Monday, August 30, 2010

Sewa Sandesh 131: August 8, 2010

From Editor’s Desk
The catastrophe in Leh, Laddakh and the surrounding rural areas saw RSS swayamsevaks and Sewa volunteers rushing in for providing succour to the flash flood affected. The disaster in Leh and the villages around is difficult to contemplate, the terrain being rugged and air being thin. It is more than a fortnight and the govt agencies are yet to provide normal power, water supply and communications. A senior political leader like Shri L. K. Advani is on record asking his party Parliamentarians to donate at least Rs.10,000/- from their salaries to Sewa Bharti J & K.
Laddakh is sparsely populated area as compared to the rest of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and yet providing relief is a Himalayan task.
It is in this trying hour that we need to extend our hand and go a mile longer to help the flood affected people. SI invites donors and well wishers to join hands for providing relief to the flood affected population of this tough terrain.
Relief And Rehabilitation Efforts By Sewa Organisations on in Leh
Hundreds of people got killed and thousands are missing and numerous were injured in worst ever cloud bursts and flash floods in Leh which caused unprecedented destruction in the entire district in general and Leh town in particular on August 6. In these adverse conditions, volunteers of Sewa International, Sewa Bharati, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP) and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram started all-out rescue and relief operations. The leaders of all these organizations met the Dy Commissioner Leh, Chief Executive Councillor of LDHC and Brigadier Dutta of Army and submitted them written letters extending full support to relief and rescue operations. They appreciated the relief operation by all these organizations.
In the meantime, the Sewa Bharati J&K through its unit in Leh in association with the Ladakh Phande Tsongpa had already established a relief operation camp in Leh and is looking after
the nees of the affected people.
In Jammu, the Sewa Bharati organized an emergency meeting in which social workers of many organizations were present to chalk out the strategy to provide immediate relief to the victims of the disaster. All members paid homage to those who died in the disaster and formed a relief committee under the name of Ladakh Aapada Sahayata Samiti to assist the victims and affected families in Leh. Brig. (Retd.) Shri Suchet Singh has been unanimously elected president of the Samiti. Dr Kuldeep Gutpa is secretary and Shri Abay Pargal will be treasurer.
As an immediate measure, some cash donations were immediately transferred from Jammu to the group of sewa volunteers working in Leh. They purchased whatever relief material they could get from the nearby local markets and started distributing them. According to latest reports, a relief package of 2,000 blankets, a set of utensils for 500 families, 2,000 clothes and 500 shoes is on the way and will soon reach the calamity site. Some injured from Leh who have now arrived at Jammu are also being contacted by Sewa Bharati workers to provide them necessary help.
According to Shri Suchet singh on an average a family requires at least 4 quilts, 4 blankets and equal number of mattresses ,4 pillows and a big darri. All this material is necessary for high altitude places like Leh where the temperature goes below zero degree Celsius during winter months which start October, latest by early November. The approximate cost of these items works out to Rs 6,500 per family of four members. In clothing sweaters, warm shirts, inners, jeans/warm trousers, jackets are required. The average cost works out to around Rs 8,000. As regard to the utensils the minimum requirements are one pressure cooker of at least 5 liter capacity, 6 plates for lunch/dinner, 6 glasses, 6 katori, 2 patila wih lids, 2 buckets per family. The approximate cost works out to around Rs 2,000.
“The cost of constructing dwelling units comprising two rooms (one room 12X12 and the other one 12X15 including kitchen) in mud with tin roof will cost approximately Rs 2-2.25 lakh without labour component for which we intend to involve the beneficiary. The estimates are only tentative and may vary depending upon the requirements of the site. Similarly, the requirement is based on an assumption of four member family the factual position can be assessed only after the connectivity is restored”, Shri Suchet Singh added.
Sewa International
Aid Appeal For Cloudburst And Flash Floods In Leh (J&K)
CLOUDBURST, resulting into flash floods, triggered by sudden overnight heavy rain on the 6th August 2010, killing approximately 150 people as per latest report and over 500 people missing. Many people are still believed to be trapped under debris of buildings. Five villages – Nimmo, Basgo, Shapoo, Faing and Ney, apart from Choglamsar and Leh town have been very badly hit, where all communication systems, bus stands, Hospital and many other buildings have been washed away. Leh airport inundated with mud and water has been rendered non functional.
A distance of 150 kilometers – from Pang village on the Rohtang – Leh highway up to Nimoo on the Leh – Srinagar highway has been hit, hence the road connectivity to the city has been cut off from the rest of India.
SEWA INTERNATIONAL, started relief activities in association with local partner organization Sewa Bharati Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir from the early morning of August 6, 2010 by providing food and temporary shelter to the affected.
There is an urgent need to provide relief to the flood affected. SEWA INTERNATIONAL, Bharat, (a registered organization with FCRA facility) appeals whole heartedly the benevolent to help these unfortunate victims. Your support will help reduce the sufferings of these people in the flood affected area of Leh, Laddakh. Sewa International is constantly helping the flood victims to bring back their life to normal.
Laddakh is the region under J & K state and is predominantly Buddhist. SI has been serving the local community through computer training classes and supporting the construction of school and hostel building.
“Of all the righteous acts, help rendered to those needing it, is the most righteous.”
For further information please contact: Telephone: +91-11- 23232850, 23684445Fax: +91 11 2351 7722Email:,
Please send your generous donations to:
49, Deendayal Upadhyay Marg;
New Delhi – 110 002

