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‘You Gave Lungs to This Neighbourhood’

Seema Jerath
24/11/19
‘There is nowhere for us to walk, nor a space for our children to play’, shared a grandparent. It all started on one ‘Grandparents’ Day’ at DLF Public School. During a candid discussion with few grandparents, Team DLF learnt that most of them were suffering from muscle atrophy, as they have no place to walk. They shared that most of them feel lonely as they have no place for get together and recreation during their leisure time. Also, there is no place for their children to play. Taking cue from this, a team of students and teachers together at DLF Public School-A thinking school with a soul, decided to find a viable solution to the issue. A school where success is measured in terms of usefulness to others. A school that nurtures socially responsible and concerned citizens who are worthy contributors and true change agents capable of making a difference to society. A school that believes real success lies in giving back more to the world than taking from it.The team explored and visited the locality and found a park but it was a rejected and neglected space. Sadly, it was a garbage dumping space for the people living around and a space for disposing waste from feasts held very frequently at the temple nearby. Children of a slum used it as a toilet. When the idea was shared with students to adopt the park and transform it, they rejected the idea completely. As team DLF started working upon the project, people shared that the park is now a garbage dumping space and is not a favorable place for children to play. It seemed to be a distant dream that the situation could be improved. The place was horribly filthy and unkempt and it seemed to be a herculean task revamping it. However, students and teachers embarked upon the project with a firm determination and took it upon themselves to turn it into a green lung of the neighbourhood. Everyday over 30 students of Classes IV to VIII use to visit the park for an hour and clean it. In the process they learnt too and learnt on their feet rather than on their seat.  They knew the theory about parts of a plant but this hands on experience brought a huge sense of belongingness and ownership. The care and sensitivity with which they handled the saplings- oh, it’s coming out, how should I hold it-- Real time enquiry like which is a herb and which one a shrub and will all of them survive. With a sense of genuine caring, they reallized that they’ll survive only if they’re nurtured right. Many children carried back litter from the park to dump in their class dustbins. The team had their share of disappointments too. One day teachers and children came back completely demotivated as somebody spitted betel on their painting, done on one of the wall a day before. Next day, when they went after much persuasion, watching the teachers and students work on the project, a boy from the slum joined in. Later more children from the local slums joined in to help. Upon observing their excitement, the school tried to rope in their involvement along with its students and this provided a momentum to the initiative. Later, school team created ‘Park Rangers Team’ out of these children and these ‘Rangers’ were officially given ‘Badges’ of ‘Park Ranger’ in the Investiture Ceremony by the senior RWA members and the school IAYP team. Now these park rangers are taking care of the park. They also intervene if anybody misuses the park and take care of the plants which have been grown by our school children. Not only this, mindset of the temple priest was changed as the project team suggested him to use the temple donations from feast in disposing off the temple waste appropriately. In order to maximize the utility of this space, school decided to involve its students of IAYP (International Award for Young People) group. As a service they adopted these slum children who live next to the Ekta park and started teaching them under the ‘Each One Teach One Programme’.The team also wanted to improve the clogging problem due to rain by installing a rain harvesting system in the park, but did not have budgets. And during this phase award for ‘Conserving Green Spaces’ by Disney Friends for Change was announced. DLF Public school applied for it.  Its efforts were recognized and the school was awarded special Jury’s Mention award for involvement of maximum number of children and maximum community engagement and especially for the school’s work with the slum children as Park Rangers and with the temple priest to inspire a mindset change. Hon’ble Environment Minister of Delhi, Mr Imran Hussain, Delhi Govt’s Eco Clubs In-charge Dr Sabata, CEO of Delhi Parks and Gardens Society Dr. S D Singh, and MD – Disney India, Mr Siddharth Roy Kapur were the members of the special Jury. The cash grant of four lakhs that the school received as prize money was thus put into this purpose which eventually helped the project team to make a difference to the entire process. It was a challenging task, disposing off stinking garbage, cleaning the clutter, restoring and replenishing the soil over, planting native saplings, painting walls, installing swings and other amenities. Over 700 students and teachers of the school collaboratively with the RWAs of the neighbourhood transformed the garbage dumping space to a