How distressed rural migrants shelter in cities

Thursday, November 16, 2017
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In a roadside ghetto, Akila Bibi and others after a day’s hard work, separating white paper shreds from the colored ones for recycling. Earning Rs 3 a kg, they manage 30 kg to 50 kg a day. (Photo by Manipadma Jena)

Flood and drought often drive the rural poor to cities. Those who are landless often stay on. Risking lives under the open sky, they hope a city’s many work opportunities will help them survive somehow. At least 1% of every Indian city and town population is homeless. India’s urban population is 377 million, which means 218,750 shelters are needed across the country.

When forest guards wield the camera

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
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A still from one of the trap cameras in Pakke Tiger Reserve. Source: Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department

The short documentary shifts the gaze of an adventure tourist to that of someone who lives the jungle. Shot by two forest guards of Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh, it offers the exquisite close ups of the magic called nature, including 3 months of trap camera footage of various animals in action. But more than that it shows us the people who monitor our protected areas. 

Dalits embracing Buddhism need to go beyond politics 

Sunday, July 16, 2017
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A Buddhist shrine with Ambedkar's portrait. Source: Akuppa John Wigwam/Flickr

The Dalits in modern India use initiation into Buddhism as a symbolic protest. Recently, around 180 families immersed the idols of Hindu deities and took to Buddhism after a violent clash with members of upper caste in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Last year, over 300 Dalits took deeksha in Gujarat after seven Dalits were flogged for skinning a dead cow. ...

‘Maruti case highlights the deep rot in the system’

Friday, April 14, 2017
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Maruti Suzuki made gross mistakes in negotiating with workers.

Around 20,000 workers of Maruti Suzuki India Limited and its vendor companies went on a tool down strike in Haryana’s Gurugram district on March 18. This was to express solidarity with 13 former workers of Maruti Suzuki who were sentenced to life imprisonment for the death of a manager during rioting at the plant in 2012. Film maker Rahul Roy, who has made a documentary, ‘The Factory’, feels it’s an iconic case not just because of the workers...

‘तवायफें उच्च शिक्षित महिलाएं थीं जिन्हें नई नैतिकता ने सामाजिक परिदृश्य से हटा दिया’ 

Friday, October 30, 2015
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 रसूलन बाई अपनी ठुमरी के लिए प्रसिद्ध थी 

तवायफों ने उस युग में संगीत और साहित्यिक परिदृश्य में अपना योगदान दिया जब ज्यादातर महिलाएं पर्दे में रहती थीं। ‘द अदर सॉन्ग’ ऐसी फिल्म है जो कि इस बात की पड़ताल करती है कि कैसे इन कलाकारों का दमन किया गया, जिसके परिणामस्वरूप उनका पेशा विलुप्त होता चला गया। हमने बात की फ़िल्मकार सबा दीवान से इस कठिन विषय को पर्दे पर उतारने के अनुभव के बारे में

नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलनः सच्चाई से साक्षात्कार

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
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नाविक और मछुआरे सरदार सरोवर में अपने पानी और मछली पर हक के लिए प्रदर्शन करते हुए। सौजन्य: नर्मदा बचाओ आन्दोलन

नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन के साथ काम करने के मेरे निर्णय से बहुत से लोग आश्चर्यचकित थे। मध्य भारत के ग्रामीण इलाके में काम करके गर्मियों की छुट्टियां बिताने के मेरे फैसले पर  दोस्तों और परिजनों ने सवाल उठाए। लेकिन आंदोलन को लेकर मेरे मन में जो जिज्ञासा थी, मैं उसे शांत करना चाहती थी। 90 के दशक में पैदा होने के चलते मैं और मेरे जैसे बहुत से लोग देश के उन पलों के साक्षी नहीं बन सके जब कार्यकर्ता पूरे साहस के साथ आंदोलन के साथ खड़े थे। हम जब पैदा हुए...

