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The Jino ethnic minority (4)

(People's Daily)

09:27, August 10, 2011

Improvement in Life

Changes began to take place in Jino life in 1954 when teams sent by the government arrived for the first time in the out-of-the-way mountainous areas. They brought relief supplies and helped the local people to step up production. After winning over the powerful village elders, they helped the Jinos undertake democratic reforms to put an end to outdated institutions that had kept them backward for centuries.

And in 1955, the Jinos set up cooperative teams to work the land more effectively. Formerly upland rice was cultivated in small jungle clearings where the trees were felled and burnt before each sowing. Today the crop is grown on well-prepared paddy fields, and the yield has jumped up enormously. The paddy is irrigated by water lifted by electric pumps. The service of prayer-mumbling priests is no longer needed, nor was the slaughtering of animals, to appease evil spirits in times of drought.

Small reservoirs and hydroelectric installations have been built, and electric lamps have replaced the flickering oil-lamps that once lit Jino homes. The wooden mortars formerly used for pounding rice have gone, too, with the advent of milling equipment powered by electricity.

In 1981 there were 14 primary schools and middle schools with an enrolment of 1,600 in the mountainous areas where most people used to be illiterate. The Jinos now boast their own college students and university-trained doctors.

Another thing the Jinos welcome most is the emergence of a network of trading stores that offer farm implements, clothing, food, salt and a long list of goods at moderate prices. Gone are the travelling cut-throat merchants who used to squeeze every cent out of the pockets of the Jino people.

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