FIND US ONLINE
Scan this with your smartphone
Delhi No. F. 2 (S-45) Press/ 2016
SEWA FOR WOMEN
Sewa Page 4
Sulabh Page 1
She has risen from a menial life to even deliver an address at the United Nations
Alwar & Tonk Page 12
Aaranyak Page 22
Akshay Patra Page 20
CHARITY OF STARS
Unknown to many, stars do not just make money but are involved in charity too
Goonj Page 8
Pratham Page 6
Apne Aap Page 10
USHA, THE DAWN
The organisation brings financial empowerment to women from all walks of life
MKSS Page 14
Vol-1 | Issue-11 | March 05, 2017 | Price ` 5/-
Good News for Rising India
WALKING THE LAST MILE
They are the people who have founded and successfully running some of the best NGOs
ENDHIL MULLAINATHAN, the Robert C Waggoner, Professor of Economics at Harvard University, in his seminal TED talk, ‘Solving Social Problems with a Nudge’, talked about the pervasive ‘last mile problem’. He defined it as the minuscule yet obstinate, hard-to-bridge gap between a problem’s solution and its actual delivery to the real stakeholders. “We know how to reduce child deaths due to diarrhoea, how to prevent diabetes-related blindness and how to implement solar cell technology… yet somehow, we don’t or can’t. Why?” he asks. This has befuddled policymakers for too long. The all powerful Welfare State has found it difficult to cater to all
the social problems. One entity which has been quite successful in providing a systemic solution to the ‘last mile problem’ is the ubiquitous NGO. The current discourse around the role of NGOs is very positive. A discerning glance at their work and impact shows that they have successfully filled the vacuum where state machinery has failed. Sulabh Swachh Bharat has been positively documenting and highlighting the brilliant work being done by several NGOs across the country. We felt the need to broaden our horizon and decided to dedicate one whole issue to the NGOs which are creating their own niche in Indian ...Continued on Page 2
TRANSFORMING A MILLION LIVES
Sulabh in Hindi means ‘easily available’. Through its pioneering work spread over decades, Sulabh International is making loves easier to millions
S the sun rises up in the sky from behind a small hillock in Alwar, Lalita Devi picked up her basket and left for work. She went to each and every household in her colony. More than a decade ago, her job was to clean the toilets of every household and her basket was her
identity. But, today she is carrying packets of papad in a different basket, and delivering it to the houses as per the orders. These papads have been made by Lalita; she learned this at the Nai Disha centre of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation. Lalita says with a choked voice: “Earlier, these people would shift away from my path if I happened to be on their way. These
...Continued on Page 2
MARCH 05, 2017
...Continued from Page 1
...Continued from Page 1
WALKING THE LAST MILE
TRANSFORMING A MILLION LIVES
developmental space. We have systematise the NGOs under the broader landscape they function in and focused on the story of their growth over the years, bit by bit, brick by brick. Sulabh has today become synonymous with sanitation. But, behind the numerous Sulabh Sauchalayas one can see in the public spaces, lies the story of hard work, grit and determination. It has transformed the lives, and empowered thousands of underprivileged who have always been ignored by the society. Another organisation, which has relentlessly worked for the empowerment of the marginalised women, is SEWA (Self Employed Women’s Association). With a whopping nearly two million members, SEWA has uplifted thousands of families from poverty. When it comes to education, Pratham is a name to reckon with. It has singlehandedly altered the conversation around education from enrolment and access to quality and excellence. It has created a huge network of active foot soldiers who are passionate about the future of the education in the country.
are not just working in volume, but their model is also easily replicable Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, which terms itself as a ‘people’s organisation’ has given a voice to the voiceless people, whose rights are often trampled upon in the corridors of power. Another organisation which has done yeoman work at the ground level is Goonj. It has successfully created a bridge between the ‘haves’ and ‘havenots’, ensuring that the dignity of clothes and work is maintained. Goonj is not just tackling poverty; it is also ensuring the creation of sustainable development in the rural areas as per their local needs. Akshaypatra, which tackles the problem of ‘Roti, Kapda, Makaan’ trinity has showed that how a synergy between the solutions can be leveraged. With its vision ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’, Akshaypatra is serving the bottom-most decile of students. These organisations are not just working in volume, but their model is also easily replicable in any context. Right from identifying beneficiaries to setting up effective processes, these NGOs are playing an important role in shaping India’s destiny, by walking the last mile.
days, I am invited to their parties and functions and we share the dining table.” There are around 1.2 lakh scavengers, Balmikis as they are called, like Sunita who have been liberated and empowered by Sulabh. The great social revolution which Sulabh has brought traces its journey from an incident not known to many. It was the winter of 1949; our nation had been freed, politically, from British occupation. A 6-year old Brahman boy in Rampur Baghel village in Bihar’s Vaishali district was severely reprimanded by his grandmother. He was forced to swallow cow dung and urine and in the chilling cold, was made to bathe in Ganga water. His crime – he had touched a human being, a scavenger woman to be precise, who was considered untouchable as per social customs. The boy was too small to fathom what had transpired then, but the incident left a lasting impression in his mind. The boy was Dr Bindeshwar Pathak. Another incident with Dr Pathak changed his destiny and that of millions of others. A simple, ordinary looking boy, who can’t be distinguished from others in a crowd, was attacked by a raging bull. As he was lying there on the road, with blood dripping from his face, someone in the crowd pointed out that ‘he belongs to a scavenger family’. Lo and behold! Everyone in the crowd took a step back, putting humanity on the altar. Young Bindeshwar, who was at a nearby tea stall, came running to the victim. He along with a friend took the boy to the hospital, in his own lap, but it was too late. The boy succumbed to injuries in front of his eyes. Young Bindeshwar was aghast at the apathy of society at large and he resolved to change the status quo and end the abominable practice of disposing human excreta. BEGINNING OF A MOVEMENT The year 1967 turned out to be a metamorphic one in Dr Pathak’s life. On
Quick Glance Sulabh’s work has brought revolutionary changes in India Dr Bindeshwar Pathak has ensured that Gandhi’s dream come true Sulabh’s mission is to build an inclusive and empathetic society
the insistence of a Sarvodaya member Rajendra Lal Das, he spent three months in a colony of scavengers in Bettiah, Bihar. He wanted to experience firsthand their pain and understand the agony of their lives. In those times, it was unthinkable of a Brahman to take such a drastic step. But, Dr Pathak was, however, a man on a mission. He wasn’t a scientist per se, but the determination to change lives of millions made him invent ‘Two-Pit-Pour-Flush’ toilets, which were maintenance free and required no human intervention. This was an ingenious and revolutionary idea. One pit was used while the other was kept as stand-by, fully covered. In 2-3 years’ time, the covered pit would dry up; ridding itself of the pathogens and the remains can be used as fertiliser in the fields. This was in 1970. It took him three years of dogged persistence and persuasion to convince the authorities to use his model. It was in 1973, when Arrah Municipality sanctioned him Rs 500 to build two public toilets. The change was creeping in. In 1974, Bihar government recognised the brilliance of his idea and allotted more work to him. He conceptualised
He conceptualised the
idea of ‘Pay and Use’ public toilets, which was an alien concept at that point of time
the idea of ‘Pay and use’ public toilets, which was an alien concept at that point of time. And that is how Sulabh Shauchalay was born. The social and behavioural impacts of Dr Pathak’s ideas were many. It helped in progressing towards his childhood dream of eliminating manual scavenging from India. For the first time in Indian history, people started paying for using the toilets. Dr Pathak kept tweaking his innovation to make it more versatile. The biogas from the human excreta which used to go waste earlier was used as cooking gas and also to power street lights. This idea also met with a lot of resistance. But, the fighter spirit in him continued. Soon, other states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal started inviting him to pilot his innovation. His idea spanned across the border and spread to Nepal, Afghanistan and other countries. Not only this, Sulabh has also started training community members from more than a dozen African countries, who later constructed Sulabh toilets in their own communities and public spaces. Till now, 1.5 million bucket toilets in 1674 local bodies in 1733 cities/towns in 26 states and 4 Union Territories of India have been converted by Sulabh. The Sulabh toilets built in individual houses and public places are used by 20 million people daily. ROAD TO REHABILITATION Constructing human intervention-free toilets was half the battle won. The rescued scavengers need to have a definite source of living; else they would get dragged back into the same menial profession. For this purpose, many vocational training centres were started in Patna, Jhambul, New Delhi, etc. The one at Alwar, named Nai Disha, literally gave a new dimension to Sulabh’s efforts. The centre provided the liberated scavengers education and vocational training in different trades such as embroidery, beauty care, making eatables such as papad, noodles, etc., to make them self-employed. Financial independence elevated the social status of the erstwhile scavengers. Sulabh organized programmes for the ex-scavengers’ social interaction with the elite in society and took them to important places to mingle with the elites. The former Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the ex-President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil, and top Congress leader, Sonia Gandhi, everyone gave them audience. They were invited to the United Nations to participate in the Conference ‘Sanitation for Sustainable Development’. They even addressed the audience from the podium of the United Nations and participated in a Fashion Show ‘Mission Sanitation’ inside the UN building. This
MARCH 05, 2017
PROFILE DR BINDESHWAR PATHAK
There have been very few men in world who have not only changed the lives of people but also the course of history. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak is one of them
R BINDESHWAR PATHAK is a dynamic genius who has made path breaking contributions to society without the power of post or money. Social ills of untouchability had cemented its position so well in the society that it would have required super human efforts to uproot it. Dr Pathak didn’t leave any stone unturned to weed it out. Sulabh Founder is a trailblazer who combines in his multifaceted personality the traits of a social scientist, an engineer, an administrator and an institutionbuilder. What is remarkable is that he has ingeniously utilized all these talents to enrich and empower the depressed classes and improved community health, hygiene and environmental sanitation. Dr. Pathak is a great humanist and social reformer of contemporary India. An icon of sanitation
was indeed path breaking and transformed the way scavengers had always been seen in India. Sulabh replicated its efforts in Tonk as well. Dr Pathak could have stopped here, but his empathetic side can’t withstand any pain or sorrow. In one of its landmark order, Supreme Court of India had directed the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to contact Sulabh to find out whether they could come forward to help the suffering widows living in four Government shelters in Vrindavan. Sulabh took up this challenge and since 2012, it has been involved in their welfare work both in terms of financial help and in uplifting the general conditions of almost 800 widows. The widows are provided a monthly stipend of Rs. 2,000, along with medical and ambulance facilities. They are also given vocational training in garlandmaking, agarbatti-making, tailoring, etc., to make them self-reliant. The widows are also being taught English, Hindi and Bengali. To bring cheer and happiness in their lives, Sulabh has started celebrating the festivals of Holi, Durga Puja, Diwali and Christmas with them. Sulabh also takes them from time
and social reform, he has made a difference in the lives of millions of people. With his efforts the erstwhile untouchables have been allowed by the society to intermingle with them, to live on a par with them, dine with them and pray with them in the temples. He has created a new culture that embraces the poor and extols the dignity of labour. His boundless love for the downtrodden finds expression in myriad and tangible ways. No wonder those who know him swear that Dr. Pathak is born to help the helpless. Dr. Pathak is a winner of several national and international awards—Padma Bhushan from the Government of India (1991); the International Saint Francis Prize for Environment (1992); the Stockholm Water Prize by Stockholm International Water Institute (2009), the LEGENDE DE LA PLANETE Congres Fondateur Jeux Ecologiques at UNESCO, Paris; (2013). He has been selected by the Time magazine as one of the Heroes of the Environment. He is ranked by The Economist (November 2015) amongst the World’s Top 50 diversity figures in public life along with US President Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie and Bill Gates. He was also conferred WHO Public Health
Champion Award by WHO, “2016 Humanitarian Award’’ by The New York Global Leaders Dialogue. Mr. Bill De Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York, declared April 14, 2016 as DR. BINDESHWAR PATHAK DAY. Dr. Pathak has been selected as a Member of the Deen Dayal Upadhaya National Committee. Dr. Pathak has been appointed as Brand Ambassador of Swachh Rail Mission by Indian Railways on November 2, 2016, and has been honoured as a “Honorary Citizen of the French city of Montier” by the Mayor Jean Jacques Bayer held on November 19, 2016. Dr. Pathak has also been nominated as the Member of National Legal Services Authority. He is the recipient of Distinguished Engineer Award by Rocheston Accreditation Institute, New York. Very recently, he was honoured with the Golden Peacock Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Social Service and AIMA Public Service Excellence Award by All India Management Association. At times, great lives don’t just change few lives, their efforts change generations. When the history of modern world would be written, Dr Pathak’s name would always be there shining in bright letters.
has not only changed millions of lives, it has transformed the way sanitation is perceived to time on excursions to Delhi, Kolkata, Agra, etc. Last year, the widows met Prime Minister Modi and tied Rakhi on his wrist. Sulabh has provided hope to a section of society, which was the most ignored and least taken care of. Sulabh’s work has always been visionary in its approach. A dream of building an inclusive society starts in the classrooms. For the same reason, Sulabh started a school – Sulabh Public School in its premises in Delhi. Here, 60 per cent of the students are from the Dalit community and 40 per cent from other communities.
This English medium school is one of its kind where Dalit students get not only free quality education but also get all facilities, including books, uniforms, etc., free of cost. Here, the toilets are cleaned by the teachers and students themselves. Sulabh has also set up a School Sanitation Club. In this Club, apart from other activities, the schoolgirls are taught to make sanitary napkins using simple materials. The club has also installed a vending machine where sanitary napkins are available. Incinerators have also been installed where sanitary napkins are disposed of easily.
WATER WATER EVERYWHERE Sulabh has always followed a comprehensive approach towards nation building. It realised quite early in its work that technology is going to play an important role. Sulabh’s Effluent Treatment (SET) technology is a remarkable process developed by Dr Pathak. The water discharged from the biogas digester is treated through SET, which reduces the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) of the waste water. This is pure water containing phosphorus, nitrogen and potash and is a good nutrient to raise farm productivity. SET leads to onsite recycling of human excreta and is one of the best examples of sustainable development. For residents of Madusudankati, in West Bengal, groundwater was proving to be a silent killer as the arsenic was causing skin and several other diseases. Sulabh developed a ‘Purified Drinking Water’ technology which is treating the impure water from rivers, ponds, wells, water bodies and taps and making it potable. Sulabh has installed water treatment plants at six sites of West Bengal. Sulabh is bottling the purified water which is known as Sulabh Safe Drinking Water which is available for 50 paise per litre in West Bengal. CHANGING THE FACE OF SANITATION Sulabh’s work has not only changed millions of lives, it has done a seminal work in transforming the way sanitation is perceived. It has brought sanitation to the centrestage. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced from the ramparts of Red Fort in 2014 that India should be open defecation free by 2019, in line with Gandhi’s dream of a clean India. Sulabh Campus in New Delhi has a fascinating Museum of Toilets which is one of its kind in the world. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets has a rare collection of artefacts, pictures and objects detailing the historic evolution of toilets since 2500 BC. In tha past, many noteworthy personalities have visited Sulabh’s campus. These include Sweden’s former Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Her Royal Highness Princess Mathilde of Belgium, present US Ambassador to India, Richard Verma, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Rajmohan Gandhi, current BJP President Amit Shah, former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and very recently, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Art of Living. In the present Indian context, there are very few organisations which are working both inn depth and breadth of the social problems. Sulabh’s name stands out among these. It is a shining example of what a common man’s strong will and determination can do in transforming a million lives.