park and were successful in changing locals’ perception about the park.There was real hands on learning about layers of the soil, soil textures, composting –rainwater harvesting. A space that was used as a garbage dumping ground, as a urinal area, a space for drug addicts, was unhygienic, unsafe and rather a rejected public space today stands as a thoughtfully designed beautiful park, with butterfly gardens, about 3500 native plants, badminton court, swings, flowers, water harvesting system, compost pit etc. admired by the residents and a place for morning and evening hangouts for children, parents and elders!This transformation did not come easy to us… but…the efforts to meet the challenges involved rendered the words all, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’- Mahatma Gandhi not just words but a living reality lived at DLF Public School!Later the school gifted the transformed and revamped ‘Ekta Park’ to the residents and RWA of B-Block Shalimar Garden, Sahibabad as a New Year gift on January 1, 2016. Dr. Rakesh Khullar, School Chairman along with Mr Satyendra Kumar Tiwari, Asst. Commissioner, Horticulture, Nagar Nigam inaugurated the park in the presence of Dr. Mrignaini, Executive Director, Seema Jerath, Principal, members of the RWA, Residents, and Delfite teachers and students.The park has become the model of the existential framework of ‘learning by doing’ and aims at creating humane individuals.  Ekta Park today stands symbolic to the Delfites’ contribution towards a higher and greater good: the public interest. Testimonials:Ira Patole, Student of Class X ‘We talked to the residents about disposing garbage by handing it over to the garbage collector instead of dumping it at the gate of the park. We really felt happy when now we find people listening to us and dumping their waste appropriately’Shikha Srishthi,  Student of Class IX‘Creating and maintaining a green space by joining hands with the local residents was a big challenge. The project has brought us and our young learners closer to nature and practice as well as preach that they can and should contribute towards a more sustainable environment.’Ms Gargi Datta Biswas, HOD, Science ‘We have taken a small step towards change through this project and we have miles to go further. This park and DLf public school will be a role model for the society and other schools.’
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Kadam Programme: Every Child in School

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) survey (IMRB-SRI, 2014) estimates that there are 6 million out-of-school children in India. The reasons for a child to never enrol or to drop out of school are many, such as frequent migration, financial constraints of family and missing identity documents.Lack of education, however, uniformly doubles the risk of exploitation and vulnerability to discrimination in children who are denied the most basic rights of survival and protection. An educated child is a nation’s greatest asset and with an aim to ensure that every child goes to school and receives quality education, Humana People to People India (HPPI) developed the Kadam Step-Up Programme specifically designed for out-of-school children between the age of 7-14 years. The Programme, implemented in cooperation with the state governments and with support from various national and international partners, focuses on bridging the learning gaps of out-of-school children (OOSC) and enrolling them in schools.The HPPI team conducts door-to-door survey in the operational area of the primary schools and having identified the OOSC, they sensitise the parents towards the importance of education and encourage them to send the child to the local Kadam Centre. The 11- month Kadam programme is a blend of academic learning and skill-based experiences, suitable for varied age-group and learning levels. The programme’s foundation is built on a platform of engaging pedagogy, targeted curriculum, and student-driven teaching practices, providing a year-long accelerated learning experience.The Kadam Programme provides enhanced learning (academic and soft skills) through an innovative 10-steps process and theme-based approach (including extra-curricular activities) to provide all-round education. This multi-graded learning environment in the classroom helps children learn progressively from one step to the next at their own pace. To encourage peer-to-peer learning and help children support each other in advancing the Steps, small groups of three (trios) are formed. The thematic learning is carried out every month to develop social, emotional and life skills of the children. When the child reaches a learning level appropriate to his/her age, he/she is integrated to the formal schooling system.The Kadam programme is a combination of a curriculum designed for accelerated learning of children and teacher capacity building keeping in mind the specific needs of OOSC and an easy to implement set of practices which eases the mainstreaming process.Since 2015, more than 70,000 children have been enrolled in the Kadam centres and more than 40,000 OOSC have been mainstreamed to the formal school system. At present, HPPI has MoU’s with the state governments for the implementation of the Kadam Programme for out-of-school children in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jammu & Kashmir.
