SEWA INTERNATIONAL BHARAT (SIB) Appeal for support to flood - hit people in Jammu & Kashmir
Sewa International is working with Jammu Kashmir Sahayata Samiti for providing relief to the flood affected. Your timely help may save a life, provide food to the hungry or shelter to people who have been displaced due to floods.
Kolkata unit of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram organised a two-day medical camp in Simlapal and Ranibandh Blocks of Bankura district in West Bengal from July 19 to 20. On July 19, the camp began at Butsahar village, about 25 km from Garhbeta station deep into forest area, where 450 patients, mostly Vanvasi, were provided medical services and treatments.
A total of 53 patients were identified with eyesight problem for whom spectacles were to be sent in about 20-30 days. A total of 44 patients were identified with cataract and othereye problems needing surgery or advance treatments. These patients were brought to Kolkata on July 28 for surgery and treatment. On July 20, the camp was organised in Nachana village, 10 km from Ranibandh. A total of 390 were treated. The health team included doctors and medical students from CMC, NRS, KPC and AIIMS. They were assisted with teams of 20+ volunteers from local villages at each place.
SWAYAMSEVAKS RUSH IN FOR RESCUE OPERATION AT PUNE LANDSLIDE
On July 30, a massive landslide, occurred in Malin Village of Ambegaon tehsil in Pune.This turned the whole village into debris. All 44 houses and around 200 locals residing in them were hit by the landslide caused by a burst of heavy rainfall. A team of National Disaster ResponseForce (NDRF) of 80 people reached the spot but with continued heavy rains relief operations were still difficult. Before the official operation could start, Shri Ganesh Khandeshi, a swayamsevak of Dibhe who also holds the responsibility of Amegaon Taluka Karyavah of RSS reached there. He instantly informed the swayamsevaks from Manchar and Moshi and a team of around 60 swayamsevaks reached there. Due to rains and increasing number of people and relatives pouring in toward Malin, it was difficult to take control of the situation. Still swayamsevaks along with the NDRF volunteers started the work around 3pm and rescued a woman and a child at around 5 pm.
The real testing work was managing the last rites of dead bodies. Administration was clearing the debris but nobody was bothered about the dead bodies. As the whole village was infected and no relative was alive to claim the bodies, performing last rituals was the real challenge. The swayamsevaks not only assured to get necessary material for the funeral but ensured dignified last rites. In fact, district administration officially issued letter to the RSS team to handle this matter. The work of managing the team ofdoctors, helping the administration in getting the dead bodies out of debris and performing last rites continued for three days.
YESTERDAY’S ‘RECEIVERS’ ARE TURNING INTO TODAY’S ‘GIVERS’
The Sangh swayamsevaks today carry out 1,38,667 sewa projects across the country. One of the major outcomes of these projects is that those who’ve received the sewa yesterday are now involved in serving others. This change of mindset symbolises the impact of the sewa work by Sangh swayamsevaks. The Editor of Organiser Prafulla Ketkar and Senior Correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sewa Pramukh Shri Suhasrao Hiremath in Delhi to know about the sewa activities. Excerpts:
• What is the present status of the services being carried out by Sangh swayamsevaks across the country?
The Sangh swayamsevaks carry out sewa activities at different levels through about 600 organisations. Most of these organisations are now a part of the Rashtriya Sewa Bharati—an umbrella organisation formed through 2003. These organisations run about 57,000 service projects across the country. The other organisations, which we call mother organisations like VHP, Kalyan Ashram, Deendayal Research Institute (DRI), Bharat Vikas Parishad, Sewa Bharati, Saksham, etc. run about 81,000 projects. Hence, we can say that the swayamsevaks together run a total of 1,38,667 projects in the country today. We have projects dedicated for education, health, social uplift and self-reliance. The projects range from Balwadis to schools, dispensaries tohospitals, Self-Help Groups (SHGs) to employment training institutes, and Bhajan Mandalis to hostels. The schools run by Vidya Bharati are not accounted as sewa work—they are treated as constructive activity.
• What is the thinking behind organising Sewa Sangams?
With the objective of bringing all workers associated with the sewa work together to help them visualise the big picture and the vision of the work done, help them share their experiences with each other and above all boost their self-confidence, the first Sewa Sangam was organised in Bengaluru in 2010. About 1000 workers attended that Sewa Sangam. In fact, many of them expanded sewa work in their respective areas after attending that Sangam. I have no hesitation in saying that our Bengaluru Sewa Sangam has almost doubled the service projects and helped the workers extend their learnings in other fields.
• What is the contribution of sewa work in national life?
Swayamsevaks have been doing sewa work since the beginning, but it was formally institutionalised by senior workers like Shri Yadavrao Joshi, Shri Moropant Pingle, etc. about 60-70 years back. With the expansion of the Sangh work, the number of swayamsevaks increased and this workforce is always ready to provide selfless service during calamities. But now the swayamsewaks are encouraged to visit Sewa Bastis and take up any sewa activity there as per the needs of people. In order to expand and manage this work and train as well as sensitise the workers, the Sewa Vibhag was formed in the Sangh.
• What have been the turning points in this journey?
For us sewa is a medium of transforming the society. But through these services we don’t want to make those who are getting sewa lazy. We want that the one who is being served today should aspire to become the server tomorrow. That is how and why our projects have been and can have a lasting impact on the society.
We have around 6000 projects in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. This district has witnessed large scale conversions in past decades. But after our projects came into being, conversions have stopped. In fact, through our efforts we’ve been able to achieve total prohibition in these villages, and crimes against women have also come down.
We also have achieved good success in rehabilitation of nomadic communities in Maharashtra. We studied their problems and started different activities for them. Today we have hostels for 12 such communities and about 2000 students from these hostels have excelled in their life. We tried to make them self-reliant by imparting them different kinds of training. The families associated with us have almost stopped begging, stealing, consuming alcohol and indulging in any other anti-social activity. Some of the youth from these communities, both boys and girls, have even begun working as full time workers for Bhatke Vimukta Vikas Parishad.
Sewa work has also helped in eradicating untouchability. We have successfully bridged the gap between upper and lower classes. The Gram Pujari scheme started by VHP in Tamil Nadu proved to be a big hit. They organised a training camp of such Pujaris. About 55000 Pujaris attended the camp. Among them, about 80 per cent of them were SCs/STs. There was a time when these people didn’t had access to temples in Tamil Nadu, today they’re the Pujaris in these temples. Similar experiment was done in Andhra Pradesh by VHP in association with the Tirupati Devosthanam.
