Two villagers who left their mud and wood huts last month to travel to London — Kumuti Majhi and Phulme Majhi — were a stark contrast to the 212,000 wealthy Indians who visited Britain last year on shopping expeditions where they outspent Japanese tourists. The villagers’ mission, rather than the acquisition of designer clothing or the latest electronics, was to try to save the livelihoods of their small tribe that grows millet, fruit and spices in the lushly-forested Niyamgiri hills in eastern India.
On August 1, 2007, the Majhis spoke out at the annual general meeting of Vedanta Resources PLC, a British multinational that is poised to dig a new bauxite mine that threatens the village of Jaganathpur. While Vedanta is incorporated in Britain, it is owned by Anil Agarwal, the world’s 230th richest man according to the Forbes 2007 list, a former scrap metal merchant who was born in eastern India. (See Vedanta Undermines Indian Communities, by Nityanand Jayaraman…read more