MARCH 05, 2017
WOMEN EMPOWERMENT SEWA
DOING A ‘SEWA’ OF WOMEN WORKERS
A lawyer by profession, Ela Bhatt has not only provided jobs to women workers in Gujarat but also gave them self-respect, job security, loan and health insurance as well, bringing about a total socio-economic change
Snapshots Ela started Sewa in December 1971 to provide a regular and better employment to women She started Sewa Bank to mobilise savings of women and provide them cheap loans Women are being trained in various skills and provided health care services
HE year was 1971. A group of women porters working in Ahmedabad’s cloth market went with their problems about housing and wages to the women’s wing of the Textile Labour Association (TLA) Union founded by Mahatma Gandhi. Unable to help them, Ela Bhatt, who headed the women’s wing at that time, approached the media with women porters’ problems. Through the media, she launched a vigorous campaign for higher wages to them. The association bargained with cloth merchants for better working conditions and aid for health and social issues for the family members of porters, many of whom were Dalits and from the most backward castes. Having succeeded in their first venture, Ela Bhatt decided to unite the
cloth porters and together they formed their own union – the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in December 1971. At that time it was part of the TLA. Gradually differences cropped up between the TLA and the women’s association and they decided to part ways. Soon, the women’s association emerged as a separate organisation which now has over 19 lakh members. Its members include milkmaids, vegetable vendors, fish sellers, or women earning from sewing and embroidery work. They constitute most marginalized sections of the
society because they are considered weaker and a liability since they have to tend to their homes, families and cattle. They can’t hire shops as rents are relatively high. Besides, high interest rates on loans don’t allow them to flourish. They rarely have cash to allow for lean days or emergencies like illness, wedding or death Ela Bhatt was born on September 7, 1933 in Ahmedabad. Like many of its citizens, her life too was influenced by Gandhian philosophy. Gandhi on his return from South Africa in 1915, had spent a major part of his life in Ahmedabad. He also set up the
Having succeeded in their first venture,
Ela Bhatt decided to unite the cloth porters and together they formed their own union - SEWA
Satyagraha Ashram here itself. Gandhi undertook his first fast (Satyagraha), for Ahmedabad’s textile workers. The second of three daughters of a High Court judge, Ela was more interested in social causes. She spent her childhood in Surat. Her mother, Vanalila Vyas, was active in the women’s movement. For some time, she was secretary of the Gujarat State branch of the All-India Women’s Conference, an organization founded in 1927 by a Ramon Magsaysay awardee, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay for promoting handicrafts and cooperatives. Ela’s maternal grandfather was a doctor and a Gandhian scholar having been jailed thrice during British Raj. While in college she was chosen as a volunteer during the first national census in 1951. This experience made a deep impression on her. Already influenced by the writings of Tolstoy, Gandhi, Vinoba and the Gandhian economist J.C. Kumarappa, the experience of seeing firsthand the dismal conditions in which the poor lived made her decide that she would devote her life to working for them. A further influence on her during those college days was a fellow student, Ramesh Bhatt, who was an active student leader and a follower of Gandhian ideals. Ramesh encouraged her to take up social work more vigorously and help out the poor and underprivileged. In 1956 Ela and Ramesh Bhatt were married. After receiving a master’s degree in economics Ramesh had joined the faculty of Gujarat Vidyapith National University
MARCH 05, 2017 in Ahmedabad. After taking up social service, Ela first united the unorganised workers of the textile units in Ahmedabad and Surat and the cloth merchants under Sewa’s umbrella. Within three years, the organization had enlisted over 5,000 members and was registered with the government as a trade union. Through this organisation, these self-employed women were in a position to protect each other from extortion by cops and musclemen. Ela and her colleagues found out that 97 per cent of the female workers of the unorganized sector lived in slums, 93 per cent were illiterate and on an average, had four children. Their monthly incomes in 1971 ranged from 50 rupees for the garment makers to 355 rupees for the vegetable vendors. Large numbers in each group were in debt. The reason for the high debt ratio of vegetable vendors was that 49 per cent rented their means of conveyance as did 46 per cent of the handcart pullers. Taking their children to the worksite was the practice of a large number of women. Among other common problems for these women were shortage of capital & raw materials, inadequacy of workplace and extremely high interest rates on money borrowed for daily rental of means of production or stock purchase. Bhatt, with the help of TLA president, Arvind Buch, undertook to organize these self-employed women into a union under the auspices of the Women’s Wing of the TLA. One of the first difficulties they encountered was in registering Sewa with the government. The government’s objection was that under the law, a union was only for those who worked for someone else. Since Sewa members were self-employed, the organization did not fall into that category. She, however, convinced the government that a union could exist for the economic development of its members as well as for protection against exploitation by the employers. The government reluctantly agreed and the union was registered in 1972 under the Trade Union Act of 1926. Although the modern textile industry in India is a century old, garment making is a new and growing trade and most garments are produced by a nonunionized sector of the labour force. Few garments are made in factories; rather they are made in the tiny shops of tailors and in thousands of homes. The women who are involved in this segment of the economy work in their homes and get paid on a piece rate basis. Most of them are below the age of 25 and are working to supplement the family income. Clothing made by them covers the entire spectrum: blouses, underwear, dresses, pants, skirts, trousers, suits,
shirts and the traditional sari, as well as bed and pillow covers. There is also a large scale business in used garments in Ahmedabad. The poorer segment of the population cannot afford to purchase new clothing and thus depends upon the enormous used garment business; a large number of people may never buy a new article of clothing during their entire lifetime. The women involved in the used garment business roam the streets, exchanging used clothing for household utensils of glass, steel or aluminium which they carry in baskets on their heads. Of these articles of clothing, the good ones are sold directly to merchants, the others are repaired by the women at home before selling them in the Sunday markets. Repairing is an art—by patching, darning, cutting, altering and dry cleaning, the look and value of the clothes is upgraded. Sewa, with the help of L.D.
Engineering College and the National Occupational Health Institute, has designed a cart which can alleviate some of the problems. One of the advantages of the new cart is that it avoids excessive strain on abdominal muscles. The new carts have extra space for carrying a baby underneath as well as a braking system. The distribution of vegetables, an important part of the daily diet in India, is also undertaken by women in Ahmedabad. Going from door to door around the city, into every nook and corner, women carry vegetable baskets on their heads or draw small carts piled high
After taking up
social service, Ela first united the unorganised sectior of textile factories and cloth merchants under Sewa PROFILE SEWA
PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF SEWA It emphasis on three aspects – job creation, job security and improved efficiency
EWA’S main target is to provide complete employment to women workers – meaning not only a job but food security and social security as well. Sewa inspires women workers to take up activities which make them self sustaining. It emphases on three aspects – job creation, job security and improved efficiency. The organisation also provides housing, saving and loan options and even insurance to its members. MEHSANA EXPERIMENT Sewa has presented several examples of bringing about systemic changes. In Gujarat’s Mehsana district for example it has initiated an agriculture cooperative called Vanlakshmi for landless Dalit women. Women of this cooperative collect water in ponds covered with plastic sheets so that water is available
for irrigation even during summers. They also run power tillers. WOMEN WATER PANCHAYAT Women of arid areas of Banaskantha district did not have land owning rights. They would have had to struggle to get the same for decades. But, ‘Women Water Panchayat’ formed by women labourers enabled them to have their own water and land. This also created changes in the social structure normally dominated by men. The biggest achievement was arresting the expansion of desertification by planting over 35 lakh trees. Local people who earlier had to migrate to earn a living, are now able to find jobs locally, thereby checking migration. The entire socio-economic scenario has changed and a self-sustaining efficient public system has been put in place for the betterment of their economic status.
with their produce. Like the cart pullers, the women are accompanied by their children. The union has had unprecedented success from the very beginning in attracting membership. By the end of 1975, only four years after its inception, there were 5,258 members, and one year later the membership had reached 9,000 in Ahmedabad, with some 2,000 members in a newly opened center in the handloom community of Bhavnagar. One of the problems faced by these women workers was their dependence on moneylenders who charged extremely high interest rates. Therefore, Sewa decided to provide loans to its members on easy rates by talking to banks. But strangely, banks were not prepared to deal with Sewa women because of their very appearance. These women were illiterate, rowdy, uncouth in manners and unaccustomed to business talk. They could not fill up the necessary forms and were often inconsistent in the use of names— sometimes using their husband’s name and sometimes their maiden name. In order to avoid these problems, Sewa staff decided to complete all the preliminary paperwork necessary for loans and to accompany the needy members when submitting the papers. In the following year, nationalized banks gave loans over Rs 15 lakh to about 3000 Sewa members. But this process was very tiresome. It was difficult for a staff member to accompany every member to the bank as the membership was growing rapidly and so were the loan applications. Soon, somebody suggested starting a bank of their own. Sewa decided to set up a women’s cooperative bank. The Sewa bank required a minimum investment of 10 rupees per member which was not too heavy on even the poorest members’ pockets. More difficult was getting signatures of 15 Sewa members to start the bank. The Staff members sat down with illiterate women teaching them to write their names. Finally 15 could scribble signatures and in July 1974, after a struggle with the government to convince officials of the bank’s viability, an official of the Gujarat government inaugurated the ‘Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank Limited’. Sewa now has four sections: Training, Production, Union and Research. Under the training division, women are taught sewing, embroidery, knitting, dollmaking, printing, radio-servicing and home help service. Most of these women are under the age of 25 and have not completed formal schooling. In production, women make handwoven cotton cloth garments to sell to male workers in union stores. They also have a number of educational, health and welfare programs for these women.
MARCH 05, 2017
A THOUSAND FIRST STEPS India’s political leadership points to our IT prowess to justify claims about India being a soft super power. What we need to ensure first is the basic educational abilities of millions of our children
Snapshots ‘Learning outcomes’ was irrelevant to Indian education system till a few years ago Today, going to school is not the basic paradigm, but the outcome of this endeavour Pratham, the educational NGO, has relentlessly fought to ensure ‘learning outcomes’
ECENTLY, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar pointed out ‘learning outcomes’ will become a part of the Right to Education Act by March this year. Towing the same line, National Council for Educational Research and Training sought feedback regarding a draft it has prepared on ‘learning outcomes’ for school children. The fancy word, ‘learning outcomes’ was an alien term in Indian educational paradigm until a decade ago. Today, one can’t ignore the clamour around this term; right from Parliament to NITI Aayog, everyone is talking about learning outcomes of our children. If there is one organisation which can take credit for bringing the national focus around the learning outcome, it has to be Pratham. Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report, commonly called ASER, started its first survey in 2005. Since then, every year it engages in the humongous task of understanding and tracking children’s ability to read and do basic arithmetic. In all its 12 reports, the latest one being ASER 2016, Pratham has comprehensively pointed out the poor learning outcomes in
Despite all the challenges, ASER has
established itself as the only reliable index of student learning in all these years Indian schools. The news headlines, ‘Every fourth student in India leaves Std 8 without basic reading skills’, ‘One in two Indian students can’t read books meant for three classes below’, etc, which often catches our attention are quoted from ASER. But, before it was able to make learning outcomes a national priority, Pratham has a long compelling history of working in the field of education. PRATHAM PAATH In 1994, UNICEF decided to try the concept of a Societal Mission in Bombay for achieving universal preprimary and primary education in the city by 2000. Pratham was established as Pratham Mumbai Initiative, a Public Charitable Trust by the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, UNICEF and several prominent citizens of the city with a basic seed funding of about Rs 600,000 per year. Dr Madhav Chavan and Farida
Lambay, founders of Pratham, had both worked with the National Literacy Mission and took up the UNICEF’s opportunity with zeal. Lambay had worked with 650 municipal schools in Mumbai and helped them to reduce their dropout rates. While Chavan’s modus operandi was about scale and breadth, Lambay was more focused on depth and intensive work. Together, they decided to start with 100 Balwadis (community preschools) in Mumbai slums. As Lambay remembers, “We said let’s start playschools first, let’s start something which is visible in the communities where the children can just come and play with the young girl who runs the balwadi. Don’t worry about her training; don’t worry about whether she has a Bachelor of Education degree. Where there is nothing, let’s start with the first step. We are known as ‘Pratham’ which is ‘first step’.” Between 1994 and 1997, Pratham
extended its operations to 4000 Balwadis in Mumbai. But, as the scale grew, it was finding it difficult to maintain the quality of its operations. Government’s renewed focus on Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme which included preschool children led to duplication of efforts. Hence, Pratham started withdrawing from the Balwadis; by 2005, it had only 423 Balwadis in its control. Many of the Balwadi workers and teachers were incorporated in the ICDS centre (Aanganwadis) and continued to play their part in early childhood development. Meanwhile, Pratham started shifting its focus to school system. It didn’t want to leave its legacy in early childhood care, so it also started early childhood education resource centers which trained women and adolescent girls in early childhood education and care. Pratham had realised that working at pre-school level in communities is just scratching the surface of the educational problem in India. It had witnessed out-of-school children and in-school children who were lagging behind academically and also were at the risk of dropping out. Many of these were first generation learners and therefore lacked the required learning support from their families. Pratham started working on enrolment of outof-school children in schools. It started with the bridge classes for these children. At the same time, it conceptualised ‘Balsakhi’ (child’s friend) program, where a local community volunteer worked with the school teacher for improving the literacy and numeracy levels of the kids in municipal schools.
MARCH 05, 2017
PROFILE DR MADHAV CHAVAN
SETTING LEARNING GOALS
A man’s chance encounter with the Education Secretary changed the whole educational landscape of India who were constantly engaged in debates and discussions. The streak of questioning everything became a habit for Chavan. Chavan obtained his doctorate in Chemistry from Ohio State University in the United States. He was a post-doctoral fellow and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the
“Unfortunately, today, a section of the society that gets good education does not directly feel the impact of education on the poor and large segment of the society. This is the primary reason why education does not become an electorally important issue.”
