Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship schemes like Stand Up India, Skill India and Start-Up India appear defeated in Bhabhara, the birth place of revolutionary freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad, as youths find little opportunity for employment in this tribal town.
Located 209 km west of Indore in Madhya Pradesh’s Alirajpur district, Bhabhara panchayat has a registered population of 18,000.
Modi will visit the town on August 9 to celebrate the World Tribal Day, and pay his respects to Azad by launching “Yaad Karo Kurbani,” a nation-wide campaign to commemorate the valour of freedom fighters.
Since coming to power, Modi had launched Skill India, Stand Up India and Start-Up India schemes to empower youths in the country to become employable and generate employment. But in Bhabhara, people are left with few options to access these flagship schemes.
Youths either migrate to Gujarat, whose border is 15 km from Bhabhara, to work as labourers, or take to farming.
“Farm income doesn’t suffice as land holdings are shrinking because they get divided continuously among sons in a family,” said Hari Singh Jamara who owns 24 bigha land in Badi Midiyawat village.
Faced with meagre sources of income, tribals send their children to work instead of schools. The result is that Bhabhara has “one of the lowest literacy rates in MP”, Jitendra Singh, another resident, said.
The Chandrashekhar Azad Government College, started in 2009, has inadequate staff, attracting fewer students, while the lone bank refuses to entertain loan requests by tribals for fear of default.
“It is not possible to start a business with bank loans. If more banks open their branches in Bhabhara, there will be competition among them to give loans to people,” Jitendra Singh, a 24-year-old Bhil who runs an NGO for the socio-economic uplift of tribals, said.
Singh also rued that the bank’s lone ATM doesn’t work 24x7 and one has to travel up to 35 km, either to Jobat or Ranapur to withdraw money from an ATM.
Vanya, tribal radio programme, launched by the government in 2011 cannot be heard even within 10-kilometre radius because of weak waves. As a result, it doesn’t have many listeners. Acknowledging the issues, including the lack of X-ray facility at the government hospital and the need for supervision of schools by a block education officer, local BJP MLA Madho Singh Dabar said he will request the Prime Minister to open more banks in the town.
“I have raised all these issues before district planning committee meeting. Construction of new college building will be completed soon after which college will start functioning properly,” he told HT.
Former state Congress president and Alirajpur MP Kantilal Bhuria said the state government has done little for the uplift of tribals. “That is why they (BJP) have no base here,” he remarked.
Political observers feel Modi’s rally in Bhabhara is to establish Azad as another role model and place him on same pedestal as Mhow-born Dalit icon Dr B R Ambedkar to connect backward sections to BJP and use it for electoral gains later.