in her eyes as she started earning nearly Rs 30 thousand in the interval of 2-3 month from cocoon (Tasar silk yarn manufacture form it). Not only that she engaged 13-14 other village women with her and the each of the woman who never had any income generating ideas, have started earning Rs-40-50 thousand annually. Sushma and her team members has been engaged in preparing silk worms on more than 600 Arjan and Assan tress, found mostly in the areas and prepares cocoons from the silk worms.
“Many other women in the areas have started following us and stated preparing cocoons individually and stated income. Many among them who have some cultivated lands now started planted Arjun and Assan tress since their lands were lying barren due to lack of irrigational facilities,” she disclosed.
Echoing Sushma, the vice chancellor, BAU, Sabour, Dr A K Singh said the varsity has developed modern concept of agriculture and also started promoting women entrepreneurs in the fields of agriculture and its appliances. “Some of the tribal women have shown their excellence performances and we hope the scenario of such villages both in the terms of socio-economy and socio-culturally would change with the active participation of women in agriculture,” Dr Singh strongly advocated the need of empowerment of rural women in the field of agriculture. “In villages most women are engaged in agriculture but if we empower them with modern technologies and modern concept which is very simple and easy to learn, the results would be excellent. And we already accelerated such approaches for the village women,” he pointed out.
Dr. R.K Sohane, Director Extension Education, BAU, Sabour was over excited on the success after concentrating on village women. He narrated many important success stories about the village women. “We were surprised to listen such stories from the women entrepreneurs during the workshop on women empowerment which was organized during the foundation day celebration,” he said. According to him the varsity has already started promoting women entrepreneurs specially those who reside in most remote or highly inaccessible locations.
The policy makers along with the concerned governmental agencies always prefer to talk mambo-jumbo regarding poverty eradication and countering left extremism in remote hinterlands in such districts in Bihar, have yet not found any remedies, alleged many experts on social sciences. They appreciated BAU, Sabour’s initiative for promoting rural women in the field of agriculture and its other appliances. They also hoped that with empowerment of women in the remote rural pockets, naxalism would automatically reduce.
Former HOD, PG department of psychology, Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, Dr Ratna Mukherjee said since a woman in a family holds the key role, the group of women could change the society. “One easily could see how some rural women who once voiced against liquor, finally managed to make entire Bihar as a liquor free zone today,” she explained adding that if the women would have economically strong, all social sins and evils like naxalism would automatically cut short.
Observers here also expressed their views that the group of self-employed women easily could change the fate of their areas provides BAU, Sabour’s initiative in this direction would not defer from its commitments towards this vital issue.