R Madhav Chavan comes across as a simple man with a simple mission – providing quality education to one and all. Many people call him an educationist while some term him a social activist as well. His father, Yashwant Chavan, was the founder of the Lenin-inspired ‘Lal Nishan Party’, a party working in close quarters with trade unions for the rights of workers. As a youth, Chavan was influenced by the communist way of thinking. His house was always surrounded by trade union leaders,
Both the programs were replicated across several states in the country. STUDENTS’ LEARNING Pratham’s work brought it closer to the grim reality of India’s education system. ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ had ensured a satisfactory enrolment rate in schools. However, no one would talk about how many students are attending the school and actually learning in the classrooms. One of the major issues which Pratham deciphered from the poor learning levels was the complete lack of interest in learning. Indian education system harped on orthodox teaching methods, which had killed the joy of learning in classrooms. That’s where it started innovating on teaching-learning methods, which relied on integrated process of learning. Professor Jalaluddin’s ‘Barakhadi’ chart was an innovative way for the non-readers to code and decode words. Pratham adapted it into its own form to create a series of tools for the children to get hooked to reading. Alphabet cards, paragraph cards, story cards were handed to the children which ignited the passion of stories in budding readers. For numeracy skills, Pratham relied on simple ways like match sticks, bundle of straws to create number sense among the children. Pratham’s
University of Houston, and things were going on quite smoothly for him there. The more he questioned about his life’s journey, the more he became sure of his need to return to India. He came back and was appointed Reader in Physical Chemistry at the University Department of Chemical Technology, University of Mumbai in 1987. In 1988, a teachers’ strike at the University, changed Chavan’s life forever. He wrote an impassioned letter to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi about the pathetic state of
intervention saw huge success in limited time and it saw an imperative need to scale this up. But, there was inertia among educators, policymakers and intellectuals to accept the newer teaching and learning methods. Pratham was grappling with the need to have a quantifiable statistic of
KEY FINDINGS OF ASER 2016 Class III students who can read simple English words
Class V students who can read Class II – level textbooks
Class VIII students who can do simple division
Students (6-14 years age group) enrolled in private schools
Girls aged between 11-14 years not enrolled in schools
education in the country. Chavan recalled, Something I had written in that letter caught his eye and I was invited to meet the Education Secretary of Government of India, Anil Bordia, who was heading the National Literacy Mission, which aimed at imparting functional literacy to 80 million Indians. During the meeting, Bordia asked me why I was talking about social change without participating in it. I remember him asking me the point of printing pamphlets, if the people for whom it was intended could not read it. It set me thinking”, reminisces Chavan. Chavan decided that his contribution in making India literate so that people did not need middlemen and could be empowered was the need of the hour. The government alone could not solve the problem of illiteracy, but if the citizens of the country worked hand in hand with the government, they could make a difference. In 1989, Chavan set up the Committee of Resource Organizations for literacy (CORO) in Mumbai to help the University of Mumbai in its efforts at adult literacy. Later, he founded Pratham along with Farida Lambay and hasn’t looked back since then.
student learning. Alas, there was none! When you need it, you innovate it – the need for reliable data on quality of education led Pratham to start ASER. The new education cess of 2% was an important factor for holding the government responsible for student learning. Pratham channelised its efforts to mobilise hundreds of volunteers across different villages and towns. Each volunteer was given training and resources to conduct the surveys and record student learning on quantifiable terms. This was no mean task and challenges were many. Chavan vividly remembers one incident, “A survey volunteer called and said that there was a board outside the village which read, “You will endanger your life if you come in.” He wanted to know if he should go in. He was told not to go. But the volunteer believed that he should go in since the village had been selected and he went in. It was a dacoits’ village. Thankfully they only complained to him about the fact that there were no schools in their village.” Despite all the challenges, ASER has established itself as the only source of student learning in all these years. ASER 2016 reached 17,473 villages of 589 rural districts of India, surveying more than 5.5 lakh children. This is humongous by any means. ASER
Pratham realised that
working at pre-school level in communities is just scratching the surface of the education problem reports have changed the discourse from access to Learning outcomes or lack of become synonymous with report.
policy quality. it, have ASER
EVERYONE CAN READ In July 2007, Pratham launched the Read India Campaign which aspired to help children between ages 6 and 14 within and outside the school system in India across all states in the country achieve reading and arithmetic proficiency. Pratham had mobilised almost 4.5 lakh volunteers who conducted numerous reading sessions across the country and helped teachers and students rejuvenate the joy of reading stories. Pratham’s streak of innovating teaching methods had made it launch Pratham Books in 2004 with a mission to see ‘a book in every child’s hand’. India is a land of stories, but these stories never became a part of mainstream education. That’s the reason we had to rely on Cinderella and Robinson Crusoe stories. Pratham wanted to change this. In the last decade, Pratham Books has published over 300 original titles in 18 Indian languages, which total up to about 2000 books. The stories are written by renowned authors and are very contextual for speedy children learning. Not only this, Pratham provided all these stories online under Creative Commons licenses on its website – Storyweaver. Anyone is free to use the stories, translate them, create new stories and use the illustrations available. Pratham books have reinvigorated the joy of reading in the kids. Saina, a 5th grader, who goes to Pratham’s Learning Centre in Sarai community of Delhi, says with twinkling eyes, “Sometimes, I even dream about the characters and I imagine myself to be in the same setting as the story”. It takes decades to change a policy paradigm, especially when it is as convoluted as education landscape. Pratham took a leap of faith two decades ago and has worked resolutely towards a purpose, long forgotten under years of ignorance and apathy. As the policymakers gear up to amend RTE, Pratham’s years of efforts have borne fruits.
MARCH 05, 2017
CLOTHED WITH DIGNITY
The mind-boggling sight of a small girl seeking warmth clinging to a dead body on a winter morning made Anshu Gupta realise that more than random disasters, lack of clothing kills people. Hence... Goonj!
Snapshots Anshu Gupta realised early that people do not die of cold, but for lack of warm cover Goonj started collecting clothes and turning them around so that they do not look frayed The clothes are distributed to villagers, not as charity but for the work that they do
EOPLE never die because of cold; they die due to the scarcity of cloth.” This line of NGO Goonj is enough to make you understand every aspect of it. Every year, it’s very common to get statistics of people dying in the winters due to the severe cold conditions. Many people succumb to the cold wave and news reports attribute these deaths to the unbearable cold. In reality, people never die due to cold but they die because of the scarcity of required clothing. If we talk about donating cloth by social workers to the poor and impoverished people, it is not a new thing at all. In our country when we donate something, we hardly care about the dignity of the recipient because we treat the donor on a higher pedestal than the receiver. There is an organisation which does not glorify the donor but takes care of the modesty of the needy. Goonj’s flagship program, ‘Cloth for Work’ is worth appreciation. It aptly says in its tag line, “We focus on
Goonj knows the pride of poor villagers and
hence does not just give them clothes as charity, but clothes for the work that they do the receiver’s dignity instead of donor’s pride”. BEGINNING OF GOONJ A few incidence in life decide the future course of events. Something similar happened with Anshu Gupta, the founder of Goonj. During his journalistic career, he got acquainted with an elder who worked in a mortuary. His job was to transport the unattended dead bodies on Delhi streets to the mortuary. While talking to his daughter, Anshu learnt that on many chilly nights, she sleeps hugging the dead bodies. There are two reasons behind it – first, it gives her the much-needed warmth and second, dead bodies don’t make noise. Her words shook up Anshu from inside and he started thinking about the basic needs of clothing, which was
ignored till now. Then he started working on his aim, the basic requirements of clothing. This brought Goonj into existence. Today Goonj is working on 3000 tonnes of material every year, and fulfilling the essential requirement of clothing, they also take care of the dignity of the receiver. Thousands of volunteers are working with Goonj at the ground level. CLOTH FOR WORK The work of Goonj is divided on the basis of rural or urban region. Anshu says, “This is not just all about collecting things from one and giving it to the needy one. In between the process of receiving and giving we make the stuff fit for use, then we pass it to the needy.” Under ‘Cloth for Work’, this organisation goes to the villages, discusses their
problems and then asks them to get involved in developmental work for the area. In lieu, thereof, the organsiation provides them with clothes and other required things. This is the beauty of this model that some of the problems of a specific area get solved and people get clothes and other required things. This maintains their dignity, as whatever they receive is a renumeration for their labour. Anshu himself says that villagers have great self respect; they never accept anything for free. This idea has really worked wonders and resultantly, many rural development works like bridge construction, well digging and roads have been completed. It is the objective of Goonj to meet the basic requirement of clothing with dignity. According to this organisation, in today’s developmental era we all concentrate on large issues, while ignoring the basic and fundamental needs. Clothing too comes in that list and it is very important to concentrate on it. Campaign like Cloth for Work (CWC), Not Just Piece of Cloth (NJPC) and Raahat are a few achievements.
MARCH 05, 2017
INTERVIEW ANSHU GUPTA
“How long will we live like cockroaches?” Anshu Gupta’s words may hit one very hard, but the gravity of his thoughts and ideas will leave you mesmerised. In a free-wheeling interview to ROBIN KESHAW, Gupta talks about Goonj and the concept of social work etc. Thus, people come together to work on their own problems with their own resources and then as reward, they get the material under CFW. Every year, more than 1,000 developmental activities are taken up by the village communities under CFW. People have built bamboo bridges, dug wells, made schools, repaired long stretches of roads, cleaned and revived waterbodies, taken up irrigation, plantation work and many such activities.
People still see Goonj as an organisation for cloth collection and distribution, but in reality Goonj is doing much more grassroot work in different parts of the country. Can you elaborate on some of your work for reader awareness? The work we do is divided in urban and rural India. In the cities, people take out all their underutilised material from their homes and give it to Goonj. We process that material with a lot of attention and care, to ensure that the person who gets this material should get what s/he needs, and also gets only wearable, usable material, not some trash. So that’s the first part of the process and that’s what most people in the cities get involved in. The second and the more challenging part is to connect with grassroot organisations across rural India, and do due diligence to ensure their credibility. These organisations then connect us to communities they work with and tell us about their needs. Normally, the material from the cities reaches slums or villages where it is not simply distributed as charity. Goonj feels that people in the villages really value their self-respect and dignity a lot, and that’s why when you give them material as charity, you end up taking away their dignity. Our flagship initiative Cloth for Work (CFW) is about asking the village communities about their problems, which they would like to work on. These problems are different at different places. Somewhere it could be water, or sanitation, schools, roads,
How do you go about bringing changes in the mindset of the people regarding your work? What are the main impediments you face? Changing mindsets is a slow and long drawn process, and Goonj has been working on this aspect for a little under two decades now. There have been a lot of perceptions and mindset changes which have happened over the last 18 years of our work. Establishing clothing as a basic but ignored need of the poor, treating winters as an annual avoidable disaster for the deprived, where our surplus cloth could come to use, this is what we do. We have been speaking to the masses about these issues consistently through various modes of communication, including the social media, website, awareness-cumcollection camps, communication leaflets, reports, speeches and lectures in India and abroad. The message over the years has been focused on these aspects. In times of disasters, we have constantly spoken to the masses about the do’s and don’ts. The result is that now people pay attention to our posts. For example, at the time of disasters, we see a lot more ‘mindful giving’, specific to what we have asked for. People have started to pay attention and make the time and effort for ‘mindful giving’.
delivered annually and more than 1,000 activities of rural development is just a miniscule percentage of the country’s demand and supply and the scale of the issues. Given this scenario, despite 18 years of work. I know that there is still a lot to achieve and our work will not be complete till more organizations across India and Asia replicate this as a gamechanging model. Almost everyone of us see such gutwrenching sights on a regular basis. But not everyone has that empathy that you had. What do you think is the reason for this apathy? Where has humanity lost in this hubbub? I personally put more faith in the day-today goodness of common people and the masses. I think people, despite their own shortcomings, make the effort to do some acts of kindness. I think we all have a desire to do some good but do not have the ecosystem to make it happen, and somewhere people need to understand that it is their responsibility. Doing good is not the responsibility of some individuals or organisations alone. It is a collective responsibility, and in a country like India, more efforts from the citizens are needed. And that’s what we are trying to do, asking people to take voluntary action and providing them some easy opportunities for the same.
Gupta feels that
everyone has an innate desire to do good to others but face a lack ofthe right ecosystem
You have talked about how the sight of a small girl seeking warmth from a dead body on a chilly winter morning changed your life forever and motivated you to value the importance of clothes, and hence Goonj came into being. What is it that still drives you today? The fact is that what Goonj does today – more than 1,000 tonnes of material
The youth of our country are showing active participation in the smooth functioning of society these days. You would have come across many of them. What do you think led to this awakening amongst them? I feel the youth of today is in a much better economic condition than our predecessors. In our parents’ time, the struggle was for basic existence and education of their family. There was not time for anything else. Today, these basics are much easier to procure; thus the attention has shifted to the quality of our lives and to our rights and duties. Besides, how long will you live or die like a cockroach? To live a dignified life and in a good, clean, well-managed country is ultimately in the hands of the citizens!
cleanliness, ‘My Pad Campaign’ makes sanitary napkins available to women belonging to the poorer section of society MY PAD CAMPAIGN Goonj’s ‘My Pad Campaign’ is worthy of a special kind of praise as well as respect. The menstrual period in a woman’s life is a process that society has labelled as a shame and an embarrassment. They have been taught to keep it under wraps and talking openly about it makes one guilty. The result is that women continue to work throughout the day despite suffering pains during this period. Even the sanitary napkins were sold hidden in black polythene. This subject was kept so secretive that women dealt with related requirements and difficulties on their own but never spoke about it. On the other hand, the price of the napkins available in the market is beyond the reach of poor women. Because of this, women from poorer sections of society were compelled to use dry cow dung, sand and similar unhygienic things. Goonj makes the sanitary napkins available to women in the poorer sections of society through this campaign. In this program, cleanliness is an important feature and special attention is paid to this need. FUTURE GOAL Goonj has several achievements in its journey so far. Anshu Gupta has been awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award and has received many other recognitions for his work. He, however, emphasises that a lot remains to be done, and the journey is still very long. So far, Goonj has spread its work to over 22 states and wants to further its mission so that the basic needs like clothes can be made available to all while keeping their self-respect intact.
10 Apne Aap
MARCH 05, 2017
HUMAN TRAFFICKING APNE AAP
“HATE THE SIN, NOT THE SINNER”
Human trafficking is considered a curse of society, but surprisingly, it is women who are forced into this inhuman trade who are punished, not the men who push them into this abyss. Ruchira Gupta believes the word should not be prostitution but ‘prostituted’. A peek into her organisation ‘Apne Aap’
Snapshots Ruchira Gupta’s Emmy awardwinning documentary triggered Apne AAP She believes women are forced into it are not criminals, those who push them are criminals Apne Aap does not merely liberate trafficked women but digs into the social iniquitous
world with no human trafficking’. Keeping this goal in mind, ‘Apne Aap’ has been working against human trafficking and flesh trade for the past two decades. This foundation of Ruchira Gupta is important in many ways. The ideology of this organisation compels us to open our minds against such inhuman activities. Trying to solve prostitution as a mere problem is fruitless; people generally avoid talking about these issues. As long as the social causes of this problem are not discussed openly, finding a solution is impossible. The available statistical data bears ample testimony to the fact that most
of the women engaged in prostitution belong to the SC, ST or are from poor background. Trying to find a solution per se by treating it as an usual problem is absolutely meaningless. Where ‘Apne Aap’ rescues the victims of human trafficking and makes every possible effort to give them a good life, it also reminds us of these dreadful social realities from time to time. While in the case of prostitution, the solutions
are only based on the victims, but the organisation ‘Apne Aap’ has a campaign called ‘Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex’. Although these women are the focus of attention, hardly anyone raises an accusing finger at the buyers, the men. This is also a very important factor which needs to be taken into account. The organisation’s approach is comprehensive, taking into account various factors of the problem. That is
Trying to solve prostitution just as a problem is useless so long as the social factors that lie behind this problem are not addressed
why they also work for women’s education and social upliftment, striving at the same time to provide them a dignified life. THE BEGINNING ‘Apne Aap’ was registered as a nongovernment organisation back in 2002 in Mumbai. But this idea took shape in Ruchira Gupta’s Emmy award-winning documentary, ‘The selling of Innocents’ which uncovered trafficking of women from Nepal. 22 women, who were the subject of this film, kick-started the idea, ‘A world with no human trafficking’. Their work gradually expanded and they formed self help groups in Bihar, West Bengal and Delhi. They established such centres at
MARCH 05, 2017 several places where these women can gather to access educational and career opportunities, and to discuss other issues. So far, Apne Aap has successfully managed to provide a dignified life to 21,000 women. WHAT ‘APNE AAP’ DOES As it is clear, Apne Aap works to rehabilitate the victims of human trafficking and prostitution. Since 2002, Apne Aap’ has formed nearly 150 self-help groups, in villages, slums, red light areas, brothels and other such areas. Interestingly, many of the women thus rescued and empowered by the organisation have now taken upon themselves the task of leading similar movements, working to help other women like themselves and raising their voices against this societal injustice in their respective areas. The ideology of ‘Apne Aap’ says that women in prostitution should be excluded from being treated as
RIVER OF FLESH Considering the work of Apne Aap this campaign of theirs should be specially highlighted because it is often argued
“Changing the society is a slow process” Ruchira is a feminist writer/ campaigner whose efforts have rescued numerous women from the clutches of prostitution and restored to a respectable life. It has helped in understanding the problem comprehensively
There have been talks from time to time to legalise prostitution, What do you think? See, first of all, I am altogether against the word ‘prostitution’ itself. Because as far as prostitution and law is concerned, the customers and pimps play the most part, hence they are the ones who should be seen as the culprits here. We are against the system of prostitution, not the prostitutes; we are against the ideology that cultivates this system. We want the government to look after the basic requirements of these women, like education and employment.