From Untouchable to Businesswoman
PLENTY of people exchanging free hugs in Times Square last Sunday traveled a long way to reach New York, but it’s safe to say that few covered anything like the distances Kakuben Lalabhai Parmar had. This is not just a matter of mileage, although certainly it’s a hike from Madhutra, a rural village in the western Indian state of Gujarat, to 42nd Street.
At a practical level, Ms. Parmar’s trip required a series of unusual conveyances, among them a bullock cart, a trishaw, the flatbed of a Jeep and the open-topped shuttle bus she rode to reach an airport before boarding a form of transport she had seldom seen up close before, let alone ridden.
At a deeper cultural level, her journey is yet stranger and more wonderful, embodying as it does a half-century of global feminism and the evolutionary arc of modern India. In the cattle-herding community Ms. Parmar belongs to, one among a cluster of groups categorized by the Indian constitution as “scheduled castes,” women were traditionally bound not just to their region or village but to the home.
“My group was treated as untouchables,” said Ms. Parmar, 50. And if the community was untouchable, its female members were still more disadvantaged by being invisible. Married at 14, the mother of seven, Kakuben Lalabhai Parmar was well into adulthood before she came face-to-face with a man who was not a close relative.
Yet here she was in Midtown Manhattan last weekend, wrapping her arms around the strangers who gather there regularly to dispense affection, some of them understandably astonished at the apparition clad in a mirror-spangled skirt and a tie-dyed shawl, her throat and hands and arms lavishly adorned with the homemade tattoos that are a form of what Ms. Parmar termed “affordable beautification” in the far reaches of Gujarat.
And here she was, too, a businesswoman setting up shop at the Asia Society, where a group of artisans gathered for three days to sell their wares; and at CVS buying bargain shampoo and $1 hair ornaments for her five daughters; and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday morning, pointing out to this reporter that the cooking vessels of the 12th Dynasty of Egypt (from about 1800 B.C.) look exactly like the pots she uses to cook dal at home.
Not a lot seemed to faze her. She took in stride urban commotion, the assorted indignities of travel, the novelty of seat belts, in-flight movies and also elevators, escalators, yellow cabs, mattresses and the abundant forms so standard in life that could be unnerving to an illiterate whose signature is a print of her thumb.
“I already experienced the biggest change in my life,” she said, speaking a Gujarati dialect through an interpreter, “when I first got the chance to come out of my house and participate in society.”
Ms. Parmar’s moment of liberation came roughly 20 years ago, when the not-for-profit Sewa Project formed a unit in her village to help preserve endangered handicrafts and, equally, to provide the people who make them a form of alternative employment.
“We never even thought of getting income from selling this stuff before,” said Ms. Parmar, who sews patchwork embroideries that incorporate vivid threads and reflective shards laboriously cut by hand from mirror scrap she buys by the pound.
The cloth, at least, may be familiar to readers, since it is the kind used in the making of a slouchy “It” bag being hauled around this summer by Cameron Diaz, Nicole Richie and other celebrity entities.
The price tag on a satchel made from mirrored patchwork and bearing the label Simone Camille is about $2,000, a sum equivalent to two years of Ms. Parmar’s income. Yet even on the modest $60 a month she earns sewing pillow covers that require almost a week’s work and that sell in her local market for $15 a pair, she has become the family’s chief breadwinner. She holds title to her own cattle, has a personal account with a microfinance credit union and is quick to point out that while this may seem insignificant to a New Yorker accustomed to such symbols of Western wealth as reliable electricity and plumbing, it is considered a vast change in circumstance for a woman from rural India, even now.
“When I was a girl, all the assets belonged to the father or the husband or the brother,” Ms. Parmar said Friday. Squatting on the floor of the Asia Society’s grand marble lobby, she demonstrated her technique for cutting mirror shards into diamond, oval and triangular shapes and a pointed form called a “crow,” using the sharpened edge of a terra cotta roof tile. She multitasked ceaselessly, stopping to spread out pillow covers for one buyer’s approval, and explain the eye-dazzling motifs she uses to another, all the while keeping a sharp eye on the sales totals, eyeglasses perched at the tip of her nose.
“In those days, the husband was in charge of everything,” she explained to a visitor. “What could you do, with no skills and no education?”
Now as a globetrotter, an informal ambassador for Sewa and the Crafts Council of India — one of a growing number of groups committed to preserving traditional folkways in India, a country where, by some estimates, 40 million to 60 million people gain at least part of their living making handicrafts — she finds herself in circumstances she could never have foreseen.
She flies around the world on her own. She takes taxis. She shops at Walgreens and somehow manages to domesticate the experience of visiting a world-class museum like the Met by finding creative kinship there between her own utilitarian patchworks (“We never wasted a scrap of fabric,” she said) and a Malian mud cloth or a Sudanese tent divider embroidered with Venetian trade beads and cowrie shells. She proselytizes in an easy and natural way for the importance of educating women, getting them out of the house and into jobs.
