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Climate change and Gypsies in Sindh

Climate change and Gypsies in Sindh

Like the world over, Sindh province of Pakistan is also home for Gypsy tribes, who used to walk through the regions whole the year. Presently, popular tribes are known locally as (1) Gurgala, (2) Shikari, (3) Kocharra, (4) Ravarra, (5) Jogi (snake charmer), (6) Kabotaria, (7) Hadwarr, (8) Guaria, (9) Rabari. There are sub-tribes of each group. Over the years the change, including climate variations have disrupted their traditional pathways. For years these people are rare sighting on roads, traveling to unseen destinations. Otherwise, the routs are disturbed by different interventions, mainly climate change.

For example, water sources along the filthy routes either have been dried or polluted. Similarly natural food sources for these communities are not the same. Forests, lakes, wetlands, river streams, grasslands and terrains do not have any attraction for these people to see the old paths where their ancestors might have travelled and enjoyed pleasant weathers, live with Wildlife species, playing with poisoning reptiles and catch birds, fish and find grains on their way to traditional destinations.

Due to change in agriculture practices, use of tractors, chemical inputs have also contributed to create threats to these people because everything on their routes has been changed.

It is popular about these elderly Gypsy people that they used to collect herbal items and some other things, which are used for healing people and animals during their long travel. They would stay some days outside villages on their routes, exchange these items with grains. This is the source of relationship with the village people. Due to changing agriculture there is no place to stay along their routes.        

Impacts of climate change on natural resources and life of people is being widely discussed at world forums. These Gypsy tribes are victim of climate change, which put these people to stay insecure in the society, where dominant group and government do not have any plan to accommodate the people on equal basis. They are put at the juncture that neither these Gypsy tribes  themselves can think about their rights to land, shelter, proper identity, education, health facilities nor any Organisation or government have any plan take this neglected section of society to merge in mainstreaming.

In result widely section of this neglected group of these nine or more tribes has never been recognized as citizen of this country. They were never issued Computerized National Identity Cards (CNICs) through recognition and they may use their votes and avail right to take part in social and cultural activities.  

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has guaranteed the rights of these people but they are being denied of this right to live equally in the society.

Pakistan government being signatory of the UN declaration should abide the universal convention and law to design strategy how to bring these people in mainstreaming, socially, culturally and economically. 

This declaration offers guidance on cooperative relationships with Indigenous peoples to states based on the principles of equality, partnership, good faith and mutual respect.

The guaranteed rights of Indigenous peoples include:

·        Culture, ·        Identity, ·        Religion, ·        Language, ·        Health, ·        Education

Current status

Despite the fact these wandering people have their folk wisdom, healing expertise through using herbal items and inheritors of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment, they yet to be brought to mainstream social, cultural and economic activism. Those dominated over the society do not have any room to accommodate these neglected Gypsy people despite their contribution in rare culture, music and social activities to entertain people in streets and villages.

In fact these all Gypsy groups have different cultural identity share common problems about their rights to live safely and adopt way of life.

Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life. Find below a short history of the indigenous struggle in the international stage.

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