Chenchus for 35 years limit for old-age pensions –Hindu 2-11-11

Special Correspondent

Andhra Pradesh - Kurnool

KURNOOL: As enhancement of retirement age is the order of the day world wide, Chenchus, a tribe on the verge of extinction, is seeking reduction in retirement age.
As per the surveys unofficially, the life span of Chenchus is around 40 years as against the 64 years of general population. The social pensions were issued to persons above 60 years in the general population now.
Chenchus are seeking old age pension at 35 since the life expectancy was only 40 years. Several NGOs dealing with the Chenchu tribes have supported the demand and represented to the government to take up the seriously as there would no meaning for keeping the 60 years age limit for pension when the average life period of community was below 40 years.
Malnutrition has been rampant among the adult and child population of Chenchus due to non-availability of food and poor eating habits of the Chenchus.
Most of them prefer liquor over food and almost neglect nutrition in their diet despite availability of high protein leaves, tubers and nuts locally. After TB and Malaria, which was induced by malnutrition, nervous disorders are very common among the Chenchu tribe. Excessive liquor consumption is identified root cause of the health problem. The government which reviewed the malnutrition problem among the Chenchus some time ago, enhanced the NREGS employment period to 150 days in a year in Chenchu pockets. But the extended scheme was implemented only in Kurnool and Prakasam districts while Guntur and Mahabub Nagar which have considerable size of Chenchu population are yet to implement it.
AAY cards
Also, the government took a decision to issue Antyodaya Annapurna Yojana (AAY) Cards to all Chenchus families but the implementation was incomplete as most the families were yet to get cards.
Meanwhile, some of the NGOs introduced raw groundnut and jaggery to fight malnutrition among children. The NGOs drew inspiration from Mr. S.R. Ramanujan former editor of Newstime who initiated the process by supplying 30 kilos of groundnut kernel and equal amount of jaggery to Chenchu children at Pecheruru a few years ago. Children flock to the NGO volunteers on their arrival for the tasty peanuts and jaggery.
Mr. Sivaramakrishna of Sakti felt that family counseling centres were needed change the food habits and lifestyle of Chenchus. In fact, Chechus were food lovers, especially non-vegetarian diet, once. But the restrictions on hunting of deer and other herbivores coupled with lack of adaptation of the community to changing situations led the community to be engulfed by malnutrition.