An Mundapota Kela Tribe of Odisha bury their heads in ground for a living.
The community — Mundapota Kela Tribe which is a denotified tribe is left with few members who earn a livelihood with this bizarre act.
Hit badly by the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the last inheritors of the skills are now out on the streets more frequently than before to earn much-needed bucks.
- However, the younger generation have not been able to pick up the breath control skills and have opted for begging and other odd jobs instead of risking their lives.
- The community is now on the brink, government officials are not forthcoming in issuing Scheduled Caste certificates to them, and community members, especially the educated youth, are deprived of their entitlements.
- During natural disasters such as cyclones, they find it extremely difficult to get a roof over their heads for survival. Other castes dislike their presence near them.
- The government should ensure land rights as per the Odisha Prevention of Land Encroachment Act, 1972, for the marginalised community.
- The State and Central governments should prioritise housing allocation for members of the Kela community under the Pradhan Mantri Housing Scheme and Biju Pucca Ghar Yojna.
Back to Basics
About Mundapota Kela Tribe
- The Mundapota Kela community is believed to have migrated to Odisha from Rayalaseema area of Andhra Pradesh decades ago.
- Being street performers, they travel from one village to another and bury their heads in soil for several minutes.
- They collect rice, vegetables and money from villagers for putting up the show.
- The population of Mundapota Kela is scattered across the State.
- The community is extremely poor. Not all members have their own houses.
- Till the 2001 Census, they were not enumerated as a Scheduled Caste. The small community is one of the most vulnerable population blocks among Dalit communities,
About De-Notified Tribes
- Denotified Tribes (DNTs), also known as Vimukta Jati are the tribes that were listed originally under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 as Criminal Tribes.
- Once a tribe became “notified” as criminal, all its members were required to register with the local magistrate, failing which they would be charged with a “crime” under the Indian Penal Code.
- The Criminal Tribes Act was repealed in 1949 and thus ‘de-notified’ the tribal communities.
- The denotified tribes were reclassified as “habitual offenders” in 1959.
- The UN’s anti-discrimination body Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) asked India to repeal the Habitual Offenders Act (1952) and effectively rehabilitate the denotified and nomadic tribes on 9 March 2007.
- A National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNSNT) was setup in 2003 to study various developmental aspects under the chairmanship of Shri. Balkrishna Renke.
Tribes in India UPSC 2021: Click Here