Our SHGs have women memberfrom all communities and they work together. In Kanyakumari, the village Sarpanch objected to the joining of a lower caste woman in such a group and he repeatedly insisted and even allured to oust the woman from the group. But the workers outrightly rejected the pressure. Today many full time activists are from lower communities only. By and large the yesterday’s ‘receivers’ have now turned as ‘givers’.
• Some people have questioned the financial help to some Sangh inspired projects from abroad. How do you look at it?
Most of our projects, about 90 per cent, are supported and funded by the local people and not even the government. The donation coming from abroad also comes only from the NRIs who want to contribute in the development of their respective regions. But that amount too comes only after the necessary rules and procedures are followed. During calamities also the help comes only after following due procedures. Since we do not get any fund even from the government, there is no question of taking money from foreign Foundations.
• What is the status of Gram Vikas activities by swayamsevaks?
We emphasise that any sewa activity should begin at the village level where we have a Sangh Shakha. Today, the work has begun in about 2000 such villages. Out of them there are about 600 villages where we have performed well in different fields like education, health, environment protection, water conservation, samskar, etc. Apart from it, there are about 125 villages where we can claim holistic development. We called such villages Prabhat Grams. We work so that these villages remain free from hunger, diseases, illiteracy, alcohol, dispute, untouchabilty, etc.
• The religious organisations also carry out sewa activities on large scale. Do we have any coordination with them also?
It has already begun in Tamil Nadu where Shri S Gurumurthyji organises Hindu Spiritual Service Fair every year. It prominently showcases sewa activities being done by religious organisations. Lakhs of people join it to have first hand information about sewa. It also acts as a good platform to exchange ideas. Kanchi Acharya has played a vital role in this initiative. Shri Gunwant Singh Kothari, Akhil Bharatiya Sah Sewa Pramukh, now has the full time responsibly of coordinating with the religious organisations, as there are efforts to organise such Service Fairs in every state.
• Are there any major planning’s for the future?
Efforts are on to start sewa work in all the Sewa Bastis of cities within next five years. This work has to be done with the help of local Sangh Shakhas. In Vanvasi areas also we want to reach every village. We have also decided to start sewa work in the backward villages, even in places where we do not have any Shakha. We are planning to mobilise man power for it. In Karnataka we have already mobilised about 27000
• What is being done to encourage the Youth?
The Youth for Sewa experiment started in Bengaluru has proved to be fruitful. About 2000 youth, both working and students, are doing Sewa. Some of them even teach free of cost in government schools. This work has now spread to Maharashtra and other states too. people for this work.
• What about those who are retired?
We are mobilising such people under Vanprasthi Yojna. In Rajasthan, it has good impact. There are regular camps for such people there.
There are people who dedicate from one month to one year or more for the society.
8TH ANNUAL DAY FUNCTION OF 'SANVEDANA'
8th annual day function and the inauguration of Souvenir was organised on 21st August in the premises of 'Sanvedana'.
The District collector sri Panduranga Pole, Sri Laxmikantji Lahoti, President of leading Dayanand group of educational institutions, Dr Saritha Manthri, Dean of MIT Medical college graced the function. The parents and well wishers attended the function in good number.
The programme started by 'Shubham karothi kalyanam' sung by all the children. The dance programme with the message of 'Thare jamin per' by the children with CP, thrilled all the guests and parents.
The admired DC called the children as 'Stars on the earth' and told that he was inspired not only as an officer, but as a 'person'.
Sri Lahotiji appreciated the efforts done by the teachers with affection and patience, being the secret of success of the project. Dr. Manthri madam expressed that, though she had seen such type of projects before, this is unique and with difference. She lauded the human touch and dedication of all the staff which is being visible on the faces of children. And she stressed the need of such centres in large numbers to overcome the problem of disability. The programme was concluded by 'vandematharam' sung by all the students.
YOJAK: DOCUMENTING AND PROMOTING THE INVENTIONS BY UNSUNG INNOVATORS
After Independence, we invested huge amount of money on invention of big farm equipments like tractors and other machines. But nothing substantially could be done for efficiency improvement in daily farm activities. True to the saying “necessity is the mother of invention”, this work is done by innumerable grass roots innovators as per their local requirements. Most of such innovators are so-called illiterate people without any technical background. But they are passionate as they know what they are doing will ultimately benefit the society in long run. Pune based YOJAK has initiated concrete steps to document and promote the inventions by such unsung innovators. Shri Arjun Shinde is a marginalised farmer belonging to Jalna district of Maharashtra. One day while ploughing the field one of the bullocks from the pair suddenly stopped working. Arjun’s work suffered hugely, as most of his farm implements were two-bullocks-operated. Somehow, he managed that year. But the moment changed his life. He started working on single bullock driven implements for various activities of farming. And he did it successfully. Till date, he has invented 17 such implements—literally from the waste material. He sells all such implements locally. There is huge demand for his products, as they practically make the farm work easier. Dada Wadekar from Thane district is another gross roots innovator. In the last 20 years he has developed a set of implements, which can do almost all basic activities of farming which involves lot of drudgery and time. His set of 16 implements cost only Rs 1,200. He has developed sickle for left handers as they face lot of difficulty to use common sickle.Equally, Shri Pravin Lad, a young farmer living on the borders of Jalna-Aurangabad district in Maharashtra, runs small fabrication unit, which is the main source of his livelihood. Considering scope of small implements, he has developed more than 50 such implements. Few of them have been developed by him, while others are manufactured based on available information. Pravin is passionate about his work and is constantly involved in developing new implements. He was able to keep costs low by using recycled material as well as making single machine for multiple operations. Shri Ravindra Karde lives in a village near Ahmednagar city. He is dry land farmer with Jowar as the main crop. Cereal sowing is a difficult task with greater chances of loss of seeds due to wind and other physical barriers. So seed requirement rate for cereals like Jowar, Bajara, etc are relatively high. Considering this constraint, he developed cereal sowing-machine using plastic pipe. This non-fuel machine can be operated using bullock or a person can drive it on its own. It helps clean and neat sowing of cereals, decrease seed consumption and reduce time required for sowing. In semi-arid regions, large tracts are covered with cereals crops. This machine is a miracle for the small farmers.Arjun Shinde, Dada Wadekar, Pravin Lad or Ravindra Karde are just few examples of India’s grass roots innovators. There are innumerable such innovators, who silently work to improve the lives of local people, but their contribution is neither recognised nor is their work documented anywhere. No government agency or corporate CSR initiative support such inventions.But Pune based YOJAK has taken a big initiative in this regard not only to promote their inventions but also to spread their work on big canvas. The spread of mechanisation in our country is driven by structured system of research to extension involving research institutes and government extension machinery. In the whole process, thrust is on large equipments and nobody cares for the equipments needed in daily life by farmers or the farm