Lalita Suryawanshi, Dhamtari, Chattisgarh
Forest, Food Systems and Livelihoods
52 PARINDEY FELLOWSHIP
Lalita hails from a small village Dokal in the Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh. She has been associated with ‘Chinhari: The Young India’ for the past five years, as well as issues of gender, youth, tribal affairs and environment. While working on these questions, she has developed a deeper understanding of the issues in her context. She dreams for the girls from her region to get a chance to learn and pursue self-exploration, just like she did. To turn this thought into reality, Lalita is ready to reach every village or city from her village where people are keen to hear the voices of girls.
As part of the 52 Parindey Fellowship, Lalita met with people working on forest and the interconnected domains of tribal communities, forest rights, forest food, forest-based livelihoods and tribal displacement. She learnt about the basic needs and injustices being faced by forests and the people associated with forests. Lalita also explored the idea of ‘development’ from diverse angles, and she feels that the focus of development should move away from electricity and road accessibility, and be defined differently in the rural context. As someone who has grown up in a forest-dependent community, Lalita has a deep connection with forests and sees herself going back and working for it.