Yo u have mentioned that women belonging to marginalised and backward sections of society are the biggest victims of human trafficking. Would you like to explain? There is no doubt our social structure
criminals. Overall, the reach of Apne Aap is not just limited to help the rehabilitated sex workers, but work keeping all the other aspects of society in mind, and that is what makes their work even more comprehensive. Apne Aap strongly believes that people who profit from this kind of work are the only ones who should be branded criminals and prosecuted as per law. “Prostitution is not a choice but the absence of choice,” Gupta avers. No woman would choose prostitution of her own accord, but is compelled to take to this profession by the turn of events, with the society looking the other way. This is also one of the elementary thoughts that make their work all that special.
INTERVIEW RUCHIRA GUPTA
Changing the society’s take is a slow process. How do you see your organisation’s role in it? No doubt it’s a slow process, but campaigns and movements like these have a meaningful impact.
is divided into unequal sections which abets the rise of criminal tendencies in society. The inequality in caste system is one of them. It’s clear that prostitution is considered as a given in many sections of the society. So it is most certainly the result of a social ideology of inequality. And of course, most of the victims are from this particular section. As long as these factors are ignored, we won’t be able to reach the root cause of the problem.
I am an activist
and I can never be happy with my achievements. These give only temporary joy
There may be numerous such incidents but would you want to tell us about on specific incident or event that was rather difficult for you Yes. Recently we heard of a poor woman suffering from cancer in Bihar, who was prostituted by a hooligan for the past 25 years. The woman asked him to at least bear the medical expenses which he denied. She then came to us and we helped her. Later we found out that the man was harassing the woman, so she filed a police complaint against him. After the matter reached the panchayat, we realised that even the village elders in cahoots with the local police forced the woman to agree for a compromise, much against her will. All these incidents are very depressing, but our goal is to continue helping these women, and as far as challenges are concerned, they will keep coming. How satisfied are you with your success so far, and what are the possibilities? I am an activist, and being an activist I can never be happy with my achievements. Although the achievements may give you a momentary satisfaction, like the strict punishment for pimps in IPC’s Article 370. But there is a long journey ahead, but I will keep doing my job.
that prostitution should be legalised, since most of the time prostitution is believed to be the basic problem. However, people profiting from these activities always remain entirely untouched. This campaign is to show a mirror to them, because right now the men actually buying sex do not discuss this even with their close friends. Nowadays, when prostitution as a social problem is discussed, people benefiting from it should also be the focus of discussion. No one in society looks at a prostitute with decency or innocence, but they make no reference to the purveyors of sex. Ruchira Gupta recently wrote a book called ‘River of Flesh and Other Stories’ which is basically a collection of prostitution and human trafficking stories by Indian authors. It includes great authors like Kamleshwar, Amrita Pritam, Indira Goswami, Ismat Chughtai, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, JP Das, Kamala Das, Krishan Chander, Saadat Hasan Manto who have clearly shown a mirror to the society. As a line on the cover page of the book aptly puts it: ‘The Prostituted Woman in Indian Short Fiction’. The word ‘Prostituted’ here denotes that prostitution is not an option but a situation created for many women by our society at large. They have not accepted prostitution willingly but have been literally coerced into it. Apne Aap has decided to continue their work on their elementary goal of achieving a world with no human trafficking. It aims to increase the options and opportunities for women to live a dignified life and put an end to the abhorrent practice of women being victimised for profiting by human traffickers.
12 Alwar & Tonk TRIDIB RAMAN
HE sun is all set to sneak through the sky. Just around 170 kms from the capital city Delhi, lies the small historical city of Alwar which has not yet seen the first rays of daybreak. But one can discern the weariness before finally getting up. Usha, Nanda, Laxmi, Shakuntala, Lalita – you are also in deep sleep but alas, you have to get up quite early before daybreak and rush to work, leaving your children and husbands behind while they are still sleeping, with your scuttle and your broom as a manual scavenger – negating, negotiating and braving the attacks of stray dogs and grunting pigs, and go on to clean the human excreta with bare hands and disposing it off later. Yes, Usha, remember the moment when you were conferred as the President of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation by the United Nations Trusteeship Council. At that point of time you were overwhelmed with joy, but your pain overshadowed your joy when you recall those days when your job made you feel so dirty, you were called an untouchable and an outcaste, you lost your identity and your own self, it was just like your shadow following you. COWED DOWN This also finds mention in the ‘Narad Sanhita’ where on the basis of civilisation and culture, they have have been classified into 15 castes, and people like you have been placed on the lowest rung and termed as ‘pariah’, or a social outcaste. Before passing through the public places, you had to announce your arrival by tying a gong (bell) round your neck so that people can get away from your sight on hearing the sound. In case there was no bell , a broom was tied on the body. Slippers were not permitted to be worn, you were prohibited from taking rides in horse chariots. You were supposed to carry the uncovered scuttles(taslas) filled with human excreta & urine on your heads and one could imagine the pathetic sight if it rained , with the human excreta and urine overflowing your head and shoulders. When you returned, Alwar was awake, resounding to the ringing of temple bells. However, the need of the belly has kept awake the inhabitants of Hazuri Gate area, not knowing whether they will be able to get at least two square meals a day. The wages you get are not enough to run your livelihood. as every new day has a new meaning and many unanswered questions. You kept on cursing your stars, your creator and what not, until that day when you were elevated to a new level which you have never dared to dream
MARCH 05, 2017
LIBERATION ALWAR AND TONK
Usha : dawn of a revolution From the ignominy of collecting human excreta by hand and carrying the buckets on their heads, Usha represents the thousands of women liberated by Sulabh
Occasions like offering prayers at the
Vishwanath Temple or partaking of meals with the pundits of Kashi were worth noticing of. By the efforts of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the renowned Indian Sociologist who is the father founder of Sulabh International, many dalit women like Usha were freed from their dehumanizing act . To provide them education and employment, ‘Nai Disha’ a training center was opened in the Lajpat Nagar area of Alwar on 28th Apr 2003, followed by another one in the
Tonk city of Rajasthan. SULABH: STATUE OF LIBERTY The workers of Sulabh had to toil hard to convince your family members to send women like you to Nai Disha. As you were the sole bread earner of your family since your teens, your family had taken you for granted and literally compelled you to engage yourself in
this inhumane act of cleaning the human excreta and disposing it, for which you used to get a paltry amount of Rs 250/- to 300/- per month. Now with the inception of Nai Disha women like you are earning Rs 1,500/- initially, and thereafter Rs 1,800/-, with dignity. You would agree with me, Usha, that with the concerted efforts of Sulabh and Dr Pathak, your lives have been renewed and elevated to a higher level. You had been the puppets at the hands of your destiny, but now you and your friends with your tidy and strong hands are earning your livelihood in peace at Nai Disha by making poppadoms (papads), which spreads an enigmatic smile on the faces of your friends . All those people who till yesterday used to be afraid of even your shadow and of your touch are now eating the popadums, pickles, spices and other eatables made with those very hands. Today you are happy because of Nai Disha which has given you status, respect, peace and liberty which will be instrumental in bringing about a social transformation. Dr Pathak’s efforts have not only made you literate but also imparted training in stitching, embroidery, beauty parlour as well as ramp walk besides endowing with the necessary skills and the tricks of the trade to sell these products in the market as well. Many of the prime hotels and restaurants are your clients. Your friends have also set up beauty parlours during your exhibitions which have drawn large crowds. It was in the year 2008, that you were invited by the United Nations. You along with your 35 co-workers under the leadership of Dr Pathak, undertook a journey by air for 15 hours and reached United Nations HQ, New York where different models from different places flaunted the dresses designed by you and walked on the ramp. You also looked stunning and charismatic during the ceremony when the year 2008 was declared as the ‘International Year of Sanitation’. You had also visited the ‘Statue of Liberty’ to declare your freedom from the centuries’ old dehumanising act and have broken the chains of an age old tradition of an improper practice with a movement called ‘Sulabh’ and proudly proclaimed to the world that you are no longer an ‘untouchables’. HONOURING GANDHI On your return, when you along with Dr Pathak had called on the then Hon’ble President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, she remarked with pride that ‘This honour is not for you alone but to all the women like you, for our country India and for Mahatma Gandhi’. She also said in her address that ‘Mahatma Gandhi must be watching all this from heaven with tears in his eyes’.
MARCH 05, 2017
Alwar & Tonk
1. Usha with top model Indrani Das Gupta at the United Nations, New York, during the Mission Sanitation Walk 2. Usha with then President of India, Smt Pratibha Devi Singh Patil after returning from New York
3. Usha at the Gandhi Phoenix Ashram in Durban, South Africa, which she visited with Dr Bindeshwar Pathak 4. Usha welcoming Amit Shah, national president of BJP, at the Sulabh Campus during his visit 5. Usha with then Chief Justice of India T S Thakur
Recently you and your co-workers along with Dr Pathak and high caste people and priests have entered the Jagannath temple, the entry to which was prohibited for people like you till now. All of you worshipped for hours together and had lunch with these people in whose houses you used to clean the human excreta and were treated as outcastes. It has been the culmination of the earth and the sky into the horizon where in a split second, you have put an end to an abhorent age old tradition and practice thus emerging victorious by overturning the pages of history which in itself is a saga of confidence and self esteem. Usha, you were recently invited as a guest to a high profile wedding of a rich Brahmin family. You were honoured and held in high esteem and they had also accepted your gift with respect. What a transformation, Usha! This really was a new ray of hope and a dawn of a new beginning of a social
6. Usha welcoming Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual master and founder of the Art of Living
Keep on spreading the light like the wax of a candle which keeps on melting, in spite of all the complexities
revolution, whose seeds were sown by you. Be it receiving the award of ‘Safaigiri” from the hands of the hon’ble Prime Minister at a grand function in New Delhi, or welcoming the erstwhile Chief Justice, TS Thakur at the Sulabh Complex, or meeting the eminent spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the ‘Art of Living’ or explaining about your movement before BJP National President Amit Shah speaks volumes of your confidence and oratory skills. ALL DOORS OPEN Occasions like offering prayers at the Vishwanath temple or taking a dip in
the Ganga or your priorities of eating with the pundits of Kashi are worth recalling. You became a witness and an icon of this social movement and went on to pay your respects and homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Ashram , Durban, South Africa. You have been to many countries with Dr Pathak like France, America and the list is endless. You boldly expressed your thoughts and proved your mettle in the capacity of the President of Sulabh International. Usha, do you know the meaning of your name? It means ‘Dawn’. But your life has been a story of a never-ending night which has not seen the rays of the dawn.
Was it that easy to come out of this existence? Fearlessly wandering and challenging the light before dawn and braving the intentions as tall as the Himalayas with some new words, new definitions you struggled and have come a long way off. You have shed off the yoke of your past and have hung it on the hammock never to return again to the dreaded weary room. You owe your allegiance and respect to Dr Pathak for his assurance and help. Keep on spreading the light like the wax of a candle which keeps on melting in spite of all the complexities. Never let your morale down and keep on courageously proclaiming your message fearlessly be it Delhi or New York, ‘Thanks to Sulabh’, ‘Thanks to Dr Pathak’, whatever light has come your way, keeping your past as a witness and watching your present, welcome a new dawn with a ray of hope. Hail the Princess of Alwar for making the world a better place to live in.
MARCH 05, 2017
EQUALITY & SOCIAL CHANGE Even a small protest can lead to a great change across the nation if honest efforts, focused commitment and a will to change the society are there
Snapshots People empowerment is one of the most important tenets of a functional democracy MKSS has played a pivotal role in setting accountability in the systems of governance It fights for the rights and issues of the marginalised farmers and labourers
UKHIYA gets information about her ration card sitting at home in a small village of Rajasthan. Wangchuk doesn’t go to Delhi to get information from the PMO. He files an application from a remote village in northeast and within few days, he gets the required information. Now, people don’t have to shuttle to government offices for getting any type of information. All this has become possible because of the Right to Information Act. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) has played a pivotal role in the implementation of this act. RTI – A MILESTONE Until 12 years ago, it was a challenge to get information from government departments. But the campaign led by the devoted workers of MKSS and other social activists across the country made “right to know” possible. In the last decade only, due to the Right to Information (RTI) Act, several scams like Adarsh Housing Society, MNREGA, TET Scam in Haryana, Software Scam to the tune of Rs. 225 crore in Air India have come into the public domain. People asked questions and the replies led them to the roots of
What started as a protest movement
soon snowballed into a countrywide movement within a very short span of time corruption. Two decades ago, MKSS found it very difficult to continue the fight in the interest of labourers and farmers in the absence of important documents. According to Aruna Roy, founder of MKSS, ‘Macaulay’s
education system made us to only follow. This system never encouraged us to ask. We became silent spectators of the information that was provided to us. We have been treading on that path relentlessly. Even the governments in
independent India didn’t change it. The government officials of the British Raj proved a curse in free India as it was very difficult to get information from them. To overcome this challenge, we put forward the RTI and led demonstrations for it. This law has proved to be a milestone in changing the government structures, bringing more transparency in government departments and making democracy more meaningful. In 1987, a small protest started from Sonegarh, a village in Rajasthan, in which labourers and farmers were protesting for their rights. MKSS was spearheading this campaign. What started as a protest soon snowballed into a countrywide movement within a very short span of time. Initially the protesters’ demand was to empower farmers and to free them from the clutches of landlords (Zamindars). But within a few days, the core issues of the protest were changed. The new demands were centered on providing better job opportunities and fair wages for labourers. The contractors were exploiting laboures by paying half of the actual wages. The government officials and the contractors had colluded together to divert and misuse the fund allocations meant for labourers. MKSS strongly demanded for the job guarantee and fair wages for the labourers. Due to a strong natiowide protest by MKSS, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) came into existence in 2005. Labourers and daily wages across the country got 100 days job guarantee in a year. SOCIAL AUDIT Due to the rampant corruption in government offices, MKSS started to
MARCH 05, 2017
INTERVIEW NIKHIL DEY
“Ultimate aim is social change”
Nikhil Dey, one of the founding members of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan talks to Prasann Pranjal about MKSS’ birth, its popularity and areas of influence, its mission and future goals prompted us to think about the ‘right to know’. From this point, the demand for the RTI took a definite shape. We all collectively worked for it and its outstanding outcome is before us.
How did the idea of working for labourers and farmers came into being? The condition of farmers and labourers in Rajathan was very miserable three to four decades ago. In the Sonegarh region, a powerful landlord illegally possessed government land. In connivance with the Patwari, he had seized and hidden the possession letters of the land. He used to do whatever he wanted. To free villagers from the clutches of the landlord, we started a demonstration. After some time, in order to protect the rights of labourers and farmers of every region, I along with Aruna Roy and Shankar Singh founded Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan. The idea came from thousands of like- minded people and not from any individual. Common people formed this organization for equality and social justice. For the last three decades, this organization has been relentlessly working for equality, justice and right of labourers and farmers. Farmers got the possession of land and freed themselves from the clutches of landlords. For employment, NREGA was passed and implemented. It has provided employment to millions of people.
