Tribal Women’s Struggle in Tapi District: Sumul Dairy’s Betrayal of Women Empowerment
he Surat District Milk Producers Union Limited (Sumul Dairy) had initiated a commendable effort by employing around 45 tribal women on a contract basis to establish women's savings groups (WSG) in the district.
Surat : Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on women empowerment and self-reliance (aatmanirbhar), tribal women in Tapi District find themselves facing a bleak future
Inspired by the efforts of these tribal women, approximately 6,000 WSGs were established, engaging over 1 lakh tribal women in the region. Each month, these women diligently saved Rs 100, contributing to a total monthly savings of Rs 1 crore. Their determination and commitment to self-reliance earned accolades and appreciation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Bajipura for the inauguration of Sumul Dairy’s seeds factory. The presence of over 2 lakh tribal women at his public meeting showcased the success of the women’s savings group initiative.
However, over the past two years, the number of WSGs has drastically decreased by almost 50%, leaving only 3,000 WSGs involving 50,000 women. This unfortunate decline is the direct result of the ill intentions of Sumul Dairy’s chairman, Mansinh Patel, in-charge managing director Arun Purohit, and senior board member Jayesh Patel, also known as Jayesh Delad.
This trio played a crucial role in sabotaging the WSG initiative in Tapi District and orchestrating the removal of the tribal women employed for the task. The actions of Salehaben Vadwala, who initially spearheaded the WSG initiative, are also highly questionable as she is now actively advocating for the closure of more WSGs.
The tribal women in Tapi District have regrettably returned to square one, trapped in a web of politics woven by Sumul Dairy. What was once a beacon of hope for their self-reliance and empowerment has now crumbled, leaving them in a state of vulnerability and uncertainty.
The betrayal of the women’s empowerment initiative not only undermines the Prime Minister’s vision but also perpetuates the cycle of marginalization and exploitation faced by tribal communities. It highlights the importance of holding accountable those in positions of power who manipulate such initiatives for personal gain, disregarding the welfare and progress of the very communities they are meant to uplift.
The plight of the tribal women in Tapi District serves as a stark reminder of the challenges faced in achieving true empowerment and inclusivity. It calls for a thorough investigation into the actions of Sumul Dairy’s leadership, with a focus on reinstating the women’s savings groups and providing the necessary support and resources to revitalize the initiative.
Furthermore, the incident highlights the need for increased vigilance and oversight to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable communities and ensure the genuine implementation of empowerment programs.
“Efforts must be made to restore the faith of the tribal women in Tapi District, reaffirming their belief in the power of collective action and their ability to create positive change in their lives” said a leader of cooperative sector. “Only through genuine commitment and a steadfast dedication to women’s empowerment can the vision of a self-reliant and inclusive society be realized.”