The Spirit Of The Forest

MAH Fellowship 2021-22

July 20, 2022
Rahul Srivastava

According to the International Work group of Indigenous Affairs there are 104 million indigenous people in India or approximately 8.5 % of the total population. They are organized around 705 officially recognized ethnic groups (termed by the constitution as Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis).


There is a historical overlap between their geographies and the Indian forests which have seen an intricate evolution of livelihood and economic exchanges with indigenous communities for centuries. The forests would not have survived without them and they would not have survived without the forests. 


Members of the adivasi communities continue to be part of modern India but are increasingly getting alienated from their traditional forest based habitats. Some of them are doing their best to integrate forest based traditions with contemporary economic aspirations and need more support and recognition in their endeavours.

The Fellowship program believes that no global or regional initiative can be truly sustainable unless it is accompanied by strong, locally grounded and independently run activities. This is particularly true for indigenous communities who need access to their local habitat and increased support to integrate traditional and modern systems in their quest for livelihoods. Such moves also ensure that sustainable environmental practices get integrated into the mainstream economy - a goal desired by all, given the stressed environment we live in today.

The MAH Fellowship has a long-term vision to develop a network of intricate, locally managed projects that connect to regional, national and global businesses in a manner in which they will always have the final word while maintaining strong control on their environment, habitat and resources. We believe that without such strong, locally managed practices, regional, national and global businesses will never be able to truly achieve environmental and sustainable goals.       

The fellowship program makes a humble launch this year with two fellows. 

As the enterprise grows so will the program. 

At present the fellows are selected by our team that works closely on the ground in the regions of Nasik and Kinwat (State of Maharashtra).

Ashok Devram Rathod & Nikita Rathod

Our first fellows are Nikita Rathod who has just graduated as an architect. This year, she is working with women from her community the (Banjaras) who are interested in developing a modern business around the traditional embroidery which the community is known for.

Our second candidate is Ashok Devram Rathod (no relation) who belongs to the Konkna community of northern Maharashtra. He is an entrepreneur working with photo and videography. He is keen on documenting the mahua landscape over one year as part of his fellowship program while simultaneously developing a plan of action for a local facility that aims to develop initiatives around the collection, processing and distribution of mahua flowers in his village.

Do get in touch!

Please get in touch if you are interested in our project and would like to know more about it. We can also ship bottles of Mah to some destinations. Let us know if you would like to taste it! Mahua is not just a drink, it is an experience that connects you to the earth of the Indian forest. Every bottle carries a message.

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