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Meet the Teacher who is Integrating 'Local' with 'Global'

I work as a teacher in a Government primary school. My students can’t attend school regularly, leading to a teaching and learning problem. We have no electricity or computers at the school, so I tried using my laptop and show animation and videos to interest the students in attending school regularly.  I learned HTML and created online quizzes for competitive examinations, and we got a continued seven-year merit. I also make presentations, videos and even use some android apps. However, we saw real success when I created codes that can be scanned to make learning interesting and easily available anywhere. I have implemented a virtual field trip to more than 30 countries so that the students can learn more about the world’s culture. The internet has made it easy for my students to learn dance and sports. One of the students even won a dance competition at the national level. I am now a Google and Microsoft certified teacher and bring ICT classroom to the rural areas of Satara in Maharashtra. I have started a creator 'teacher mission' and take more than 200 workshops all over India on topic of  use of ICT and how to make every teacher a creator. I have been invited and recognized by IIT Delhi and IATEFL, London for my innovative work and I have been felicitated over 50 times. I collected more than 15 lakh from people as a contribution fund for my work in rural education. Many teachers use my resources from my social media platforms.
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When a Sewing Machine helped Lalita stitch her Life Back Together

Who knew that the four walls which once confined Lalita to the daily rut of domestic routine, could become her portal to economic liberation, only with the addition of two sewing machines? All hell broke loose when Lalita’s husband lost his job, leaving his family in a quandary on how to make the ends meet. The entire responsibility of running the household now fell on Lalita’s able shoulders, who found vocational training sessions run by NTPC Vindhyachal and the NGO SEWA in her search to become financially independent. 40-year-old Lalita, who is raising four children with her husband, joined the tailoring and stitching vocational course in October 2018. After completing her training, Lalita managed to earn Rs 3,000-5,000 every month by tailoring clothes for the people living in her neighbourhood. A sound entrepreneur, Lalita also set aside a part of her earnings every month to invest in a second stitching machine. She now plans to expand her business, which is currently stationed in her mother’s room, by passing on the skill of stitching to her eldest daughter, who has completed her formal education. Her daughter is currently pursuing beauty culture training being provided NTPC Vindhyachal, in collaboration with SEWA. Lalita wants to invest the money to provide quality education to her two school-going children, who are now studying in DePaul School, Vindhyanagar. She dreams of eventually owning a house, with a dedicated room for her tailoring business. “I believe that I have received a rebirth, a second chance in life. When I first entered the training centre, I felt that the skill was beyond my grasp. But with unwavering handheld support from our teacher, tailoring has become an inseparable and cherished part of my life. From staying at home and wondering how to make my days count, to being able to not only run the household by myself but also fulfil the desires of my children, my life has changed completely. And I have only NTPC Vindhyachal and SEWA to thank for it. Watching me thrive, the women in my family also wish to join the vocational training courses being provided under this initiative,” exclaimed Lalita, overcome with emotions.Lalita is one of the many women hailing from 24 villages of Singrauli district who have benefitted from this initiative, which is aimed at creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for women and helping them lead a dignified life. Vocational training in tailoring and stitching, terracotta pottery making, detergent making and agarbatti making was provided to help over 180 women break the shackles of patriarchal determinism in the first phase of this project. In the second phase, vocational training is being imparted in the fields of Tailoring and Stitching, Beauty Culture, Terracotta Pottery and Jewelry Making, Dona Pattal Making, Sanitary Pads Making, Bed Side Nursing, Basic Computer Literacy Training, Mushroom Cultivation, and Catering and Cooking.The initiative has impacted the lives of a total of 7,000 community members through Awareness Camps, Community Meetings, Soochna Kendras and door-to-door campaigns. In order to facilitate the self-sustainability of women, over 1200 financial and digital literacy sessions were administered to 113 women and girls, wherein they were acquainted with the tenants of financial management and were given the knowhow on how to use ATMs and net banking applications among other topics. A multitude of awareness camps were organised under this initiative to inform community members regarding the various government Social Welfare Schemes and help them avail their benefit. Further, registration camps were organised for the unorganized sector, wherein labourers were linked with government welfare schemes. The camps reached out to a total of 3,151 community members, and the applications of 1,032 members for social welfare schemes were processed and passed to the beneficiaries. Further, 9 Soochna Kendras have been set-up to aid members of the community in getting their government identity documents made. NTPC Vindhyachal and SEWA are working tirelessly to ensure that the women of Singrauli discover their financial identity in a way that they never have to feel like the lesser sex or be at the mercy of someone else to sustain themselves. 
