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Bodo Team Visits I-Card's ETHNIQUE 14 Grounds

By K.A. Thomas, SDB
The Visiting Bodo team being briefed by I-Card staff.
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Dimapur, Nov. 30. .  JORHAT:  A group of 22 young people belonging to the Bodo tribe, from Bongaigaon, visited Life Plus Ethnique Fest grounds, Baghchung from 17th to 20th November, 2013. The youth belong to Action Northeast Trust, founded by Dr. Sunil Kaul and Jennifer Liang.
Led by Rwmwi Rwmwi Basumatari and Juli Bsumatari, the youth team were first given a guided tour of the Ethnique 14 campus, the cultural tourism campus, where they learned about the unique ethnic environment focusing on the Mising tribe of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The next four days were spent to understand what makes I-CARD so special.

The I-CARD resource persons, Puspalata Mili MCJ and Gayatri Panging first took the dais and gave a detailed explanation  about the selection, the philosophy, the course content of the training of Karsang Takar, who are the ground workers, actors, singers and performers of Ethnique fest.

The visiting team was amazed to learn that the entire operation of I-CARD, especially of Ethnique fest, was actually the handiwork of school dropouts. Such marginalized young people from the villages are given highly professional trainings to become agents of social change within the Mising society. Later these dropouts become cultural ambassadors bringing the rich cultural heritages of the community to the outside world through Ethnique fest, and through the performances in different parts of India.

The Karsang Takar students have since performed in Kolkata, and in Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and in New Delhi invited by Sangeet Natak Akademy. From 13th  till 17th December this year, a group of Takars will perform in Benares, invited by the Regional Cultural Centre of Benares.

On the second day of their visit, 18th November, the Bodo team was taken to Eporia and Kakotichuk of Dergaon for a practical demonstration of 'probation' the field operations through which  I-CARD creates its rural base and recruits volunteers.

A team of six I-CARD members, demonstrated to the Bodo team how they create friendship with villages, how the awareness is created through street theatre and how the youth groups (Young Misings Association) and Self Help Groups are formed. Besides, they also showed how the development committee called ARDA (Agency for Rural Development Action) are selected by the team for future initiatives. The visiting team was also taken to ARDA Bhawan, the rural farm of I-CARD.

On 19th November, Mr. Manoranjan Doley and Mr. Mahesh Pangging, staff of I-CARD gave sessions to the participants about the Young Misings Association (YMA) formation and activities. YMA are the village volunteers working in close collaboration with I-CARD, and who are eager to adopt rural tourism as their life career.  There are over 350 such youth groups in the entire Assam Arunachal valley.

The last day was spent in explaining to the visiting team about the other youth activities of I-CARD, like vocational trainings, about village business enterprises, about the professional development training under Jeevan Entrepreneurship Training Institute (JETI), and about the opportunities offered by I-CARD to promote positive employment for migrant youth from the Mising community. The session on JETI was directed by Manuel Etzold and Vincent Berbee of Germany.

The visiting team has accepted the invitation of I-CARD to participate in the Ethnique 15, fest of January 2015 where they will present the Bodo cultural dances and rituals, just like the Adivasi Tea tribe of Assam who will take part in Ethnique 14, to be held from 3 to 5 January, 2014.
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