Odisha tribe sees rise in migration
Bonda youth have moved to work in towns, children are dropping out of school
Perched at a height of 3,500ft above sea level in the hilly Malkangiri district of Odisha, this village is difficult to access and so are its inhabitants — the Bondas, a particularly vulnerable tribal group, known for their secluded lives away from the mainstream.
However, young people from the tribal group have been forced to leave their pristine hamlets for low-paid jobs in distant towns of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and States even farther.
- The Bonda (also known as the Bondo or Remo) are a Munda ethnic group approximately 12,000 (2011 census) who live in the isolated hill regions of the Malkangiri district of southwestern Odisha, India, near the junction of the three states of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh.
- The Bonda are generally semi-clothed, the women wear thick silver neck bands.
- There are two different Bonda tribes: the Upper Bondas with a population of 6,700 who are the most isolated from mainstream Indian society, and the Lower Bonda with a population of 17,000.
- In Bonda society, the women enjoy a privileged position. They are the primary workers and providers of food for the community.
- This matriarchal dominance is also seen in the marital norms of the community.
- Bonda girls largely marry boys who are at least five to ten years younger than them.
- Thus the girl looks after her husband as he grows up and in turn he cares for his older wife.
- In contrast with many other populations in India, the number of women among the Bonda greatly exceeds the number of men.
- The life expectancy of the tribe is so low they are nearly extinct.