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The Streets of Kukma Village in Bhuj, Gujarat Stand out

Shreya Kumar
29/09/20
When we think of a village we imagine a ‘bargad ka ped’ (Banyan tree) as a focal point, where an elderly wise man takes center stage under the tree, giving out advice to a group of villagers encircled around him, listening to him with full attention. But in today’s story, the position which is often occupied by male folk is altered and is now led by a woman ‘without’ a veil, who carries a strong determination to transform her village into a ‘model’ village.Overcoming this deep-seatexd bias against woman in power is Kankuben Vankar, the Sarpanch of Kukma village in Bhuj, Gujarat.In rural India, women are viewed as caretakers of the family. They have been left out of all strategic decisions that have been taken either in their villages or inside their homes. With no control over resource allocation and zero decision-making power, these women have been elbowing against the age-old patriarchal structures that have limited their socialagency. Woman in power - Kankuben VankarBorn in an extremely disadvantaged family of the Scheduled Caste community (a weavers community), Kankuben could not complete her schooling owing to the financial condition of her family. She was elected as a Panchayat body member in 2011. However, as a member of the Panchayat, she did not get much opportunities to perform her duties. It was her faith in her vision and capabilities that led her to contest for the Sarpanch’s position, in the next term, when one seat was reserved for a person from the SC community.Kankuben contested for it and became the Sarpanch of her village. This event opened doors to changes in the age-old norms and social restrictions that were standing in the way of the development of the village.To enable this, EdelGive’s partner NGO Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), which works on fostering women’s leadership on socio, economic, political and cultural spheres, hasplayed a significant role. KMVS has developed an elected women representative’s forum, where KMVS trained these elected members to have a gendered approach towards the developmental issues of their villages. Various trainings were conducted to make them aware about their roles and responsibilities as they address the prevailing women’s issue and support them in overcoming the existing barriers. KMVS also initiated a safety programme for women in Kutch, where they actively engage with women electedrepresentatives to help them bring the agenda of safety under their purview.Kankuben was an active member of the forum as well as the trainings by KMVS. KMVS played an active role in building her perspective on important subjects like LocalGovernance and its Role and Functions, Gender Issues, Social Perceptions, Constitutiona Law, among others. Within no time, Kankuben gained confidence and developed theleadership skills required to lead the village as its first female Sarpanch. The streets of Kukma village have a purposeOne of the first interventions that Kankuben took up was to ensure a fall in the dropout rate of the girl child from school. For Kankuben, her aspiration was simple- every girl in her village should be educated. As a solution, she arranged free transportation services for the children, as well as expedited the construction and building of roads for ease of travelling. In one of the safety audit exercise, women and girls from her village shared their safety concerns of accessing public spaces, especially the nearby bus stand. The women and girls have reported the issue of eve teasing earlier as well. These instances greatly restricted their mobility. These incidences increased the dropout rates of girls along with a general apathy towards a particular gender and right to education.As a Sarpanch, Kankuben decided to intervene. She registered an official complain in the nearby police station and used her authority to place enough streetlights on the roads toavoid incidences around eve-teasing and sexual harassment. A discussion during one of the Panchayat meetings led Kankuben and other members to ask a pertinent question – “If a street name can have a man’s name, why not a woman’s?”For Kankuben, this question led to a plethora of underlying issues. One of the critical issues, that kept raising its head time and again, was the issue of lesser girls being able to pursu their higher education. She wanted more and more girls from the community to be inspired to continue their education.She called on the village committee for a discussion and came up with a path-breaking decision – the first of many ground-breaking ideas that she implemented in her village. She announced that the street names of Kukma village would be named after the girls who top education outcomes in the community. This was a small effort on behalf of theadministration to recognise girls who had completed her higher education, and instil confidence in the minds of young girls to not drop out of the education system. Students who have the streets named in their honour A ‘model’ SarpanchSince taking charge, Kankuben has not just worked hard to empower the women of the village, she has also ensured that basic infrastructure like roads, hospital and schools are inplace. She ensured that the ‘feeling of safety’ is nurtured by challenging the patriarchal norms that led to violence. One of the key initiatives she took was to address the social evilof alcoholism in her village by sensitising the community. Along with the Panchayat members, she has also been working on facilitating the various government schemes andloan facilities for villagers who need it the most. A National Award winning Toran artist, Kankuben firmly believes that the development of a village is determined by the development of its women. For her efforts, the Kukma Gram Panchayat was awarded the ‘Best Sarpanch Award’ by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. The work that she has been spearheading in her community was recently featured in a BBC documentary. Kankuben’s story is a testimony to how effectively a woman can put her village on the path to progress and change its narrative, if given a chance! About Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS)Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS) was founded in 1989 with the objective of organizing rural women of Kutch to facilitate their empowerment.  Since inception, the aim of KMVS has been the empowerment of rural women; and fostering their leadership – economic, political, social and cultural – through conscious-raising, organization and their mobilization into local collectives, capable of independently addressing gender inequities in their region.  About EdelGive FoundationEdelGive Foundation has been supporting KMVS initiatives since 2016. EdelGive Foundation is a grant-making organisation, helping build and expand philanthropy in India by funding and supporting the growth of high-calibre small to mid-sized NGOs. EdelGive makes, receives, and manages grants, to empower vulnerable children, women, and communities via a zero-cost platform.  
