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Now playing, Tembhali Live…

Tembhali, a tribal village in Nandurbar district, is not known for farmer suicides. The reason is simple: It does not have many farmers.

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A non-descript village in the neglected countryside pitch-forked to the national limelight; journalists swarming the place and hounding for quotable quotes; and the innocent village folk scurrying for cover to escape the attention. It could be a straight lift from Peepli Live, a movie presented by Amir Khan.

But it is not. Tembhali, a tribal village in Nandurbar district, is not known for farmer suicides. The reason is simple: It does not have many farmers. Of the 1,400 plus residents here, only 16 are farmers; the rest are landless labourers.

But that does not take away much from the importance the village is basking in right now. Tembhali will soon be home to the first recipients of the Unique Identity Card of the Government of India.

Ten of its residents will receive the card from prime minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday. The media frenzy revolves around these men, whose identities remain a closely guarded government secret till now.

The villagers, too, are clueless. As the talk to each other in whispers, taken aback by persistent queries from strangers, the common refrain is how did the selection happen? How come they did not know about it?

Government sources maintain that the secrecy is because of security reasons. Announcing the names prior to the prime minister’s programme could lead to a conflict between villagers.

“Even we do not know who these 10 people are. It is possible that, the authorities would pick them up secretly in the morning and the prime minister will inaugurate the project with them,” said Pratibha Shinde, co-ordinator, Lok Sangharsh, an NGO working in the area.

“The villagers do not know who Manmohan Singh is and have very little knowledge of the outside world. They just know that the prime minister is coming to visit them,” said Shinde.

That, of course, has not dampened the enthusiasm of the media. On the look out for exotic stories, it’s Tembhali Live from them right now.

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