Justice for the DNTs
The Lakhara studio was inaugurated at the Adivasi Academy, Tejgadh on 25th June, 2015. The word 'Lakhara' comes from the local Adivasi life meaning a creative individual, especially a painter or a writer. The studio space is designed to rustically cater to the architectural dynamics of an Adivasi home, set in the backdrop of the Koraj Hill housing 10,000 year old cave paintings. The studio will act as a catalytic platform for all Adivasi artists working in various genres such like visual arts, music and performances, a place for them to interact and express their world views. Lakhara Studio plans to develop into a one stop resource center for the indigenous arts of India.
The Nomadic Tribes of India, were formally known and notified as the "Criminal Tribes of India"(DNTs) by the British as per the 1871 Act. Today they constitute a total population of about 60 million. While these communities are enlisted in various disadvantaged sub categories by the government, what they all share is the stigma of being 'born criminals'.
These tribes were originally nomadic and traditionally seen as traders in commodities like salt and honey. After the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 they were seen by the British government as an intelligence threat as they wandered unchecked across the country carrying messages and information. Since they could not be forcibly settled the notification act was used as a means to control the activities and movements of these groups.
These groups were formally 'de-notified' in 1952 by the Indian government, but event today they continue to carry the stigma of being 'born criminals'.
Bhasha launched the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes Rights Action Group (DNT-RAG) in 1998 to create a national campaign for protection of human rights of the DNTs. The campaign involved community activists, writers, artists, media and human rights organizations.
As a result of the campaign led by Mahasweta Devi and G N Devy, the Government of India established the National DNT Commission and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) which was chaired by G N Devy. After the submission of the TAG Report to the Government, the DNT-RAG was dissolved in 2007.