Meet Aruna Tirkey, an ‘indigenous food entrepreneur’ in Jharkhand.

Source –

In the smorgasboard of regional cuisines in India, Jharkhand was considered a hold out, with neighbouring Odisha and Bihar towering over its indigineous cuisine. Aruna Tirkey, a rural development professional, is determined to change this.

In 2016, on Kanke road in Ranchi, Jharkhand’s capital city, Tirkey opened a restaurant Ajam Emba, which means tasty food in Kudukh, the language of the Oraons, an ethnic group in the area.

In my recent travels in Jharkhand during the Assembly polls, the restaurant came highly recommended if I wanted to try out traditional Adivasi food.

Tirkey, who worked for the United Nations for some time, said that she opened the restaurant as she felt there was a need to establish Adivasi cuisine in pulic conciousness. She has not only revived some old recipes and dishes, but has also experimented with local produce.

Traditional Adivasi food has a healthy infusion of locally found vegetables, poultry, fish, herbs and grains.

Dishes such as Ragi Chilka (ragi is locally known as madua), rice Chilka (a kind of crepe) is served along with black chana, as are semi dry vegetables made of the local flower Sanai. Country chicken and Getu Machchli fish curry is served with traditional red rice with beng saag chutney as an accompaniment.

If you’re looking for Jharkhand’s signature dish, Dhuska, a medu vada like preparation served with black chana and potatoes, Ajam Emba is the place to go. In her experiments, Tirkey has tried Ragi Momos and rice tea, both a big hit with young people looking for newness.

“I felt for a long time that Adivasi food had to be established in its own space. We got Jharkhand in 2000, and it was high time that our food was made familiar to those who had no idea about it, and also provide a space for Adivasis living in Ranchi to have a taste of home,” she said.

She bootstrapped the venture and today has a kitchen staff of five and a similar number of wait and front office staff. When the government wanted to hold a skill development workshop on cooking, Tirkey was asked to train interested students in the art of Adivasi cooking.

“We have over 900 herbs in Jharkhand that are good for health and have medicinal value; many of these are amalgamated into the cuisine. I am trying to revive the use of these in day-to-day food as well,” she said.

“Jharkhand, as a state in its search for culturally distinct symbols, since its formation in 2000, needs to promote Adivasi food and assert ownership,” she said, adding that “this will, in future, also change the image of tribal communities in public consciousness.

India: Jharkhand On Shaky Ground – Analysis.

Source –

On October 19, 2019, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) cadres shot dead a couple in Khunti District. According to the Police, the rebels shot dead Sheetal Munda (50) and his wife Made Munda (45) at Aada village under the Saiko Police Station of the District, branding them ‘police informers’. Sheetal Munda was the deputy Sarpanch (head of the Panchayat, village level local self-Government institution).

On August 4, 2019, two youths were shot dead by CPI-Maoist cadres in Badani village under Arki Police Station limits in Khunti District. The Maoists alleged through pamphlets that they were ‘police informers.’

These were the four civilian fatalities recorded in the District in the current year so far (data till October 27, 2019). According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), since September 12, 2007, when the Khunti District was carved out of Ranchi, the former has accounted for at least 73 civilian fatalities as a result of Naxalite [Left Wing Extremist, LWE]-linked violence. However, when Khunti was a part of Ranchi District, it had recorded at least four civilian fatalities in LWE-linked violence, since March 6, 2000, when SATP started compiling data.

Khunti is one among 26 districts of 56 affected, spread across eight states, that has witnessed more fatalities in civilian categories than in the Security Force, SF, or Maoists categories. According to SATP, since September 12, 2007, Khunti has recorded a total of 152 fatalities [73 civilians, 17 SF personnel and 62 Naxalites (Left Wing Extremists)]. Significantly, out of the eight States, Jharkhand with (545 civilian fatalities) is also among the four that have registered more fatalities in the civilian categories than in the SF or Maoists categories. The other three are Bihar (209 civilian), Odisha (284), and West Bengal (483).