labourers. Spread of tractor is one of the indicators to measure mechanisation progress in India. Green Revolution in Northern India also strengthened the conceptual utility of large implements only. But situation in other parts of the country, especially in hilly tracts like central India’s Vanvasi areas, is different. Small holdings on undulating land have not supported promotion of large implements for agriculture purposes. Situation of small farmers is very difficult all over the country. There is stagnation in productivity, increase in costs and climate change making agriculture more vulnerable. Non-availability of labour has become a major issue in most of the rural areas. Appropriate mechanisation is one way to cope up with such situation.Last year, some organisations jointly organised ‘Tech for Seva’ Conference in Pune. The sub theme of the Conference was ‘Implements for Small and Marginal Farmers’. “We gathered information and involved around 40 such innovators across Maharashtra in the Conference. Implements developed by them were displayed during the Conference. For the first time, their innovation was displayed in any scientific conference before reputed scientists. We know we can get such innovators across India. All of them are working on their own without any formal support. But their cause is noble. It is for society and it is our duty to support them constructively,” says Dr Gajanan Dange, president YOJAK Centre for Research and Strategic Planning for Sustainable Development.Dr Dange is very serious on promoting such innovators across the country. He has conducted a study of the problems frequently faced by them. “These innovators need technical guidance on design, material to use and effective combination of material and cost reduction ideas to refine their innovation. They also need financial support. Bank linkages are needed to increase their production. Since they lack knowledge of lab to market process, they need training regarding standardisation, authorisation, market based production, etc,” Dr Dange added.It is necessary that at this juncture when we are talking about Ever Green Revolution, we need to call for societal support to such grass roots innovators. “Center for Promotion of Appropriate Agriculture Mechanisa-tion is need of the hour. Such Centres are required at each agro ecological zone identified by the National Agricultural Research System (NARS). This Centre can act as a catalyst to promote appropriate technologies related to mechanisation in agriculture. The Centre proposes to involve all necessary stakeholders like government, farmers groups, CSR groups, non-government organisations and interested individuals to develop platform to support these innovators,” says Shri Kapil Sahasrabuddhe, vice president of the YOJAK.Apart from it, efforts should also be made to prepare literature especially in local, regional languages about such implements. The literature can include small films, technical designs, pamphlets, presentations etc. YOJAK is planning to establish such Centre’s in different agro-ecological zones with the help of like-minded individuals, groups or CSRs.
Food For Thought:-
You must always be prepared to do the duty that your country may demand of you. Love your countrymen and promote unity among them. A large Spirit of toleration and forbearance, and a larger spirit of loving service is demanded of you. We expect you to devote as much of your time and energy as you can spare to the uplift of your humble brethren. We expect you to work in their midst, to share their sorrows and their joys, to strive to make their lives happier in every way you can.
–Convocation Address of Malaviyaji on 14 Dec 1929.
SEWA INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKES BLOOD DONATION & UTTARAKHAND REHABILITATION
On World Blood Donation day, June 14, Sewa International Australia, organised a group blood donation of 22 volunteers in collaboration with Red Cross. This activity has promoted diversity and encouraged positivity within the community as volunteers from diverse age groups and gender came forward for saving 75 lives, as per Red Cross.
Sewa International Australia is a growing organization built on a team of passionate members who are responsible for management of this activity and other community based projects. Its aim is to represent Indians living in Melbourne in promoting and encouraging integration in order to become successful members of society. Sewa International Australia also organised another event to raise funds for relief and rehabilitation activities in Uttarakhand (India). This event was held at Clayton Hall annexe where International coordinator of Sewa Sh. Shyam Parande presented details of the relief activities and made a video presentation to the audience about the rehabilitation projects being run by Sewa in Uttarakhand and explained how they are changing the lives of many affected families. As a result of this presentation and an interactive Q&A session, many volunteered to support this project. Uttarakhand Society of Australia also collaborated with Sewa International in successfully raising funds. Apart from that, Shri Shyam Paranade also informed about many big and small projects running across 17 different countries, fully supported by Sewa. These projects pertain to natural disasters, child welfare, women empowerment and other socio economic development.
Sewa International Australia has decided to support the development of a computer centre in Chandrapuri in the Rudra Prayag district by offering full financial help. This centre will help local children who lost their homes, parents or families in Uttrakand flood, in acquiring essential computing skills which will enable them in rehabilitation by seeking employment.
60 VILLAGES LISTED WASTE MANAGEMANT PROJECT
Sixty villages from Gurgaon district have been short-listed for the implementation of Solid and Liquid Waste Management Project under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) for the current financial year. The project will help in segregation of solid waste and considerably enhance wastewater treatment capacity and help in generation of recycled water for agricultural and other purposes. Deputy Commissioner Shekhar Vidyarthi said only those villages which have won or figured in the list of the Nirmal Gram Puraskar have been chosen for the project. The pilot project for waste management is already underway at Mubarakpur, Hasanpur and Kankrola villages in the district. In Hasanpur and Kankrola, the project is being run by the Institute of Global Development, a non-government organisation, with good results. Mr. Vidyarthi said encouraged by the response to the project in these villages, they have now decided to extend it to other villages.
In the first phase, the project will be implemented in 16 villages, including Barmoli, Badshahpur, Devlavas, Ransika, Heraheri, Bhakraka, Maujabad, Mahchana, Bapas and Uccha Majra. Under the project, pits will be dug up under sheds in each village to convert wet waste into manure. Tri-cycles will be hired to collect solid waste from around the village every morning and bring it to the pits for recycling. “The wet waste will then be separated from dry waste like polythene bags, glass, iron and cardboards and can be composted. The separated non-biodegradable waste will be sold to scrap dealers,” said Mr. Vidyarthi, adding that two safai karamcharis will be appointed in each village to collect waste. These karamcharis will be initially paid through the District Rural Development Agency, but later the village panchayat will bear their cost.
Similarly, a low-cost drainage system will be put in place in each village to carry water from kitchens and toilets to ponds outside the village. Three ponds will be dug up on the outskirts of the village to recycle the water and make it reusable. “The water will be filtered through the first and second ponds to reach the third. It will then be taken to fields for irrigation and also put to other use,” said Mr. Vidyarthi. Project Director Rajesh Gupta said concrete dustbins will be constructed in schools and Anganwadi centres to encourage women and children towards cleanliness. “The villages identified for waste management have been classified into four categories for allocation of funds. The villages with 150 households will be allocated Rs.7 lakh, while those with 300 households will be released Rs.12 lakh. Similarly, the villages with 300-500 households will get Rs.15 lakh and the bigger villages Rs.20 lakh,” said Mr. Gupta.
