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The Streets of Kukma Village in Bhuj, Gujarat Stand out

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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Govt of Odisha’s unique agricultural internship programme to improve extension services for farmers

IntroductionA rampant, but less talked about challenge in Indian agriculture is information asymmetry. From awareness of relevant schemes to information on pest attacks and how to prevent them, crop insurance, seed and fertilizer availability, the average Indian farmer is constantly struggling to get the right information at the right time. While agriculture extension workers act as conduits between the government and farmer, the strength of this workforce and its effectiveness is not ideal.To illustrate this better, according to research, India has a total of 0.12 million agricultural extension workers to serve a net cropped area of 141 million hectares and 158 million operational holdings .  This translates into few extension workers juggling multiple responsibilities and catering to more farmers than they can help effectively.In Odisha there are 3,500 extension workers catering to more than 70 lakh farmers. In some cases, an extension worker has to cover more than 15 Gram Panchayats by themselves. There are clearly vacancies for extension workers which need to be filled. Given that government recruitment is a long-drawn process and the support farmers need is time-sensitive, the agriculture department had to find a way to ramp up the workforce with immediacy. To mitigate this challenge, the Government of Odisha designed a unique solution to supplement its extension workforce.DesignIn July 2019, the Government of Odisha launched the Krushi Unnat Sahjogi Program (Agriculture Development Associates Program) which recruited 487 3rd and 4th year students from 3 agricultural universities to carry out extension activities for the Department of Agriculture. This is a first of its kind initiative in the country given the scope and scale of its operation. Samagra’s ADAPT team supported the state government in designing and implementing the programme.The Agriculture Development Associates programme was aimed at strengthening the extension ecosystem during the peak agriculture season, which is Kharif in Odisha. The detailed programme design included  induction training, a weekly activity calendar and even performance evaluation metrics for student associates.Samagra’s technology team created an app, using open source technology to capture data and outputs of every activity assigned to student associates. This helped in objectively evaluating their performance and making them accountable. Performance-linked bonuses over and above the basic stipend also helped in improving the motivation levels of the associates. ImplementationThe  Associates were involved in multiple activities at the block level related to various schemes and programmes of the Department of Agriculture. This included:1) Scheme adoption2) Field assessments3) Impact assessments4) Data collection5) Farmer profilingTo train the Associates, a detailed onboarding instruction manual was prepared by relevant department heads, which included the role of the associate.An in-person training programme was conducted by the Department for all the associates split into two batches.A weekly action plan was shared with Associates every week through Whatsapp and a Google drive, which delineated their responsibilities for the week.ImpactThe Associates profiled 1 lakh + farmers who are now enrolled in the government’s customised agro advisory service initiative called “Ama Krushi”With the help of Associates, The department was able to successfully conduct pest surveillance in 50% of the total 6,798 Gram Panchayats in the state as compared to 33% GPs in the preceding years.The state was able to reduce the area under preventable pest attacks  to 10,000 Ha in 2019.The department, along with the support of student associates, was able to conduct 1000+ farmer awareness campaigns on topics such as plant protection, correct usage of agri inputs and mobilised over 20,000 farmers  through these campaigns.The Department of Agriculture was able to receive feedback from blocks on the design and implementation of key programmes and schemesAdditionally, based on the feedback collected from farmers by the associates, officers conducted surveys of dealers of agri inputs and were able to track sale of spurious inputs as well as unauthorized sale.This is a unique, hands-on, paid experiential learning opportunity for students in agriculture universities which gives them practical knowledge of agricultural practices to supplement their theoretical training.A structured performance appraisal system, which includes feedback from the Assistant Agriculture Officers they work with, helps in their professional development.
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Digital Classroom Project: Bridging the Digital Divide in Chhattisgarh

While the world is still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, globally, it has resulted in schools shutting down for over seven months now.  According to the World Economic Forum, over 1.2 billion children are out of their classrooms and the medium to teach and learn has completely shifted to the digital world.  Humana People to People India’s Digital Classroom Project (DCP), implemented in two districts of Chhattisgarh – Mungeli and Raigarh – has been using digital means in the classrooms since before the lockdown. The Project, implemented with the support of Microsoft and Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, aims at imparting technology-based education in classrooms implemented in an engaging manner.The project comprises of two modules; the first is the ‘box solution’ where HPPI provides computers with digital educational content, projectors and speakers for each school.The second is a digital learning assessment platform, wherein students learn individually. The content comprises of 60 topics which are divided into 3 levels. The first level is for grades 1-2, the second level for grades 3-4, and the third level for grade 5. These 60 topics, available digitally, help students easily understand complex concepts.The project also includes the component of promoting literacy among women through the use of technology. The aim of the project is to use the power of technology in spreading literacy among all illiterate community members living near the 16-intervention schools in the two districts. Since the lockdown, the modules used in the DCP are proving to be quite helpful and efficient for the students as well as for the teachers to help them transition to an online environment. As they were already oriented to use a computer and be online, it has been easier for the Project to continue its activities, within the restrictions of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) for protection against the COVID-19. With the lockdown, 16 lab instructors started by visiting their students at their homes. The students were then divided into 277 small groups. With the help of digital resources and 2 laptops each, each instructor teaches a group of 5-6 children for an hour every day. Apart from the lab instructors, teachers from the 16 intervention government schools in Mungeli and Raigarh are also using the available computers to connect with their students online. Around 400 students have attended these online classes using smartphones from their homes. Till date, 2,270 students have enrolled in the Digital Classroom Project. The Project is also supporting the State Government’s flagship programmes ‘Padai Tumhare Dwar’ (Education at your door) and ‘Padai Tumhare Para’ (Education in your village) where education is being bought to the students in a safe environment. HPPI is currently working in seven districts of Chhattisgarh. In Raigarh and Mungeli, we are focusing on ‘Padai Tumhare Dwar’ online education through our Digital Classroom Project, while in Surajpur, Bilaspur, Raipur, Bijapur and Dantewada we are focusing on ‘Padai Tumhare Para’ with the involvement of local Government Teachers or Education Volunteers. Till date, more than 4,500 students from across the seven districts (including students from the DCP) have participated in these classes in small groups. In this initiative, close to 400 government teachers from 117 schools and close to 80 education volunteers have also been associated. This Project is not only bridging the digital divide between urban and rural schools but is also providing continued quality education to students in remote rural areas through the power of technology. 
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SC hosts Virtual Conclave on “Re-emerging and Resilient India”

