Next time teach me how to dance, Rahul tells tribal leaders

September 26, 2022 08:53 pm | Updated 08:53 pm IST - PALAKKAD

Tribal leader Kuppu Swami showing Rahul Gandhi how to blow a Kogal (tribal flute) during their interaction at Pattambi on Monday.

Tribal leader Kuppu Swami showing Rahul Gandhi how to blow a Kogal (tribal flute) during their interaction at Pattambi on Monday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

“Next time, you have to teach me how to dance a little bit.” Excitement was palpable on the face of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as he interacted with a group of tribespeople from Attappady hamlets during his Bharat Jodo Yatra at Pattambi on Monday.

The tribal group named Namukku Name Art and Cultural Forum led by Kuppu Swami staged the popular Kummi folk dance in front of Mr. Gandhi and his colleagues. Mr. Gandhi appeared so engrossed in the song that he said he was about to shake a leg. “Next time, you have to teach me.”

They gifted him with a tribal flute named Kogal and the traditional tribal bow called Chundi Villu.

Among the tribal group were chieftains, educationists and a doctor. Although all of them appeared cheerful when presenting their dance, the woes they unbundled before Mr. Gandhi showed that they continued to be the most neglected community.

Dr. Ramraj, who practises tribal medicine at Pudur, Attappady, raised concerns about the continuing school dropouts after primary education among the tribespeople. He demanded that tribal medicine be included in the streams recognised by the AYUSH Ministry.

Mr. Gandhi told them as long as they followed an education system that does not consider the tribal culture, they would feel excluded and alienated. “This system has to change. We have to bring in elements of tribal culture into our education system,” he said.

“I believe very strongly that your culture is very important. One of the most important things in policy making is environment. I can tell you for sure that pretty much any tribal person has a much better understanding of the environment than experts and bureaucrats,” he said.

The tribal group also demanded better medical facilities and hospitals for them at Attappady. When Mr. Gandhi asked them why they were not keenly following the tribal systems of healing, they answered him: “There has been drastic a change in our food habits. We used to eat ragi and chama. Now we eat rice being supplied through ration shops. Maybe because of that our traditional healing systems are not very effective now,” said Rajesh.

They also demanded that their tribal art forms should be protected and recognised.

Mr. Gandhi assured them that the Congress, when returns to power, would include the tribal medicine in the AYUSH. He also accepted an invite by Sneha, the youngest member of the group, to visit Attappady.

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