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Joyful Saturday or No Bag Day

Concern regarding academic burden of students and unsatisfactory quality of learning have been voiced repeatedly in our country. Yashpal committee has highlighted the same which stated that “A lot is taught but little is learnt or understood”. In their report of Learning without Burden 1993, which says that opportunities for children to carry out experiments, excursion or any kind of observation are very scare and textbook asking children to observe a picture of the object under the study rather than asking children and teacher to go out and observe the object in nature itself. Patitapaban Choudhury- Batch 10 Fellow at Alsisar Block, Jhunjhunu (Rajasthan) of Kaivalya Education Foundation - A Piramal Initiative has observed many children fall in the category of “a lot is taught but little is learnt or understood by them.” He was aware of the fact that learning at school can be a joyful experience, if we change our perception about the child, show faith in his/her creative instinct and their capacity to construct knowledge out of their experiences can lead to a Joyful Learning environment for students. During the fellowship journey, a process named Classroom Immersion (CRI) he observed that students were very eager to draw and paint their own world which they visualize. So he has started “Creativity Classes” where each student has an opportunity to draw something or contribute something for decorating classroom and walls. Total 286 students have participated in this process & there was a shift in the behavior of few teachers who showed resistance earlier and it was possible when they saw their kids drawing and decorating the walls of the school and classroom. Later, every teacher took responsibility to conduct these activities frequently in their classes. He has observed that if we provide opportunity to children to share their day to day knowledge and experiences of the world around them, the trees that they have climbed, the fruits they have eaten, the birds they have admired. The pace of their learning, their participation and ownership in the process of learning gets enhanced. He has also observed that children of class 2 have a rich language base but rarely anyone ask children to talk about or refer to the world outside the school. In another process of fellowship named Community immersion (CI) he started a 14 days sports development camp with objectives of team building, engaging in decision making process, and creating a joyful learning environment. The turn up of student was low during first two days (2 students only) followed by high for rest of the day (28+ students daily). The observation were more fine-tuned during engagement with sports development camp. He understood that participation of all children in free play, informal and formal games, Yoga and sports activities is essential for their physical and psycho-social development. The range of abilities as a result of games, sports and yoga will improve stamina, fine gross motor skills, self-awareness, control, and coordination. Simple adaptation of playgrounds and rules help children understand importance of norms and their significance in establishing processes.He has understood that there is lack of spaces for children to share their creative work. His experience suggest him that, when children speak, they are usually answering the teacher’s questions or repeating the teacher’s words. They rarely do things, nor do they have opportunities to take initiative. A space need to be developed that enable children to find their voices, nurture their curiosity—to do things, to ask questions and to pursue investigations, sharing and integrating their experiences with school knowledge.Based on the learnings of first year he and his teammates of Jhunjhunu conceptualize the idea of No Bag day with an objective “to create a space for channelizing the energy of children by opportunity to express self in a joyful learning environment”. Further to this the focus was on -A) Prioritizing the opportunities for children where possibility to explore day￾to-day resources around them are more. B) Appreciate the creativity of children and encourage cultural values C) Children are able to understand the importance of listening, expressing self and communication, Furthermore, the space was also utilized to highlight the talent of kids by engaging community and collaborating with them in the process of child’s learning. A study cum survey conducted by the team of Gandhi fellows of Jhunjhunu Cluster was part of phase of idea conceptualization. The focus was on socio emotional learning of children. Team has found that there is a need to create fear-free & Joyful learning spaces. The spaces for child creativity need to be nourished. The absence of these spaces may lead to resulting in the absentees of child in schools, slow learning pace of a child etc. Based on this survey the activities of no bag day was designed. The key principal during designing the activities were to give space to children’s experiences, their voices, and their active participation. The activities were planned considering children’s psychological development and interests with the idea to respond to physical, cultural and social preferences. Thus, the activities are focused around drawing, stimulating, playing, acting, singing, debates, music, drama, speaking and narrating, self-identification, self-assessment. Primary classes specifically Class one and two children gauge with painting their own world and class 3 to five are engage in storytelling, BAL Geet and drawing. The upper primary and secondary classes are involved in spell bee, letter writing and essay writing. The children are get involved in activities like Kabad se Jugad (best out of waste), creating their own stories and poems, writing an incident, which they like, or dislike, quiz etc. No bag day was implemented in Alsisar, Jhunjhunu and Chirawa block respectively. Total 5220 children and 386 teachers from 46 schools covering the area of 16 panchayat elementary education officials have participated in this process. The idea has appreciated at various level from district to state. State has expanded this idea in all government schools across state in form of joyful Saturday. This initiative has given a space to children to share their own thoughts and engage in expressing self. On the same time, it has also created a challenge in front to teachers to think innovatively and design plans in such a way that each child engages with the activities and learning process and at the same time enjoys and develop her skills like creativity, communication, values, utilization of resources and working in a team.
