In the previous part, I took you through the first 5 days of Jagriti Yatra 2011. Here I unravel the next 5 days of the beautiful journey through our interesting country.
The next stoppage of the train is on 29th December at Kanchipuram. The founder of Travel Another India (TAI), Ms. Gouthami, an IRMA alumnus addresses the Yatris and talks about how they have been promoting alternate tourism and generating income for local communities. The business goes like this: Interested people in local communities take the lead to establish a tourism venture, hire local residents at appropriate wages, and sell products such as handicrafts. This mechanism allows selfsustaining economic growth. In the meantime, TAI is engaged in support areas such as consulting, marketing, and staff training.
The session is followed by a panel discussion on “Enabling rural and Agri Enterprises” by Paul Basil (from Villgro), Gijs Spoor (from Cotton Conversation) and Venkat (from efarm.in). They talk about commercializing rural innovations for sustainable wealth creation, ways to transform agriculture based value chain into value based communities and providing combination of technology solutions and on ground distribution mechanism to enable farmers reach end markets in an effective manner.
The Yatis reach Naandi Foundation in Vishakhapattnam the next day morning. Naandi Foundation is a non-profit social organization established in 1998. It believes in eradicating poverty through sustainable livelihoods and by providing mid day meals and safe drinking water. It also houses a research wing to study the social models and work on innovations that can bring a positive change in the life of needy people. Naandi is based on a Public Private Partnership model.
It receives grants from the government as well as funds from private donors and corporates like Tata, Dell, and HSBC. Funds are also raised through the community. Key learnings of the Naandi Foundation visit are about eradication of poverty through sustainable and innovative solutions, public-private partnership in a social context and operational efficiency – logistic management, scale of food preparation, following Six Sigma principles.
In the evening, the Yatris visit the headquarters of Eastern Naval Command of Indian Navy at Vizag. They are mesmerized by the might and charm of warships. There a very senior navy officer welcomes the Yatris. He talks about the role of Indian Navy for India to become a super power. Navy has played a very critical role not just during the war but also during the peace time. Indian Navy was the first to send help to the nations affected by Tsunami in Indian Ocean and also helped the citizens of Indian subcontinent evacuate the Middle East during conflict. It has been providing maritime security to the merchant vessels and carried out anti-piracy operation. He also talked about similarities of an Indian Navy Officer and an entrepreneur- both of them are fearless and ready to take risks, all for a cause of serving the nation.
Yatris spent the last day of the year 2011 in a very remote village in Barhampur District of Odisha. The region is surrounded by hills and forests and here works an NGO Gram Vikas , founded by Joe Madiath. Joe Madiath was born in Kanjirapally, Kerala and student at Madras University where he was the President of the Madras University Students Union. To fulfill his zeal for adventure and satiate his hunger for experience he embarked upon a year long cycle journey through India, Nepal and Bangladesh. In this phase, Joe witnessed the warmth of friendly people as well as the extent of human cruelty. A bit disturbed but hopeful and determined Joe gathered 400 YSMD volunteers to work in relief camps for Bangladeshi refugees. He then moved to Orissa, a state ravaged by natural calamities and Gram Vikas was set up in 1979 and has been working for the tribal people ever since then.
The working model of Gram Vikas is 100% funds dependant and a major segment of the in-come comes from foreign grants. Gram Vikas has helped enable local people to govern themselves. The thrust areas are agriculture for sustenance, introduction of horticultural crops, empowerment through self help groups and development of the tribes with self-respect.
The first day of the New Year was spent in train and the Yatris involved themselves on discussion about the lives of the role models. The discussions also revolved on the present socio-economic and culture situation of India and how can the youth play a decisive role in it. The participants from foreign nation put forth their views about India and he challenges it has to overcome. The discussion was a melting pot for different ideas for making India a better nation.
On 2nd January, 2012, we reached Patna to meet Mr. Arvind Kumar, founder of Nidan. Nidan’s mission is to empower people so that they recognize and get implemented their rights. It has been working with informal workers and their children from Bihar to evolve a broad based movement for the implementation of the rights of the poor, be they education, health and livelihood. Nidan has its own para legal team and lawyers that assist victimize members. It works in close association with the government for the implementation of government projects in microfinance and insurance. NAVSI, based in Nidan, started off as a networking organization of street vendors. On one of the field visit of work area of Nidan, the women who are small time vendors, told the Yatris about the way they have been promoting saving schemes, insurance and even extending financial support to their families. All credit goes to Mr. Arvind Kumar and his passionate team.
The next stoppage of the train is a very poor village Barpaar in the sleepy district of Deoria in Uttar Pradesh. The village is where the Jagriti Seva Sansthan (JSS) has its roots. Even the logo of the JSS has been inspired by the centuries old banyan tree of the village. The village is undeveloped, far away the nearest town and probably even the electricity takes time to reach here. The villagers welcome the yatris with the beating of drums and Nagadas. The villagers and foreigners dance together demolishing the mental barriers of culture and tradition. The yatris visit the village to understand the socio-economic condition of the village and in the afternoon, they work upon various business plans related to agriculture, housing, tourism and information technology to change the situation of the village. In the evening these ideas are presented to the villagers and they select a few feasible projects that can help them. The selected project teams have been invited in the month of March to work upon their ideas. The villagers of Barpaar also thanked the Yatris in their own way with presentation of folk songs and dance.
More to follow soon…
Amit Sharan Singh is a final year student of IIM Raipur