Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sewa Sandesh 128: May 8, 2010

From Editor’s Desk
Any selfless effort in Bharat will receive unconditional support from the Hindu society at large. We have a reason to reaffirm the above statement. Last summer, some youth decided that the Kshipra river flowing through the holy city of Ujjain needs some de-silting. The group decided that they would clean the river bed that summer for a length of close to 1 km. Every morning the youth started cleaning up the riverbed and remove the silt. To start with they were just a small group of 15-20. But soon, the watchers and morning walkers started joining hands. Crowbars and shovels came in, baskets and tractors came in, finance poured out of market, everyone joined hands to make this a people’s movement. Ultimately, the state government could not avoid funding without application.
The same exercise is being carried out this summer also in Ujjain, proving the point beyond doubt that charity is part of Hindu ethos.
Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra (VKK), Jharkhand Organises Gram Vikas Training Camp
Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra, Jharkhand organized a state level village development workshop from 18th March to 21st March at Lohardaga Centre, Jharkhand
29 karyakartas including 10 women from 15 districts of Jharkhand and 3 karyakartas from Purulia district of West Bengal participated in the event. Among them, 17 were block level (Mandal-Prakukhs) 4 district level, 5 divisional level and 3 state level karyakartas. Sri Ramji Oraon (full time karyakarta) who was trained at Devalapar Goshala near Nagpur gave the training in Panchgavya. National Vice President V.K.K. Ma. M. S. Purti, State Gram Vikas Pramukh Sri Raghav Rana, who looks after 599 SHGs, State Joint Organising Secretary Sri Satyendra Singh, guided the workers. The training programme was sponsored by NABARD, Jharkhand The Tide Trust of Mumbai has been supporting the SHG activities since the last two years.
Methods of preparing Vermi – compost (from cow dung), “Kamdhenu Ark” (from cow-urine), Malish oil, Keet-Niyantrak (pesticides), Danta Manjan (tooth powder) from cow dung were practically demonstrated. Shri Siddhanath Singh, Ma. Kshetra Sanghchalak of R.S.S. told about the methods of preparing Amrut Pani & Amrut Mitti. Speaking on the occasion, he said, “Farmers are the food giver like God but chemical fertilizers are poisoning their land”. At Patratu, he has started “Kalpataru Trust which prepares ladoos of Amalak, and Jam of raw Papaya. Sri raghav Rana demonstrated the preparation of tomato ketchup & told about Organic Farming.
Sri Chandra Sekhar Agrawal a retired engineer from HEC, Ranchi gave the information of installing small Gobar-gas plants & Solar heaters. The DDM of NABARD, Lohardaga, Sri Samrat Mukharjee provided the details of Kisan Club, SHG scheme & village development activities supported by NABARD. He also appreciated the work of Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra. Dr. Satyendra N. Nayak, HOD of Centre for Rural Development & Tech. of IIT, Delhi put forth the details of preparing Madhuka juice from fresh mahua flower through charts & Audio-Visual. He also distributed the samples of chocolate, powder, jam etc.
Mr. Morensingh Purti, who presided over the event, said, “Mixed farming & organic farming are not merely essential but also beneficial. Some bad habits of drinking which spoils the whole life is a challenging problem before us. Our work aims at transforming the lives of the vanvasis. The experiences shared by the trainees also support that.”
Kumari Roshini District Incharge of Women’s Activities of Lohardaga, conducted the function Sri Raghav Rana introduced the guests & Sri Suresh Lohra proposed the vote of thanks.
Sewa Sangam in Bengaluru –II
By Shyam Parande
How youth get the inspiration to serve instantaneously when they have an opportunity on hand? Without much search, I could understand the phenomenon during the Sewa Sangam. The band of youth which was taking care of the delegates-serving them the food, helping the delegates with whatever they need-had all the youth from the engineering college hostel, the venue of the Sewa Sangam.
Most of the NGOs look up to the national governments or international aid agencies to fund their projects. Apart from the governmental financial support, some of the NGOs raise funds through fund raisers, sales of the goods produced by the disadvantaged groups and services provided, and lastly through public donations. Everyone is aware that several governments of the developed countries are funding NGOs in the developing and underdeveloped countries.
The corporate sector has started investing good amount of funds through its Corporate Social Responsibility programmes for supporting the NGOs. To some extent this has come as a relief to the NGOs as national governments have started reducing on their funding to the NGOs. Ask any non-governmental organisation (NGO) about need of a volunteer and you can expect an affirmative answer in most of the cases. Volunteers contribute in a big way though through smaller tasks. Many tasks in the non-governmental sector do not call for a full time paid person. Every organisation seeks volunteers for such tasks and interface with the local community. Language is important to some extent but more than that it is the heart-to-heart relationship that volunteers easily build and connect the organisation with the local community. Familiarity with the local situation is also important apart from the grasp of local social traits. Simpler tasks are executed efficiently and economically by the volunteers. The more the volunteers, the better would be interaction with the beneficiary and local community.
