Monday, September 8, 2014

Sewa Sandesh
August 2014
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.
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.
 —Suhasrao Hiremath
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 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.


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.
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