How did you take up the idea of the Right to Information while working with and for labourers and farmers? While fighting for the right of labourers and farmers at Sonegarh, we experienced a great deal of difficulty in procuring the required documents and information. Labourers were not getting even the minimum wages. Somewhere else, government officials were usurping the funds meant for them. Such sort of corrupt practices
demand social audit. In a financial audit, corrupt financial practices can be noticed. But a social audit can weed out the corrupt practices and make the officials more accountable. It was started at the Panchayat level by MKSS with the assistance from the government. It did social audit and made it public. According to Shankar Singh, the founder-member of MKSS, social hearing exercises a great power. One can tell a lie if one is talking with another person. But it is very difficult to provide false information before the public at large. This newly found procedure of social hearing and social audit has proved very successful. If we look into the protests and demonstrations of the last 50-60 years, it is very clear that they resulted due to
the unease and unrest of local population. The marginalized have contributed immensely to the campaigns and demonstrations aimed at social change, for instance protests for the welfare of dalits, women, labourers, farmers etc. MKSS came into existence out of these protests. Aruna Roy resigned from the IAS and made social service her aim. She went to Rajasthan in 1980. Shankar Singh also resigned from his job. He tried to make his points through puppets. He exposed corrupt practices and customs with the help of puppets. He came into the company of Aruna Roy. A 24-year-old young man also joined the company of 40 years old Aruna Roy and 32 years old Shankar Singh. This
MKSS never intended to form a political party and never wished to get financial assistance from the government
In your opinion, what role has MKSS played in social change? We have encouraged the society to march on the real path of progress. We have endeavoured to removed the false notions of development. Our whole team has worked unitedly for NREGA, RTI, social audit, education etc. We have been working for strengthening of medical facilities, making government more responsible and trying to stop unnecessary expenses in marriages and post-death rituals. We are constantly trying to build a sense of equality in society. The demonstration was started in a rural area but it led to a significant change across entire India. We don’t want to be in power. Social change is our motto.
practices will prevail in our oraganisation like other NGOs. People were pessimistic. But we worked with courage and commitment. In the initial days, we faced a lot of difficulties. But after the success of our two or three protests, people began to get associated with us. People often ask regarding the credibility of NGOs. What is your take on the rampant corruption in NGOs? There are some NGOs who have got a bad name due to corruption. But all NGOs are not corrupt. In fact, NGOs have become responsible to their financers instead of their areas of work. They should be responsible to the community. That’s why, we want to bring NGOs and political parties within the ambit of RTI Act.
Social change is your goal. What kind of difficulties you faced during the last three decades? In the beginning, people were raising questions with regard to our commitments and credibility. People were of the opinion that corrupt
What are your future plans? We get information from RTI. But there should be a law on accountability of those government officials who didn’t perform. This is our next goal. We are working for this. A 100-day journey was organized in Rajasthan. Our demonstration will continue until this law becomes a reality.
young man is Nikhil Dey who studied in the US and later studied Law in Delhi University. Nikhil Dey was determined to do something for the betterment of the society. He says that after the success in three or four instances, people noticed the power of the organization and began to associate with it. Started by only three people, this campaign became a people’s movement within no time. They made Devdungri in Rajsamand district as their place of action. The name of MKSS signifies that the organization wants to empower labourers and farmers. The organization has provided a new direction to the people belonging to Bhim, Devgarh and Kumbhalgarh tehsils under Rajsamand; Raipur tehsil under Pali, Mandal tehsil under Ajmer in particular and all the people of the state in general. The initiatives taken by MKSS for greenery and water conservation in Vijaypara in Rajasthan are invaluable. Nikhil Dey points out that common people
achieving significant success is another name of MKSS. People got empowered with the rights like the RTI Act, MNREGA and social audit. This organization is continuously working for abolishing improper practices and caste system of the society and for the betterment of education, health and environment conservation. The founder-member of this organization, Shankar Singh says that our struggle is going on. We have achieved only a little. We have to go very far. MKSS never intended to form a political party and never wished to get financial assistance from the government. So it was formed as an organization instead of an NGO. For the last three decades, this organization has set an example for other NGOs. It has never taken any government or institutional assistance. In this regard, Nikhil Dey says that we don’t allow government or private funds. That’s why we are able to raise our invoices against anyone. Our needs are limited so there is no corruption.
MARCH 05, 2017
“Every person must decide at some point, whether they will walk in light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?”
Martin Luther King Jr. , 1963
SHARAD GUPTA A journalist with 30 years experience of working with various publications
NGOs: HARBINGERS OF DEVELOPMENT Even as the Union Government mandated by the Supreme Court is scrutinising their financial health, Indian NGOs receive a shot in the arm in the form of a global study report
WITH TOILETS, RURAL WOMEN
NEED BATHROOMS TOO
There is a dire need to give a hard thought to women’s bathing spaces in rural areas
HE Union Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be lauded for having kick-started construction of toilets in each household – both in urban and rural India. The scheme is progressing at a rapid pace too, and one can hope to have an open-defecation free India sooner than later. Yet, there is one more issue related to rural hygiene which is stark, alarming and needs to be addressed immediately – over 90 per cent of households in rural India don’t have the luxury of having a covered bathroom. This compels the womenfolk to bathe in common pools in the open or in a pool at a distance from their village in water-scarce areas. The practice often puts women of lower castes, the mahadalits, at distress in villages inhabited by multiple castes and having only one pond. This is not only a cause of shame for women but is also unhygienic because of their reproductive cycle. They often don’t have a place to change clothes. In villages located on the banks of streams, women do get some privacy to change, but not on a pond and therefore, wash the soiled clothes along with other clothes. It is not the paucity of money only that has deprived women to have a decent private bath. It’s just that men don’t care about upholding the dignity of women. A survey conducted by Sanjiv Phansalkar, an IIM Ahmedabad fellow, on this issue has brought this fact to light. In some instances, men replied that there were certain hours – fixed for women’s bathing - when men won’t venture towards the pond. But, in most cases, the standard reply was – we never thought that this could be a problem for women. May be Modiji can think about it, and alongside Open Defecation Free villages, he should also launch an Open Bathing Free Drive.
KUMAR DILIP Edited, Printed and Published by: Monika Jain on behalf of Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation, owned by Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation Printed at: The Indian Express Limited A - 8, Sector -7, NOIDA (UP) Published at: RZ - 83, Mahavir Enclave, Palam - Dabri Road, New Delhi - 110045 (India) Corporate Office: 819, Wave Silver Tower, Sector - 18, NOIDA (UP) Phone: +91-120-6500425 Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
ON Government Organisations (NGOs) pitch in where government fails or lacks. Whether it is about water conservation, fighting pollution, helping physically challenged people or making deserts and mountains green, we always find NGOs outshining the government and its various departments. That is why NGOs should be treated more respectably than any government of the day. But, normally this is not the case always. Barring a few, recognition is but an exception for them. They keep working tirelessly, often facing financial and resource constraints, yet there is no appreciation of their contribution to the society. It is not only about recognition but also about how the society at large and the government specifically perceives them. And that is not music to the ears. Most of the people feel that NGOs are money spinning machines. This impression has been accentuated by a recent Supreme Court order directing the Union Government to undertake an audit of over 30 lakh NGOs operating in the country. Many of these outfits had received government funding but had failed to provide details of the expenditure. Not just that, the court asked the government to recover the funds from erring NGOs and initiate criminal action against them. The court order is based on reports that NGOs received grants worth over Rs 10 thousand crore from Union and State governments between 2002 and 2008. Yet, only about three lakh of these NGOs, or barely 10 per cent of total number of NGOs that benefitted from this government largesse, filed their balance sheets or presented their
expenses to the governments concerned. Auditing 30 lakh NGOs’ accounts indeed is a humongous task. More so, because as per court orders it has to be completed by March 31. Therefore, it is very likely that the court will have to extend the deadline. But a start has to be made, given that several of the NGOs and voluntary organisations are not just financially indisciplined but also that their activities are dubious and not in keeping with the purpose they have officially stated. The court’s ire is understandable. Even if the erring NGOs are a minority, yet the funds being misused by them belong to the common man, which reaches these NGOs through government grants. Every citizen has a right to know how is his money being used whether by the government, or its agencies or by the NGOs who received it from the government. Much before the court order, the Union government had proposed new rules which made it compulsory for banks to report every single transaction made by foreign-funded NGOs within 48 hours to the Home Ministry. The rules also made it mandatory for NGOs to pledge that the money it receives would not be used to promote causes that were in conflict with
tightens Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to keep a check on some NGOs’ activities
MARCH 05, 2017
Supreme Court has
ordered the Union Government to audit the accounts of 30 lakh NGOs on financials the country’s interests or compromised national security or scientific or economic interests. The study concluded that NGOs in India are working so efficiently that they are being seen as examples across the world. The study further reveals that about 80% of these fast-growing organisations have been seeking to collaborate with the government to reach out to the socially and economically challenged population. The study by the Bridgespan Group was recently published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The study, at the same time, also found that nonprofit organisations in India face lots of problems in setting up and even more in trying to scale up, while searching for resources. About 80 per cent of NGOs examined had an inclination to collaborate with government institutions. They seek either to fill gaps in existing programmes, like Akshaya Patra’s, which provides midday meals to school children, or to spur innovation, for example Agastya’s learning programmes in science, technology, engineering and maths delivered to government schools by van or motorcycle When thinking about their own impact as a fraction, the NGOs often remain focused on addressing the total size of the need, rather than on perfecting a solution that serves relatively few. Many of India’s nonprofit organisations focus on preserving an individual’s dignity, in an effort to avoid reducing and compartmentalising the human experience into numbers on a spreadsheet. The study also found that many NGOs remained focused not only on optimising their performance but also on reducing costs. They optimise operational expenses and rein in capital expenditure, while at the same time ensuring that their core area of work and innovation isn’t starved of funds. The Indian NGOs are not only performing extremely well but also setting an example for NGOs in foreign shores. The US NGO, College Summit is an example. It helps low-income youth gain access to college and postsecondary degrees. The NGO recently lowered the cost of its programmes through technology. It is high time that we as a society, come together and lift not only the morale of the NGOs but also their image.
The author is a graduate in Computer Science from BITS, Pilani. He is presently helping to settle a migrant community, focusing on their education needs
ECENTLY, I was in Pilani to train the school teachers on the ‘Joy of Scientific Learning’. I was demonstrating a science lesson in a classroom through an activity of magnet and iron filings. After the activity, this tiny, bubbly girl Anvesha stood up. “If we are able to induce charge in the waste materials and garbage, we will be able to attract them through magnetic force. Then, we won’t need human intervention in this menial work,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes. Anvesha is in 6th grade and wants to become a scientist. ISRO’s recent historic feat of sending a record 104 satellites in a single rocket has brought the limelight on science in India. Despite producing geniuses like CV Raman (National Science Day is celebrated to mark the discovery of Raman Effect on February 28), Vikram Sarabhai, Homi Bhabha, et al, scientific research and innovation couldn’t catch the fancy of an average Indian. We have had a dismal record of discoveries and
LET’S NOT KILL THE CURIOSITY
Science in our classroom is treated as just another subject. There is an urgent need to start seeing it as a an exciting way of thinking inventions despite being a nation of talented individuals. When I juxtaposed this fact with what Anvesha had told me, it confused me. A child’s innate nature is to be inquisitive. S/he wants to know about everything which the world has to offer. Unfortunately, our social and
educational space kills the curiosity in the child and makes him a part of the rat race. In our classrooms, the pressure to finish the syllabus and score good marks sucks out the scientific spirit and joy of learning. As a result, we have surprisingly few individuals opting for scientific research as their careers. If there is one place where the push for scientific thinking has to begin, it has to be our classrooms. School curriculum should be flexible enough to give suitable space to scientific inquiry and innovation. Instead of the standardised assessments, the scientific temperament of the children should be assessed on their scientific skills like observations, making hypotheses, collecting and analysing data, problem solving and drawing inferences. Our science teachers need to be trained properly to impart these skills to their students and fuel their curiosity. India has all the ingredients to become a scientific super power; it just needs the right efforts.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR as well. My next trip to Shimla will now be scheduled in July! Adil, Baramulla, Jammu BRAVE WOMEN Thank you for the piece on the brave women. Hats off to the ladies who have risen from the horror of acid attacks. They have left back their personal tragedies and defeated both their tormentors as well as fear of society Their courage will instil hope in many people who are fighting to conquer a tragic turn in life. We need to know more about such real-life stories. Joel, Kerala GREAT SHIMLA The article ‘Evergreen Shimla’ has greatly improved my impression of the place. It is an informative piece. For instance, the beauties of lesser known areas like Summer Hill and Fagu now seem as attractive as the glamour of the Mall Road. Though I had visited Potter hill, I did not know it was called so because of its special soil. I also liked the information that Shimla looks great during monsoons
HIMALAYAN WONDER I was under the impression that except for apples and tomatoes, there is not much food cultivation in the Himalayas. The article on the efforts in Ladakh to get water for cultivation in the region was therefore very informative. It is good to know the beautiful state does not want to depend upon the plains for good edible stuff. Amber Singh, Gorakhpur
DRIVING APPS Liked the article on ‘Apps to aid drivers’ psyche’. It is true that people work all day and are at times in no position or mood to drive back home. This might lead to accidents and frayed tempers It would be good to have more such apps that make life easier for the overworked. Thanks for the informative piece. Lalit Singhal, Rohtak FOREST MAN’S COURAGE The report on Jadav Peyang was amazing. How could he dare to have such a dream, which goes against all the habits of humans to look upon forests and trees as resources, as things to be used, not matter what the effect of that conspumptive habit is on the earth, on its climate and on the next few generations? Jadav Peyang goes beyond applause. We need to adulate him, and it is a shame that barring a few like him, there are less than a handful who care for the earth and the future of our sustainable existence. Roshan Khan, Hyderabad
Please mail your opinion to - email@example.com or Whatsapp at 9868807712
18 Photo Feature
MARCH 05, 2017
A Unique Museum The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets at the Sulabh Gram, New Delhi, has a rare collection of artifacts, pictures and objects detailing the historic evolution of toilets from 2500 BC to the present day. This is the only museum of its kind on toilets and sanitation-related developments in the world. For its novelty and unique relevance, this Museum of Toilets has got global publicity. Among other publications, the Time Magazine has featured this museum on the occasion of International Museum Day.
1. John Harington, a courtier of Queen Elizabeth-I, who invented the first modern flush toilet in 1596 2. Sewer of the civilisation at Dholavira, Gujarat, India, 2500 BC 3. Throne-like chamber pot of the French Emperor Louis XIV 4.The first pour-flush toilet of the world used in Harappan Settlements 5. Decorated Lion â€“ Pedestalled Ceramic Commode of 19th Century 6. A book-shelf type toilet from France, bearing the name of an English classic.
7. Inside view of Sulabh International Museum of Toilets 8. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, which is an internationally famous sea-beach, handlers are training elephants to use toilets 9. Decorated Lion â€“ Pedestalled ceramic commode of 19th Century 5 9 7
MARCH 05, 2017
10. INCINOLET - Electric toilet from USA which quickly burns excreta 11. Toy-commode shaped piggy bank from China in which coins are deposited when flushed so that the child later on does not forget to flush 12. Decorated Chamber pot of 19th Century 13. Double-storeyed toilet complex, USA (1920) in which the first floor was reserved for the managerial class while the workers used the ground floor 14. Inside view of the Sulabh Museum 15. Ceramic decorated toilet of the Victorian period 16. Japanese Toilet Compnay, TOTO 17. Floral Chamber pot of 19th Century 18. Portable eco-friendly Tent Toilet (PETT) with bio-degradable plastic 19. Sulabh Mobile Toilet Van which is used for temporary purpose for few days
20 Akshay Patra
MARCH 05, 2017
the temple. Then Akshay Patra framed its vision – ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger’. How necessary is this vision for ensuring the health and education of Indian kids is underlined by this UNICEF data – 80 million kids in India drop out of school before the age of eight because their parents are unable to feed them, and they need to work for their own bread.
MID-DAY MEAL AKSHAY PATRA
NATION-BUILDING AT SCHOOL!
