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Speakers

Independent Activist, Writer & Researcher
Writer

Date & Time

Sunday Sun, 16 Jul 2023

Location

Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bangalore, Karnataka 560071 India

79 Minutes | Kannada and Waghri Boli with English Subtitles

A screening of the film Sikkidare Shikari, Illiddare Bhikari (Bird Trapper or Beggar?) will be followed by a conversation.

Members of the Karnataka-based Hakki Pikki tribespeople were stranded in Sudan in April this year when a civil war broke out in that country. Marooned from any kind of help amid violence all around them, they were left to their own resources for several days before they were rescued with assistance from the Indian External Affairs Ministry. As Indian media reported this harrowing story, the spotlight fell on the community with their travels to the far corners of the world arousing intense curiosity about who these tribespeople were. The basic question that popped up in most people’s minds who followed the troubling accounts of the trapped Hakki Pikki tribespeople was this: How did persons from a miniscule and marginalized tribal community end up in Sudan?

According to the 2011 census, there are 11,892 Hakki Pikki tribals in Karnataka. Of this, the majority reside in rural parts of the State with the largest chunk of the population residing in Hunsur taluk of Mysuru district. According to the oral history of the community, their geographical origins lie in the northwestern part of India from where as part of the larger Waghri community, they dispersed all over India in the 16th century. In the colonial era the Waghris as a whole, along with other nomadic communities were designated as a criminal tribe as per a legislation was passed in 1871 and severely marginalized. Post independence all criminal tribes were “denotified” and those Waghris who wandered into Karnataka and began to be called the Hakki Pikkis were designated as a scheduled tribe. Devoid of access to their beloved forests after the passage of stringent environmental legislations in the 1970s, the Hakki Pikkis were forced to settle down in different parts of Karnataka where the government provided some of the families with land in order to turn them into agriculturists. While some did take to cultivation and other settled “mainstream” occupations, most negotiated the treacherous passage from nomadism to assimilation on their own terms by becoming intrepid entrepreneurs, albeit in the shadow economy of the poor – marketing and selling their natural cures both within the country and all over the world. And so remained the adventurous travelers they always were.

The film Sikkidare Shikari, Illiddare Bhikari (Bird Trapper or Beggar?) depicts these travails of the community. Exiled from the forest, reviled by the city, their traditional ways of life outlawed, the Hakki Pikkis share their tales of wit and survival in this delightful cinematic rendition. One of the two film makers has spent a few decades with the Hakki Pikkis and this is evident in the sensitive and empathetic portrayal of the community. The film screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and members of the Hakki Pikki tribe on how these spunky travellers sell their products globally.

Speakers

Madhu Bhushan

Independent Activist, Writer & Researcher

After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Mass Communications in 1983, Madhu Bhushan joined SIEDS (Society for Informal Education and Development Studies) and worked as a full time women’s rights activist as part of Vimochana, forum for women’s rights, till 2014.  While involved with crisis intervention, community outreach, campaigns and advocacy with a focus on rural and tribal communities she has also been writing and speaking on diverse issues related to gender, cinema, communalism and human rights. Currently an independent activist – writer, (re) searcher and very occasional film maker she continues to be closely associated with SIEDS and it’s gender initiative, Gamana Mahila Samuha, a feminist collective. She is also associated with various networks and organisations working on human rights and social justice including rights of sex workers, trans communities and adivasis.

Kumuda B

Writer

Kumuda B is Assistant Executive Engineer and serves as Nodal Officer with the KPTCL in Soraba village of Karnataka. She holds degrees in BE, MA, MPhil, DFT, DCC, and PGDCA, along with two fellowships.

Kumuda has made significant contributions to the literary world, with several books published under her name. Some notable publications include “Hakkipikkiyaru” (Kuvempu University, 2004), “Hakkipikkiyaru” (Kannada Pusthak Pradhikar, Bangalore, 2009), “Kolami Tribes” (Karnataka Sahitya Academy, Bangalore, 2018), “Hakkipikkiyara Padagalu” (Karnataka Janapada Academy, Bangalore, 2022), “Hakkipikkiyara Janangiya Ithihaasa” (Geetanjali Pusthak Prakashan, Shivamogga, 2018), and “Hakkipikki Budakattinalli Mahila Pathra” (Geetanjali Pusthak Prakashan, Shivamogga). Her literary achievements have been recognized through numerous awards, such as the “Janapada Thajna” by Karnataka Janapada Academy in 2016 and the “Samaja Bhushan” award in 2018 in Maharashtra.

She has been conferred with “Sahitya Ratna” award in Nagpur, Maharashtra, in 2021, and the “Sanskritika Seva Ratna Rajya Prashasti” in 2022 by Kaveri Karnataka Pradeshika Samskrutika and Sahitya Akademi.

As a member of the Hakki Pikki tribe, Kumuda has also been featured in various interviews and television programs, such as the documentaries “Hakkipikkiyaru” and “Alemarigondu Nele” on Doordarshan Karnataka, as well as interviews on several television programmes. She actively participates in initiatives like the preparation of dictionaries in tribal languages, documentary films, and various literary organisations and committees.

Rajeshwari

Poet

Rajeshwari holds a diploma in Mechanical Engineering and has held jobs in the banking sector. Alongside her professional career, Rajeshwari has pursued her passion for writing and artistic endeavors.

As a writer, Rajeshwari specializes in Hakkipikki Boli Bhasha, the tribal language she belongs to. She has showcased her poetic skills and authored pieces in her native language. Additionally, Rajeshwari is actively involved in the field of performing arts. She teaches Bharatanatyam and Adivasi dance, which celebrates the indigenous culture. Her artistic pursuits extends to various forms of visual art.

Rajeshwari has participated in numerous cultural events and programmes throughout Karnataka, showcasing her talents and preserving the heritage of the Hakki Pikki tribe. She has participated in Karnataka Shastriya Bharatanatyam dance performances, poetry programs on Belaku TV, and storytelling events in Tumkur, including the Janapada Jatre and Vanavasi Kalyana programs.

Furthermore, Rajeshwari has actively participated in events organized by the Karnataka Janapada Parishad. She has even attended the All India Tribals Writers Meet in Kolkata to share her recent poems in the Hakki Pikki tribal language.