Each issue features success stories of women from a field or genre, ranging from entrepreneurship, academics, the world of art, etc. This issue features women from the academic sphere.
Dr Afifa Maryam Ansari
I am a first-generation learner from a tribal community named Kuruma of Wayanad district, Kerala. I joined Jawaharlal Nehru University for Masters in Political Science after cancelling my MA admission at the University of Calicut. Following the completion of my MA, I cleared the JNU MPhil entrance and secured admission at Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, where I completed the thesis titled “Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha: Framing and Formation of an Indigenous Social Movement in Kerala.” My primary interest of research is on the social, economic, political and educational conditions of Adivasi communities in the context of the well-known Kerala model of development. This model has not brought about improvements in the conditions of tribes in Kerala and the Adivasi communities lag behind in welfare indicators such as poverty eradication, education, malnutrition, child death in comparison with non-tribal communities.
When it comes to my experiences as an Adivasi woman, as far as I remember no one asked me (except during casual conversations) about my experiences till reaching as well as surviving JNU. There are experiences which make me think of the way society perceives my identity, even if it hushed up and not spoken of directly. There was an argument that happened with my teacher during my 12th standard. Out of humiliation, I asked the teacher and students “Are you doing this to me because I am a tribe!” Everyone in the class was shocked and speechless for an instant. For me, that was the moment of realisation of the social inequalities embedded within my identity.
After reaching JNU, the major problem I faced was the language issue since I have always studied in Malayalam medium schools. This being the condition of the majority of marginalised students belonging to Dalit or Adivasi backgrounds, it put us in a disadvantaged position, riddled with stigma.