the them bonded laborers. “Tribals do not

the novella, The Armenian Champa Tree, the tribes earn their living by keeping livestock, farming
and cane weaving. But as result of the unexpected famine, they become
poverty-stricken and they perish like worms and insects. Janaki Singh, opens
his barn doors and distributes paddy to the helpless tribes. He creates an
impression that he is a Samaritan by opening the barns and distributing the
paddy to the villagers who suffer from hunger. They are credulous and are easily
deceived by the charlatan. His malicious intent is to subjugate the villagers
and show his hegemony over the poor buno tribes. He craftily projects himself
as an altruist and gets their signature in the documents to make them bonded
laborers.

“Tribals do not exploit
other people’s labor for the sake of their own avarice, nor do they destroy
nature to build monuments to the human ego (Devi G N 90). In the novella Mato’s
mother acts as an acute matriarch of the community. “What account? Does anyone keep
an account of gifts?” (Devi 3). She senses the avaricious nature of Janaki Singh
and questions him for getting signature from the credulous villagers. She becomes
the voice for the voiceless. She is the only person in that village who suspects
the deeds of Janaki Singh and questions his integrity. She is known for
fearless nature and points out the greediness of Janaki Singh. But he cajoles
her and fulfills his intention of grabbing the pond, paddy field or whatever
owned by the buno tribes.

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After the worst days of
famine, Janaki Singh sends his men to collect the money for the grains that he
had given to the tribes. They say:

“Pay for the paddy
Janaki Singh loaned you during the famine. If you can’t pay in cash, pay in
kind by giving paddy. If you cannot give paddy either, hand over all your paddy
land, fields, ponds and whatever else you may have” (Devi 14).

Mahaswetha devi (1995) denounces the exploitation of
tribal’s under the bonded labor system. Bonded labor is illegal in India, but
many tribal’s, nomads and low caste people are still entrapped by this modern
form of slavery. Under the Indian constitution, provisions have been made to
end all forms of exploitation through Article 23 which gives the Right Against
Exploitation. The act of the Abolition of Bonded Labor was passed in 1976. In
1954, the Estate Acquisition Act was passed which prohibited an individual from
possessing more than twenty-five acres of land. The famine stricken tribes turned
out to be dacoits in order to fulfill their basic needs. Mato’s elder brother
also indulges himself in dacoity for his survival despite his mother’s
disapproval of this illegal practice.

 

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