SHISHU MANDIR LAID THE FOUNDATION OF MY SUCCESS
It is not physical strength bu the hard work, self-determination and focused approach with absolute concentration on goal are behind my success. Sarika Jain, 29, was ranked 527 among the 1,122 candidates who cleared the civil services examinations (2013) conducted by Union Public Service Commission. It becomes pride and glory when one gets into coveted civil service that attracts huge respect and appreciation. As matter of routine Odisha’s remote Kantabanji’s Sarika Jain naturally deserves all those pats. However Sarika’s case is bit different. She unlike other successful counter parts in civil service examination has something more special to be appreciated with. Not letting her disability come in the way of reaching her goals has become Sarika Jain's second nature. The polio
stricken Odisha woman has cleared the civil service examination in her first attempt.
“I am extremely happy about the result, though I expected a better rank”, was her first reaction as the result reached her.
As Organiser reached the unique achievement holder and wanted to know the secret behind her marvelous achievement, Jain said her foundation of success in life was laid down while as a student from pre-school to end of HSC in Sarawati Shishu Mandir in Odisha’s rural backyard Kantanabji in Bolangir district. Jain recounts as she was physically challenged due to polio in her early years, no school was willing to admit her in the institution. It was Saraswati Shishu Mandir authorities who gracefully accepted her and enrolled her in the pre school. Jain recounting her memory said she got right kind of teaching motivation and determination to take challenge of life.
Elaborating her early life experience while as a student in Saraswati Shishu Mandir she said the affection and encouragement of teachers set her ground for her future struggle ahead in pursuit knowledge. She learned discipline and sanskar (self cleansing) in her school and that worked till date. She also gave due share to her school and teachers for her success she has been boasted with. She interacted with Organiser on her physical disability front with 50 percent disability in leg. Recounting her early days when she started her preparation for civil service, she was discouraged as the preparation involves lot of hard work and pressure. Sarika says withstanding pressure she decided to give it a try with dedication and determination. She proved the old saying when there is a will there is a way. Her physical challenge was turned into advantage and her mental and moral power came in her rescue. It is not physical strength hard work, self-determination and focused approach and with absolute concentration on goal is secret behind her success. Her father, 58-year-old Sadhuram Jain, is an undergraduate and a small-time businessman who runs a grocery shop in the town. Her mother Santosh Devi is a school dropout and a homemaker.
“From the beginning my aim was not to be an IAS officer because the infrastructure (to prepare for the exam) was not available here. I wanted to become a doctor, but the science stream was not available in the local college,” she said adding that she studied commerce and obtained a bachelors degree from the local women's college. Later she pursued chartered accountancy, studying at home, and got qualified. That was when she decided she wanted to do something and chose to appear in the civil services examination. She went to Delhi in 2012 and received coaching at a private institute for six months. “My aim was to learn new things. For me, study means to learn from others and their experiences which helped a lot,” she said.
DATTOPANT THENGADI SCHEME FOR HANDLOOM AND HANDICRAFT ARTISANS BY GUJARAT GOVT.
Gujarat government has launched a new scheme “Dattopant Thengadi Karigar Vyaj Sahay Yojana” to help the handloom and handicraft artisans. The scheme has been named after veteran RSS Pracharak and founder of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Swadeshi Jagran Manch the late Dattopant Thengadi. Finance Minister Saurabh Patel announced the scheme that would help artisans and craftsmen, especially from Kutch to get loans up to Rs 1 lakh from banks. The Government would be guarantor for those loans. The scheme would benefit about 50,000 artisans in the State.
DHANWANTARI YATRA IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH
Dhanvantari Sewa Yatra, a service oriented programme comprising teams of doctors from all over India, visited Arunachal Pradesh onJune 30 to provide free allopathic treatment to the needy people. The week long Yatra starting from June 23 to 29 June, 2014 sponsored by National Medicos Organisation (NMO), a non-governmental social organisation comprising of thousands of service-oriented doctors, facilitated by Sewa Bharati Purbanchal was organised in Arunachal Pradesh by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Named after Rishi Dhanwantari, the father of Indian medical science, the Yatra is organised every year in the seven Northeastern states since 2002 without any break. In the current year 2014, after the completion of twelve long years, a special emphasis was attached to Arunachal with the Medical Tour comprising of four different teams of expert doctors and specialists covering Kurung Kume, West Kameng, Papum Pare and West Siang districts.
The Kurung Kume district was visited by a team of doctors that had Dr Biren Naik, MD, from Gujarat, and Dr Rishav Jaiswal and Dr Mrityunjay Sharma from Banaras. They covered Sarli including Siya Basti, Koloriang and Palin. The West Kameng was visited by Dr Satish Midhi, Dr Kamlesh Midhi and Dr Anurag Kashyap. The team visited five villages namely, Dahung, Singchung, Jamarai, Pedung and Wango, and attended more than 550 patients. Dr Prateek Aggarawal and Dr Deepak Chaurasia from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) visited Toru Hills, Kheel, Tigdo, Holongi and Balijan of Papum Pare district, while Dr Usha Rani, Dr Swati Lal and Dr Lalit Singh, doctors from Jharkhand visited Bogne and Kato villages of West Siang district and attended long queues of patients. The team of doctors from different states who had attended the week long camps urged the Government of Arunachal Pradesh to come forward with an open mind and encourage such kind of service-oriented voluntary organizations to come up with a better solution to meet the medical needs of the state.
CHENNAI SWAYAMSEVAKS IN BUILDING COLLAPSE RESCUE OPERATION
An under construction twin tower building ‘Trust Heights’ in Chennai’s Mugalivakkam area collapsed due to heavy rains on June 28 killing about two dozen people. The Sangh swayamsevaks reached the spot within an hour. Understanding seriousness of the situation, swayamsevaks from different areas were called for the rescue operation. Soon after, CMRL- L&T, AFCONS workers and engineers arrived at the spot with rescue equipments, the swayamsevaks started the rescue work at 8:00 pm. However, the NDRF reached the spot at 9:30 pm.
The workers, in various groups, were led by Zilla Sampark Pramukh Shri Sudharshan and Porur Nagar Karyavah Shri Vishnu Shankar. The first group cleared the path for rescue vehicles like crane, etc, the second group concentrated on immediate rescue of live victims who were trapped under the collapsed building. The third group provided hospitality for the rescuers and prevented public from the reaching the accident site. The fourth group coordinated the entire work and recorded the happenings of the rescue operation. A group of swayamsevaks from Kottivakkam supplied food and snacks to the rescuers. Women supplied water to them.