Orienting, training and deploying volunteers is a considerable task for many and needs some sort of specialisation. It is always simpler to handle employed staff than handling volunteers. Professional staff fails to achieve the results sometimes that the well oriented and trained volunteers can achieve. Of course, the professional staff will fare better in many given situations and demeaning their importance can be avoided.
Not all people who work in the NGO sector are volunteers. Volunteers are not always philanthropic as some of them have their own benefits at the back of their mind while they serve. They bring immediate benefits to themselves as well as the community they serve, including skills, experience and contacts.
However, Youth for Seva in Bengaluru city or Seva Sahyog in Pune engaged only the volunteers who were out just for serving selflessly and did not expect even a certificate from the organisations they were engaged through. Hindu society has a splendid tradition of sewa and getting volunteers at a modest call is enough in reaping good response from the society, especially the youth. It is amazing to understand that girls are outnumbering boys if figured out among the young students and professionals.
Engaging large force of volunteers is where the Rashtriya Sewa Bharati (RSB) affiliates have an advantage. The funds available are spent mostly on the beneficiaries and less on the salaried staff in all these projects. However, there is a disadvantage where the weakness of these organisations is exposed sometimes. The volunteers do not match the schedules for the reporting as well as quality of the reports so produced through volunteers fails to match the one through the professionals, I feel.
How youth get the inspiration to serve instantaneously when they have an opportunity on hand? Without much search, I could understand the phenomenon during the Sewa Sangam. The band of youth who were taking care of the delegates, serving them the food, helping the delegates with whatever they need, were all from the Engineering College hostel, the venue of the Sewa Sangam, and had no exposure to the sewa activity or voluntary action earlier, I found out. This was spontaneous response from the students as they saw some other volunteers, who were part of the Youth for Seva programme, making arrangements for the delegates. The local students cooperated in the best way they could, including offering their own rooms for the delegates, shifting themselves to some friend’s room. Astounding, is it not?
Funding for NGOs
It is vital for any voluntary group to raise funds, particularly when these organisations are not trying to get funds from governments or international funding agencies. Most of their energy is utilised for raising funds and naturally the other part-effective implementation-is less taken care of.
Most of the NGOs look up to the national governments or international aid agencies to fund their projects. Apart from the governmental financial support, some of the NGOs raise funds through fund raisers, sales of the goods produced by the disadvantaged groups and services provided, and lastly through public donations. Everyone is aware that several governments of the developed countries are funding NGOs in the developing and underdeveloped countries.
Though these organisations are called non-governmental organisations meaning independent of the governments, most of the topmost international NGOs depend on the government funding heavily. The famous Christian relief and rehabilitation organisation, World Vision, receives goods worth millions of US$ for their projects while OXFAM, receives millions of US$ support from the British and EU governments. "Medicines without Frontiers" (Médecins Sans Frontières), the Nobel Prize winning NGO receives close to 50 per cent of their annual budget through various national governments, it is said.
Distinctly different : One needs to be very unambiguous here in comparing the voluntary bodies with the NGOs. Most of the above said NGOs spend at least 35-40 per cent of their budget on the administration while the voluntary organisations spend less than 10 per cent on administrative expenditure which speaks a great volume of the difference. It becomes essential here to state that the NGO sector has become a major sector for employment in some of the countries world over.
The corporate sector has started investing good amount of funds through their Corporate Social Responsibility programmes for supporting the NGOs. To some extent this has come as a relief to the NGOs as national governments have started reducing on their funding to the NGOs. Observers have also stated that the CSR funding is being utilised by the corporate companies to pre-empt the NGO run campaigns against some of the corporate companies. The logic here is simple, if the corporate is supporting an NGO, the NGOs will not work against the corporation. This logic similarly applies to the governmental funding and the supported NGOs. That is mutual interest being protected on both sides, biding a good-bye to the interest of the beneficiary society.
In many cases, monitoring and control is being utilised effectively by the funding agencies, be it governments, international aid agencies or corporations, in safeguarding their own interests to the extent of curbs on the NGOs or the beneficiaries, it is understood.
