Kochi: Daya Bai has come long way from the days when she had to work as a labourer for just Rs 5. To the fighter in her, wrinkles on face are no signs to wind up, for the struggle is ceaseless.
Not drinking bottled water bought from market or not using salt that is branded as iodised, ‘her life is her message’. “Now that awards started coming after 2007 which carried money, I am financially better,” she laughs, adding that what you need is only passion. “Haven’t you seen girls from well-to-do families eloping with boys who have no money? Their passion for love makes them to do that. My passion is for justice and harmony,” she says.
“I don’t like coming to Kerala. What is the situation in God’s Own Country? Human rights are given zero value here. The same wind is blowing throughout the country. But Kerala should have shown more resistance, for people here are highly educated,” says the activist, who was in the city to be part of another struggle demanding justice in a case of human rights violation.
Asserting what she has shown through living, so that she has had no personal life, Daya Bai says she has no faith in any organisation striving for justice but in individuals and small groups. “It is a positive sign that the number of such individuals is increasing. It is a relief that people have become aware against the use of vegetables grown with pesticides. My dream is a harmonious world, where human beings do not harm earth or environment,” says Daya Bai, who has proved that harmony is possible by working for and living among tribals in Madhya Pradesh.
If we have a notion that British have left India, the woman who preaches and practises liberation would correct us. ‘’They are still here. But black in colour. Exploitation still continues by those who have assets and power. Therefore, I had reached out to Adivasis and am going back to them again and again. It is not the government’s way of development but the Adivasis are right; their farming and their way of life. But the society blatantly denies the Adivasi system, saying that it was all superstitious and the conflict still exists,” she says.
The iron woman dreams of redefining the system of education with schools that are institutions in current form but those which would relate children with earth and environment to live in a harmonious community without barriers.
“I still have hope even in this era, when market is the big power. The market is imposing products on the people through the propaganda that people can’t do without the products. But there is a way out. Just decide that you don’t need the product. Boycott is a strong form of agitation practised by Gandhiji,” she says.
(This appeared in The New Indian Express on August 5, 2015)