I was so humbled by the fact that there are people similar to me ( that are deeply passionate about things usually people haven’t thought twice about) . In my case, (waste management, climate change).
However listening to Sandeep Bali’s passionate talk about ‘Raika’s’, the traditional camel rearing community of Rajasthan reminded me of two things
A) Why I started photography in the first place. Similar read: The dilemma every amateur photographer faces
B) He intrigued me so much that I started my own research on the decline of the Rakia’s in Rajasthan.
The Raika’s : Rajasthan’s Traditional Camel Rearers
Sandeep Bali had done his masters in Archaeology and later decided to become a photographer. The Pushkar Camel Fair was a turning point in his life. He was introduced to the Raika’s, the traditional camel rearing community. The Raika’s believe they were created by Lord Shiva to protect the camels.
Reason for the sharp decline
I began to wonder why there was a decline in camels in the largest animal fair in the world that attracts a huge footfall of tourist each year. According to a 2015 article by the Daily Pioneer, the camel population in Rajasthan had dropped from seven lakh to two lakh in 18 years.
At the world-renowned Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan last year, for every camel that was sold, nearly three went unsold.Indian Express
Raising camels are expensive right from feeding to breeding them. With urbanization and mechanization certainly things are bound to change sometimes causing a huge shift in society that nobody could have predicted.
With increasing mechanization and synthetic fertilizer usage, the camel is no longer needed for transportation, ploughing and manure
DOWN TO EARTH
From highways being built connecting different states, to the introduction synthetic fertilizers changed the ballgame for camels. With the introduction of synthetic fertilizers firstly, farmers no longer needed ‘camel manure’ for farming, secondly it raised the incomes for farmers which then brought the automobiles on the road. Despite the urbanization, there are still small towns deep in the interiors that use camels for transportation, pulling up water from wells and ploughing.
Importance of the Camel
Despite the recent decades of the declining camel population, camels were once an essential animal for the people of Rajasthan. They could travel long distances in the desserts, provide milk and wool. After their death their bones could be used for the local artisanal work as well as their skin for leather production. This all led to the popularity of the camel. India was once the third largest breeding ground for the camel after Somalia and Sudan.
However the government of Rajasthan tried its best to steady the decline of the camel by passing various schemes/ laws.It passed laws that banned the slaughter of camels as well as made it illegal transporting camels to the neighboring state except for agricultural purposes. This hit business pretty hard. However then the government realized the repercussions of its actions. This promptly led to the next scheme that decided to pay farmers a sum of Rs 10,000 for the camel calf in three installations. This was later discontinued since the farmers complained they only recieved the first installment
From Sandeep Bali’s speech I learnt lesser known facts about the sharp decline of the camel population in Rajasthan. For instance the migration routes of the Raika’s were affected for two reasons. During the winters, the Raika’s traveled to far off places in search of pastures to feed the cattle and secondly a highway was coming up connecting Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat which severely disrupted the traditional migration routes of the state animal.
I found Sandeep’s speech so interesting that I decided to start my own research on the decline of the Rakia’s and their camels in Rajasthan.
- Why camels are giving Pushkar fair a miss by the Economics Times
- From the land of Raikas by the Daily Pioneer
- Declining population of camel in India is worrying by Down To Earth
- The Camel – A Symbol of Rajasthan by the Mana Hotels
- Photo Credits – https://unsplash.com/@jyotirmoy, https://unsplash.com/@kristianegelund, https://unsplash.com/@joz_big