समावेश की खेती

Monday, August 3, 2015
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जैविक खेती में विकलांगों का योगदान हैरानी उत्पन्न करता है

हमारे देश में विकलांग व्यक्तियों को ज्यादातर निरुपयोगी और आश्रित समझा जाता है। गाँव में यह हालात और भी बदतर हो जाते हैं जहां पर बुनियादी सुविधाओं की कमी और सहायक उपकरणों का आभाव विकलांगों को अपनी क्षमता पहचाने से रोकते हैं। ऐसी स्थिति में जैविक खेती में विकलांगों का योगदान हैरानी ही उत्पन्न करेगा। लेकिन बैतूल, मध्य प्रदेश, में  एक नई धारणा स्थापित हो रही हैं

अकाल अच्छे कामों का भी

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
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तालाब ऊपर से सूख जाने के बाद रेत में समा गई नमी को हमारे पुरखे न जाने कब से बेरी, कुंई नाम का एक सुंदर ढांचा बना कर उपयोग में ले आते हैं

आपके यहां कितना पानी गिरता है, आप ही जानें। हमारे यहां पिछले दो साल में कुल हुई बरसात की जानकारी हम आप तक पहुंचाना चाहते हैं। सन् 2014 में जुलाई में 4 एम.एम. और फिर अगस्त में 7 एम.एम. यानी कुल 11 एम.एम. पानी गिरा था। तब भी हमारा यह रामगढ़ क्षेत्र अकाल की खबरों में नहीं आया। हमने खबरों में आने की नौबत ही नहीं आने दी। फिर पिछले साल सन् 2015 में 23 जुलाई को 35 एम.एम., 11 अगस्त को 7 एम.एम. और फिर 21 सितंबर को 6 एम.एम. बरसात हुई। इतनी कम बरसात में...

बेघर विक्षिप्तों को समाज से जोड़ रहा ‘हाई’ क्लीनिक

बेघर लोगों में गंभीर मानसिक रोग ज्यादा अनुपात में मिलता है, बजाय उनके जो सुरक्षित रूप से बसे हैं। चित्र:  टोमस कास्तेल्जो

दिल्ली में एक मोबाइल क्लिनिक विशेष रूप से मानसिक रूप से बीमार लोगों को समाज से जोड़ने का कम कर रहा हैं। यह लोग हमारे समाज के सबसे कमजोर तबके से होने के कारण हमेशा कतार के आखिर में खड़े रह जाते हैं । कोई स्थाई घर न होने के चलते यह संवैधानिक अधिकार और निवारण तंत्र के तहत मिलने वाले उन लाभों से भी वंचित रह जाते हैं जिनसे वे अपनी जिदंगी बेहतर बना सकें। इस बात के पुख्ता प्रमाण मिले हैं कि बेघर लोगों में गंभीर मानसिक रोग ज्यादा अनुपात में मिलता है,...

‘When we have money they call us by our names, not our disabilities’

Sunday, January 31, 2016
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People with disability and their families are at core of this microfinance initiative

What can microfinancing scale up to is evident from a cooperative bank being run in Madhya Pradesh which caters to those with disabilities and their families. From modest people who saved Rs 20 every month, the members are now the stakeholders in a ooperative bank. Persons with a disability are the entry point to gain access to unprivileged neighbourhoods because they tend to be poorest of the poor. These families have the greatest need for...

‘केवल भूमि सुधार गरीबी और भ्रष्टाचार को रोक सकता है’

Saturday, June 7, 2014
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पर्दर्शनकारी 2007 में दिल्ली की तरफ पद यात्रा करते हुए । सौजन्य: एकता परिषद्

भूमि सुधार कानून स्वतंत्रता के बाद बनी सरकार की मुख्य प्राथमिकता थी जिसके तहत जमीन को अमीरों से लेकर गरीबों में बांट कर परंपरावादी जमींदारी प्रथा को समाप्त करना था। लेकिन आज किसी भी पार्टी के घोषणा-पत्र में यह नजर नहीं आता।  वर्ष 2012 में एकता परिषद् ने भूमि सुधार की मांग को लेकर ग्वालियर से दिल्ली तक पद यात्रा की थी। एकता परिषद् के अध्यक्ष पीवी राजगोपाल बता रहें हैं कि क्यों यह भूमि सुधार के लिए कठिन समय है और कैसे इससे निपटने के लिए अपनी...

'Tawaifs were highly educated women erased from social scene by new morality'

Friday, October 30, 2015
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Rasoolan Bai was a courtesan famous for her thumri.

Courtesans contributed to music and literary scene of an era when most women were in purdah. 'The Other Song' is a film that examines how we stigmatised these performers resulting in annihilation of their profession which could not meet the new moral standards of independent India.  Their whole existence was termed immoral both by the British colonialists and also ironically by the nationalists who themselves were English educated and...