The ongoing pandemic has evoked multiple discussions, which alluded to developing a rapid recovery plan for building long-term resilience. Recognizing the need to devise an action framework with a common vision for the “New World Order”, the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), an international non-profit organization hosted a conclave on “Re-emerging and Resilient India” in partnership with USAID, CEEW, TERI, P4G, and India Climate Collaborative.The aim of the virtual conclave was to bring representatives from the government, international organizations, think tanks, industry leaders, academicians, and practitioners together. The agenda was to discuss various perspectives, challenges, and highlight successful interventions on the ground that can be replicated at scale, to speed up the localization of several initiatives and implement them seamlessly.  The conclave was held in the august presence of Shri Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, Government of India (GoI), who delivered a Special Address at the opening session.Addressing the audience at the conclave, Shri Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, GoI, said, “The pandemic has reinforced the links between health, environment and the economy. The ongoing crisis also demonstrated that governments and individuals can come together and initiate strong and rapid action in the face of an overwhelming challenge. The decisions taken today can provide immediate relief, and secure a lasting economic recovery, increase community resilience and ensure a long-term pathway to sustainable development.”Setting the context at the conclave, Vivek P. Adhia, Country Director-India, Institute for Sustainable Communities said, “This is the opportunity for India to take action and achieve long term sustainable development. At this point, it is critical to have not just a green recovery, but also an inclusive one. As manufacturing expands in the country, boosting growth – practices that enable better access to clean water, clean air and secure livelihoods, can play an important role in building resilient communities and a resilient nation. We call for a calibrated approach that enables coordinated action focusing on the environment, while reaping social and economic benefits.”Speaking of how sustainable recovery could be envisioned and realized for India, Dr. Arunabha Ghosh, Founder-CEO, CEEW, said, “The pandemic brutally exposed the fractures that existed in our system. We need to understand that success in managing such a crisis depends on a robust policy framework and the way it is implemented. The COVID-19 pandemic gives us an opportunity to shape the economic recovery in a manner that would deliver a new social contract between the state, the citizen and the enterprise, one that rests on two pillars: commitment to jobs, growth, and sustainability; and a razor-sharp focus on tail-end risks.”Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, World Resources Institute (WRI) spoke about the importance of acting now, and for India to proactively collaborate on the global recovery process, “The world is facing multiple crises, and it is critical that we see them as interconnected and address them together. The COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, and climate change all hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Just as these crises have overlapping effects, we need to pursue solutions that simultaneously deliver short-term benefits while tackling the underlying drivers of social exclusion and environmental degradation. This is a once-in-a-generation moment to redesign our economies and societies to be more resilient, more sustainable and to leave no one behind.”Re-emphasizing ISC’s commitment towards India and the approaches to resilient recovery, Deeohn Ferris, President, Institute for Sustainable Communities added, “ISC is supporting communities around the world to help them address environmental, social and economic challenges to build a better future, shaped and shared by all. In response to COVID-19, we are even more determined to enable communities, women, farmers, cities, and factories in Asia and the United States to not just bounce back, but to advance towards a more resilient and equitable society."Earlier this month, ISC in collaboration with Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) initiated a new dialogue series titled ‘Water and Livelihood Security: The Foundation to Make India Atmanirbhar’, where experts deliberated on the importance of water for overall human development is even more relevant and ways to improve water and livelihood security in India.The power-packed virtual conclave hosted key thought leaders including Ramona El Hamzaoui, Acting Mission Director, USAID/India; Deepali Khanna, Managing Director, Asia Regional Office, The Rockefeller Foundation; Ajith Radhakrishnan, Country Lead, 2030 Water Resources Group; Aditi Maheshwari, Director, Climate Action, UN Secretary General Executive Office; Ian de Cruz – Global Director, P4G Partnering for Green Growth & Global Goals among others.
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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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