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Millets - Are These Lesser Known Cereals Slowly Making A Comeback?

They may be lesser known cereals but millets are extremely nutritious, climate-resilient and have been consumed for a very long time in India. And if reports are to be believed they are eventually making a comeback in our diets. While wheat and rice still continue to remain the most preferred cereals, consumption of Jowar, Bajra and Ragi (Millets family) are being promoted at many places across the country.One of the States where millets are apparently replacing the conventional cereals is Odisha, where local administration and NGOs are playing an instrumental role in promoting the cereals.The Odisha Government had launched Odisha Millets Mission (OMM) also known as the Special Programme for Promotion of Millets in tribal areas across 14 districts of the State in 2017 to revive millets in farms and on plates. The sole aim was to fight malnutrition by introducing millets in the public distribution system (PDS) and other state nutrition schemes.For the implementation of project, women Self Help Groups (SHGs) were roped in for educating people on nutritious cooking and diet with a mobile kitchen model.Eventually, Keonjhar became the first district in Odisha to introduce the locally cultivated ragi as a part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) for the first time in Odisha and implement it under pre-school meal programme to bolster nutritional dietary intakes.According to a report, 47 quintals of locally-grown ragi has been procured from farmers in Keonjhar to distribute ragi laddu mix to school students. In the month of September, as many as 86,293 pupils have benefited under the scheme.The report added, there are 1990 farmers across 163 villages in Keonjhar district who are earning a livelihood through cultivation of millets. Through various initiatives, farmers are being trained in the district to revive millet farming. Following which, millet cultivation in the district has increased from 190 hectare in 2019 to 774 hectare in 2020.
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Transformational Project of Global Importance for Students

“Youth are the future: neglecting them would be akin to neglecting the future” ~  Decarbonize Decolonize YouthThe transformational project that I spearheaded as a Country Representative and Project Facilitator was about “Climate Change”. The objective of this project was to enable the students (Under 18 years) of India to initiate awareness and action by empowering them in conversations on Climate Change Education, Impact and Vulnerabilities. This was made possible by the Centre for Global Education, Edmonton, Canada, in partnership with Ocean Wise and under moral patronage of UNESCO, with input from such branches as the Intergovernmental Hydrology Programme, Ecohydrology, Biosphere Reserves, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet),who initiated this project by involving  students (under 18 years) where, Mr.Terry Godwaldt, Executive Director of The Centre for Global Education, was able to bring together Global Lead Schools (many of them being UNESCO schools) from countries spanning every continent of the World like Canada, USA, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, Spain, Denmark, Slovenia, Latvia, Germany, Turkey, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Nepal, Bangladesh,  China, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, The students from these countries  were able to put forth their perspective to academicians, researchers and policy makers of the world by participating in an event of international importance - COP25 – UN Climate Change Conference at Madrid, Spain in December 2019.  The Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet, Hyderabad was identified as the Global Lead School to represent India in this Global Forum. A team of  students - Aditya Sriram Pandrangi, Ankith Rao,  Akanksha Parakala, Sairam Patnam, Syed Affan, Ashray Padavala, Hamza Azad, Likhith Aliveli, Kundana Aliveli, Pavan Trishu Vijayakumar, Tanish Manem from classes 8 to 10 under the guidance of their teacher Ms. Usha Sudhir, worked hard for four months, preparing blogs, researching and collecting information about climate change in India. This project was facilitated by me, an ex-parent of the school, presently an Independent Educational Consultant based in Hyderabad.In this project, students researched, shared information regarding climate change in their country, their opinion on global warming, other changes in the environment by posting blogs under different aspects, such as climate change in their locality, effect of colonisation on indigenous activities, case study on a location within the country where their own country or a foreign power is extracting resources in ways that contribute to climate change. Important questions under this activity were pre-bilateral case study, analysing climate change solutions conducted with the bilateral partner country. The interaction with students from other countries happened virtually using video conferences across various time zones and information acquired was compared with the case studies for similarities and dissimilarities. After months of preparation, Mr.Aditya Sriram(student) and Ms.Usha Sudhir (teacher) travelled with me to Madrid, Spain to represent India at the COP25. They shared opinions with students of other countries in various forms like interactive simulations about the role of UN in tackling Climate Change and artwork, presentations. The students researched about “Climate of India”, “Climate challenges in our area”, “Process of interaction, communication, compiling, sharing”, “Action projects in India against climate change”, “Paris Agreement”, “Colonizing trends of past and present” and finally synthesised the research and compiled it in a “Global Youth White Paper” which focussed on areas like deforestation, industry, representation and education outlining not only the issues faced by the countries and calling for action but also providing solutions in the form of youth commitments, summarizing the results of the survey conducted across the world, which again formed the voice of the students (under 18 years) was presented to the UN Secretary General, Secretary - UNFCCC and other world leaders at the COP25 along with meeting delegates and dignitaries from various countries to discuss their white paper.As a Project Facilitator, I was also able to bring together students from 12 other schools in India across the country and the informal sector, who used indigenous art forms like Warli Art, to express their concerns,views, opinions, ideas and innovations about climate change in the form of drawing, painting, collage,projects, music etc and participate in the “Youth Art for Climate Change” section of the project. Six of the eight art works selected by the jury at the UN were by Indian students. A student from Maharashtra designed a device to translocate trees which also earned accolades. Participation in this project through events of international importance by collaborating with their peers across the world, students, in their quest to become global citizens, acquired awareness about SDGs along with many other life skills  like presentation skills, fostering logical and analytical