Kutch is essentially a land of the pastoralists (livestock keepers), who have migrated from as far as Baluchistan and Sind over 500 years ago. The Camel Breeders represent a huge percentage of these nomadic communities. They are called the Unt Maldharis; Unt means camel in Hindi.
Their existence is under threat today. And that is why organisations like Sahjeevan have facilitated the “Biocultural Community Protocol” Project for the Unt Madharis of Kutch.
It is a book – a response – a voice – a declaration of the rights to diversity of a community.
It is an opportunity for the people who leave such a small footprint of their existence to speak about their way of life, their culture, their animals, their traditional knowledge and the law of the land as they know it, as a means to promote participatory advocacy for their recognition.
The process itself is a strong indication of the community’s value and integrity, reflecting their priorities and their aspirations for the future. Group discussions, written documentation, various types of mapping and illustrations, participatory video and photography, performing arts, etc are the tools that are used to collect, connect and commit to a cause like this one.
This is why my next few posts will focus much on the inspiration coming from this project. I recently wrapped up the design for this book, working in collaboration with an amazing team-mate, Aarati and of course the entire camel team from Sahjeevan. The book will be released in two weeks on World Camel Day (22 June). Little did I know that the photograph of two little girls from my previous post called Fearless, would make the cover of a book that represents them all!