This is a community initiative facilitated by Debasmita Ghosh and Jagannath Majhi and led by the Kondhs – a group of indigenous communities residing in Odisha, India.
Their life and livelihood is inherently linked with the land, forest, food, medicine, shelter that entwines their socio-cultural norms, religion, and spirituality. An eco-centric worldview engulfs most of the community, and at no point has the relationship with the forest become extractive and exploitative. Their Kutumb (village commune) includes not only people, but also forests, soil, water, and animals. Decisions about cropping plans, food or houses are taken with active ecological consciousness.
A transition, though, is fast making itself felt in ways that could tear down the very ecosystem which the Kondhs call home. These include: the arrival of mainstream markets and a monetized economy; over-exploitation of forest-produce; changes in agricultural consumption; migration for work that is leading to a generation gap and its fallout in the form of mental health problems; emergence of newer health problems; and a drop in collective community resilience with the breakdown of local forms of traditional self-governance.
Debasmita has been working with the community to resist this transition. Resistance is crucial but not enough, and so it seeks to evolve narratives of self-reliance and self-governance.
The core of this system are the self-governing, non-bureaucratic, participatory Kutumbs where issues concerning all aspects of Kondh life get discussed. Grounded in communitarian sustainability, the Kutumba is consciously at variance with dominant capitalist praxis, providing a contemporary praxis of an alternative society.