reasoning, problem solving abilities which gave them confidence to handle Q&A sessions, discussions with academicians, researchers and policy makers, motivation to take leadership roles and initiate actionable projects, campaigns and activities based on their research and case studies. Activities involving water calculator and carbon calculator gave students a perspective about impact of environmental degradation that has engulfed earth. Students became critical thinkers when they successfully examined and worked on case studies involving the following at length during and after the events:Oil exploration from BangladeshContinuous and incessant rains spreading beyond regular season, causing flooding in several cities in the country – data collected and analyzed with meteorological department Pollution of rivers, lakesPollution of cities – notably DelhiInterlinking of rivers – Rally for riversEffects of colonizationTo translate their learnings into actions, students in India have now undertaken the following projects to protect the environment on an on-going basis:Waste segregation in school – Students of waste to enable composting, reuse, recycle and make this a culture of their home, institution and community also.Composting – taken up in school premises to reduce use of vegetable waste and convert into manure for kitchen gardenKitchen Garden in schoolE-waste collection driveBeing an Educational Consultant in India and a member of various educational organizations in the country, I have easy access to many schools across the country, which enables me to integrate students of schools from different demographic zones like rural and urban settings, the informal sector etc., in various projects.  This helps to get a wider perspective about the concerns, views, opinions, ideas and innovations across a cross-section of the society, which can be generally taken as a majority opinion or belief of the country. Secondly, it also gives me a chance to provide a platform to voice the thoughts and innovative ideas, that students from underprivileged regions demonstrate, who otherwise do not get such an opportunity. The project submitted by Rituparn Kulkarni of Class 8 from Jaihind Public School, Udgir, Maharashtra [rural setting], where he developeda device to translocate trees rather than cut them in the name of development is a very good example. This project won him accolades. Art as a means of expression to convey their hardships caused by changes in the climate also was highly appreciated at COP.Projects like “Climate Change” enable the students toconnect with real life situations and experiences very easily and participation helps the students to gain awareness about current events, develop soft skills like logical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving, creative and critical thinking, acquire leadership skills and take responsibility for their learning and actions along with other skills and attributes.By:Lakshmi Annapurna ChintaluriIndependent Education [email protected]://in.linkedin.com/in/clannapurna
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Gaming Solution: Develop Your Own Games Online!

At a time when the world is facing an unprecedented challenge, students and educators have had to adapt to a different kind of schooling. The priority that governs these changes in imparting education is that while the mode may change, learning should continue.Meet Amith, a bright young child who loves playing games like many others his age. His curiosity made him wonder what goes into creating the games he loves so much. He often asked himself how all this was done, and aspired to be able to someday create those games himself. For students like Amith, this lockdown meant that his learning was brought to a halt. Or so he thought.At Learning Links Foundation, we firmly believe that with passion and purpose guiding our work, we can create, sustain and scale our powerful impact-driven initiatives. We looked at exploring different ways to ensure that despite the COVID -19 lockdown, learning continues to happen consistently and consciously.In particular, we noticed that the tinkering movement was proving to be a huge success. Along with our partners Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, Government of India and Dell Technologies, we saw an opportunity to implement a first-of-its-kind program – ‘Tinker from Home’. Our idea was to ensure that students get an opportunity to build creativity, innovation, problem-solving and critical thinking skills regardless of where they tinker and without being burdened by too many pre-requisites. Harnessing the collective synergy of our partnership, we launched a web portal, ‘Gaming Solution’.This online, open source, accessible, and free-to-use gaming portal enhances learning through game- based education. The initiative equips anyone with a basic device and an internet connection to create games using interactive guides that run across three levels – beginner, intermediary and advanced. Each level is linked to a larger theme, which corresponds to one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The students can go through the levels at their own pace. Convenient and simple to use, the platform ensures that students do not have to stare at screens for long durations. Technology will play a big role in shaping the future of our students and will have a direct impact on their employability. The Gaming Solution portal gives students an exciting way to engage with technology, while developing 21st century skills such as creativity, problem solving, design thinking, and analytical skills. It encourages them to be creators, rather than remain mere consumers.Educators too have benefitted from this portal. It has helped them nurture the spirit of innovation in their students in a novel and interactive way. They have gained insight into the new-age skills required to create strong leaders for the bright future of our country. We have a dedicated team of trainers who orient the teachers to this platform such that they are empowered to amplify the learning that happens inside their classrooms. Our trainers are regularly upskilled on how to harness the potential of the virtual platform effectively.Today, Amith has moved from being a game player to a game creator – a shift that has brought newfound excitement to his life. He enjoys going through the learning videos, which are easy to understand and well explained. Amith now has something to look forward to after he completes his schoolwork. He is eager to spend time on the platform, exploring his creativity and trying out new things.Amith is one of over 9 lakh students who have benefitted from this Gaming Solution portal, along with more than 5000 educators. Students have come up with inspiring and innovative ideas to solve community problems. One student has created a game which allows the user to play around with various electronic components and learn more about circuits. Another student set out to solve the water shortage problem in the community by creating a game that propagates rainwater harvesting.In this game, the player is challenged to collect or save as much rainwater as possible. If we are to meet the needs of workforce 2030, we need to think out of the box to build relevant skills and this gaming solution is an important step in that direction. 