Rural-urban shift is more fluid than we believe

Friday, September 11, 2015
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There is great fluidity of occupations in rural India.

Census 2011 brought in a revelation that the population of urban India increased much more than the rural population, for the first time in 90 years. If urban population shows greater increase, does that necessarily imply rural to urban migration, where the migrants have given up on agriculture? And when we say migration, is it only about rural to urban migration for better work opportunities? Is this an inevitably one sided transition? A...

Organic way to deal with disability

Monday, August 3, 2015
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A new set of smaller and lighter farm tools for those with functional disabilities have also been developed.

People with disabilities are often seen as unproductive beings requiring assistance from family members and community at large. This perception is starker in rural India where lack of varied work options, good public infrastructure and assistive devices leave little scope for those with disabilities to realise their potentials. An experiment in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh is challenging the old concepts by dovetailing orgnaic farming...

Last man in the queue

Friday, May 15, 2015
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Mental illness is more common among homeless than securely domiciled. Source: Tomas Castelazo

This mobile clinic in Delhi is especially aimed at mentally ill who live on streets of the capital. That they represent the most vulnerable of our society is a known fact. There is strong evidence to suggest that severe mental illness is more common among the homeless than the securely domiciled. An outreach camp, which helps these people regain their sense of belonging through innovative strategies, is thus more than welcome. Though there...

Small & Sustainable: Power to Pico

Friday, May 1, 2015
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a pico hydro unit in operation.

The devastating impacts of big hydel projects, including submergence of habitats, alteration of river ecosystem, and displacements, are well known. Alternatively, India has been harnessing hydropower through small, community-based set ups which range from traditional water flour mills of the hills called gharats to the modern projects which generate power between 0-100 kw. These plants, being decentralised and community controlled, offer a...

Movement in the woods

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
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FRA gives powers back to the people not only for using the resources but also for conservation and protection.

Forest Rights Act proposes to do away with historical injustices done to those living in and around forests. It might be a tribal sourcing out forest foods and cultivating the land or a non-tribal using the wood for building own house, the Act gives powers back to the people not only for using the resources but also for conservation and protection. But there's still a lot of ground to be covered and we should not miss trees for the wood. Here...

Deceived: The water carriers of Kangra

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
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The distance between community and its resource leads to disaster in the long run.

Man has always been on quest of building new things. Even when there were no big machines and qualified engineers, the world had expert builders who shaped the earth into various forms to meet needs of the society. Kuhls of Himachal Pradesh are one such example of engineering brilliance. Kuhl is name given to a channel which carries glacial melt through gravity from nearby streams to the fields thus making irrigation possible even on steep...

From field to CFL

Thursday, December 18, 2014
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The huge biomass resource of India can overcome the energy deficit. Source: Ramjar/WikimediaCommons

Around a thousand families of Thalangi tribal hamlet in Coimbatore district received free television sets from the Tamil Nadu government in 2006. But these were of no use as the houses had no electricity supply. Kerosene was the main source of lighting. Today, it is interesting to see how the hamlet has met all its energy needs and also attained complete sanitation through a biodigester. Though biodigesters have conventionally been used to...

Nature at my doorstep

Sunday, November 9, 2014
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Home strengthens the man-nature bond.

From climate-friendly homes of yore to monotonous concrete and glass structures of today, we are losing out on aesthetics and warmth. Stone and timber houses of Himachal Pradesh, circular bhungas of Kutch, stone buildings of Rajasthan or bamboo houses of north east, all are examples of architecture developed in context of local climate and culture. If we looked at our roots for inspiration, we would be evolving our own unique forms of...

Forests have got enough food for us

Thursday, November 6, 2014
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If maintained sustainably, forest can also be a source of income for the communities. Here villagers packing Sitaphal (sweet apple) in Udaipur district, Rajasthan.

Forests have been serving as food basket of several communities across India. Tribals have been traditionally sourcing their diet from forests. The cultivated lands, on the other hand, face starvation deaths in times of drought or flood as there’s no natural resource to fall back upon. But we rarely recognise forest as an able ally in the fight against hunger and food insecurity. In fact, the mainstream media looks at consumption of...

