There was no mistaking the tribal identity of Lingaraj Bhoi. In Bangalore on Saturday for the tribal exchange programme organised by the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sanghatan, he had a garland of leaves tied around the waist.

But speaking to him revealed a personality very different from what his appearance would have led one to believe. He is an ITI graduate from Bolangir district in Orissa who is now learning computers. He is wondering if he and young people like him would ever get jobs close home.

Shiksha, sadak aur bijli

“We travel more than 10 kilometres to study beyond matriculation,” he said, speaking to The Hindu just before his dance performance was due to begin. Shiksha, sadak aur bijli (education, roads and electricity), he said, are elusive.

“It is hard to earn more than Rs. 100 for eight hours of work where he lives. Hence, most people migrate to cities where they earn at least Rs. 300,” he said.

Similar concerns

The concerns of Kiran Laguri from Singhbhum district in Jharkhand were not very different.

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in arts, she said, “Young people go away from villages because there is no work.” Her parents worked hard to educate her and many other parents too are keen on educating their children even if two square meals are hard to come by, she said. However, all the hard work does not ensure jobs, resulting in migration.

“Some go away and the rest are stuck in poverty,” said her team-mate Gangadhar Nag.

Seven-day programme

The inauguration of the seven-day exchange programme has brought 250 youngsters from tribal communities in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar to Bangalore to present cultural programmes. They will visit other parts of Karnataka during their stay and participate in discussions.

Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy visited the inaugural event briefly, while other ministers who were scheduled to come did not turn up.

Shed inhibitions

Principal Secretary to the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports, N. Nagambika Devi, called upon the youngsters to shed their inhibitions and join the mainstream.

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