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Beaureaucrat turned Padwoman of India

                                                                A journey of creating Pad men and Pad women across India amidst covid by Aman Preet , IRS                                                                                                                  Whenever there has been a disease outbreak it has been reported that women of vulnerable sections of society are impacted the most. There have been several reports which show that impacts of COVID-19 have adversely impacted women from weaker sections of the society. Globally emphasis is being given on importance of personal hygiene in combating the spread of coronavirus. For women personal hygiene includes menstrual hygiene as well, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on a major part of the menstruating population of India. Lockdown, movement restrictions, health facility closures, closures of schools and colleges  have affected the  access to sexual and reproductive health services along with availability of sanitary products. The economic fallout has also impacted access to sanitary pads and has impacted the physical and mental health of those who menstruate.In these times when we are going through ahumanitarian crisis , Aman Preet a 2010 batch IRS Officer along with the help of her family, friends, fellow civil servants, volunteers, NGO’s, foundations, and, entrepreneurs has reached to 17 Indian states and has provided menstrual products to the needy and underprivileged women. The drive was started by Sangini Saheli Trust founded during COVID-19 by her friend Priyal Bhardwaj. The issue came to Aman Preet’s notice through an article in a local newspaper in which it was mentioned that with the closing of schools and colleges, the subsidised or free supply of sanitary pads has also been stopped. Female students in fact, wrote to the administration to help them by supplying them this ‘necessary item’ along with other essentials. Many social organisations and individuals came forward to whole heartedly help the poor and the vulnerable sections of society by providing them ration, masks, sanitisers but sanitary pads were not considered important enough to be provided. Shortage of supply and the hike in rates was the major problem during lockdown. When Sangini Saheliprovided pads to the construction workers working in Lady Hardinge College with the help of Aman Preet’s batchmate EishSinghal,IPS and Pragya Anand, IPS ,the women told that this shortage of supply had made them resort to their old ways of using clothes .With the help of AkanshaSingh, wife of Mr. Alok Singh, IPS Commissioner of Police Gautam Budh Nagar distribution of hygiene kits containing sanitary pads was done in several slums and rural pockets of Uttar Pradesh.While the world is shifting to a newer normal every day, millions of us are not able to survive the magnitude of this change. The pandemic is not only a health crisis but an economic, financial, security and also a humanitarian crisis.   As part of an initial response towards the fight against COVID-19 and making a difference in the lives of the migrant women workers who were travelling back from bus stops and railway stations, pads were provided to them . This small step taken initially has now become a Pan India initiative. Her crusade has provided over 12.5 lakh packets of sanitary pads in over 17 states of India.With her help Sangini  Saheli has provided  relief supplies of sanitary pads and NGO-Ek Prayas is still providing other hygiene essentials to the patients and volunteers fighting with COVID-19 at world's largest COVID Care facility - Sardar Patel COVID Centre and Hospital at Radha SoamiSatsang Beas, Chattarpur. Their efforts were appreciated by DM, B.M.Mishra, IAS .Till date more than 2000 patients have been recovered from this facility which include womenIn Punjab, Hon’ble ADGP Shri. P.K. Sinha Sir supported the initiative and facilitated the timely distribution of menstrual products in women cells of all the 14 Punjab Prisons. Similarly DIG Shri. Madhur Verma, IPS posted in Arunachal Pradesh facilitated the distribution in all 20 mahila thanas there. Meerut jail and Tihar jail were also provided the supplies. In Assam, her batchmate Rocktim Saikia and his wife Dr. Pallavi along with IRS officers facilitated the Relief supplies of sanitary pads in Sarusajai Quarantine Centre, Guwahati. Several shelter homes, ashrams,observatory homes, kusht ashrams, homes for specially abled women and girls have been sent supplies of sanitary napkins during lockdown.                                                   This journey was full of many challenges also .Some people refused to distribute pads expressing disregard for ‘impure’ items to people even refusing to take ration if sanitary napkins were given along with it. Women saying that they need to take permission from her husbands and in laws to buy this,some women taking the supplies for their daughters and telling “didi yeh mehngi cheez hai ,bachi use kar legi,mere liye kapda hi theek hai” and telling horrendous stories of how they were using the discarded clothes of house to stop the menstrual blood to spill over .        In Bengal, with the help of her batchmates Atul Kumar Pandey and Nivedita Prasad  posted there,hygiene menstrual products have been provided in Sundarbans, Perulia and several slums across Bengalafter Amphan created havoc.  The women told that their every little thing was washed away in Amphan and not even a single piece of dry cloth was there with them to use to make even a cloth pad. Many girls told that as now their parents have become jobless as they were daily wagers and now they have no means to buy pads .                   