Paradigm shift
There is a paradigm shift when I tried to compare the above with the voluntary organisations attending the Sewa Sangam. During the valedictory session of the Sangam, Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi, Sarkaryavah of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, assured the conference that there would be no dearth of funding for sewa projects and that the society would support any creative activity worth it’s purpose provided they are done with a pure heart and mind. "Go out and seek the person, not just the money," he elaborated, "A person is more important than the money."
Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi further said that, "the numbers are important as RSB is serving the society through more than 1.5 lakh of programmes and projects but this alone is not important. More significant is the quality of the programmes and projects through which sewa is being offered. Qualitative growth of the karyakarta has to be improved for enhancing the quality of the sewa. One has to offer the best one can and not just whatever one offers is best."
Mahatma Gandhi had stated this very emphatically, saying, "It is the quality of work that pleases the Creator, not the quantity." This is something stirring. A volunteer has to improve on his own quality for providing quality service and this becomes an obligation for every volunteer.
The beneficiary can never be looked down and serving him can best be defined as serving the Divinity by serving his manifestation before one’s own eyes. Swami Vivekananda wants the youth of this country to serve the manifestation in a best way possible when he defines the beneficiary as Daridra Narayana.
Every delegate at the Sewa Sangam had a bagful of experiences to share as almost all of them had started as micro efforts in serving voluntarily and have grown into huge projects with large expanses. For every endeavour had a goal set before them, not just serving the society but to bring in metamorphosis in the society, the Parivartan-as it was all the time being talked about. "Sewa Sangam" was an earnest effort, I could understand, at bringing the Parivartan in the minds of all the beneficiaries, the volunteers and benefactors as well as the society around! (The writer is International Coordinator of Sewa International and has an experience of three decades in the voluntary sector. He can be contacted at shyamparande@gmail.com)
Inspiring Personality: Nanaji Deshmukh

Early childhood
Nanaji Deshmukh was born on October 11, 1916 in Kadoli, a small town in the Parbhani District of Maharashtra to Late Shri Amritrao Deshmukh and Late Shrimati Rajabai Amritrao Deshmukh.
Nanaji’s long and eventful career was full of strife and struggle. He lost his parents at an early age and was brought up by his maternal uncle.
His family had little money to pay for his tuition fees and books, but his keen desire to learn encouraged him to work as a vendor and sell vegetables to raise money to fund his education. He lived in temples and received a higher education at the Birla Institute in Pilani.
Though born in Maharashtra, the fields of his activities were Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Seeing his devotion, the then RSS Sarsanghchalak Shri Guruji sent him to Gorakhpur (U.P) as “Pracharak”. He rose to be the Saha Prant Pracharak of Uttar Pradesh.
Social work
After retirement from active politics Nanaji then served Deendayal Research Institute that he himself had established way back in 1969. He wanted Deendayal Research Institute to be devoted to strengthening the movement for constructive work in Bharat.
He did pioneering work towards the anti-poverty and minimum needs programme. Other areas of his work were agriculture and cottage industry, rural health and rural education. Nanaji assumed chairmanship of the institute after relinquishing politics and devoted all his time to building up the institute. He was also instrumental in carrying out social restructuring programme in over 500 villages of both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states of Bharat. He also published the journal “Manthan” (introspection) which was edited by K.R. Malkani for many years.
Nanaji did a lot of social work in Gonda and Beed — the most backward districts of U.P. and Maharashtra respectively. The motto of his project was: “Har hath ko denge kaam, har khet ko denge paanee”.
He finally settled down at the picturesque Chitrakoot, a holy place on the borders of U.P. and Madhya Pradesh. It was in 1969 that Nanaji Deshmukh visited Chitrakoot for the first time. He was moved to see the pathetic condition of the society in the karmabhoomi of Sri Ram the place where Ram spent 12 out of the 14 years in exile. He sat by the holy River Mandakini, and resolved to change the face of Chitrakoot during his life-time. While in exile, Lord Ram started working for the upliftment of the downtrodden here. With this important historical and inspiring background, Nanaji made Chitrakoot the centre of his social work.
He chose to serve the poorest among the poor. He used to remark jokingly that he admired Vanavasi Ram more than Raja Ram and so would like to spend the rest of his life in Chitrakoot among the vanavasis and most backward sections of the society. He kept his vow to his last breath.
He also established Chitarkoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya in Chitrakoot- Bharat's first Rural University and was its Chancellor.
Deendayal Research Institute (DRI)
Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) was founded in 1972 by Nanaji Deshmukh to validate the philosophy of Integral Humanism propounded by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya (1916–1968). Integral Humanism gives us a vision for Bharat that, with an approach to man and his relationship to society that is integral and complementary, could transform Bharat into a self-reliant and compassionate example for the world to follow.