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Inculcating 21st-century Skills in Students

JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon says “ India has unbelievable skills but needs to train people for jobs of the future”To revolutionize education and impart 21st-century skills among students, the students and alumni of IIT Delhi started an initiative named Intellify with a prime motto of rethinking and innovating the learning methodologies. We are able to assist and inculcate skills in 50+ cities, with over 15000 students from Private and Govt. schools across the country.We focus on a skill-based assessment of students with proven methodologies and leveraging the data to devise policy and tech-based solutions for states to improve the lacking areas by conducting International science and creativity Olympiad. Program not only includes the assessment but also focuses on issues holistically, hence providing the solutions as well to improve the lacking areas.  This Olympiad is designed to assess the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses and help to measure General Intellectual Functioning and Creativity Quotient with a unique methodology. It is also a way to promote the skill-based assessment and equip the students with essential skills among students for global competitiveness. We imbibe students with 21st-century skills with a focus to design and innovate for students who are deprived of skill-based activities in their schools are encouraged to learn and create new designs and transform the ideas into reality by Bootcamps. Students are encouraged to work together to build toys from the trash, CAD Modelling, 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, basic coding practices and circuitry etc. Product dissection is taught to the students to use this concept to invent new products. Some mechanical experts are present to help the students to learn the principles and apply them to real-life problems. The students come up with a variety of products like a fire alarm, door alarm etc during the Bootcamp. Fun sessions are also organized where students get a chance to showcase their talents like singing, poetry, mimicry etc.We inculcate problem-solving skills to identify and do the root cause analysis of the problems in our society and prepare students to propose a further solution which would be beneficial for society and the student itself by conducting workshops at school, irrespective of regular classroom learning. We are providing an E-portal and doubt-solving platform which contains content for practice, sample papers, skill-based questions, activities, workshops and thorough analysis which would benefit the students to magnify their classroom learning. It would also be beneficial to appear in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) in which India would be participating in 2021. This would create a sustainable impact on underprivileged kids. We believe that by collaborating with CBSE, we would be able to help them in school to non-school environments, evaluating their choices, making decisions and in bringing a positive change in their lives.
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Spreading the Light of Knowledge

Amidst the hustle and bustle of our metropolis, where stress is inevitable and peace is yearned for, there stands a tranquil, low-rise, modest and baronial structure. We call it Soami Nagar Model School. The School was envisioned by Revered leader Huzur Mehtaji Maharaj, and started in the year 1982 as Primary School. The School has been serving the community over the years and has expanded since it was founded. The school expanded further with the addition of Class XI in 2015-16 and Class XII in 2016-17. Science and Commerce streams are running for Intermediate students. School imbibes DEI Education pattern to evolve a complete man. To inculcate the ideals of better worldliness, our school is a unique combination of Spirituality and modernity.  Our institute believes in excellence with social relevance, imparting values-based and quality education, with the objective of reaching the last, the least, the lowest and the lost; contributing to nation and community by empowering weaker sections, women and children; building the economy through research and frugal innovation anchored in the principle of achieving more with less.“With more of real education, we can easily raise the level of intelligence of our teeming millions; create in its future generations, the habit of clear and deep thinking and of appreciating new values that turn the acquisitive impulse of its people from its present direction to the direction of truth” These profound words of Most Revered Sir Anand Swarup convey our unshakable faith in education.We aim at a cohesive effort to impart Value based education. While on one hand the school fee is taking an aggressive toll on a common man’s budgets, here we only charge Rs. 50 per month. We mostly cater to the less privileged and together we try to take utmost care of their emotional needs too. “The Purpose of Life is a Life of purpose” and what better purpose can we serve, than nurturing life sustainability itself. To nurture young minds where