Spread out in Hunsur and Periyapatna taluks, they live in abject poverty

A socio-economic survey of the Handi Jogi community, a sub-group among the Scheduled Castes, who are spread out in Hunsur and Periyapatna taluks of Mysore district, has highlighted the need for their uplift by bringing them to the mainstream of society.

The study was done by the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP), University of Mysore, last year. The members of the community are also called as ‘Handi Chikka’, ‘Handi Golla’, ‘Pandula Jogi’, ‘Ram Jogi’, ‘Rama Jogula’ or ‘Rama Jogular’.

Said to be a section of the ‘Pakanati’ sub-section of the Jogis, who were involved in buffalo breeding, they came to be called as Handi Jogis ever since they started rearing pigs, says Ramesh, Director, CSSEIP. The report is yet to be presented to the State government.

Of the more than 22,000 members living across the country, about 16,000 are said to be in Karnataka, mostly in the northern parts of the State. They live in abject poverty and the successive governments had not been keen to improve their lot. The community lagged behind in social, health, and education sectors, Prof. Ramesh said.

The study reveals that 66 per cent of the heads of the families were illiterates. “There is a need to educate the present crop and the government should support them by extending help. Financial help can be given for not just piggery but also for cow, buffalo and sheep rearing.”

The study showed that only eight per cent of the members were involved currently with animal husbandry. The community members were also not aware of the benefits of safe drinking water and sanitation and they needed to be educated about hygiene, he said.

Local panchayats and non-governmental organisations too could be roped in for the purpose, the study said. Of the persons interviewed, only 24 per cent were aware of government programmes but had not availed the benefits of any scheme.

As much as 84 per cent of the people, mostly women, faced problems with health, thanks to the use of firewood for cooking at homes. Alcoholism and smoking too was found to be rampant among them. De-addiction camps should be organised to wean them away from bad habits.

About 64 per cent of the members of the community said they were a despised lot in the society. None of them were found living in a pucca house. They were not aware of government housing schemes. They defecate in the open, which had affected their health. Deprivation of proper food, clothes, housing, health care would amount to violation of human rights and the Handi Jogi’s ought not to be ignored, Prof. Ramesh said.

The study pointed out that more than 86 per cent of the respondents were found to be living in ramshackle houses unsuitable for human habitation. Forming self-help groups to inculcate savings and empowering them economically has been suggested.

The study has come up with the suggestion to the government to develop skills among the Handi Jogi community by providing them with vocational training, technical and financial support.

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