When  Aman Preet  Came to know about the massive fire that broke out in the slums of South-East Delhi’s Tughlakabad area on 25th May 2020 , she along with her husband Sh. Dikshit Passy went there to provide them the relief supplies of pads provided by Rotary Club Of Delhi Metro. They were told by the women there that around 1500 shanties were burnt ,leaving hundreds of people homeless.  With the support of Rajendra Prasad Meena,(DCP), South East around 500 packets of Sanitary napkins were distributed .Women there touched Aman Preet’s feet and said, “Didi no one has thought of providing this to us since the lockdown has started. We were provided ration but not this .”                      Similar story was narrated by Aman Preet’s mother Smt. Neeru Kalsi who is AMO in Ludhiana after organising an awareness session on importance of personal and menstrual hygiene in times of COVID in slums of Basti Jodhewal in Ludhiana .She told that one woman was wearing saree with stains of menstrual blood . Lack of proper sanitation facilties and use of community toilets in many areas across country make the women more vulnerable to the diseases related to their menstrual health.        People of rural India still feel shame in acknowledging the fact that healthy periods are  the reason behind reproduction. Instead of considering  it as a gift from God, a virtue by which she will be a  ‘MOTHER’, it is considered to be a dirty and impure process. Mere mention of periods, menstrual cycle is considered  a taboo. Still the  cultural and social influences are so strong  and create a hurdle when we try to impart  knowledge on this subject. Aman Preet’sinspector Satbir Dahiya and his wife Sangeeta who provided pads in Sonipat and surrounding areas told that understanding related to topics like puberty, menstruation and reproductive health is very low in many areas. When the drive was taken to Narnaul by Nishant , many girls told that they are forced to skip school during the days they menstruate as they fear that odour of menstrual bloodd or stains on their clothes will stigmatise them .Her batchmate Gunjan Varshney ,IRS told that while discussing the problems faced by women in Ashoka Garden,Bhopal she came across many misconceptions being taught to the girls like some of them asked her whether to take bath or not during their periods. Munmun Sharma ,IRS also created awareness in Bijapuri, ,Jabalpur and told the tribal women of the area that bathing during menstruation is very essential and they should not  compromise their hygiene during this time of month .                In Ayodhya, Ankita Singh ,IRS who lead the campaign told that all women who were provided pads were asking for a newspaper or something to hide the pads. Women told that “masik dharm “, is still considered to be dirty and impure and they are not allowed to do puja . They wrapped the sanitary pad packets in their sarees or dupattas while carrying them back home . Ankita Pandey ,IRS when distributed pads to the women in Vadodra she told that many women didn’t knew about what healthy periods are . When we reached Doda district in Jammu ,Sanya khan the volunteer there told that in some pockets the women held pads for the first time and were taught how to use them . When Aman Preet reached to the sex workers of Delhi at G.B.Road to provide them pads she was told that pads have not been provided to them since the lockdown started and now they had no means to buy these luxury items .Similar story was narrated by the sex workers residing in Hawla ,Madhya Pradesh where the supplies reached with the help of her batchmate Anup Jain,IRS. In Buldhana, Maharashtra the drive was taken forward by her friend Suman Chandra ,IAS . In Giridh ,Jharkahnd a volunteer of the same village Shyam Prajapti who approachEd Aman Preet on her Facebook account initiated the movement and told that as still there is  lack of awareness on menstrual health amongst the women of this village he engaged local doctors also to spread awareness. In Patiala ,Aarti Verma,SSPO is spreading awareness on the topic and on her birthday she raised funds and bought pads and distributed in rural pockets of Patiala .Her friends carried forward this initiative to Uttrakhandand Jharkhand also . In Hyderabad ,Dr.Sandhya Rani w/o Aman Preet ‘s batchmate  Shri.Suresh Babu,IRS working in Mahashhwaram Mandal Primary Health Centre Distibuted sanitary napkins to the underprivileged women  ,migrant women of Dubbacherla village of Maheshhwaram Mandal along with other remote areas during lockdown .                              In India ,though  policymakers have now listed pads as an essential commodity  but still its accessibility and reach is considered as a luxury. There has been a huge impact on menstrual hygiene products and also the access to women healthcare essentials has remained limited since the beginning of this crisis . Further the taboos and myths associated with menstruation makes it difficult for the people still lingering in old age customs and traditions to talk about it openly. Lack of awareness, un-affordability and age-old taboos and restrictions force women to think that it’s unimportant to prioritise their health & hygiene and are forced to use unhygienic methods to cope with menstruation using old cloth and rags which are not only extremely unhealthy but denotes a lack of dignity to their entire existence within a society that advocates equality in the 21st century .It is extremely important that we understand the wholesome issue about menstrual hygiene and women healthcare and  how important it is for a menstruator to have an easy access to menstrual products . There have been multiple bright steps taken in the right direction by government, volunteers and other support groups which have come up during this Global Pandemic .There is urgent need to be inclusive, sensitive and to organize the administrative efforts along with the efforts of our civil society to address to such emerging problems .Her initiative of starting conversation on the topic is the small step towards ending Period Poverty.    
