THE TRIBAL CAMERAWOMAN
In the right hands a camera, it turns out, also has the power to be mightier than the sword, something Amita Tuti has demonstrated better than most.
As a young tribal woman growing up in a village in the Khunti district of Jharkhand, she was no stranger to hardship, living in the centre of a region battling both naxalites as well as historical territorial, economic and religious strife between adivasis and the upper caste.
She joined the Jharkand Jungle Bachao Andolan, fighting to safeguard forests and tribal lands. Her community and political involvement has led the traditional power structures of Jharkhand to treat her with hostility, including accusations of ‘naxalism’. Earlier this year, Amita joined IndiaUnheard – set up by Video Volunteers, the organisation created by filmmaker Stalin K. to empower grassroots activists to report the ground realities in their regions. As a Community Correspondent, Amita gives voice to those unheard by traditional media structures. In the village of Deyo, she filmed the government’s indifferent to the region’s Gram Sabhas – local self-governments – and economically unsupportive of Anganwadi workers, caring for the health and basic education of young children.
Her camera goes where nobody else wants to, because she knows she has a voice. “Earlier, there was no one to hear us,” she says, “but today know there is an outlet where we can talk about our problems.”