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Seminar exposes Mising tribal children's plight

By Father C.M. Paul SDB
Father K.A. Thomas addressing the gathering.
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Mumbai, Oct. 28. Jorhat, A 3-day seminar organised by I-CARD (Institution for Culture And Rural Development) from 25th to 27th October at Jorhat on 'Children in Mising Society' esposed the plight of children of the Mishing tribe, an indigenous community inhabiting parts of the Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. They are also known as Miris and trace back to the ancestor Abotani.
The seminar, 21st in the series, started on 25th October, with a colourful cultural function, coordinated by Puspalata Mili, at 6 pm.  Dr. Juri Baruah of Human and Family Development department of Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat was the chief guest.
During the inauguration, I-CARD Director Salesian Father Thomas Kalapura, presented a series of photographs of Mising tribe children in villages which shocked those who were present.
''Misings may be materialistic in their attitudes, caring more for what brings them income rather than their own children,'' Fr Thomas said pointing out the pathetic situations in which Mising children study in schools that exist only in name.

Dr. Juri Baruah, the  chief guest, focused on the psychological development of Mising children.
The three day seminar, coordinated by Bhaskar Doley, had eminent speakers, all from the Mising community, touching on various aspects of the child's birth and development.
The subtopics of the seminar were: Parents' role in education of children; Family environment and  education; Proper nourishment to children; Care of babies; Casual conversation of parents which affects the children; Early marriage; Child labour in subtle forms; Social media and children; Community's role in development of the child; Rituals connected with child birth; Relationship of parents to adolescent children; Use of freedom and responsibility; Child rights and gender equality.

Among the prominent speakers were: Manoj Mili (Jorhat), Bongsi Daw (Dergaon), Nileswar Pegu (Bahphala), Dr. Mrinali Kagyung (Titabar), Dr. Dipok Doley (Jorhat) Haricharan Pegu (Hojai) and Nirmal Doley (Lakhimpur).
As in every year, there were some new faces also during this seminar. Some eminent speakers, like Dr. Bideswar Doley (Dhemaji), Kanak Ch Doley (Guwahati) and Jatiram Kaman (Gogamukh), who could not be present on the spot, were invited to present their papers via video conferencing.

The orgaisers felt that, ''The research papers were very well prepared and touched the daily lives of the rural people.''

''There was a general feeling that some action must be done to better the situation of Mising families. This task will have to be taken up by individuals,'' said Fr. Thomas stating the need to gradually influence the village and finally the society.

The influence of I-CARD has been very great in the entire community, said the participants.
They were of the opinion, ''only such an organization [like I-CARD] can bring the much needed change in the society.''
The speeches of the seminar will be brought out in a series called ''Misings Through Mising Eyes'' by next year.
During the valedictory session, Fr. Thomas suggested that the topic for the annual seminar in 2020 would be Roles and Responsibilities of Parents in Mising Families.


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