Three dozen-odd Cholanaikan families living at Mancheeri tribal hamlet deep inside the Nilambur forest were ecstatic on Sunday. Vinod Chellan, a member of the primitive Cholanaikan tribespeople, set out on a historic journey to Norway to take part in an international seminar.
His transcontinental journey became historic because he was the first Cholanaikan to fly to Europe to attend an international academic meet. The excitement was palpable as the tribespeople bid him farewell.
They were excited about flying. Many of them are still living in caves and makeshift tents they call houses deep inside the forest. Mr. Vinod has been the first person to get a postgraduate degree and to do doctoral research from among the Cholanaikan tribe.
Currently doing PhD in economics at Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat), Mr. Vinod has been invited by the University of Tromso – the Arctic University of Norway to present a paper at an international seminar being held there from March 27. He will be speaking about the socio-economic challenges being faced by the hunting tribes in India, with particular reference to Cholanaikan life.
He is accompanying anthropology researcher from Kannur University Seetha Kakkoth. Mr. Vinod said that Norway’s university considered him at the request of Dr. Kakkoth.
A hero’s farewell
Mr. Vinod was given a hero’s farewell on Saturday by different organisations outside the jungle. Leading among them were Nilambur Municipality, the Kerala Sasthra Sahithya Parishad, and the People’s Library at Pookkottumpadam.
Nilambur Municipal Chairman Mattummal Saleem handed over the Municipality’s memento to Mr. Vinod. The Chairman said that Mr. Vinod should be a model for all the marginalised tribesmen living in the forest. Municipal standing committee chairman P.M. Basheer presided over the function.
Councillors Kakkadan Raheem, Scheduled Tribes advisory council member M.R. Subramanian, Fire and Rescue Officer of Manjeri Pradeep Pambalath, and Tribal Extension Officer of Aluva Anoop spoke.
Amarambalam Grama Panchayat president Illikkal Husain inaugurated the meeting organised by the KSSP at Pookkottumpadam. KSSP officials K. Rajendran welcomed the gathering. Among those who felicitated Mr. Vinod were Sajin P., K.K. Radhakrishnan, K.V. Divakaran, P.K. Sreekumar, Surendran N.N., V.K. Ananthakrishnan, C.P. Subramanian, M.P. Sukumaran, P.B. Joshi, P.S. Raghuram, Lineesh K., and Vanaja K.
The Tribal Department sanctioned Rs. 1 lakh for Mr. Vinod’s historic journey following the intervention of Nilambur’s MLA P.V. Anvar.
The KSSP took care of the journey from Mancheeri tribal colony to Calicut International Airport.