Rescuers, CMRL engineers, fire and rescue forces and the swayamsevaks worked together. About 50 swayamsevaks were involved in the rescue operations in which ten persons were rescued alive and 14 dead bodies were recovered immediately. Due to complications in reaching the shattered bodies, few dead bodies were not recovered immediately. Later, they were recovered using concrete drillers and cutters. Three victims were identified by the swayamsevaks by their vocal echoes. While rescuing them around 10 dead bodies were found at unreachable places. Three live victims were rescued with the help of CMRL engineers, fire and rescue officers.
KALYAN ASHRAM KARYAKARI MANDAL MEETING
Karyakari Mandal meeting of the Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram was held from June 25 to 26 at the ISCKON campus in Vishakhapatanam. The meeting was inaugurated by Kalyan Ashram president Shri Jagdeoram Oraon, vice presidents Shri Jaleshwar Brahma and Shri Kripa Prasad Singh. Organising secretary Shri Somaiyajulu and general secretary Shri Chandrakant Deo presented the financial report. Shri Atul Jog presented a brief report of programmes held within three months. It was decided to organise national conference of the workers in Hyderabad from September 17 to 22. A ‘Chintan Baithak’ will also be organised at Trambakeshwar in the third week of November 2014. The closing functions of Balasaheb Janma Shati Abhiyan will be organised on December 26, 2014 at different places in Vanvasi areas. Health camps will be organised in all the remote blocks like the previous year.
The annual training camp of Sewa Bharati Tamil Nadu concluded with an impressive public function at Korattur Vivekananda Vidyalaya in Chennai onMay 26. The trainees demonstrated various physical activities like yoga, Kollattam, Bhajans, games, etc. Shri Sai Sundar, an industrialist, while presiding over the function emphasised on collective strength, which is bigger than individual strength.
Shri HS Govinda, Kshetra Pracharak Pramukh, emphasised on sewa attitude and explained why a healthy society is required. He also explained what constituted sewa. He said sewa should not be driven by pity gains but should be viewed as a duty. When it is viewed in this manner, sewa becomes a duty. He said we must perform sewa with the objective that it should help the deprived section of the society. A total of 74 trainees attended the camp.
ABVKA SUPPORTS ROHTASGARH VANVASIS' REHAB DEMANDS
207 Families of Chero Tribe of Rohtas dist. of Bihar has no rehabilitation package and now they are bound to live without roof in these hot days and in coming rainy season. These families were displaced by Govt. of Bihar during implementation of Durgawati River Dam. Families were assured of housing and other rehabilitation facilities by the Govt. of Bihar. All families have been struggling for last five years for their rehabilitation. About 65 families of Badalgarh have been provided Indira Aawas but windows, doors and roofs have not yet been completed. Two hand pumps were provided to villagers which can fulfill only drinking water, leaving out their animal and Poultry needs.
Addressing a meeting on 8th June under a mango tree in the temperature of 48 degees Vice President of Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram Shri Kripa Prasad Singh and Zonal Organiser ( Jharkhand, Bihar, Nepal & U.P.) Shri Mahrang Oraon assured of Vanvasi brethren to fight upto its last stage for their rehabilitation .They assured them of utensils, mats & other essential materials to be provided from ABVKA. The persons who graced the occasion were Shri Raghuwansh Prasad Narayan, Dist. President and Vibhag Sangathan Mantri Shri Ram Nagina Pandey. They were assured that their complaint will be forwarded to the Govt. of Bihar and the President of India.
Second day, on 9th June leaders of ABVKA visited Athan village on Rohtasgarh hilltop. Five thousand vanvasi bretheren from 67 villages gathered to pay the tribute to vanvasi freedom fighters like Birsa Munda, Jatra Bhagat, Budhu Bir etc who fought for the rights of vanvasi bretheren of Bharat. ABVKA has been working in this area for last 10 years. Ashram workers are running 65 OTS ( One Teacher Schools), 30 Village Health Centers, 30 Eklabya Khelkud Prakalp, 18 Awareness Centres & 10 Women Empowerment Centres in this area. Very essential needs of the day like electricity, housing and drinking water facility are not available for the families on this hilltop. Thanks to forest officers who got success to preserve forest of this area despite all odds from last 10 years. Students of these families are getting education in the hostels of Kalyan Ashram such as Jashpur, Varanasi, Kanpur and Jharkhand. Sabita, Babita & Ashmani are few students of 10th class who participated in this meeting and requested Kalyan Ahram workers to think about the future of students like them.
Shri Doma Singh, Shri Chandru Oraon, Shri Rajesh Oraon, Shri Jhari Singh Kherwar and 18 other local tribal leaders participated in this meeting and requested Kalyan Ashram officials to take care of their families. It was decided to celebrate Rohtasgarh Utsav on 31st January and 1st February 2015 at Rohtasgarh fort.
SAMUHIK VIVAH: AN EXPERIMENT TO RESTORE SOCIAL HONOUR
In our country many brothers and sisters of our society are living below the poverty line. Lakhs of people are working in tea gardens in Assam, Tripura and Bengal, unfortunately still they are struggling hard to earn for daily bread. Many youths have dream to get married but due to poverty they could not afford such ceremonial rituals. So, many of them prefer to use short cut of Gandharva Vivah. But society does not give social status to such couples. Kalyan Ashram came forward to help such couples through Samuhik Vivah (Group Marriage). From last one decade Ashram has been conducting such marriages in Bengal and Assam, which gives the couple social status. Urban units of organization afford all the expenses and offer gifts to the couples.
On 25th May, Samuhik Vivah (Group Marriage) was conducted at Salibari near Siliguri of North Bengal where 101 couples got married. All the couples came along with their relatives and villagers with great enthusiasm. They wore traditional dresses. All the rituals were conducted with complete sanctity. After rituals couples visited temple and had blessings. All these couples got social status and honour. Everybody was happy and enjoyed delicious dinner. Such functions strengthen social fabric and accelerate the process of social harmony. Such programme was also organised at Guwahati, Assam where 19 couples got married.
THE TRENDSETTER: NEW DRIVERS OF DEVELOPMENT
The biggest drawback with the present model of development is that it has failed to ensure public participation in planning and execution of development projects. This is the reason majority of the projects fail to cater to the needs of the target audience. In order to change the situation and also to bring Bharatiya model of development in reality with active participation of people, Pune based YOJAK Centre for Research and Strategic Planning for Sustainable Development has come out with a unique idea, which can really reshape the destiny of villagers. With the help of some voluntary organisations in Central India’s Maharashtra and Gujarat regions it has created a band of educated youth who instead of migrating to cities for jobs owned the responsibility of developing their respective villages. During the last three years, YOJAK and its associated voluntary organisations have mobilised over 2,300 youths, mostly Vanvasis, to take up this challenge. The man leading this silent revolution is Dr Gajanan Dange, national president of YOJAK.