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Online classes, no child should be left behind

The Kandivli Education Society gave new Smart phones with SIM cards and one year mobile data to students of std 10 of SVPVVidyalaya, Kandivli West, a Government Aided school. According to the Principal Dr Sangeeta Srivastava, “Since the Online classes began in June 2020, few students were not attending the classes at all in std 10. Although there are several students in lower classes who due to many reasons cannot attend Virtual classes, they are using alternative  means of learning using the apps like Diksha and free Textbooks provided by the Education Department, Whatsapp or YouTube. Students of std 10 need to study  with a point of view of Board exams too. After a month long detailed finding we discovered that many students either could not afford to buy a computer or smartphone, or had only one gadget at home to be shared by parents and siblings. We have been getting many donors for text books and notebooks but during this period of Covid 19, it is important that students attend online classes to cover up their syllabus. The management of The Kandivli Education Society is always concerned about its students progress and on being informed few students who were not able to attend classes due to un affordability, they came out with this plan to give them the smart phones with 32 GB so that these students could study and join online classes and not affect their studies.  President KES Sri Satish Dattani and Hon Secretary Sri MD Chandarana and other office bearers of KES always take active interest in student welfare. They took a step further by providing SIM card with Internet data for the year so that students do not suffer in this account. Students are very thrilled and obliged and excited to attend classes like other students.There is no Tuition fees and no donations of any kind in this institution. Students come from economically weaker sections of the society. The school is fully digital since 2009.
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Delhi Man Turns Wasteland Into Model Lake in a Year, For Half The Usual Cost Delhi Man Turns Wasteland Into Model Lake in a Year, For Half The Usual Cost

Only a year ago, images of snow-white toxic foam floating over the Yamuna river in Delhi had shocked the world, waking it up to the reality of the water population in the country’s capital. According to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), one of the main reasons behind this situation was untreated sewage, something that the city’s lakes and rivers have been struggling to tackle for years.However, in the last few years, The Delhi government has been able to follow a steady path of improvement through various lake rejuvenation efforts spearheaded by the DJB, Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD) and several citizen groups. And one the pioneering projects that set the ball of positive transformation rolling was the Rajokri Lake project.Around 30 km away from the city, near the Delhi-Gurugram border, Rajokri, till 2017, was home to a dying waterbody that had suffered years of toxic abuse. Clogged drains led up to the turbid pond struggling under a filthy blanket of plastic waste and rotting sewage.However, under all the filth was a reservoir of potential, something that a team including DJB’s technical advisor Ankit Srivastava and architect Mriganka Saxena envisioned. Under their guidance, the DJB along with IFCD started the transformation of the Rajokri pond into Delhi’s first-ever decentralized sewage system.“Delhi has approximately 600 water bodies and the eventual goal is to revive all of them. However, there was no model of holistic revival that we could follow. So, instead, we created an in-house team to work on making our own model best suited for the city’s condition, and that’s how the Rajokri project was started as a pilot in 2017,” says Ankit, who is a graduate of IIT Bombay, in environmental science and engineering.He adds that owing to the limited annual rainfall received by the city, one could not have depended on conventional methods of water-body rejuvenation, which often involves cleaning the affected areas and letting it get recharged with rainwater. The multifold goal was to create a lake that could efficiently treat all the sewage water flowing in, while also containing clean water throughout the year. It was also supposed to serve as an inclusive community centre and a natural ecosystem.And so the revitalisation project was divided into two major components– the construction of a purification system and landscaping of the surrounding areas to not only enhance aesthetic value but also make long-term management of the lake more sustainable.Explaining this, Mriganka who was handling the latter segment with a focus on the project’s long-term sustainability says, “This project had to both enhance the landscape of the area but also benefit the people on a long-term basis. Hence the design was strategized in a manner that the structure could easily be maintained by the surrounding communities. Additionally, there were a number of environmentally responsible and sustainable guidelines that we were following under the guidance of National Green Tribunal (NGT). From doing the green landscaping with native plant species to creating percolation pores for groundwater recharge, a number of elements were added to enhance the value of the project.”Innovation in & Around The LakeHistorically, Rajokri was a mining area surrounded by hills. So during the monsoon season, rainwater would flow through the slopes into this waterbody. Meanwhile, over a period of years as more settlements began to come up around the area, the sewage would also flow into the same water, leaving it dirty and contaminated.Talking about their design strategy based on this reality, Ankit says, “Delhi receives rainfall for less than a month, so it is important to focus our efforts on treating the wastewater, instead of solely relying on rainwater. So the first part of the plan was to clean the water coming from the sewage at the STP through a unique