Prakash Amte.

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Even though there are almost 10 crore adivasis in the country, most of them do no have access to basic necessities. Speaking to TNIE on the sidelines of the EPGP seminar series at the Indian Institute of Management in the city on Wednesday, Magsaysay awardees and social workers Dr Prakash Baba Amte and Dr Mandakini Amte, said, “Employment and education is a necessity for them.” They were delivering a seminar on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. 

Prakash said that in Maharshtra, he noticed that tribals did not have access to food grains or education. “First you need to give them access to education and employment opportunities before you talk about being a superpower. It doesn’t feel nice to call ourselves a superpower when 30% of the population is below the poverty line,” he said.

Prakash said that living in the city, it was important to look at the life of the tribals and the downtrodden closely. He said that his father, Baba Amte, spent his life helping the downtrodden. “His religion was humanity, his slogan was jaath, paath, dharm ka bandhan chodo, Bharat jodo (Put aside religion and caste differences, knit India together). People both from the Left and the Right were inspired by Baba. We need someone of that stature to motivate people today,” Prakash said.

The couple have started a number of charitable programmes and institutions, and a village development programme for tribals of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra. Speaking to the students, Prakash said that the mantra for managing charitable organisations is to ‘work with the people, not for the people.’He said that a lot of tribals were being exploited by officials are they were unaware of a lot of schemes. “Hence, they need to be educated so that they can be aware of their rights,” he added.

Marriage and commitment
Speaking about the couple’s marriage, Mandakini said that her parents asked her why she wanted to marry someone who lived in a leprosy colony. The couple got married in 1972. “I knew about the difficulties, but when we take a decision and we need to stick to it. Now, our project is flourishing.” she said. Prakash Amte said that the couple broke all traditions of marriage as his wife was two years older than him, muhurat was not followed and there was no dowry. 

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