The Vanvasi region of Central India, beginning from Southern Gujarat to West Bengal, is among the highly underdeveloped regions. About three years back, YOJAK started a project, Madhya Bharat Vananchal Samriddhi Yojna, to change the development scenario in this region. Mobilising and empowering some voluntary organisations, it started studying the existed methods of development including their impact on natural resources. The second aspect of the study was how to take corrective steps that can meet the local needs. Third was implementation of the new sustainable approach. Following the ideals of Pandit Deendayalji, who said development should be based on janchetana (local conscience) and the government’s role should be of just a guide, motivator and supporter, YOJAK emphasised on this Bharatiya concept of development purely focusing on the needs and aspirations of the people of this region.
The model is being implemented with the help of voluntary organisations working on ground by mobilising local youths through Yuva Chetna Jagran Programmes. Before organising such programmes, the organisations' activists met local youth and motivated them to join the programme. During discussions they also tried to know what corrective steps they want in their areas. During the study it was found that majority of the educated youth want to stay in their respective villages, if provided better knowhow and help to live a meaningful life. In order to help the selected youth understand the whole concept, the first Yuva Chetna Jagran Programme was organised at Krishi Vigyan Kendra Nandurbar, Maharashtra, on October 1, 2013. The programme was held with the help of five organisations—Dr Hedgewar Sewa Samiti, Deendayal Vanvasi Sewa Sanstha, Eklavya Adivasi Sewa Sanstha, Bahuddeshiya Birsa Munda Adivasi Sewa Sanstha and Vanvasi Utkarsh Samiti. Prior to the programme, all these organisations had deeply studied Nandurbar region for several months.
A total of 1,500 youths had expressed their desire in writing to stay in their villages and sought guidance for taking up activities. Finally, 1,003 youths turned to the programme on their own expenses. They were first apprised of the work being done by the associated voluntary organisations. Then they were told that the problems which they find are basically the problems of all 6 lakh villages. In the third session they were apprised of the successful projects of rural development going on in their regions. They were also told about the availability of technology for resolving their problems. At a session they were administered an oath for taking up developmental activity in their villages. In the last session, their responsibility towards their villages and family was reintegrated through 'Kartavya Bodh'. The participants returned home with renewed vigour and hope.
Another similar function was held in Songarh in Tapi district of Southern Gujarat on March 13, 2014. Hosted by Dr Ambedkar Vanvasi Kalyan Trust, Surat, the function was supported by Dang Vikas Parishad, Sarvamangal Trust and Manasi Vikas Sanstha also. It was attended by 1,300 youth.
At both the events, an exhibition was organised highlighting the local knowhow. Basically, the instruments which can reduce the drudgery in farming activities were prominently displayed. The exhibition also displayed how the indigenous seeds can be preserved and used.
Both these events were also attended by some achievers who have done wonderful work for rural development. In Nandurbar, the villagers who stopped a river at 18 places and changed the farming system in the entire area were invited. Similarly, in Songarh a community representative who is managing forest based livelihood programme was invited. Many similar successful experiments were displayed before them.
After analysing the information provided by the youth during the events, YOJAK started work on providing them technological support through local partners. Every individual case is being studied by experts. If somebody is involved in cotton production, he has to be helped in that way. “Since the Kharif season is beginning from June we have started imparting them training as to how they can increase production. The work has begun at rapid pace,” points out Dr Dange.
“An army of 2,300 youths has already started fighting against the faulty model of development. They are serious to take it to new heights. They are visiting the projects already going on in their regions to have first hand and practical knowledge. In Nandurbar, the youths were apprised of the work being done in Baripada Village where the villagers preserved a forest of 1,100 acre. Now youths from eight villages have visited that village to see and study the work. This shows the post programme enthusiasm among these youths.
When asked how the idea of starting this experiment clicked, Dr Dange says: “While visiting village to village in central India during the last several years we realised that participation of people in present process of development is very less. It is due to the lack of ownership spirit among local people that the impact of majority projects is minimal. We met many officials who too are worried over it. Our overall objective is to increase the people's participation in development process.”
The experiment has given a new dimension to rural development process, where the people think they should not continue to depend upon the government agencies for resolving their issues rather they have to be drivers in development. This can go a long way in curbing migration from rural areas to cities in search of jobs.
ANOTHER SEWA PROJECT BY VHP DELHI
With the inspiration of VHP, the Bhagini Nivedita Sewa Nyas, started a sewa project, cutting-tailoring centre, in jhuggi clusters of Dwarka in West Delhi. Inaugurating the project, vice president of the VHP Delhi and general secretary of the Nyas Shri Mahavir Prasad Gupta said helping those who are deprived due to any reason is the responsibility of every well to do person of the society. He pointed out that the VHP already runs over 100 sewa projects in different parts of Delhi. These projects include health centres, cutting-tailoring centres, computer training centres, beauticians, bal sanskar kendras, etc. The new project was started at JJ Colony of B block in Dwarka sector 3. Shri Ram Bhagat Rajaura, noted social activist, presided over the function.
HAWKER TO HACKER – CRAKER, HARYANA BOY’S TECH DREAMS SOAR HIGH
Microsoft offers Virender Raika, son of a labourer, Rs 4.85-crore annual package for his extraordinary anti-hacking skills.
He is a golden boy who never had a silver spoon in his mouth. He had dreams, but no wings. Yet he flies high. Twenty-one-year-old Virender Raika, who worked as a hawker to fund his studies, has developed an extraordinary anti-hacking software which has earned him a plum job at Microsoft.
The whopping Rs 4.85 crore annual package offered by the software giant comes as an add-on for a lad who couldn’t go to the IIT — despite getting through the entrance — as he had no money.
Born in Pehowa village in Kurukshetra, Virender says the going was always tough for him. “After my father who works as a labourer fell sick, I had to take up the job of a hawker. I soon realised that the money won't suffice. So, I started giving Physics tuitions,” says the boy who was in Panchkula to interact with students.
A class X topper, Virender did part-time jobs to fund his Class 12 education. He qualified a scholarship entrance to study further and even got through the IIT, but couldn’t pursue it due to lack of funds.