Thanks to the work she does now, she says, with a high-pitched hoot, her role in family life inverts that played by the generations of women who came before her.
“Now that I have my own business and make my own money, my husband shows me respect,” Ms. Parmar said. There are even occasions, she said, when he helps her out with her accounts. “He’s my secretary,” she added with a laugh.
School Kit Drive By Seva Sahayog
Volunteers at Seva Sahayog come together every year to help provide brand new school kits to school going under privileged children. The aim is to bring smiles to these children as they take their next leap in learning. The beneficiaries have experienced the joy of having a new school bag, books, pencils and crayons on the first day of school. Sahayog hopes to create that moment of smile for the underprivileged children in the society.
Some facts regarding school kit drive are as follows:
• 10,000+ is the number of donors for school kit.
• 100 NGOs benefited from the drive.
• 150+ coordinators registered for the event.
• 100 companies empanelled for the drive.
• 600+ volunteers participated in assembly and distribution.
• In 2010, more than 26,000 school kits were collected.
· Spread over Six Sundays from 9 to 3 pm everyone 4 to 50 yr old had a task to assemble over 200,000 items for 20,000 school kits.
School Kit Drive By Youth for Seva ,Hyderabad.
• The first project taken up by YFS Hyderabad was the school kit drive.• It was designed in time for the start of the school year.
• A school kit consists of 1 school bag, 6 long note books, 1 com pass box, 2 pens and 20 labels.
• The kit was designed to prevent dropouts from schools due to financial constraints and lack of motivation to study further.
• The call for 'Gift a School Kit for Rs 250' was well received and funds for 2400 school kits were collected by YFS volun teers within 2 months.
• These kits were then distributed by the volunteers in various government schools across the city and rural areas of AP.
1. Nine years back, Shri S.S. Narayanan, a retired Assistant Executive Engineer of Madras Port Trust, found that Rs. 40,000 had accrued in his father Sankaranarayanan' s savings bank account, being the monthly Railway pension over the years. As all the sons and daughters of retired Station Master Sankaranaraynan were leading contended lives, and were looking after their parents Sankaranaraynan – Rukmini well, the father advised Narayanan, to use the amount in such away to benefit the needy in the society. Within a week, Narayanan and his siblings together added Rs 10,000 to it and donated the amount to Madhava Seva Samiti, which identified meritorious school going children of daily wage earners in Chetput, Chennai (Tamilnadu, Bharat); for the last eight years, the interest proceeds of the amount is awarded to nine such children in memory of Sankaranaraynan – Rukmini at functions organisd by Seva Bharati. This year the function saw two college students receiving similar awards, thanks to the thoughtful donation by Shri Sundar Nathan, a software professional working on E – learning projects in the US. He has instituted , on the advise of his mother Smt Saroja, a growing corpus in memory of his father late B.Viswanathan, a top business executive in his lifetime.
2. Vanshidhar project high school under Bhandra block at the Lohardaga-Ranchi road (Jharkhand, Bharat), comprises more than 700 girls in 6th to 10th standard. The double-storied school building earlier functioned from six rooms, including the office. ''Now it has nine rooms with three of them constructed with the guru dakshina of our students,'' said Meera Bakhla, principal of the school. ''Earlier we used to merge two or three sections to run classes in a single room but thanks to our students and their guardians who came forward for the noble cause,'' Meera Bakhla said. ''Parents of majority of girls are daily wage earners but their eagerness towards their children's education surprises us,'' said Muneshwar Mahto, Mathematics teacher of the school. More than 80 per cent of the students passed the Matriculation examination conducted by the Jharkhand Academic Council this year. It is to be noted that the district is infested by Naxal terrorism involving blasting of school buildings.
3. Shri Devinder Sharma is a food and trade policy analyst. He also chairs the New Delhi-based Forum for Biotechnology & Food Security. In 1999, he persuaded farmers of Punukula village in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh, Bharat, to go in for bio fertilizers. A few farmers began experimenting with Non-Pesticidal Management (NPM) practices. A year later, the highly contaminated environment began to change for the better. Soil and plant health looked revitalised, and the pests began to disappear. Such was the positive impact both environmentally and economically that by 2004 the entire village had stopped using chemical pesticides. Restoring the ecological balance brought back the natural pest control systems. Along with the pesticides, the pests too disappeared. Surrounding villages promptly emulated this. By now 3,18,000 farmers in 21 districts of Andhra Pradesh are using compost manure and earthworm to enrich the soil. The health of farmers greatly improved with the disappearance of pesticides. Cost of farming too fell by 35 percent. Farmers of Ramachandrapuram in Khammam district had been bogged down by debts as a result of use of chemical fertilizers. After they took to bio fertilizers, in just two years, 386 of them could redeem the lands they had mortgaged.
Courtesy: Panchaamritam

“The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all direction.”
- Chanakya

1 comment:

helle said...

It's interesting post. I liked it.