LWE-related Fatalities in Khunti District: 2007* -2019**

YearsIncident of FatalitiesCiviliansSFsLWEsTotal
20073 (21)3 (35)0 (1)2 (14)5 (50)
20084 (61)4 (61)6 (38)1 (61)11 (160)
20097 (101)5 (68)7 (71)4 (61)16 (200)
20107 (89)6 (73)0 (25)3 (45)9 (143)
201112 (79)11 (79)0 (29)9 (50)20 (158)
201210 (68)16 (49)2 (25)1 (29)19 (103)
20137 (55)4 (47)0 (26)10 (57)14 (130)
20148 (56)7 (49)1 (14)4 (39)12 (102)
20155 (33)1 (15)1 (5)5 (37)7 (57)
20167 (49)6 (34)0 (8)7 (40)13 (82)
201713 (82)5 (29)0 (4)4 (25)9 (58)
20182 (30)1 (17)0 (10)2 (26)3 (53)
20196 (29)4 (14)0 (9)10 (29)14 (52)
Total83 (706)73 (570)17 (265)62 (513)152 (1348)

However, the data suggests, civilian fatalities, which peaked at 16 in 2012, have recorded cyclical trends thereafter, but never reached double digits again, suggesting improvements in the security situation in the District, primarily as a result of increasing SF dominance on the ground.

Considering the overall fatalities in both the Maoist and SF categories since September 12, 2007, we find that the SFs have achieved an overall positive kill ratio of 1:3.64. More importantly, the SFs last lost a trooper on August 18, 2015, when a Policeman, identified as Dhumul Siwaiya, was killed in an encounter under Murhu Police Station limits in Khunti District. A CPI-Maoist ‘area commander’, Chandan aka Kalika Munda, was also killed in that encounter. Police recovered an AK-47 rifle and six loaded magazines from the encounter site.

Khunti is one of most backward regions of the State. Indeed, the NITI Aayog on March 28, 2018, launched the baseline ranking for ‘Aspirational Districts’ constructed on published data of 49 indicators (81 data points) across five developmental areas of Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion and Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure. Khunti is among the 115 identified backwards Districts, where the Government is committed to raising living standards, using a composite index of key data sets that included deprivation as enumerated under the Socio-Economic Caste Census, key health and education sector performance, and the state of basic infrastructure.

According to a September 19, 2019, report, Jharkhand Rural Development Minister Nilkanth Singh Munda claimed that Khunti has never seen development work as has been witnessed during the last five years. To give development a boost, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda noted that Khunti was one of the ‘aspirational’ districts of the country, and that “Development is taking place here rapidly. The government is working with the goal of making Khunti a developed district. ”

Khunti has an area of 2,535 square kilometers and shares its borders with Ranchi in the north and east; Saraikela-Kharsawan in the south-east, West Singhbhum in the south, and Simdega and Gumla in the West. All these Districts, with the exception of Saraikela-Kharsawan, are among the ‘30 worst Maoist-affected’ Districts, across seven States in the country, according to Union Ministry of Home Affairs (UMHA). Moreover, all these Districts are among the 90 districts in 11 States that are considered LWE affected, according to a Government release of February 5, 2019.

Several concerns persist in the District. Like in rest of Jharkhand, not only the CPI-Maoist, but several of its splinter groups operate in Khunti District. There are more than 12 such small breakaway groups, including the Peoples’ Liberation Front of India (PLFI), Jharkhand Liberation Tigers (JLT), and Jharkhand Sangharsh Morcha (JSM). These groups survive by extortion, arson, creating disturbances and even executing contract killings. According to Police, “These organisations collect illegal levy from coal traders, contractors and companies involved in coal mining, and indulge in arson and disturb coal transportation and other development works when not paid.”

An October 11, 2019, report, revealed that a squad of 20 rebels, including women, from Jhinkpani, Kuchai and Kharsawan were camping in the forest areas of Kuchai along the border with Khunti. Three suspected Maoists, identified as Maheswar Mahali, Ranjit Mahali and Shahani, had prepared the plan and were leading the squad. Intelligence reports suggested that there was a CPI-Maoist conspiracy to detonate explosives on a railway track and target the Howrah-Mumbai Gitanjali superfast train.

