Crowdfunded Initiative feeds Thousand People a Nutritious Meal at Rs 5 daily in Haldwani

Arun Kumar wipes clean his lunch plate and with a satisfied burp, utters a silent prayer for the group which has provided him his mid-day meal. At just Rs 5, the migrant from east Uttar Pradesh who plies a rickshaw in Haldwani has had a full meal of rice, vegetables, dal and salad, all prepared under the supervision of specialised chefs. Almost a thousand people like Kumar are being fed every day by ‘Thaal Seva,’ a citizen initiative that has been crowdfunded through social media. A group of 10 Haldwani residents have come together to start the initiative which provides a thali of wholesome food consisting of 400 grams of rice, vegetables, lentils and salad.The founders of the group include housewives, professionals and local traders who collaborated on WhatsApp and Facebook and also secured funds through these mediums. Initially, says a member of the group, they managed to collect Rs 5000 each from around 400 persons which was enough to sustain them for a year. But as word spread about their work, donations started pouring in from as far as Canada, Dubai and Mauritius. The group now operates out of a fully-stocked kitchen (which became operational last week) that is manned by five cooks who prepare the meals. Dinesh Mansera, a Haldwani resident who is leading the initiative told TOI, “The idea started with the objective of providing affordable food to people who come to get their family members and relatives treated at the government hospital in Haldwani. Many of them cannot afford a four-square meal Subsequently, we expanded the scope of the project to include all people who could not afford a proper meal.”Rahul Varshney, a hotelier from the city whose chefs guide the team involved in cooking the meals, adds that “the response to the initiative has surpassed all expectations.” “People have just connected with the idea and want to be a part of it. We have been getting positive reactions and donations from all across the country as well as abroad.”This story was originally published at https://m.timesofindia.com/city/dehradun/crowdfunded-initiative-feeds-1000-people-a-nutritious-meal-rs-5-every-day-in-haldwani/amp_articleshow/66322494.cms 
Show More

Despite Death Threats, Fierce Official Frees 6,000 Hectares of Forest Land

‘We know where you live’, ‘We will show you’, ‘Take care of your family’ are some of the common verbal threats that Basu Kannogia has faced. Here’s how she fights against the tide to the right thing.Gopi KareliaNovember 23, 2019Famously called ‘Encroachment Eviction Specialist’ among her peers, Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, Basu Kannogia is known for her fearlessness.Ever since the 2012-batch officer took charge in 2014, Basu has been fighting against forest mafia for unlicensed sale of trees, illegal settlers on forest lands, miners and wildlife-related crimes.Basu has had her share of troubles for abiding by the laws without fear or favour. She has been in the epicentre of threats, and controversies.But that has not stopped the fierce woman from discharging her duties in a career spanning five years and seven transfers. Over the years she has successfully freed more than 6,000 hectares of encroached land in Madhya Pradesh.‘We know where you live’, ‘We will show you’, ‘Take care of your family’ are some of the verbal threats that Basu has faced many times.There have also been times when encroachers and forest officials have engaged in a physical tussle and gunshots had to be fired to control the situation.While Basu is brave enough to directly face the wrath, her family suffering because of this is not acceptable to her, “When times get tough, I disconnect all communications with my family members. It is unfair to drag my loved ones in the turmoil.”She adopts a common strategy to conserve the forests, regardless of the postings.“There are two types of encroachers – temporary and permanent. Usually, we have to take the land from temporary ones which happen to be the seasonal farmers,” she says.Basu starts with studying the locals and identifying schemes that could provide alternative livelihood or rehabilitation. Patrol or inspection is the next step which also makes for a subtle warning. Often, to ensure the quality check, Basu does not tell her teammates about the inspection.A discussion is held with the locals and legal route is taken only if there is resistance. In case of legal action, Preliminary Offence Report (POR), equivalent to an FIR is filed against the concerned people which is usually enough to get the work done. Post eviction, the forest department covers the land through plantation. The process lasts for anything between 30 days to four months.Basu has also taken local politicians and government officials head on. Refusing to bow down to them, she has even sent them notices like in 2018, she fought against the construction of the house in the forest area of Umaria district, MP, by sending legal notices to the collector and superintendent.Two months later, she was transferred. She met a similar fate in Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary for opposing illegal tree felling and in Laundi forest range in Chhatarpur where she managed to freed 300 hectares of land from illegal settlements. Her most recent transfer was from Panna Tiger Reserve, MP where she served as the Deputy Director.Within a year, Basu was handed a transfer letter without underlining the reason behind it.Presently, Basu is serving as the DFO in Ratlam Forest Department where she has already liberated 300 hectares of forest land from jungle mafia in just three months.Braveheart’s Message to Civil Aspirants“Saying no to favours or wrong things is the first and most crucial aspect of being a government official. Do not be afraid and use the platform to save nature and country. There will be a lot of people who will have hopes from you and your post. Working in administration is a thankless job, you won’t get a medal every time you do the right thing. Your batchmates may get more lucrative positions but it is inner satisfaction that will keep you going and make you do better each day amidst the mental pressure,” says Basu.In her seven years of service, the 33-year-old Kanpur woman has time and again proved that nothing is beyond the call of duty. No amount of threats, political interference or agitations can come in Basu’s way and distract her commitment to protect forests and wildlife.Here’s hoping that more civil aspirants turn out to as brave and loyal as Basu Kannogia. 
Show More