Quiz him on his anti-hacking project and his eyes light up. “The idea to develop an anti-hacking system struck me while I was watching a movie. I saw a girl hacking into a system and then I thought why not develop a system that has a foolproof security. There are ways to hack into a system but no permanent way to secure it. So by working on various cyber theories, I made an anti-hacking system,” says the tech-wizard.
Virender gave a demo of his project through video-conferencing to a group of expert hackers at Microsoft’s office in Hyderabad. The Chief Financial officer of the Microsoft, Peter Klein, who was keenly observing the demo online, was so impressed by Virender’s skills that he offered him a job straightaway. The Haryana boy, who is pursing his BTech from IGNOU, has been told to join in November.
On his future plans, Virender says he wants to open his own company in India. “I want to do something for my country. We are so dependent on the US for technology. I want to turn the tide,” he says. Virender’s father Gyan Chand and mother Shinder still don’t know what exactly their son has developed. “We both are illiterate. We just know that Virender has got a job of 4.85 crore and companies from China and Japan are pursuing him,” says Gyan Chand.
Not letting her disability come in the way of reaching her goals has become Sarika Jain's second nature. The polio stricken Odisha woman has cleared the civil service examination in her first attempt, two years after qualifying the tough Chartered Accountancy exam.
Sarika , a differently abled girl from Kantabanji town in Odisha's Balangir district, has cleared the UPSC examination 2013 with a rank of 527 among the 1,122 candidates.
Jain, who was afflicted with polio in her right leg with 50% disability since the age of two despite taking polio drops, hails from Kantabanji, a small town in Balangir district, Odisha. Her father Sadhuram Jain is a small time trader of sanitary fittings.
Third among three sisters and a brother, Sarika studied in local Saraswati Sishu Mandir and later completed her bachelor's degree in commerce from Kantabanji Women's College
SCIENCE FAIR BY VIJNANA BHARATI, HYDERABAD
Hyderabad unit of Vijnana Bharati organised a science camp at Saraswati Sishu Mandir, Badangapet for children studying from 6th to 12th standard from May 16 to 18. The camp was inaugurated by Shri Syam Prasad, coordinator, Vijnana Bharati, Andhra Pradesh describing the essence of scientific temper within India throughout ages created totally different outlook near to the people and provided solutions to day to day problems. He stressed on the importance of developing scientific solutions to medical health care and looking at job creation. The students had the opportunity to experiment with more than 50 experiments on physical sciences. Focus was on learning by doing. The topics covered were sound, optics, magnetism, electronics and Thermodynamics. Many scientists working with DRDO, NGRI, IICT, Infosys also participated as resource persons.
Sewa International brings together Hindu Australians for the rehabilitation of Dev Bhoomi
On Saturday June 7thabout 500 people from Sydney’s Hindu community attended a fund raising Cultural Night event at Bowman Hall, Blacktown to help Hindu bandhus in Uttarakhand to rebuild their lives after the devastating floods last year. Leading music and dance artistes from the Bharatiya community in Australia also gave their valuable time and performed free for this charitable cause.
There was also a special guest who had flown in from India for the event who was none other than Shri Shyam Parande International Coordinator ,Sewa International. Shri Parande who is supervising the rehabilitation projects run by Sewa International in Uttarakhand was received and honoured at the function on behalf of the Hindu community by Shri Rajesh Venkataramaiah - President, Sewa Australia. Shri Parande who held the audience spellbound in his inspiring speech remarked that despite the total loss of livelihood, they had encountered, the affected people in Uttarakhand are still positive and in fact did not want any handouts but just opportunities for them to work hard and build new futures.
The program was actually a culmination of a year’s work starting from July 2013, when a number of volunteers from about 15 Hindu and Bharatiya organisations in Sydney grouped together and formed the Australian Uttarakhand Relief / Rehabilitation Fund (AURF) to raise funds to help the rehabilitation programme. This group was coordinated and brought together by Sewa International Australia.
The group made direct appeal for donations to the wider public, organised a Bhajan Sandhya (Devotional Music night) program at the ISSO Swamy Narayan Mandir in August 2013 and published a souvenir to raise funds from Sydney’s Bharatiya business community.
With the great community support in Sydney, AURF has raised close to $70,000 (approximately Rs 37.1 lakhs) which will be sent to Sewa International Bharat for the funding of a Computer Training Centre in Chandrapuri village to provide computer related job skills to youth.
The Hindu community in Australia have therefore adopted this centre in an example of direct action being taken by the community to help their brothers and sisters in Uttarakhand. The Hindu community in Australia is known for its diversity of views and multiplicity of organisations representing many different parts of the community, and so bringing 15 different organisations together was not easy.
However, a unique set of volunteers, drawn from these various organisations in conjunction with karyakarthas from Sewa International Australia worked in harmony and demonstrated true Sanghatan mein Shakti. Speaking at the function, Australian Member of Parliament and the shadow Parliamentary Secretary for immigration and foreign affairs Matt Thistlethwaite remarked on how the Bharatiya community in Australia was strengthening Australia’s overseas development and disaster relief objectives through such activities. He also remarked that the Hindu community through this initiative has brought the people of Australia and Bharat together for greater cooperation.
(Contributed by Anand Sundaresan- Karyavah, Sewa International Australia )
Why I adore Uttarakhand?
- Shyam Parande
The images of the horrific floods last year in Uttarakhand hang on our memory more than any other natural calamity. Everyone said this was simply irreparable. The severity of the floods and the images we witnessed on our TV screens will live with us and would be recalled whenever there is a flood. The floods killed more than 30000 people, property worth Crores was lost, businesses lost, not only crops but the rich farm lands were totally washed off, educational institutions washed away, whatever came in the way of the flooding waters was washed away, the loss looked unfathomable.
A question arises whether the human society can sustain through such natural calamity and still cling on to the place, the venue of disaster not even a year before? Yes, here is a society which has not only left the disaster behind but resolved to move ahead without a grumble, no grievance against the Himalayas or the rivers or not even the government which performed pathetically, or rather didn’t perform at all. Their faith in the Mother Ganga or Sri Kedarnath and Sri Badarinath remains impermeable. No place for a whimper. The number of pilgrims a year after has dwindled to almost minuscule as compared to earlier aggregate. We the progressive world, do not have the courage to take up the yatras or go up Himalayas, playing safe in our life, people in those villages which were affected last year have not given up the hope. Rather their buoyancy is experienced when one reaches out to them.
