A community art podcast about health & rights during the Covid-19 pandemic
The Budhan-Podcast series is part of a GCRF funded project at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, on ‘Mitigating the impact of Covid-19 among India’s indigenous and nomadic communities through multiple arts activities’.
More than a hundred million people belong to India’s DeNotified and nomadic Tribes – communities that were ‘notified’ as born criminals during British colonial rule under the 1871 Criminal Tribes Act. DNTs are today among India’s most vulnerable groups, faced with the combined burden of economic poverty and social exclusion. Despite de-notification following India’s independence, the brand of criminality and the lack of citizenship rights and entitlements, continues to shape these groups’ interaction with the state. It drives their systemic discrimination when dealing with doctors, schools and the police and contributes to their structural precarity in the labour market. As precarious workers (manual labourers, street performers) and non-citizens, DNTs have been severely affected by the health and economic consequences of the pandemic.
Budhan is a grassroots theatre group with a track record of working for the rights of Indias’ DNTs by linking art and rights-based campaigns. A core team of seven artists belonging to Budhan Theatre and the Chhara DNT community of Ahmedabad (Gujarat) is coordinating an extensive project of documentation of the lockdown and post-lockdown experiences of DNT groups through mobile digital technology. The podcasts are being produced in the Bhantu indigenous language and address the health, socio-cultural and politico-economic dimensions of the pandemic. The podcasts will feed into a broader policy intervention aimed at strengthening DNT rights and social accountability mechanisms in the context of the pandemic.
The project is supported locally by Bhasha Research and Publication Centre.