By following the UN Indigenous Day, i.e. August 9, on 17 September 2010, during the Annual General Body Meeting of National Council of Churches in India in Bangalore, for the first time announced observance of the NCCI-Tribal and Adivasi Sunday. NCCI, therefore, urges and requests constituent members to annually observe every Sunday closest to 9 August as NCCI Tribal and Adivasi Sunday and the date to be marked in the Church calendar and diary.
During this COVID-19 pandemic across the globe in order to have a better understanding of the life situation of the Tribal and Adivasi communities in India and to have a common form of worship for this special day, the Bible Society of India as member of the National Council of Churches in India also celebrated the NCCI TRIBAL & ADIVASI DAY under the Theme “COVID19 AND RECLAIMING OUR INDIGENOUS HERITAGE” on 7th August 2020 Friday in all its offices spread across the nation. Covid-19 has exposed our vulnerability and inadequacies. The vulnerability of humans is that: richness, power, authority none could save a person from being infected by the virus.
In India’s Tribal and Adivasi areas, basic health care facilities are extremely poor. Besides, a lack of key information and awareness to effectively deal with outbreaks further add fuel to the fire. During this pandemic the Tribal and Adivasi became more vulnerable because they lack access to effective monitoring and early warning systems. Lives of an Adivasi and Tribal will not be the same post Covid-19 pandemic. Challenges await, lurking behind the idea of segregation, unemployment, health and hygiene, education and so on.
The nationwide lock-down has affected the economy of India’s Tribal and Adivasi communities living in and around the forests of India, as they depend highly on the forests for food, shelter, medicines and financial income. While the tradition and cultures of the Adivasi and Tribal people consider nature as the very centre of all existence, today in the name of development they are deprived of their inheritance and displaced from their native places, and sole natural resources of their livelihood are exploited and taken away from them.
They have been denied inherent rights and dignity by a mainstream society that refuses to hear their pleas. The current lock-down situation aggravates their inability to influence government workers and protest against the exploiters making them less visible and more vulnerable. However the cultural heritage of communiterian life becomes a great source of their strength in their fight against Covid-19. In spite of poor healthcare facilities – care, love and concern for each other become the great source of strength that comfort and prevent the community from major disaster with a minimum death tolls compared to the National records.
ROLE OF BSI AND THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY:
In such uncertain times, societal upheaval, the threat of poverty, sickness, and death all these naturally led to fear. In situations like these one of the best things we can do is remember just how great, strong and mighty, faithful, and compassionate our God truly is. Corona must have affected many, yet in the midst of such troubles let our fortitude, faith, and hope in God’s unwavering assurance give us the encouragement to find a cause of glorifying God. The liberating message is that struggles and difficulties are part of our life in the present situation with Covid-19, with many challenging news reports around us.
What The Bible Society of India, the Christian Community, and the Church can do is to become innovative by initiating recovery programs, emphasi ze sustainability, and engage with the people affected by the Covid-19 Pandemic and serve as a beacon of hope and compassion for the world.