Nanaji Deshmukh developed a model for the development of rural areas on the basis of Integral Humanism. After initial experiments in Gonda (U.P.) and Beed (Maharashtra), Nanaji finally fine-tuned an integrated program for the development of rural areas that covers health, hygiene, education, agriculture, income generation, conservation of resources, and social conscience, that is both sustainable and replicable. The basis of the project is 'Total transformation through total development with people's initiative and participation'.
The project, called the Chitrakoot Project or the 'Campaign for Self-Reliance', was launched on 26 January 2005 in 80 villages around the Chitrakoot area in the border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The aim was to achieve self reliance for these villages by 2005. When complete in 2010, the project hopes to make the 500 surrounding villages self-reliant and serve as a sustainable and replicable model for the Bharat and the world.
DRI has association with the following important institutions among others.
The Wadia Group, Apeejay Education Society (AES), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), India Development and Relief Fund (IDRF), Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology (MPCST), India Development Coalition of America (IDCA), Department of Elementary Education (DEE), The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Ayurveda Yoga & Naturopathy Unani Siddha and Homoeopathy(AYUSH) and Sewa International (SI).
Appreciation and recognition
He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1999.
Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has lavished praise on Nanaji Deshmukh and the organization started by him, the Deendayal Research Institute, for giving the nation the litigation-free model he had devised for resolving disputes. The then President said "In Chitrakoot, I met Nanaji Deshmukh and his team members belonging to the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI). DRI is a unique institution developing and implementing a village development model which is most suited for India,". "Apart from all the development activities, the institute is facilitating a cohesive, conflict-free society. As a result of this, I understand that the 80 villages around Chitrakoot are almost litigation-free". "The villagers have unanimously decided that no dispute will find its way to the courts.
The differences will be sorted out amicably in the village itself. The reason given by Nanaji Deshmukh is that if the people fight among each other, they have no time for development,". "I consider that this model may be propagated in many parts of the country by societal organisations, judicial organisations and governments," Kalam concluded.
Praising Nanaji Deshmukh for his single-minded devotion to the uplift of the people, Kalam said “What the octogenarian leader was doing at Chitrakoot should be an eye-opener for others.”
Mahaprayan : Nanaji died on 27 February 2010 at 4.45 p.m. the premises of Bharat’s first rural university, Chitrakoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya, that he established. He was unwell for some time due to age-related ailments and had refused to be taken to Delhi for treatment. He had willed that his body be donated to Dadhichi Dehdaan Sanstha of New Delhi which accepted and sent his body to All India Institute of Medical Sciences for medical research.
My Haiti Experience
— Vinayak Joshi
I am back from a very memorable volunteer work. Volunteering is not new for me as Sangh have taught that to me from childhood seeing Latur and Moravi physically. But Haiti brings a unique case with a combination of poverty, lack of inland commerce and infrastructure.
95% of homes in the town of Leogane are at ground zero level. People have all their life savings and after 20 years of settled life they will have to start from beginning. Worst than rich to rag stories. And on the top they have lost their loved ones.
During my visit I did see a lot of presence from UN soldiers and many of Indian soldiers representation. Hats off to them. We also have a Indian peace force in Port Au Prince. The tweeter minister had been there some time back !.
I was accompanied with my 2 daughters Saie (13) and Tanvi (17). Many have warned me against going to Haiti myself leave aside taking them due to security and psychological challenging conditions in Haiti. But this was exactly the reason for me to take them with me. Having them was very useful as we did conduct games , conduct family events and visited hospitals in Haiti. Saie and Tanvi played a crucial role in organizing get together session (can call it Shakha) and have lead the Bal Vibhag. It started with 10 kids and within short time reached to 150 kids and total upasthiti at 200 plus.
For that time families laughed, kids exhausted themselves competing for Rassikhesh and soccer like games. Everybody forgot the memories of past 2 months.
Along with this heart building activity we all participated in cleaning the city and rebuilding activities. While leaving my daughters felt that all their hearts were left in Haiti. Same was true with Haitian kids when we departed. The reality of life has made me insensitive to these events but I was also touched to see how soon we have crossed color, race and language barriers.
My 13 year old wrote – “I think I might have actually lost more than I gained on this trip to
Haiti. Firstly, I lost weight. I lost my pride. I lost my materialism. I erased the walls of a comfort zone. I became a humanitarian.”
My 17 year old who secured admission to GW College of medicine wrote – “Working in Haiti has further solidified my ambition to become a borderless physician.
‘We have, I think, developed an inferiority complex. I think what is needed in India today is the destruction of that defeatist spirit. We need a spirit of victory, a spirit that will carry us to our rightful place under the sun”. -- C.V. Raman