With the harvest festival of Tusu just around the corner, Jharkhand’s tribals are looking forward to the fun and alcohol associated with it. But fed up with their husbands making a mess of their finances and spectacles of themselves after drinking themselves silly, the womenfolk of Suklara panchayat in East Singhbhum district have decided to make it a dry Tusu this year.
The inhabitants of Suklara are mostly farmers. With their fields yielding crops only during the rains, they work as daily wagers the rest of the year. With no regular employment, managing two square meals a day is tough.
So, it makes it all that much harder for the women to keep the kitchen fires going when the men waste all their money on alcohol for a day. So this year, all hooch dens and handia joints have either been closed or uprooted and there is a slim chance they will re-open.
Alcohol abuse is a serious problem in Suklara and not just during Tusu. The women have been fighting it for years. Recently, they got a much-needed boost with a couple of NGOs — Mahila Mukti Vahini and Seva Sangha — helping them get together an effective campaign.
Under the banner of Suklara Mahila Mandal, the women took to the streets, building pressure on hooch traders, destroying dens and counselling youth in the hooch trade. Their efforts paid off.
"The women of Suklara have been fighting alcoholism for four to five years. But lack of guidance prevented them from taking the menace head on. With like-minded forces joining their mission, they have achieved what was considered impossible," said Madan Mohan, the man behind the campaign.