For millions of Indian children, their daily school stay has been transformed into a time to enjoy tasty, healthy food and develop aspirations for good life thanks to Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals PALLAVI VATSA
VEN a bowl of payasam (a milk-rice sweet dish) that Akshaya Patra provides every Saturday is a luxury for our school kids.” Though Leelawati, a senior teacher in Kasba Bengre (Mangalore, Karnataka), says this about the students of her school, it could be a reality for a large chunk of poor children who are among the major beneficiaries of Akshaya Patra’s midday meal programme. One such child is Nagamma of Taravanhalli Higher Primary School. Had Akshaya Patra not reached out to Travanhalli school children with its nutritious food, Nagaamma would not have aspired to become a social worker. Then her major worry would have been – “From where would I get my
Snapshots Akshaya Patra originated following a painful experience of Swami Prabhupada Akshaya Patra gained strength after the construction of the ISKCON temple in Bangalore Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa thought of extending the temple feeding to the community
next meal?” Nagamma, coming from a very poor family, has seen lots of hardships in her small life. Both her parents are labourers. She has two younger siblings – a brother and a sister. But now with Akshaya Patra providing lunch to Taravanhalli school children,
Nagamma’s life is full of positivity, which reflects in her words, “We are getting good nutritious food in the school. That’s why my parents are sending us here. At least they don’t need to worry about our lunch. I want to be a social worker. We are getting this food because of others’ charity. So, we must also do something positive for our society.” The idea of Akshaya Patra originated following a painful experience of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (see box). After humble beginnings in Kolkata, Akshaya Patra gained strength in 2000 when after the construction of the ISKCON temple in Bangalore, Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa thought of extending the temple feeding to the community at large. Soon, about 1500 children of the 15 schools surrounding the temple started getting food from
MOTIVATION AND NOURISHMENT To realise its vision, Akshay Patra embarked on a mission to feed millions of school children, who have the calibre and zeal to make it big in life but are hampered by even the basic need of life – nutritious food. By providing one wholesome meal a day, Akshay Patra is striving to give them the motivation and nourishment they need to traverse the competitive path to success in life. In the past 16 years, Akshay Patra has made remarkable progress to realize its vision. Today it serves nutritious food to over 16 million children in over 13,000 schools in 11 states. Like Nagamma, whose story has been narrated earlier, Akshay Patra has brought happiness and fulfilment in the lives of lots of children. Among them are the children of Kasba Bengre (Mangalore, Karnataka) about whom their teacher Lilawati says, “These kids come from economically challenged backgrounds. Their parents are into occupations where financial stability is nearly extinct. Some of them do fishing while some others climb coconut trees to pluck coconuts and sell them for a living.” Lilawati has witnessed a significant change in the health of kids and in their concentration ever since Akshaya Patra started providing them mid-day meals. MORE ATTENDANCE The story of the 345 students of the Antti Kumar Prathamik Shala, a primary school in Padra Taluk (Vadodara, Gujarat) is no different from that of the Kasba Bengre students. Most of the Padra students are from families that are Below Poverty Line
MARCH 05, 2017
‘MID-DAY MEAL PROMOTES SOCIAL EQUALITY’ Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, talks about their activities with the SSB reporter What was the prime objective of founding the Akshaya Patra Foundation? The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a not-forprofit organisation headquartered in Bengaluru, India. It strives to fight issues like hunger and malnutrition in India by implementing the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme in government and governmentaided schools. Akshaya Patra aims not only to fight hunger but also to bring children to school. Since 2000, the organisation has worked towards reaching more children with wholesome food on every single school day. Apart from food and education, what else do you feel is the important achievement of the MDM scheme? Our country is known for its diversity in many walks. With MDM, we have provided not just food and nutrition for brain and body of the children, but also promoted social equality. There is no caste barrier when children sit together to eat Akshaya Patra food and mingle with each other. While serving food what are the things that you keep in mind? The most important part of the MDM scheme is the wholesome nutritious meal. Apart from ensuring the right nutrition for children, Akshaya Patra also adheres to standard practices of safety and hygiene.
MADHU PANDIT DASA Some measures taken to maintain the quality of food are OHSAS (Occupation Health and Safety Assessment Series), GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices), GHP (Good Hygiene Practices), and FSSAI (Food Safety and Stantards Authority of India) certifications. You get grants from the government as well as from private donors. Why are both necessary and how you utilise it? The average cost of one meal is INR 10.23. We get around INR 6 from the Central and State governments (both combined). The Government has given us permission to raise the remaining amount through corporate and individual donors. Around 85% of the money raised is used on procuring raw materials, cooking and food distribution, and the rest is spent on the operations of the organisation. Apart from schools which other areas do you serve? Apart from school feeding, we take up these initiatives: Anganwadi feeding, disaster relief, feeding expecting and lactating mothers, feeding programmes in old-age homes, feeding programmes in special schools, feeding runaway children, feeding the homeless, subsidised lunch for the economically disadvantaged, after-class tuitions, health camps, health check-up camps and life-skills programmes.
FIGHT FOR FOOD AYAPUR is a village near Kolkata. One day, AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada went there to inaugurate an ISKCON temple. After the inauguration, Swami ji was talking to people sitting in a room. Suddenly they heard a noise coming from the street. Swami ji peeped out of the window. What he saw was heart-breaking. Few street dogs and small village boys were fighting for the waste food.
Actually after the temple inauguration, a feast was organised and the waste food consisting of the leftovers from the feast, dumped in a street corner. Seeing the dogs and boys fight for food, tears started rolling from Swami ji’s eyes. He then resolved that not even a single child would remain hungry within the 10-mile radius from the ISKCON centre. That was the beginning of Akshay Patra.
(BPL) and for them the school midday meal is the only reliable source to get the required nutrition. Ismail Malik, Principal of Antti Kumar Prathamik Shala, has been associated with the school since 1982. Malik explains why the school meal is so essential for his students, “Most children are from the marginalized sections of society and need help from organisations like the Akshaya Patra Foundation. Their parents are involved in labour-intensive jobs like carpentry, rag-picking, masonry, etc. and they earn Rs 2000-3000 a month. Due to their poor financial condition, the parents are keen on sending their children to school, as children are assured of one-time healthy nutritious meal which is essential for their healthy growth.” According to Malik, the midday meal has brought a tremendous decline in the student dropout rate. “In the primary school, attendance has increased by as much as 60% to 70%. The numerous awards that now decorate the school office are a testimony to this,” says a proud Malik. Aditya Vaghela, a Class VIII Akshaya Patra beneficiary from Vadodara, eagerly waits for Saturday “because we get khichadi on Saturdays. I relish that khichadi.” He and his brother Bhavin, a Class 5 student, study in the same school. His father is an employee of the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) and mother is a housewife. Aditya aspires to guard the nation by joining the armed forces. “Soldiers keep sacrificing their lives for our nation every day. We need to ensure that there is always someone to defend the nation, so more and more people should join the army,” he states. Aditya loves coming to school where “we get the opportunity to study, learn new things and play several sports – athletics, cricket and football. This is why I like coming to school.” RIGHT NUTRITION Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal menu is
prepared to fulfil a school child’s nutrition requirement. “To provide balanced nutrition, we change the food menu according to week days. Our objective is that the kids must get the necessary nutrition for their proper development,” says Nilima Somshekhar, Public Relations Officer of Akshaya Patra. Regarding a child’s nutritional requirement, Dr Abhimanyu Anat of Fortis Hospital says, “For proper development of kids, items from different food groups should be given in right quantity. Milk, milk products, fruits, vegetables and pulses are all equally important. If your kid is not interested in pulses, you can substitute it with meat. Fat is equally important for their development but only the right kind of fat should be given to kids. A balanced diet is quite essential for growing kids. Their blood, muscles and tissues - are all building in their body. So, kids need more of protein than elders.” TOP-ORDER CLEANLINESS Akshaya Patra runs 27 kitchens in 11 states. As millions eat the food prepared at the Akshaya Patra kitchens, their staff ensures cleanliness and hygiene of top order from cooking to distribution of food. At one time, 500 kgs of rice and 3000 litres of daal could be cooked in a kitchen. In the kitchen, knives and chopping boards are sterilised before use. Chapatis are made on a machine which can prepare 2 lakh of chapatis per hour. To ensure the highest level of hygiene, human contact with the food is reduced to the minimum. After cooking, the food is packed in stainless steel containers and transported via conveyor belts for loading into custom-made food distribution vehicles, which take it to the beneficiary schools. Akshaya Patra has been honoured with over two dozen awards for its good work. Its honours include the ‘Kalam Memorial Award’ and ‘Mother Teresa Award’.
MARCH 05, 2017
Taking its name from an old Bengali novel based on forest life, this NGO will not even spare the government if it tries to do anything threatening the forests
MONG the well known NGOs in the Northeast is Aaranyak that has rendered yeomanservice in wildlife and habitat conservation. From a humble beginning in Guwahati in 1989, the organisation has spread its wings far and wide and currently has twenty five ongoing research and conservation projects in the Northeast. Aaranyak shot to fame within a few months of its foundation after it filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Gauhati High Court challenging the decision of the Assam Government to lease out fisheries inside DibruSaikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary which was the abode of the endangered White Winged Wood Duck. The government had to withdraw the decision because of the litigation and since then not a single fishery has been leased in the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state Then, in 1993, the Assam government declared plans to de-reserve three reserve forests in the state. Aaranyak again approached the court, filed a PIL and in 2000, the Gauhati High Court gave a landmark
judgment preventing the government from implementing its decision in the state, and directed the steps to carry out reforestation in denuded forests. GREEN VISION Says Bibhav Talukdar, secretary general of Aaranyak “Our vision is to build a team of young and energetic conservationists from different educational background to cater to the need of environmental challenges that Northeast India has been facing. The Northeast needs continuous monitoring to assess its diverse conservation needs. Aaranyak which started with only a few voluntary members of about 10-15 in 1989, currently has about 70 paid staff and over 250 members. Further, we shall work to check illegal poaching of rhinos in Assam through establishing a network with local communities and enforcement agencies as the rhino is the state animal of Assam and epitome
Snapshots Among the well known NGOs in the Northeast is Aaranyak that has rendered yeoman service Its vision is to build a team of young conservationists to face environmental challenges Aaranyak strives to create awareness among the people, including children
of wildlife conservation movement in Assam.” Aaranyak strives to create awareness among the people including children on the importance of maintaining ecological balance and inculcating in them the love for wildlife and natural habitat as a whole to enhance conservation. It advocates scientific research on biodiversity and
Talukdar feels there is a still a long way to go in the Northeast in wildlife and habitat conservation
environment for ecological security and lays stress in identifying conservation issues in areas of ecological significance and minimise people’s dependence on natural resources by providing diversified livelihood interventions. Its efforts are also directed towards checking illegal activities in wildlife and environment through a range of strategies including networking with national and international conservation agencies in order to exchange ideas, expertise, information for mutual benefit DIVERSITY HOTSPOT Aaranyank’s role assumes importance in the Northeast since the region is a global biodiversity hotspot. It may be noted that the Supreme Court had clamped a ban on felling of trees in 1996 as a means to check deforestation. Therefore, there is a need for increasing the awareness level among the common people on the necessity for protection of nature and natural resources. A number of threatened species of flora and fauna is found only in this region and nowhere else and the examples of the Golden Langur and pigmy hog can be cited. But poaching has also been rampant, especially of the one horned rhino at Kaziranga National Park in
MARCH 05, 2017 Assam. The wildlife items are smuggled out through the porous international borders that the Northeast shares with many countries. In past few years, the NGO has notched up a long list of contributions in scientific research in biodiversity conservation, environment and climate change. Aaranyak has been exploring the advent of DNA technologies to find out a wide range of applications in the field of wildlife forensics, which is a new but fast emerging discipline. The possibility of using molecular tools in wildlife crime monitoring and prevention builds off a strong foundation of research in human forensics. The very fact that DNA can be obtained from the trace amount of different biological materials (blood, muscle, skin, bone, hair, faecal matter, urine, feather for birds etc.) and sensitive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to make copies of DNA fragment of interest to a detectable amount, makes this technology most versatile in the field of genetic research as well as in forensics. In wildlife forensics, possibilities of species identification even from morphologically indistinguishable materials using DNA technology leaves no space for the offenders to escape, once the person is held by law enforcement agencies. In 2008, Aaranyak established the first ever Wildlife Genetics Laboratory (WGL) in the Northeast capable of undertaking population genetic research and wildlife DNA forensic analysis and a year later it made use of acoustic equipments for the first time in Brahmaputra river to estimate the population of the dwindling gangetic dolphin. DNA fingerprinting technology for the one-horned rhinos developed by Aaranyak has been endorsed by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change which will be used for implementing Rhino DNA Indexing System (RhoDIS) in India by Wildlife Institute of india in collaboration with Aaranyak. As a result of expertise available with the NGO and the continuous support offered by its laboratory to various state forest departments, the Assam government has recognized Aaranyak’s laboratory as a facility for wildlife genetic and forensic DNA analysis in the state. CLASS LAB This laboratory has also become the first in the world for successfully undertaking genetic research on the critically endangered White-bellied Heron, for using DNA fingerprinting technology to census rhinos and for making use of the single-session genetic capture-recapture methodology in population estimation of tigers. It is the only NGO from the Northeast that has
been extensively using camera-trap technology to document and monitor various wildlife species. As a result, Aaranyak scientists have been able to discover several species which are either new to science or new to the country based on over two decades of field work. For example, it has discovered recently the White-cheeked Macaque from Arunachal Pradesh, which is the most recent addition to the list of primates of India. To assist investigation of rhino poaching, Aaranyak has offered two well trained Belgian Melinois sniffer dogs in rhino bearing areas of Assam in 2011 and this sniffer dog unit has so far assisted forest and police officials to nab over 20 poachers. Aaranyak in association with ICIMOD (Kathmandu) has introduced early flood warning system in several flood-prone areas of Assam. It has established GIS and Remote Sensing facilities in 2005 to cater to the need of habitat assessment in the Northeast and has also provided
is a major cause of worry. Whenever we found the government on the wrong side, we have filed PILs to ensure that it does not violate the statutes. We have been using geo-spatial technology to sensitize the people in general and the decision makers in particular with regard to the rapid decline in the forest cover in the Northeast for which we have established a GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory. The mapping applications help to identify key migratory routes and trans-boundary corridors of long-ranging elephant herds and other species, and provide valuable information for major analyses of land cover, canopy and deforestation, succession rate (the rate at which grasslands are converted to woodlands), and habitat conditions for various endangered species.” HELPING VILLAGERS Aaranyak’s activities have been of help to the villages near National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The NGO has
Aaranyak has established itself as a prominent player in the global network of institutions involved in conservation of natural resources
training workshops to students, researchers and GIS users. It has been offering various scientific training programmes in the field of wildlife, environment, climate change to enhance the scientific temperament of budding students and researchers of the Northeast. It is a member of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2010. Currently, it is also a member of the National Board of Wildlife and has been recognised as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2006. Aaranyak’s funding is generated from different sources. However, in spite of the achievements, Aaranyak has faced severe hurdles in the implementation of some projects. “The biggest challenge comes from increased human population and pressure on forest resources”, Talkudar said, and added “Encroachment in forest areas and destruction of forests and wildlife
been working closely with about 40 fringe village communities to diversify their livelihood options and support them with training on livelihood aspects like providing goats, pigs, poultries, weaving materials, etc. The NGO is of the view that wildlife conservation will lead to a spurt in tourism and it is crucial to maintain a balance between the twin phenomena. It feels that tourism must be ecofriendly and its quality is more important than quantity – a concept that is followed ardently in the neighbouring country of Bhutan. No areas in national parks or wildlife sanctuaries should be opened for tourism as wild animals also need some privacy. Strict and sensible policing help tourists to acquaint themselves with wildlife and its habitat and most importantly the entry of tourists in a habitat contributes to surveillance on wildlife and the forest staff on duties. Tourism gives a boost to the local economy in offering diverse livelihood
options to local communities. When the local populace dervies an income from wildlife tourism, they respect wildlife and help conservation agencies conserve nature. Wildlife conservation and management is the foundation for promoting tourism and tourism also helps wildlife conservation through dissemination of key information on wildlife species. Due to its commendable work, Aaranyak has been awarded the prestigious 2012 Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Purashkar by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. It has also been recognised by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research of Ministry of Science and Technology as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. It has received the Sansad AdarshaGram Yojana- Good Practices Award from the Ministry of Rural Development for its “good practice initiative” on the traditional community managed Dong Bundh; the Aaranyak-ICIMOD early Flood Warning System Project has been recognized by the UN and awarded the Momentum for Change Award. Six years earlier, Aaranyak received the Earth Guardian Award from the Royal Bank of Scotland India for its contribution towards wildlife research and conservation in North East India and in 2006, the Manthan Award on E-Environment was offered by the Digital Empowerment Foundation at New Delhi. MILES TO GO Talukdar feels there is a still a long way to go in wildlife and habitat conservation. He explained that the NGO’s methods and techniques have evolved over time and there is no model to emulate. “We don’t follow any role model as such, as we started the organisation with zero experience and there were no pioneers as such in the region whom we can follow. We just did our work in the field of conservation and gained experience based on our work, periodical evaluation of our successes and failures and this helped us in reshaping the conservation plan for the future. Over the years, Aaranyak has carved a niche for itself in the field of conservation of biodiversity not only in the Northeast where it is based, but also all over the country as a leading environment and bio-diversity conser vation organisation. It has established itself as a prominent player in the global network of institutions involved in nature conservation and its resources. Aaranyak is on a mission to contribute towards protection of nature by providing key inputs to biodiversity management based on quality research on ecosystems, environmental education, capacity building, legal and policy research,” he explained.