Working Tirelessly For 25 Years, This Hero Solved Water Woes in 500 villages of central India

When Ram Kumar, a resident of the Bijawar block in MP’s Chhatarpur district, was a child, his summers were marked by water problems and the departure of male members to urban areas.The recurring droughts forced my father and uncles to migrate, while my mother would walk several miles to fetch water from a neighbouring village, begins Ram in a conversation with The Better India.The men would return during monsoons to work on their farms only if the rainfall patterns were enough to provide water and refill the Barana river basin, which is a major source of water for the village.The issue of drought, scanty rainfalls and migration continued till Ram graduated from college. Then, in 2013, the situation changed drastically.Not only did the problem of water scarcity vanish, but the plot of land owned by his family started yielding up to 25 quintals of produce as against 3-4 per acre.How did this happen?Singh and the other farmers in the block, thank the water conservation steps taken by Avani Mohan Singh, the founder of an NGO named Haritika, which was founded in 1994 and works in rural areas to turn water-scarce regions into water abundant ones.How It All StartedThe son of an IAF officer, Avani grew up in different towns and cities across the country. From Assam, Delhi, Pune, Gorakhpur to Kanpur, he has lived in rural and urban areas.After completing his Masters in Zoology from Gorakhpur University, he pursued a one-year course on Environmental Education from the Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad.The course was “life-changing. I worked with various environmental organisations tackling issues like water, farming, tree plantation, and so on. The extensive fieldwork was my wake up call to work for the development sector, he tells The Better India.However, due to family pressure, he decided to take up a well-paying job in a pharmaceutical company in Mumbai.While I continued with the job for some time, I did not let my passion fade away. I would interact with the founders of NGOs working in the same area to understand the operations and expertise required. Finally, in 1994, I found the courage to quit and start Haritika. Of course, my family members were severely opposed to the idea; some even called me insane for leaving the job. But I did not budge, he adds.Understanding the ProblemIf there was anything he learnt from his personal experience of living in multiple regions and the fieldwork he had completed, it was how people were clueless about managing water resources.Low rainfall in rural areas leads to rampant extraction of groundwater so that the population can meet its household and agricultural needs. Meanwhile, the ponds and lakes go dry due to waste dumping and pollution, and when there is rainfall, there is no way to conserve water and this, in turn, disrupts their lives. It is a vicious circle, explains Singh.Singh also throws light on the plight of Bundelkhand, where he has carried out the majority of his projects. Located in Central India, close to 70 per cent of the land is used to grow food. Of this, only 10 per cent of land is highly fertile. As a result, the remaining land requires more water and care. Several farmers end up taking loans and live in debt forever.Sanitation is another problematic area. Open defecation was rampant, and I came across so many cases where women and girls would feel unsafe every time they had to relieve themselves. So, I decided to work in this field as well.Working towards the SolutionAfter collecting his savings and leaving his house, Singh moved to Jhansi’s Rund Karari block. He single-handedly carried out a survey to identify households without toilets and drinking water supply and took up the task to supply both.The NGO was new and thus getting funds from corporates was not possible, so I approached the District Rural Development Agencies (DRDA), Jhansi that oversees the implementation of different anti-poverty programmes.With funds from the DRDA and the beneficiaries, Singh was able to install toilets and construct pipelines for drinking water within a year.The success gave his work much-needed validation and the confidence to address more significant problems. He also understood the importance of government schemes and how they could help him in the mission.Schemes Used For The Upliftment of the LocalsOne of the most significant schemes that Singh has implemented to improve the plight of farmers drastically is the Integrated Watershed Development Programme.The scheme focuses on water conservation methods and farming techniques that can increase the yield. Under it, we have helped several farmers to shift from single-cropping to intercropping. Haritika trained the farmers, and the government provided seeds for free.Haritika also revived the already constructed water harvesting structures like dams, ponds and nalas with the CSR funds of organisations like Wateraid, Coca Cola India, Mahindra & Mahindra, UNICEF, HDFC Bank and so on. He also got their tractors to remove the silt formed on the water bodies.In fact, to create a sense of ownership, all the rejuvenation activities undertaken by Haritika, involve the villagers. For example, 15-20 per cent of the funding required for every activity is contributed by the villagers.Under the Drought Prone Areas Programme, the state government granted 65 lakhs to the NGO to implement the scheme over a period of five years. This scheme also aims to minimise the problems arising from drought.Field bunding was one of the steps taken to reduce the water runoff from the fields. Earthen bunds (or walls) are constructed on the side of sloping lands to retain the water washed from the fields.Wells were dug in individual farmlands. The wells retained the rainwater, charged groundwater tables and at the same time provide water to farmers. In addition to that, community wells were also 440 dug in 40 villages in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.With financial assistance from National Bank For Agriculture & Rural Development, Haritika helped 36 villages in Jhansi and Chhatarpur develop fruit orchards on 2000 acre of wasteland, thus providing a livelihood to the tribals. The farmers earn up to one lakh every from selling fruits like guavas and mangoes.For every project, Singh and his team shift temporarily to that particular village until it is completed.It is hard leaving my wife and son behind in Jhansi. But the satisfaction I get at the completion of the project is all worth it. I hope to continue the projects under Haritika for as long as I can.Inspired by the activities of Haritika, Ram joined the NGO in 2015 as a Programme Manager.I could have stayed back in my village and joined my family in farming. But I saw the difference made by the NGO, and that motivated me to be a part of it and help others, he says.Singh has dedicated almost half of his life towards working for the betterment of others without asking for anything in return.This article was originally published at The Better India. https://www.thebetterindia.com/195698/madhya-pradesh-hero-solves-water-woes-villages-sanitation-farmers-impact-india/
Show More