To fight the LWE menace, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP), and a special task force, the Jharkhand Jaguar (JJ), have been deployed in all the LWE-affected District of Jharkhand. A September 30, 2018, report, suggested that more than 2,000 paramilitary forces were deployed in Khunti.

According to the latest data provided by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), Jharkhand had a police-population ratio (policemen per hundred thousand population), as on January 1, 2017, of 174.96, significantly lower than the sanctioned strength of 229.19, though much higher than the national average of 150.75. The ratio was 167.92 per 100,000 on January 1, 2016. On January 1, 2005, the police-population ratio of the State was 160.5, again, much higher than the then national average of 140.4.

The LWE insurgency in Jharkhand in general, and in the Khunti District in particular, has been substantially degraded and criminalized, with extortion operating as the primary driver for the many splinter formations. Sustained SF pressure, combined with aggressive development, particularly of infrastructure and communications, is necessary to facilitate processes that would bring these residual problems to an end.

Odisha urges Centre not to shift CWC office to Patna


Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has urged the Centre to rescind its decision to shift the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) office to Patna, saying the move will jeopardise the state’s interests.

State Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain conveyed Odisha’s concerns in a letter to Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday.

“The recent decision to merge Bhubaneswar and Patna regions (of CWC) into a single entity and renaming it as Patna region with headquarters at Patna will seriously jeopardise the interest of the people of Odisha,” Swain said.

Noting that monitoring of scientific storage from Patna will be difficult, he said warehousing operations in Odisha will be hampered as a result of the proposed relocation. The minister also pointed out that members of the Odisha Assembly, cutting across party lines, have raised their concerns over the issue in the House.

“The regional office of CWC at Bhubaneswar has been playing a vital role in storage and warehousing of various commodities including foodgrains and notified commodities of the Food Corporation of India as well as the Odisha state Civil Supplies Corporation,” Swain said.

Established in 1990, the Bhubaneswar regional office now has an operational capacity of 3.48 lakh MT and caters to the storage needs of 15 districts of the state, he said. Swain said that the Bhubaneswar regional office has been making profit over the past five years.

 “In this backdrop, I would like to request your (Paswan’s) personal intervention for allowing the regional office at Bhubaneswar to continue as such in modification of the earlier decision of its merger with Patna region,” he said.

BJD, stakeholders miffed over no Odisha tourist spot in Centre list


Bhubaneswar, Jul 9 Odisha Tourism Minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi has said he would soon take up with the Centre the absence of the state”s tourist spots in the list of 17 sites that would be developed into world-class destinations.

Several Biju Janata Dal MPs have also asserted that they would raise the issue in Parliament.

Panigrahi expressed dismay over the Centre”s alleged apathy towards Odisha.

“The Union government has claimed that selection was done on the basis of the site”s natural, architectural and religious importance, but omission of places like Konark Sun Temple, Chilika Lake and the Buddhist circuit in Odisha raises questions about the selection process,” Panigrahi said.

During her maiden Budget speech last Friday, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said 17 model sites chosen by the Centre would be developed into world-class destinations to encourage tourist arrival. She, however, did not elaborate which are the chosen sites.

In March 2018, then Union tourism minister K J Alphons had told the Lok Sabha that the sites include the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Ajanta and Ellora caves (Maharashtra), Humayun”s Tomb, Qutub Minar and Red Fort (Delhi) and Colva Beach (Goa).

The other tourism spots are: Amber Fort (Rajasthan), Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Kaziranga (Assam), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).

BJD leader and Puri MP Pinaki Misra said the party, in its election manifesto, had promised to develop Puri as the cultural capital of the country. “I am surprised that not a single destination from Odisha made it to the list. The Sun Temple in Konark is an iconic site and has every reason to be on that list,” he said.

According to sources, the state BJP leaders are also disappointed over the non-inclusion of Odisha”s popular tourist destinations and were planning to draw the attention of the Union Tourism Ministry on the issue.

State BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan expressed hope that the Centre would revise the list in the interest of the state.

Representatives of the travel and the hotel industry in the state have urged the Union government to review the selection procedure.

“Odisha is endowed with a host of national heritage sites, attracting millions of domestic and global tourists every year. It is surprising that not a single location has found a place in the Centre”s list,” J K Mohanty, the chairman of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha, said.

Mohanty, also a member of state Tourism Promotion Council and Tourism Advisory Committee, said he had written a letter to Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel, urging him to reconsider the decision and take another look at Odisha”s potential.

Mohanty said destinations like the Sun Temple in Konark, Chilika Lake, one of the largest lagoons in the world; Bhitarkanika mangroves, which is a Ramsar site, have more tourism potential than some of the sites selected for promotion by the central government. SKN RMS HMB

Centre’s Proposed List of World-Class Tourism Sites Has None from Odisha, Stakeholders Unhappy


Bhubaneswar: The Union government’s decision to develop 17 “iconic tourism sites” in the country into world-class destinations has disappointed many here as none of the world-famous sites in the state has found a place in the list.

Sites of cultural and national heritage with significant global appeal abound in Odisha drawing millions of tourists every year.

The sun temple of Konark, a 13th Century architectural and sculptural marvel that keeps attracting foreign tourists, is among the 38 world heritage sites in the country identified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The 10th Century temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri is another preeminent tourist destination in the state.

“The government is developing 17 iconic tourism sites into world-class tourist destinations to serve as a model for other tourism sites. The sites would enhance visitor experience which would lead to increased visits of both domestic and international tourists at these destinations,” said Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech on July 5.

The sites identified by the Ministry of Tourism include Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hampi in Karnataka, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, Mahabodhi temple in Bihar, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar in New Delhi, Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh, Amer Fort in Rajasthan, Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat and Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra.

Since all of these selected sites are not UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the exclusion of Konark’s sun temple, a massive sandstone structure counted as one of the seven wonders of India, came as a rude shock to many in Odisha.

While other sites such as the Colva beach in Goa and Kaziranga National Park in Assam are among the 17 selected sites, similar sites of unique natural environment in Odisha were given a miss.

“It is disappointing. The selection process certainly raises questions. We will raise the issue with the Centre. Our MPs will raise it during the budget discussions in parliament,” said Minister for Tourism and Culture Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi.

The state, with its wealth of ancient sites of tourist importance, registered 1.5 crore tourist footfalls in 2018.

Inter-state bridge connecting Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana faces road block


MALKANGIRI: A 900-metre approach road is all that is required to operationalise the bridge over river Saveri near Motu but it is not happening. 

The 290-metre bridge, built as part of Vijayawada-Ranchi Corridor National Highway near Motu, was completed three months back and still awaits the approach road to connect it to the highway. 

Once operational, the bridge will provide direct road link between Malkangiri and Hyderabad in Telangana and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. 

The bridge would not only facilitate 24×7 inter-state bus services between Malkangiri and the two neighbouring states but also boost business in the district.

It will also help in tackling Maoists. The bridge will enable security personnel of all the three states to ensure round-the-clock inter-state patrolling to take on the Maoists.

Presently, only one private bus plies between Malkangiri and Hyderabad via Dornapal bridge in Chhattisgarh.

The travel time would be reduced considerably and one would only take 14 hours to cover a distance of 520 km from Malkangiri to Hyderabad, said Bhakta Rout, president of District Private Bus Owners’ Association.

According to sources, at least five private bus owners from Jeypore, Nabarangpur and Koraput are interested to ply buses to Hyderabad and Vijayawada via Malkangiri instead of Salur and Sunki to save time.

The state-run OSRTC buses would also ply to Hyderabad and Vijayawada once the bridge is opened.

A National Highway official based in Jeypore, Vinod Bagarti said tender for the approach road was invited before the election model code of conduct came into force but there was no participation. 

A fresh tender would be floated again, he said and added that the matter is now with Bhubaneswar-based National Highway Chief Engineer’s Office. If no tender is received in the second attempt, Government would take a final call, he added.