24 Unsung Heroes UNSUNG HEROES
MARCH 05, 2017 ‘Water Literacy Foundation’ that is now training “water warriors” to spread his knowledge and message.
Leaving behind a corporate career, Ayyappa Masagi stepped up to solve the water scarcity in India. Now the world knows him as the Water Doctor
YYAPPA MASAGI is the name people recall when they need water. Yes, the man is a mine of ideas on water conservation with literally a water reservoir of his own. Mulling over the water scarcity in India, Ayyappa calculated that just 30 per cent of the annual rainfall in India can solve the country’s water scarcity problems for the next three years. To prove his point, he bought 84 acres of barren land near Chilamathur, Andhra Pradesh, in 2014 and turned it into a water reservoir within a year. The barren land is now a network of 25,000 sand-filled pits and four lakes that capture and store every single drop of rainwater around here. The stored water keeps the land saddened and can be drawn from the bore-well at any time.
Ayyappa belongs to a small village in Gadag District of North Karnataka which has always faced acute water scarcity. As a child he used to help his mother bring water to their house from great distances. That is when he decided to do something about it. He says, “I faced a lot of water problems in my childhood. I used to go at 3 am to fetch water from the stream. So I took an oath that when I grow up I would
He bought 84 acres of
land and turned it into a water reservoir within just one year
find a solution.” His quest for solution remained undiminished as he grew up. He gained relevant knowledge, and started his career. In order to realise his passion, he quit his job after 23 years of service to try and solve the water scarcity of India. After Ayyappa left his job, he founded
RICH TOMES So far he has written seven books including ‘Bhageeratha - War on Water Crisis-Converting Dry Land into Wet Land’, which is based on his own life experiences. The book also explains different techniques of saving and recharging water. His foundation has also trained 100 interns as water warriors from within India and abroad. Their work has also helped level the land using the dug up soil that has now been turned into forests and farms. They have also planted various fruits, crops and vegetables in the land which will help the foundation generate income while a dairy is also planned to be set up next year. His plan, however, is to make a water self-sufficient and sustainable organic farm. While he is always ready to help and provide water for others, he has also helped create countless solutions for the water scarcity problems in India. Many communities, farms, and towns have developed efficient water conservation methods with his help and guidance. But most importantly, he believes that India can become a water efficient country by the year 2020.
PAKISTAN STUMPED BY EKTA She shocked the Pakistani women cricketers with her fantastic bowling
HE Indian Women’s Cricket team qualified in the ICC Women’s World Cup and made a place in the finals due to the great bowling performance of left-hand spinner Ekta Bisht. Ekta played an important role in gaining victory for India against the arch rivals, Pakistan. In ten overs, Ekta gave eight runs and claimed five wickets, making this her best performance so far. In addition to this, she also became the 9th Indian woman bowler to get 50 or more wickets in one-day matches. She was adjudged the Best Player of the Match for this stellar performance. Ekta comes from village Devli, Almora district of Uttarakhand. She was attracted to cricket from childhood. She had a fascination for the game since early childhood. At that time, girls were not encouraged to play cricket. But her family helped and motivated her. Due to this encouragement, her interest was sustained and she continued to give good performance. Ekta, who has a passion for cricket, has played the game with boys as well. She has been the captain of the Uttarakhand team. She has also been a member of the UP cricket team. She has been playing for the Railways since 2012. On July 2, 2011, she began her career in international cricket when she played a oneday match against Australia. She is the first woman cricketer from Uttarakhand to play cricket at the international level.
BC ROY AWARD IN MEDICAL THERAPY Dr P Raghuram has been doing excellent work in treating breastrelated ailments from the hospital named after his mother
r P Raghuram has been selected for the prestigious BC Roy Award, 2016. Dr BC Roy Award is the highest award given to doctors in India. Recently this was announced by Dr Jayshree Mehta,President of Medical Council of India. Dr Raghuram, who hails from Hyderabad, will be given this award for his excellent services in the field of social medical relief. He is the youngest person in the Telugu states (Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) to receive this award. The President will honour him with this award on July 1, which is India’s National Doctors Day. Dr Raghuram is also the CEO of KIMS Ushalaxmi Centre for Breast Diseases. Dr Raghuram has made significant
DP RAGHURAM contribution in the field of Breast Diseases. In the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, he has made people aware of the risk of breast cancer in the early stages, while there is still time for effective treatment. On being selected for the award, he said that he was thankful to God for the honour. He said that he dedicated the award to his mother Dr Ushalaxmi and those others who fought the war against breast cancer with courage and determination. Earlier, he has also been honoured with Padma Shri in 2015.
MARCH 05, 2017
L I F E FACE TO FACE
NO AIRS ABOUT VIDYA BALAN
S P A R K L I N G THEATRE
DIANA IN ‘LUCKNOW CENTRAL’
AND THE SHOW GOES ON...
Snapshots Our Bollywood celebrities earn millions every year from their acting in films But they are not just keeping all of that for their personal lifestyles Many of them have taken to charity, an aspect of their lives little known to most
Their Real Lives
In tinsel town Mumbai, every successful actor or actress is not just a selfish money guzzler. Whether they play hero or villain on the silver screen does not matter. They actually live for others, involved in major charity activities
AVING become accustomed to the dazzle and glitter of filmdom, film stars are now drifting towards removing some darkness, some pain from our society, by doing something extraordinary for the marginalised people, be they
families of farmers who have commited suicide due to debt burden, poor slumdwelling children who have little means to study, children with cleft palates, or women who have suffered the humiliation of sexual assault. ‘Reel life’ and’ Real life’ are the paradoxes of the film world. The former is the typical make-believe Bollywood
dream sequences or the sheer unreality of some films. The latter represents reality, and it is to the real life we turn when we see stars doing their bit for the common man. And these acts transform these reel life actors into real life heroes or heroines. Hollywood actors have imbibed the spirit of charity and are passionate about deriving that inner satisfaction from their
charitable deeds. Be it Angelina Jolie or Matt Damon, Madonna or George Clooney. One is able to find their charitable deeds in society as well. Our Bollywood stars have also not been left behind with this passion for inner satisfaction. There are many Bollywood stars who are doing charitable work from behind the scenes, without being made
26 Celebrity Charity
QUARTZ MARCH 05, 2017
On one hand actors like Nana Patekar, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar and Anupam Kher are setting examples with their philanthropic work...
public. Nevertheless, when we talk about charity, the name of superstar Salman Khan heads the list. This 51-year-old hunk who has always been trapped in controversies has also been called the ‘Man with the Golden Heart’ of Bollywood. Through his charitable trust “Being Human - Salman Khan Foundation”, he has been able to transform the lives of poor and destitute children by providing them with education and catering to their good health. Coca Cola, Suzuki Motorcycles, Fortis and Max, are channelling their corporate social responsibility funds into his foundation. Then there’s Mandhana Industries, an apparel manufacturing firm which gives the foundation five per cent royalty on the sale of ‘Being Human’ apparel. The firm’s shares took a hit after the publicity surrounding the hit and run court case where Salman was let off. But oddly enough, Being Human T-shirts raked up Rs. 170 crore in sales in 2014-15. After t-shirts, Salman Khan launched imitation jewellery and now he is introducing e-cycles to his ‘Being Human’ stores. Salman’s love for cycling is known to all. For short distance and even during shoots, he prefers cycling to the sets. Founded in 2007, Being Human Foundation has invested around Rs 56 crore in social development works. NANA’S NAAM Veteran actor Nana Patekar seems to have found a new life away from cinema. Nana started NAAM foundation with Marathi
These actors are taking resort to YouTube to reach the urban youth so that they can encourage them to join social projects
actor Makarand Anaspure in September 2015. He donated 90 per cent of his savings from his acting career to families in drought hit regions of Maharashtra. To begin with, he has handed over Rs 15,000 each to 112 farmer families left in dire straits after their main bread winners committed suicide. Naam Foundation is now connecting with 700 more farmer families in and around Nagpur, Latur, Hingoli, Parbani, Nanded and Aurangabad. The foundation has a corpus of more than 20 crore so far. If properly utilised, the money could give new hope to drought affected farmer families. Now many Marathi actors like Renuka Shahane, Jitendra Joshi, Dilip Prabhavalkar, and Sayaji Shinde have joined Nana in his mission. Akshay Kumar is also doing charitable work sliently. He has no NGO or trust but he keeps on helping the supporting actors of the film industry at different levels and stages personally. He has also donated Rs 1.50 crore to the Mumbai-based Cancer Society. Besides, he has contributed Rs 10 lakh towards the growth of ‘Support My School’ project. Akshay Kumar has also contributed Rs 50 lakh to Salman Khan’s ‘Being Human’ foundation. He is
associated with the United Nations Organization in his efforts toward putting an end to human trafficking. Akshay is now reaching out to drought-affected families of farmers who have committed suicide. He donated Rs 50 lakh to the Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyaan and Rs one crore to the Chennai flood relief work. Besides this, Akshay is also associated with many charitable auctions. SATYAMEVA JAYATE ‘Mr Perfectionist’ of Bollywood, Aamir Khan has his own set of social work with his TV series Satyamev Jayate. Aamir Khan’s ‘Satyamev Jayate’ team has formed the `Paani Foundation’. The foundation announced a contest called Water Cup, for water conservation. Satyajit Bhatkal, convenor of the project told the media: “We have trained representatives of these villages with the help of experts. The winner will receive Rs 50 lakh. In the end, all the villages will be the real winners, as they will save water.” Rahul Bose’s name as an actor may be fading in our memories but he is doing commendable work beyond cinema. In 2007, Rahul started his own non-profit organisation, ‘The Foundation’ which is
doing a commendable job in public service and philanthropy. It focuses on providing education for children from lower economic backgrounds in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He is also associated with Oxfam as its first Global Ambassador. This sees him join the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Annie Lennox, Scarlett Johansson and Gael Garcia Bernal. Another of Rahul’s key areas is communal harmony and gender equality. He joined the India Initiative on Climate Change in 2009. This initiative focuses on government policies at the highest level, along with advocacy of the same with international bodies, e.g. the United Nations. Adding to his philanthropy, Rahul also writes prolifically on issues ranging from gender equality to the future of Indian cinema. He has been a forerunner in bringing the problems faced by the tea plantation workers of Darjeeling and Assam to the limelight to seek remedial measures. Rahul is also actively involved with ‘Teach For India’, the Spastic Society of India and on the international arena has been associated with ‘World Without Discrimination’ MANY OTHERS TOO Actor Suneil Shetty’s wife Mana Shetty, apart from being a businesswoman, manages the NGO “Save the Children India” which works for the empowerment of adolescent girls who live in the slums. This 25-year-old Social Organisation was started by Mana’s mother Vipula Kadri,
QUARTZ MARCH 05, 2017
On the other hand actors and actresses like Priyanka Chopra, Shabana Azmi, Rahul Bose and Dia Mirza are taking up issues of human and animal rights
and after her death in 2007, Mana is spearheading this organisation with the help of her siblings. Actor Anupam Kher who was earlier associated with an NGO Pratham and was instrumental in raising funds to cater to the educational needs of the poor children has now laid the foundation of his own NGO by the name of Anupam Kher Foundation which works for the cause of the street children of Mumbai and their educational needs. John Abraham though not seen in films these days, is active on the social front. Being an animal lover, he has associated himself with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Apart from that, John has started John’s Brigade which works for Jimmy Carter’s Foundation ‘Project Habitat for Humanity’. For the past many years, John Abraham is working on this project as a voluntary social worker and helps in raising funds to provide low budget homes to the lower income group of people. He also campaigns to raise funds for the Leelavati Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai. Somy Ali who had a small innings in Bollywood and was once known as the Sweetheart of Salman Khan is now a name of repute amongst the Indian and Pakistani women based in America. Florida-based Somy Ali’s foundation ‘No More Tears’ works for providing relief to women and children who have been sexually abused. This foundation, which was started in 2006, with the aim to
After donating her eyes, Aishwarya started a foundation of her own in 2004 by the name of ‘Aishwarya Rai Foundation’
provide help to Indian and Pakistani women has over the decade helped more than 200 women who have been sexually worsted to start a new life, and these include Russian, Cuban and Venezuelan women. The 24x7 Helpline No of ‘No More Tears’ can be taken from the grocery shops run by Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi shopkeepers. To raise funds for this foundation, Somy has started a clothesline by the name of ‘Show Me’. Shabana Azmi’s NGO Mizwan helps secure the future of poor children and women. Mizwan is a small village near Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh. Here sewing and weaving skills and computer training are being imparted. Moreover, she is also fighting against the stigma and injustice of those afflicted with AIDS. Actress Nandita Das graduated in social work, founded an advertising agency Leapfrog which makes short films and ads on socially critical subjects. She has been giving talks on philanthropy around the world and now she has become the face of the campaign ‘Dark is Beautiful’ and has been raising her voice against discrimination based on skin colour. Diya Mirza is the spokesperson of
‘Green Environment Campaign’ apart from PETA and CRY, and Priyanka Chopra was the Brand Ambassador of ‘UNICEF’. BEAUTIFUL IN WORK Considered to be the world’s most beautiful woman, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has associated herself with many social work projects. After donating her eyes to EBAI (Eye Bank Association of India), she started a foundation of her own in 2004 by the name of ‘Aishwarya Rai Foundation’. In 2009, Aishwarya started working as a Goodwill Ambassador of ‘Smile Train Foundation’ which provides free cleft lip and cleft palate treatment and surgeries to the poor children who otherwise cannot afford such costly surgeries. Katrina Kaif is associated with her mother Suzanne’s foundation ‘Mercy Home’ and ‘Relief Project India’ There are many Bollywood stars who are not directly associated with projects but are doing social and relief works in their own way by contributing to a good social cause. Recently many Bollywood stars have associated themselves with PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’. Vidya Balan has been
associated with this cause for a very long time, and likewise Madhuri Dixit, Kalki Koechlin, Aliya Bhatt, Radhika Apte and Deepika Padukone are also associated with different social projects. These actresses can be seen in the documentaries made to bring about a change in our attitude towards the women of our society conveying a clear and strong message. ‘Start with the Boys’ is one such short film on domestic violence, in which Madhuri Dixit delivers a message that it is high time we should not teach our sons that ‘Boys don’t cry’ but instead we should tell them not to create trouble for the girls. Kalki Koechlin targets on the atrocities committed on the girl of our society in the 21 minutes video ‘Rape - It’s Your Fault’ directed by Anurag Kashyap. ‘The Day After Everyday’ also films the incidents of eveteasing and crimes against women. In the film ‘My Choice for the Vogue Empower Campaign’, Deepika Padukone has targeted the moral police through a strong campaign. This video by Director Homi Adajania portrays the Indian woman being free to dress as per her choice, to choose her life partner and to live a life which pleases her. All these videos, which talk of women’s empowerment, have gone viral on the social networking sites. These actresses who are the heartthrobs of the young generation have decided to take the help of these sites to voice their message, opinion and feelings. These actors are taking resort to YouTube to reach the urban youth so that they can encourage them to join social projects.