SWAB (scientific wetland system with active bio-digester) technology. During monsoons, the water recharging the lake is anyway 15-20 times more, and our rainwater harvesting system installed on-site ensures removal of stilt and enhances percolation. Other times of the year, the system of STP allows it to maintain a stagnant level by containing the purified sewage water.”A scientific wetland system with active bio-digester, this technology is a natural alternative of sewage purification to the conventional chemical treatment previously used by DJB. This involves feeding sewage into an underground sedimentation tank equipped with a bio-digester to break down and decompose solid waste components in the water. This is then complemented with the use of wetlands and mechanised aeration systems to naturally clean the water.In Rajokri lake’s case, the wetland ecosystem was created with plants like spider lily and typha latifolia, a layer of gravel-lining zigzag to filter the water and a biofilm to process all pollutants. Once the water is pushed from the sedimentation tank into the wetland using solar pumps, the gravel layer works to isolate and immobilize heavy metals and other organic material in the water to an acceptable level.“The zig-zag design through three terrace garden-like steps ensures that water gets to spend maximum time in the wetland. At its outlet, the water is almost clear with a BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) of 20ppm,” says Ankit in this report.According to a 1996 book called the Treatment Wetlands by Robert H. Kadlec, Scott Wallace and Robert L. Knight, such wetlands are very effective in removing inorganic nutrients, heavy metals, particulate organic matter, suspended solids, dissolved organic carbon, etc. These wetlands have submerged aquatic macrophytes (aquatic photosynthetic organisms) with tiny cuticles that capture metals from the water surface and are also hardy enough to survive harsh conditions of pollution.Additionally, in order to contain the algal bloom and remove trace pollutants and phosphates from detergents that go into the raw sewage, the DJB team introduced unique purification islands in the water body. These islands are basically rafts made out of a 2X2-meter PVC pipe framework with geo-netting that supports knots of hormone-treated plants like canna and cyperus. These plants not only increase nutrient uptake and accelerate the growth of other beneficial aquatic plants but also absorb pollutants and create a balance by preventing eutrophication (excessive enrichment of waterbody with minerals and nutrients that allows excessive growth of algae and results in oxygen depletion). According to Ankit, the objective is to make the water clean and suitable enough to introduce fishes into it and enhance its natural ecosystem.Owing to all these innovative measures, the Rajokri sewage treatment plant now facilitates purification of 600 kilolitres (6 lakh litres) of raw sewage daily feeding the waterbody.Community Involvement & Impact of the LakeSpread across 9,446 square meters of redeveloped public space, including 2,000 square meters of the water body, the Rajokri lake is now a stellar example of innovation meeting grassroots level social development.From an amphitheatre, an open gym, green play area and a bioswale rain garden, to changing rooms and inclusive spaces near the Chhath ghat, the Rajokri lake in its entirety is made keeping in mind the needs of the community living nearby.For instance, Mriganka adds how based on one of the feedback received from the community, her team worked to separate the treated water body from an embankment assigned for the commonly practised Chhath festival rituals. The sandstone embankment tactfully creates the divide and water from the main lake is then pumped into the embankment situated at the bottom of the amphitheatre-cum-Chhath ghat.While their efforts have yielded the expected results, Ankit adds that he was pleasantly surprised to see an environmental and sociological impact after the completion of the project in 2018.“After the waterbody completely transformed, we were surprised to notice that 10 to 15 different species of birds had begun to migrate here. The wetlands were installed to encourage this and attract more species of birds and insects that would enhance the biodiversity of the area,” says Ankit.He adds that prior to the project the area was primarily a dumping ground and hub for antisocial elements and that its transformation completely put an end to it. “One of the major challenges while working on this project was to tackle heavy encroachment. Plus it had become a hub for drunkards and several anti-social elements making it quite unsafe. Once, all of that was taken care of we began to realize its sociological impact on the community as well. One of the best feedbacks received was how the women in the area began to feel more safe crossing the location after sundown.” he adds.According to DJB officials, a conventional project of this scale would have cost at least Rs 4 Crore, while the total expenditure of the Rajokri lake stands at Rs 1.6 crore, making it a cost-effective and innovative model for others to replicate. Owing to this, Rajokri lake recently received the excellence award from the Jal Shakti Ministry. With this success in place, Ankit and his team are now planning to complete 50 more water bodies in the next 5 months and also create 6 lakes across the city, by the end of the year.The story has been extracted from https://www.thebetterindia.com/238016/delhi-lake-rejuvenation-cost-process-how-to-rajokri-jal-shakti-award-delhi-jal-board-sewage-treatment-plant-india-ana79/
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Quality pre-education the stepping stone to a bright future