Poverty Eradication Through Quality Primary Education

“If poverty can be abolished in this century, it can only be possible through knowledge ” – Shri Narendra ModiThis quote outlines how important education is for the well-being of a country’s economy, as it brings multifaceted benefits to the entire nation.India struggles to fill the schools with teachers across the hinterland, leading to poor quality of education and innumerable dropouts. Quality education is necessary for a better future. icareindia has kept this observation in mind; many poverty- ridden regions have unorganised and improper education systems. Just having schools and colleges does not ensure education. The total implementation of knowledge is necessary, which is gained as well as developed through experiences and learning – resulting in development of skills and interests.Primary education is the foundation builder of a person’s career, as well as life. Thus, basic primary education needs to be of better quality.icareindia targeted government primary schools by involving interns and volunteers from various fields to introduce new training programs for primary school children, to help in positive transformation of the society. It is commonly noticed at such schools that education is given in an unattractive and uninterested way. Therefore, children weren’t interested in going to school to study, but rather went for mid-day meals, uniforms, dresses, as well as books. The first and the foremost thing our team targets to solve this problem is making the teaching pattern attractive by using pictures, charts, and various types of educational games. This also include proper practical demonstration of whatever is being taught.Even after returning back to their homes, students barely open their school books or notebooks. This is also the reason why many children don’t prioritize their studies, as most parents in poverty- ridden areas give more importance to work.Children need to get engaged in their studies and develop their interests, as primary education is also the interest initiator in a child. Interest development will take place correctly only when proper information, proper techniques, use as well as availability of education is understood.The best way to fight poverty is to empower people through access to quality education. Poverty- ridden families have children who lack quality education, which further results in an uninterested attitude towards learning and lack of interest development in any particular field for further studies in future. Hence, this results in unemployment and cheap work or job opportunities. This problem needs to be worked upon to eradicate poverty.A healthy mind finds opportunity everywhere from the beginning, and if the child is provided with quality education, it will lead to his/ her upliftment as well as his/her  family’s. Good education provides better working opportunities as well as respectful earnings.In some government schools, icareindia interns conduct extra-curricular activities, as it is an important step towards the development of skills and interests of children. Co-curricular activities like singing, dancing, instrument playing, drawing, painting, sports etc. need to be introduced properly in government schools so that children know that they can develop career in these field also. These fields will help in discovering new talents, for which our interns tirelessly work with them to discover their potentials.Lastly, it could be easily depicted that poverty is due to lack of proper education and illiteracy, which can be overcome if we start working from its roots- from the childhood stage. Enhancing the quality of primary education is important, as education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. Anoop is a senior IT professional with long international experience and is the founder of icareindia, who’s mission is to help children escape poverty through access to quality education with equal attention on environment sustainability, health & hygiene. We have also initiated a community health index project some time ago, focusing on preventive healthcare, nutrition and hygiene aspects of pregnant ladies, infants and adolescent girls. In the impact driven social program, youth energy is channelized through social volunteering, internship, fellowship/leadership programs to nurture them as youth and community leaders. 
Show More

Role of a Citizen in Infrastructure Development

Infrastructure Development - Need of the hour        In 2015, I came to Chhattisgarh's small city Jangir Champa.It is famous worldwide for it's Kosa Silk. My parents stay here. The city has two to three big thermal power plants which cater to the electricity needs of the state as well as the country. The road connectivity in the state is extremely poor due to which the socio-economic development lags in all aspects. The poor facilities led to an extremely narrow mindset and a very superstitious world in the state. In view of the grievance regarding road development, I posted on Grievance Redressal Portal of Central Government. The government officials were also contacted for the same. Finally, the grievance was accepted and a four lane highway was created from Jangir to Bilaspur and further extending to Raipur. The cemented roads of the highway reduced the travel time to almost an hour. It is also increasing economic activities such as opening up of new car showrooms, food and grocery stores, and many others which are creating convenient options for the people in terms of basic necessity. The new highway also aims to bring new commercial projects to the city which would generate more employment for the local people.I took this small initiative to develop basic infrastructure in the city and thus, bring smiles to every community of this area by providing a convenient access to daily needs and even branded items.
Show More
Disclaimer: All the information on this website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. This website does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information.