28 In Conversation
MARCH 05, 2017
FACE TO FACE WITH
MARCH 05, 2017
No Airs About Vidya
It is said of our celebrities that they show off a lot. They are notorious for throwing tantrums, but these don’t apply to Vidya Balan. In a candid interview, she openly discusses the issues concerning the women folk ASHIM CHAKRABORTY
A lot is talked about the current day dressing of the women folk. How much support did you get from your family members with regard to this? I am quite fortunate that my family stood by me and supported me on this aspect and there is nothing wrong in it. Most people feel that since I am mostly seen in traditional wear, I should be cast in that image only, while others feel that my career will not last long if I don’t wear all kinds of dresses. People should understand that if a lady wears a sari that simply doesn’t mean that she is of reserved nature. If you look at my career graph, you will find that I have done quite bold and courageous roles and I was quite successful. I would suggest my friends, especially men to stop evaluating a woman on the basis of her dress. People who feel that incidents of rape and eve teasing happen with women because of the vulnerable outfits they wear are wrong and need to change their mindset and thinking, instead of women changing their way of dressing. Now let’s talk about your career. You have again become active and agile after a long break. There were many rumours about your health. I wanted to relax and give time to myself as there was some problem with my kidneys. During that time people started to think that I might be pregnant and that is why I have taken a long break. Proving all these
GRACEFUL IN A SARI Vidya Balan’s style statement is quite different from those of the other heroines of Bollywood, where most of the actresses like to flaunt in denim jeans and T shirts. Vidya likes to dress up in a sari or a salwar kurta, but still sari is her favourite outfit. She is less seen in any other outfit, other than sari. There may be differences with regard to her standing in the list of heroines, but her critics say that she looks graceful in a sari. Like Ash and Rani, she also believes and depends on her designer Sabyasachi for selecting her saris. Apart from designer saris, she also likes to wear kanjivaram and dhakai saris, large danglers in her ears, bracelets on her hands, three-fourth quarter blouse and a bag is Vidya’s patent look in a sari as per Sabyasachi.
rumours wrong, I am back in the saddle again. I am fit and fine now and excited to take new projects. What do you have to say about your film ‘Begum Jaan’ which is going to hit the screens? Let me clarify first that this film is not a remake of Bangla film ‘Raj Kahini’ nor is it influenced by it. Nevertheless all the films of the Bangla director Srijit Mukherji are too good. I like the film ‘Raj Kahini’ as it enhances the performance of many heroines to a new dimension and I will also try to uphold the same. You have broken the myth that
I am from a middle class family, with no connections with anybody in the film industry. I am a self made person
marriage puts an end to a heroine’s career ? These talks are senseless and baseless. I feel that women can prosper and achieve new heights of glory and success in every field even after marriage. How can you bind a woman with marriage? If a person is doing extraordinarily good in reel life she will continue to do the same without affecting her real life, and the attraction still continues. What is your daily routine these days? I have always maintained a set routine. I workout 5-6 days in a week. I have a personal trainer under whose
guidance I do these workouts and exercises. I never skip jogging. I never miss an opportunity of taking a stroll at Juhu Chowpaty even at midnight. My diet has been very plain and simple since beginning. I eat dalchapati-sabji (curry). I don’t mix chapati with rice. If I want to eat rice, then I will have rice-dal and curry. On the advice of my dietician , Pooja Makhija I eat something every two hours. Fruits comprise a bigger portion of my diet plan, especially I like oranges and apples. Sometimes for a change in taste, I switch over to Dal Makhni, rajma (kidney beans) and rice.
QUARTZ MARCH 05, 2017
And The Show Goes On...
Theatre is a reflection of the prevailing social and political conditions of a society. Indian theatre has always metamorphosed itself to suit the context.
HERE aren’t any clear memories of the exact day, date or the month, not even the year. Nor any reminiscences about the weather or the environment. There aren’t any memories of the director, the artists or the audience. What definitely remain are Aara Theatre, Bhikhari Thakur and ‘Gobar Ghichor’. ‘Gobar Ghichor’ was not staged as much as Bidesiya, but it is impossible to forget the former. Bhikhari Thakur is popularly known as the ‘Shakespeare of Bhojpuri ‘, but this hardly does any justice to his art and creativity. Gobar Ghichor was created by Bhikari Thakur at a time when Simone de Beauvoir’s theory of existentialist feminism had not come into existence, a time when deliberations on a woman’s rights were miles away. Gobar Ghichor set a pioneering trend in theatre and was one of its kind - a play in which the husband rises up to support his wife’s identity and confidence. It was against the traditional stereotype thinking
of the society, a society which considers women’s rights as non-existent and doesn’t allow them to have a freedom of choice. It brought a new dimension to a woman’s right to love and be loved and not to be treated as a mere object. QUESTIONS ABOUND Eyebrows are raised when a baby is born just few months after marriage. In ‘Gobar Ghichor’, the news of the newly-wed having a baby spreads in the whole village like a wild fire. Questions are raised against the integrity of the mother. Everyone is eager to know the answer. But the woman is silent, doesn’t utter a word. People are throwing innumerable questions at her, each one laced with taunts and jeers. Every question is like a thousand needles shoved down her throat. The mother in her tightens the grip around the baby, as if she wants to protect the newborn from the social assault. Her aspirations are being trampled. What is she left with? A stigma, a new born baby and a sinister feeling of social neglect. She
must have had some dreams, some hopes and aspirations, which would have drenched her body like the first drops of the rainy season. There isn’t any substance or any premise in these taunting questions. Yet they are thrown at random. Why such questions? Why such insensitive behaviour? Why such barbs? TACITURN CHARACTER The actress of ‘Gobar Ghichor’ is bereft of her voice. And that is how ‘she’ is meant to be, isn’t it? She is at loss of words. In fact, are there even any words that can elucidate the pain? Panchayat is called and she was verbally attacked from all directions. It was like a lone ‘Abhimanyu’ in the chakravyuh. Even then she was quiet, without any reply, without any words. Tension was at its peak, yet the woman was silent. The floodgates of anger could have opened any time. Still, the woman was silent. The patience level of the Panchayat was at rock bottom. But the woman was silent. Who can interpret her silence? Who can understand the meaning of her stillness? No one.
Snapshots Indian theatre has always given a social bend to the contemporary issues and portrays them effectively Bhikhari Thakur’s ‘Gobar Ghichor’ and ‘Bidesiya’ mirrors the existing social conditions and mindsets Sarveswar Dayal Saxena’s ‘Bakri’ is a powerful political satire which acts as an eye-opener
PROGRESIVE SOLUTION Gobar Ghichor reached the pinnacle of its glory. The husband of the woman slowly stood up on his feet and read the silence of the woman. He stood up not in favour of his wife but in favour of womanhood as a whole. He had no plea but just the weapon of logic in his hands. He started the volley of questions. “You all buy the land for cultivation. And when the crop is ripe who reaps it, you or the one who sold you the land. You reap the crop without questioning as to who tilled the ground, sowed the seeds, put manure and watered them. Why don’t you ask these questions before reaping the crop? The Panchayat had no answer to his questions. They were all quiet and speechless like the woman.
QUARTZ MARCH 05, 2017
Surrealism Indian style: the portrayal of Bakri (top left), which is a powerful political satire, and (top) Bidesiya is a cultural expression of Bhikari Thakur. (Left) Another play being enacted in a theatre festival
Gobar Ghichor had a very rural texture to its story. Its relevance in questioning the social ills is worth debating, even now. The life’s pages are shredded into pieces by unemployment and migration. To pick up these pieces and assemble them together takes a lifetime. BIDESIYA’S LORE Bidesiya is a cultural expression of Bhikari Thakur, rugged and unsophisticated in form and rich in variety. There was no flaw either in Bidesiya, nor in his beloved nor in ‘Kalkatte wali’ (character from Calcutta). If there is one flaw in the whole paradigm, it is in the lives of all the three, where the circumstances play the most pivotal role. Bidesiya portrays the struggles of a common man in a new light. Bidesiya is the story of a common man who quietly leaves his wife and goes to Calcutta where he comes in contact of another woman and establishes a relationship with her. There are many unanswered questions. Bidesiya’s intention was to seek a job in the city of Calcutta, earn money and to return to his beloved but life takes an interesting turn. The hunger, which is more powerful than beauty, outsmarts it. Bidesiya loved the company of the woman in Calcutta and they both started staying together. Back in home, his beloved was all alone, completely cut off from Bidesiya. His wife used to curse Calcutta and wait for Bidesiya’s homecoming. Her emotions are perfectly described in the words of poet Trilochan - ‘Is Calcutte par bajar pade’ (Let this city Calcutta be doomed). She was engaged in a twofold battle – the one against hunger and poverty as well as anti-social elements of society. The songs in Bidesiya are not merely songs but are living portrayal of a woman who is all alone, waiting for the return of her husband, without knowing when her wait would be over. She had faith in the ‘sindoor’ (vermillion) as well as in her relationship. Even to this day, there are numerous women like Bidesiya’s wife who are waiting for their ‘Bidesiya’ and there are many like ‘Calcutte wali’ who fall in the love trap of bidesiya.
of life. Bakri has been staged many times and has been used as an effective medium to portray the prevailing circumstances during the pre-Emergency era.
Society has indeed changed with the passage of time, what has not changed is the intention of exploitation and suppression.
THE LOVE TRIANGLE Within the confines of this love triangle there are vagaries of life which are sometimes helpless and sometimes of zeal and fervour. Days, months and even years went by, waiting for her beloved husband Bidesiya. ‘Batohi’ (another character from the same village) kept on searching for Bidesiya to deliver the message which he had got from his wife. On meeting Bidesiya, Batohi tried his best to convince him to return to his village. He tried to persuade him casually, then coaxed him, even threatened him as well. Batohi’s maneuvers compelled Bidesiya to return to his village and to his wife. But it was not that easy for him to return from Calcutta. He had to give away his earnings to pacify the other woman as well as to settle the accounts of the money lenders and the landlord. He finally returns to his beloved in the same way he had gone to Calcutta- empty handed. His wife was excited to see her husband. Before she could enjoy the happiness, doom and despair started knocking at her door. The woman with whom Bidesiya stayed in Calcutta was getting ready, along with her children, to meet Bidesiya and to stay with him in his village along with his
real family. But she was also surrounded by problems. The highwaymen took away her belongings and her ornaments. Despite this, she somehow managed to reach Bidesiya’s village. He was stunned to see her. He recovered from the shock quickly. His wife was gracious enough to allow the other woman to stay in the house. SARVESHWAR KI BAKRI Music played an eminent part in Bidesiya’s folk narrative but Sarveshwar Dayal Sharma’s ‘Bakri’ is poetic in nature laced with satire. Sarveshwar opines, “When you are confronted with people on all the sides who are not willing to understand what you are saying, then in such a scenario you are left with only two options. Either you keep mum and don’t express yourself or you put forth your expressions in such a way that the opponent is bowled over.” ‘Bakri’ is diversified in nature. The beauty of ‘Bakri’ is that it is a mix of love, poverty, hunger as well as a satire on contemporary political and social situations. It carries in itself, the complexities of unbridled power and social discrepancies along with the common man’s apathy and the tragedies
EYE-OPENER Gripped by problems on all sides, a common man is like a bakri who is sent to the slaughter house, sometimes it’s due to the circumstances, sometimes for a hope, sometimes for festivities and joy and sometimes even without a reason. But these slaughter houses are not meant just for killing the goats A person’s hopes, emotions, dreams and desires are also butchered here. Bakri is an eye-opener basically because of its tone and style in which it portrays the values, which have been distorted by some selfish people to fulfil their selfish motives. It is a fascinating experience to witness Bakri’s narrative. Sarveshwar talks about Durjan Singh who was earlier a bandit. He turns into a politician and keeps on cheating the public in the name of welfare. All the Hindi plays, post independence, were very versatile and contextual. Be it Sarveshwar, or Mohan Rakesh or Dharamvir Bharati’s ‘Andhaa Yug” or Shankar Shesh’s ‘Ek Aur Dronacharya’ and ‘Aashadh Ka Ek Din’ or Mannu Bhandari’s ‘ Mahabhoj’, all of them reflect on the society , culture, history, economics and politics. All the systems, processes, incidents, developments and struggles trending in the country are portrayed on stage in a complete perspective. Society has indeed changed with the passage of time, what has not changed is the intention of exploitation and suppression. The form and the structure of the society have changed but its power structures have not. One can only save oneself from politics by having a better understanding of the same. It is well said by Dharamveer Bharti in ‘Andhaa Yug’, that in order to be in politics one has to learn politics.
MARCH 05, 2017
Empress Moore Jolly to All
DEMI MOORE is set to join the famous TV series Empire in a recurring role. The famous actress is joining her daughter Rumer Willis, who was previously announced as a guest star this season. Moore will appear in the season three finale and then will reappear in season four. In this series Demi Moore will play a “take-charge nurse with a mysterious past” who becomes “treacherously entangled” with the Lyons. After 14 year long break, Empire will be a comeback series for the actress.
J U N C T I O N
Actor AKSHAY KUMAR’S courtroom drama film “Jolly LLB 2” is a huge success and has entered the 100 crore club. The film has brought the moolah for director Subhash Kapoor and producer Fox Star. “We are thrilled with the response to ‘Jolly LLB 2’. This is Fox Star Studios’ 100 crore hat-trick after ‘MS Dhoni...and ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’,” Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, said.
Diana in ‘Lucknow Central’
After reaching Pakistan in ‘Happy Bhag Jayegi’, actress DIANA PENTY has landed at ‘Lucknow Central’. In the movie, she will be sharing screen space with Farhan Akhtar. For Diana, this film is special as it has a strong story and features some of the finest actors. She made her Bollywood debut with the Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer ‘Cocktail’. Diana will be playing an NGO worker. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of stories that I feel strongly about.”
SHRADDHA KAPOOR may not be the number one in the rat race of actresses but she became number one Bollywood celebrity on Live Chat of Facebook. Currently Shraddha is busy in the shooting of her next film based on the biopic of gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s sister Haseena Parker. But in the middle of that, she spared some time to do a live chat with her fans on Facebook. She has now more than 15 million followers on her Facebook and so to thank her fans, she did a Facebook Live chat which was super successful.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Licensing) Delhi No. F. 2 (S-45) Press/ 2016 VOLUME - 1, ISSUE - 11 Printed by Monika Jain, Published by Monika Jain on behalf of SULABH SANITATION MISSION FOUNDATION and Printed at The Indian Express Ltd., A-8, Sector-7, NOIDA (U.P.) and Published from RZ 83, Mahavir Enclave, Palam-Dabri Road, New Delhi – 110 045. Editor Monika Jain
Published on Feb 27, 2017