After three decades of following the same National Education Policy (NEP) which was formulated in 1986, the new NEP was released on July 29 this year. One of the most significant changes envisioned by the latest policy is at the very beginning of a child’s educational journey — early childhood care and education (ECCE). NEP 2020 has given the highest priority to building strong foundations early in a child’s life, a vision which can be found to be reflected in HPPI’s work in the field of early education.According to UNICEF India, more than 70 million children attend pre-primary school in India. In a world which is increasingly becoming global, students need to be equipped with the right set of knowledge and skills to make them competent by global standards and be up to speed with new ways of learning. In India, Anganwadi centres or any pre-primary education centre plays an important role in providing children with a kickstart to holistic education.With the latest NEP, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) will develop a National Curricular and Pedagogical Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCPFECCE) for children up to the age of 8. ECCE will be delivered through a significantly expanded and strengthened system of institutions including Anganwadis and pre-schools that will have teachers and Anganwadi workers trained in the ECCE pedagogy and curriculum. The planning and implementation of ECCE will be carried out jointly by the Ministries of HRD, Women and Child Development (WCD), Health and Family Welfare (HFW), and Tribal Affairs.HPPI, through its early education programmes such as the Pre-School Children of the Future (PoF) and the Nand Ghar Project, implemented with support from Vedanta, has already been working to maximise the potentials of young children in Anganwadis or PoF centres.Teachers at PoF Centres are trained to cater to the cognitive and psychosocial enhancement of children in the 3-6 years age group. Mostly linked to HPPI’s educational or Community Development Projects, or organised in cooperation with local Anganwadis, HPPI provides quality education to pre-school children and special focus is given to developmental needs of a student through four elements – Use your Brain, Use your Body, Use your Hands and Use your Imagination.The PoF Centres also create a foundation in language and comprehension and provides young children a head start into primary school. Currently, 457 children are enrolled across 19 PoF centres of HPPI.Nand Ghars are state-of-the-art Anganwadis which is a vision undertaken by Vedanta Foundation together with the Ministry of Women and Child Development to offer integrated education for children in the age group of 0–6 years while providing nutrition and hygienic sanitation facilities. HPPI is managing the Nand Ghar Project in partnership with the Vedanta Foundation with an aim to provide Early childhood development support to minimum 18,000 children in 0-6 years and health and nutrition services to minimum 36,000 pregnant women and mothers. HPPI is responsible for the Operation and Maintenance of the Nand Ghar Project across 13 districts of 4 states with 1,200 anganwadis/ Nand Ghars. Some of the many facilities at this modern Anganwadi include safe drinking water, mobile health vans, nutritious meals, clean toilets and awareness on practices that promote a healthy atmosphere for the mother and child. The Project provides good infrastructure in the anganwadis/Nand Ghars and equips them with good facilities, training to the service providers who in turn provide quality services on early childcare & education, nutrition, the health of mothers, skill development etc.  HPPI along with implementing best practices of pre-school education and community engagement also looks after the on-ground monitoring of nutrition and education thematic areas and supervises monitoring for skill, health and training component and builds the Nand Ghar into a resource centre for the community.With the new NEP, our efforts in the areas of pre-school education and childhood care have become more pronounced and show a promising quality of education being imparted right from the beginning of a child’s educational journey.
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One Village, One Pond initiative: In drought-prone Jhansi, 325 ponds revived under MGNREGS

As many as 325 ponds have been revived in drought-prone Bundelkhand’s Jhansi district under “One Village, One Pond” initiative launched by the district administration.Jhansi District Magistrate Andra Vamsi said that 11,000 migrant workers, who had returned to the state during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in the months of April and May, were employed in the pond-revival work.“The basic idea behind the initiative to revive ponds in the district was to have one pond in good condition in each gram panchayat of the district. There are a total of 496 gram panchayats in Jhansi. Till now, we have finished work on 325 ponds in phase one of the initiative. We are giving finishing touches to the remaining 171 ponds,” said Vamsi, adding the district turned the lockdown into an opportunity.The work was carried out under the rural employment guarantee scheme.“Till now, 1.12 lakh people in the district have received employment under the MGNREGA scheme because of this initiative. Under the MGNREGA scheme, these workers were paid Rs 182 for a day’s day. We have spent around Rs six crore on the revival of ponds in the district,” said Vamsi.The revival of the water bodies will help improve the groundwater level in the Bundelkhand region which is prone to drought, according to the district administration.“The district has just one source of water – the Betwa river. With this scheme, the district will have water for irrigation and other purposes during the drought and the ponds will improve the groundwater level. The idea was to have better groundwater harvesting with the revival of these ponds. Some of the ponds that we have developed did not even have water when work started. So, we have built them from scratch. We will be evaluating the worth of a pond based on its depth,” added Vamsi.According to the DM, the ponds are spread on one to three hectares of land with the maximum depth being eight metres, and minimum three metres.The story has been extracted from https://indianexpress.com/article/india/bundelkhand-jhansi-one-village-one-pond-initiative-6593174/
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