education is universal and intrinsically woven in social fabric, realising the full potential of every individual, turning them into Torch bearers for the humanity with self effacing devotion.There are about 30 teachers who are working honorary and few of them also come from distant area by changing metros and getting into cabs, where the goal is only commitment and fierce dedication. The principal of our school Ms. Arti Prasad is a stirring example of selfless service, and undoubtedly had a promising and a glorifying future. But just got an inner calling to leave her luxurious job and simply joined hands with Soami Nagar Model School. She is an inspiration to all of us, she leads us in togetherness and motivates us with a spark to keep doing something unique and to embroil the students by adopting various teaching methodologies. Education is not learning of the facts, but the training of the mind to think. Our mission is for the students, by the students. Here we give enabling conditions to evoke consciousness, so that students can choose correct path. Parivartan, or change is the keyword in 21st century and education has acquired a completely new dimension. Our system is helping nurture a scientific temperament and enhances awareness of contemporary developments in the fast changing world, where change is the only constant. “Excellence is not an art, but habit”. SNMS recognizes that each child is an individual. It exists to impart innovative techniques to enhance life – long learning through technology, value based education and promoting sportsmanship in an atmosphere of co-operation and respect for all. SNMS is our karmbhoomi, we all envision being a vibrant progressive community of compassionate learners and thinkers for whom excellence is a credo. In a nurturing, stimulating and caring environment, students are able to challenge themselves and be leaders with a fine blend of top quality academics, work experience and a strong value system. Sports are an integral part of our curriculum. We call the Soami Nagar Model School our pride and we hope to speed the light of true knowledge and education along with values of being a complete man. Here teaching is a perfect blend of academics, moral and spiritual values. 
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RFID Card and QR code based Household-level Multipurpose Tracking System (RHoMuTS)

Transparency and efficiency through extensive use of technology has become the fundamental principle of all reforms in the governance today. Though financial sphere of governance has been transforming very rapidly throughout the country, basic administrative aspects and office procedures, being much more complicated, perhaps have taken a back seat.Considering this situation, Dhule district administration along with all line departments have taken many e-governance initiatives in last one year. Their implementation is helping not just citizens but also District Collector and all concerned officers to ensure above mentioned basic principles of democratic administration. These initiatives can be replicated in every district as they are, with some cosmetic changes. One of these initiatives is 'RFID Card and QR code based Household-level Multipurpose Tracking System (RHoMuTS)'.This system envisions rigidly fixing an geotagged RFID card having a QR code on inner side of main door of each household within the jurisdiction of the Local Body. The copy of this QR Code is stuck also on the two dustbins (Wet and Dry waste dustbins as available) of each household. After this, the database with sufficient details for each household is created through the software with reference to the geotagged RFID card. The staff of Sanitation Department (Drivers of Ghantaagaadi), Taxation Department (Bill Collector, Bill Inspectors, Property Surveyors etc.), Health Department (ANM, Asha etc.) and any other department are given mobiles/tabs that can read QR codes or RFID cards (these are available at a cost of less than Rs. 5000 today). By creating suitable online/offline survey formats as prescribed by the government, the facility for which has been readily provided in the software, any activity like door-to-door waste collection, 100% coverage of properties for taxation, 100% survey of all households for various health parameters like vaccinations and all mother-child development services can be perfectly tracked using Google Maps. One can see a suitably indexed Google map to find out left-out beneficiaries of any survey. This is indeed a revolutionary solution to assess and find out gaps in the delivery system.This has been implemented at all five urban bodies of Dhule district. Dondaicha (around 50 thousand population), Shirpur (around 80 thousand population) and Sakri (around 25 thousand population) Municipal Councils are already at advanced stages of its execution in very small time. Dhule Municipal Corporation (around 4 lakh population) and Shindkheda (around 25 thousand population) Municipal Council have also started its execution. This has been achieved at a very low cost using funds of 14th Finance Commission as per the rules of Government of Maharashtra.
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