And what a resilient society is this, the loss and pain has been accepted without a whine. No one complaining about the losses, without a grumble or a grievance, the natural smile that we observed on every face welcoming us, was one that left us speechless. This is impossible, we said to ourselves. The spirit of Uttarakhand has not been lost rather it has levitated to Himalayan heights. This was amply experienced during the next couple of days of our travel through the state while talking to various people who were themselves flood affected. I humbly salute this courageous society for their resilience, their perseverance, their diligence against the toughest climatic and environmental challenges. They are the unsung heroes of real life facing toughest challenges through the din of the day & night. The society in general is deeply spiritual. They love and respect the environment and they have stronger faith and religious beliefs. They are at peace with the problems and challenges of the Himalayas. We realized that these are the strengths of this society which despite last year’s devastating floods, clinging to their smaller farmlands, tinier houses and high Himalayan ranges with those melodically flowing rivers, blooming flowers year around, chirping of the birds, and all that make life pleasant.
Why these people live here to face Himalayan challenges year after year, thinks every traveller, as one watches couple of houses or huts atop the hills. Cannot they come down to the plains and lead cosier life like us? That sounds logical to everyone but not to the Pahadi, as they are known, for facing challenges is their way of life. We interacted with different groups of people from different parts of the flood affected districts to understand their love and liking for the environment they are born into. Their respect for the nature is only to be experienced.
The first encounter with a local group of youth that had gathered for an informal interaction with us bowled me out clean with their zeal, enthusiasm, know-how of the traditionally available knowledge of Himalayan bio-sphere- environment and ecology. I could not stop myself from pulling out my notebook, wanting to note down every detail that the youth were sharing about the potential of the “Pahad”- the Himalayas. Agriculture, horticulture, spices, herbs, animals, birds and a whole lot of loads of information and know-how about the local potential products was gushing out from the group, making me look dwarf. I satiated myself with the experiences of the youth that were like living catalogues of knowledge. Amazing, I felt. Am I supposed to guide this group? Precisely I cannot, but I have to. Except for some experience and organizational skills I had very little to share with them. Rest is all available here despite the modern day challenges like transportation, technology & marketing, etc.
Interaction with locals was enough to generate enthusiasm. Like any other disaster, we were planning for counselling and now the challenge is do we need to! We came to the conclusion that the affected society has an indigenous method of counselling based on culture, tradition and of course the spirit. Their Bhakti and Shraddha are their strengths, while spiritualism is unique. Every one we interacted asking about the disaster was looking forward to better life, and to work harder to achieve that rather than being carping about their loss and inaction on part of government or whatever that might be. We trekked across the river Mandakini which we had to cross on a makeshift bridge to reach the village called Haat. The Panchayat President of this village Smt. Santosh, is a normal homemaker, very soft spoken and pleasant person. She is a graduate who manages her home as well as affairs of the village. The villager respects her for her simplicity and straight forward approach. She gets her children to assist her in cooking and offered us hot crispy Rotes- a local crunchy dish. She was open to ideas and shared all the information with the visitors without any inhibition. Her husband is also a graduate and is a taxi driver by profession. Smt. Santosh takes care of their family agriculture apart from village affairs and does not miss to harvest vegetables in kitchen garden.
Another lady that I should not miss mention is Smt. Baradevi, a born leader with meagre educational background. She runs a federation of all the Self Help Groups in Chandrapuri village and surrounding villages. Her self-confidence and dynamism are her strengths and she does not miss to assert that. She took over the dais to speak about her experiments in farming and everyone was enjoying her speech. We were surprised to note that she guides 191 Self Help Groups (SHGs) under the federation she leads. This federation implements the programs of World Bank. She manages to maintain all the registers and records for her federation with huge membership, including minutes of the meetings. This lady maintains properly organised registers and records, all the database of the members of the SHGs, facilitates loans from World Bank drawn schemes. She started her self Help Group with Rs.10 per day saving and now has grown to Rs.500/- per month. She has impeccable record of repaying the loans without failure. Villages of Uttarakhand still continue with age old practise of community living. Community cooking is normal during marriages and other family affairs. Temple festivals and other social gathering also are celebrated together and responsibilities are shared. However, women support each other during their health problems.
Another woman we met in Chandrapuri had to shift to the poly house in her farm as her house was washed away by the floods. In last 10 months or so, she has rebuilt her own house with whatever aid she received from the government and has shifted her family to the new house. She takes care of cattle at home while she has to care for her school going children. The women are indefatigable and work from morn till night without a pause. Besides all the hard work the womenfolk put in, wife beating is a common problem in all the villages. This is the saddest part of the story, I felt. The Pahadi society psychologically seems to be very stubborn because of the challenges they face in their day-to-day life. Their physical stamina and mental tenacity is worth appreciation. Health facility in the Himalayas is scarce and the paucity of Doctors is experienced all over, especially lady doctors are the rarest of all, women suffering more. Calcium and Iron deficiency is most common among the villagers and skin diseases are very common.
Education is of prime importance in every family and girls are a step ahead of boys in education. Despite the havoc last year no student has lost the academic year. Most of the youth we came across are graduates or post graduates and women are no way lagging behind in education despite scant educational facilities at their disposal and worst transportation available. Their positive approach towards education like Swami Vivekananda said, “Education is for gaining knowledge and not just for livelihood”, is being put to practice here in this state. We could observe that girls make up for more than 50% if number in every school that we interacted with. It was heartening to see that the last year’s disaster did not hamper the marriages and celebration was usual. Village community and relatives share the cost of weddings making it more joyful. It was quite refreshing to note that dowry is not a common practise here but the in-laws voluntarily might help the young to establish family. Joint families are preferred in the Himalayan ranges, it seems, at least more so in Uttarakhand and we did not come across a ‘nuclear’ family during this tour.
Modern junk food is making its impact on the life here with emergence of tourism as a major source of employment yet people have not lost the traditional food that is nutritionally loaded and best suited for the local climatic conditions and terrain. However, an effort to make the younger generation aware of the advantages and benefits of the locally grown food is essential. Spices and herbs are in abundance but society should not lose this in daily intake for enriching diet. We had a great treat with a family where the menu was– “Manduve ki rotee (close to Ragi), Lingode kee subzee, Gahath ki Daal (a cereal that is a little different from Toovar dal), Zigoure ki kheer (some kind close to Barley)”. Cooking this menu might have been laborious but it was a Pahadi treat in its best sense, rather also in tang & flavour. The natural “energy drink” made out of “Burans” flowers was as enticing as it can be and I would not miss an opportunity to sip it again.
This state Uttarakhand can be an organic development model for whole of the country with its unseasonal cash crops and rich horticulture, added to flora & fauna. The beauty of the high Himalayas is always alluring but the call of the Pahadi society is also appealing and fascinating with those smiles. The Pahad is calling and the Pahadis more!
Food For Thought:
Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.