‘Leprosy is still a crime in India’

Thursday, June 26, 2014
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Gandhiji giving massage,to a leper patient, the Sanskrit scholar Parchure Shastri, at Sevagram Ashram in 1940. Source: Wikimedia Commons

How can access to education and good healthcare change somebody's life is evident from Suresh Dhongde's success. At one point of time he was staring at possibility of a life wasted. Today, the 35-year-old is a proud recipient of the national award for being a role model in overcoming leprosy. Not only is he helping other leprosy-affected people join mainstream, but also trying to break well-entrenched stereotypes related to the disease. He is...

Grass is always greener on the women’s side

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
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Women take turns to protect pastures from illegal tree felling.

When Kesi Bai became the Sarpanch of Chitamba panchayat in Bhilwara district, fortunately the going was not as tough as it is presumed to be for women in Rajasthan. She had support of her people, even if not total, and she made an efficient use of it. The first decision that Kesi Bai took was to revive the pasture land of her village Sanjadi Ka Badiya to ensure that everybody gets enough fodder and fuelwood from local sources. Reviving the...

Barter by the beel

Saturday, March 29, 2014
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Eatables laid out for exchange at Jon beel mela

This was my first time here. I had heard of this festival, perhaps the only existing one in India, where barter takes place at such a scale. Jon Beel mela in Jon Beel, Jagiroad Assam- a historic festival where people from the hills and plains come together for a unique exchange of goods and agricultural produce near a moon-shaped wetland. A place of extremes, of new and old, rustic and modern. The annual three-day festival has been celebrated...

Money savers of rural India

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
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Around 3 crore women are members of various SHGs. Source: MoRD

In a country where savings of poor families are meagre and banks not ready to risk giving loans, how do you fund local business plans? You let the poor be the bankers themselves. That’s what 2.5 million aptly named self-help groups (SHGs) do across India. The core belief behind SHGs is that poor can help each other by pooling in their savings and lending the money to the members in need. Linkage with banks also gets them easy credit for group...

‘Only land reforms can tackle poverty, corruption’

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
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Women protesters walking in Delhi under the banner of Ekta Parishad in 2007. Source: Ekta Parishad/Wikicommons

Land reforms were meant to right the wrongs of traditional zamindari system through redistribution of land from rich to the poor. On top priority of the government at the time of independence, land reforms don’t feature in any party manifesto now. In 2012, Ekta Parishad took out a foot march from Gwalior to Delhi demanding the same.The government agreed to the demands and drafted a homestead law which never got tabled in the Parliament. Ekta...

Echoes of Narmada

Monday, December 2, 2013
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Fishworkers and boatmen assert their right to water and fisheries in Sardar Sarovar. Source: NBA

I walked down the weather-beaten road of Jhanda Chowk in the direction that, I was told, would lead me to the office of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) in Khandwa town of Madhya Pradesh. Trudging along under the 47 degree sun, I couldn’t help but muse over the glorious images of intrepid activism, sweeping support and pandemic influence that the name NBA invokes. Undeniably, I entered the office expecting to walk into a maelstrom of hustle...

A school that doesn't teach

Thursday, November 21, 2013
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There's no imparting of education. Girls learn what they practice. Source: Surendra Bansal

Constant giggles, playful pulling of plaits and teasing is common in girls' schools. Though the Baba Aya Singh Riarki College in Gurdaspur is different in many ways, it is filled with similar scenes. This school is an exceptional experiment in education for rural girls of Gurdaspur and Amritsar. It dates back to 1934 when a social worker called Baba Aya Singh established a small ‘putri pathshala’ (girls’ school). He also set up the SKD High...

Reclaiming the lost glory of step wells

Sunday, November 24, 2013
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Baniyon Ki Bawdi near Ram Deora at Pratapgarh town. Source: GOI Monitor

In Rajasthan, water binds the society. The absence of abundant resources led to people perfecting the science of working along with nature to conserve every drop of that fell on this land. Respect for water is evident from the colourful monuments, gardens and temples built around traditional reservoirs, whether large ponds or deep wells. Beautiful bawdis (step wells) spread over the cities, villages and old trading routes of the state also...

From herd to house

Sunday, May 12, 2013
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Cattle herds are increasingly vanishing from Nokha. Source: GOI Monitor

Nokha town in Bikaner district of Rajasthan has an air of urgency. Large number of jeeps vying for road space with big trucks and lorries while trains, both long distance and local, hurtle past the barrier at regular interval. From the largest agriculture-based market established by erstwhile king of Bikaner, Maharaja Gangasingh, Nokha has transformed itself to a place known for a fledgling cement industry and small scale units manufacturing...

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