Changing lives:Pappulal Sharma

March 26, 2017: Jamwa Ramghar, Rajasthan

This is a transformation story of a 5 members family husband, wife and 3 children. Pappulal Sharma is the family head and resides at Bhiwas village in Jamwa Ramghar tehsil of Jaipur district.

He owned 1 hectares of land, out of which 0.25 was wasteland and the remaining land was irrigated through a bore well. Earlier before the Reliance Foundation interventions in the village, he used to cultivate Bajra in Kharif, Wheat and Barley in Rabi season on 0.75 hectares of land. The total annual production from his farm was 33 quintals of which he could sell on 5 quintals of wheat and 8 quintals of Barley that fetched an income of ₹20,000. Remaining produce was used for consumption by his family and the added responsibility of his brother’s family of three members after his death. At that time he was unable to manage with such meagre income. Both, Pappulal and his wife had to migrate frequently as labourers. Moreover, agricultural losses had also trapped in the vicious cycle of debt and the future of his children was at stake as he was not able to afford their education.

Reliance Foundation, initiated interventions during the year 2012-13. But, during the initial phases he was apprehensive about RF activities. After closely observing for around 1 year and seeing the impact in neighbouring farm land he was convinced. Thereafter, he regularly started attending VA (village association) meetings and learnt the importance of commercial vegetable cultivation, how to improve soil heath soil and lower the pest attacks. He aspired to for high return crops like vegetables cultivation in his irrigated area. Therefore, he seeked VA’s support in land development activities like bunding, Pond silt and FYM application to improve the soil fertility and levelling activity on waste land so that he can start cultivating it. He was also supported with fencing which was his major issue. The total cost of the support provided by RF is ₹100,120 over last 4 years.

As a result of RF support and his commitments, the production from his farm has increased from 33 quintals to 88 quintals per annum excluding fodder. Land levelling of 0.25 ha wasteland has enabled him to cultivate that patch too. Further, he had divided 1 hectares of land into two equal parts. On one part he grows chillies and vegetables in kharif and wheat, cluster bean and fodder in Rabi, while on the other land cultivates sweet corn and pearl millet in Kharif season and fodder in Rabi. Application of FYM, Pond silt and exposure on polypropylene crop cover and mulching usage has bought a significant change in cultivation pattern that has shifted from food crops to vegetable cultivation thereby raising his income from farm from ₹20,000 to ₹1,35,500.

Raised income has enabled him to buy second hand drip irrigation system for ₹35,000 that has reduced his drudgery. Further the family now also owns 2 buffaloes 2 cows and four calves and earns ₹30,000 from milk production. As of now, he along with family members is happy with the transformed life. Moreover, now he is debt free after paying ₹70,000 and now invests on the education of his children for their bright future.

Ensuring Drinking Water 

March 21, 2017: Yavatmal

Yesterday has witnessed few very good examples of ensuring drinking water security at Yavatmal. As on date out of 25 VAs (Village Associations), 7 or 8 VAs are fully water secured. 

Few key features:

1. Nearest Perineal water source – in these cases well were identified. In all the cases were renovated to be perineal.

2. Water distribution outlets were provisioned keeping suitability, as per community need. In Sheli  Khorad 3 tanks of 3,000 litres capacity, and each water distribution tank has 3 taps (see in photo). In other VAs at different locations 2 taps were provided again depending on village size (roughly 1 pair of outlet tap for 10-15 HHs).

3. Each tank either water storage big tank (40,000 liters) or 3,000 liters water distribution outlet has bottom 1/2 to 1 feet to flush out dirts and other external materials. 

4. Perineal source are connected with water distribution outlets through underground PVC pipes.

5. Water is lifted through electric pump.

6. Each location has Water committee and rules for duration of water supply. In summer months usually 1 hour supply twice a day (evening and morning), collection of maintenance charges, tanks cleaning, educating community not to waste water, छान कर पानी  use karna, etc.

7. Each tank has perfect branding with RF and respective VA. Perfectly transparent with sub-head wise details of expenses, community contribution, year of construction, etc (see in photo).

8. Looking at the overall management systems, Gram Panchayat of Sheli Khorad has came forward with a proposal to bear all the electricity charges. 

9. Looking at the water tables in the water source, there is no doubt to face any difficulty in next 2-3 months.
Personally, highly impressed by witnessed systems, processes, planning, quality of interventions, management, etc. However, sky is the limit for perfection but in present context beautiful example of ensuring drinking water.
Flip-side is that with today’s re-fined learning overall investment can be reduced to at least 30-40%.

All these initiatives were supported by BIJ (Bharat India Jodo) program of Reliance Foundation.

Be Bold for Change….

Modasa, 8March 2017

At Reliance Foundation treat and respect women colleagues AT PAR with male in all the aspects. Taking this culture deep into the operational villages actively provoke and sensitize the both males and females. On the occasion of International Women Day, all the 26 field teams has celebrated IWD as per their wish. Modasa team of Gujarat organized IWD based on the theme titled as ‘Be bold for change, Beti Bachoo Beti padhaoo’.

Mahila Manch women leaders and representatives of Girimala Producer Company made this event grand success with total 800 participants including 600 women’s from 14 villages. Hiratimba village hoisted the event with warm welcome through words and beautiful dance by girls of Hiratimba  VA. 

Major Highlights of the event:

  • Event marked by lightning  ‘Deep’/ lamp by young college going girls giving message on importance of education.
  • Guests for the event were TDO Meghraj, GLPC and DRDA representatives, Co-ordinators of Aravalli district, Panchayat women representatives and 14 Dai maa (traditional health attendents).
  • Bhawai presented by Manila Lal bhai and team  filled the audience with happiness and enthusiasm topic was importance of women empowerment ..role of women’s..social customs that hinders empowerment process and what we can azure from our end for our own sisters mothers wife’s and girls.
  • TDO Meghraj and Mr  Ansari gave short speech on why it is essential  to have toilet at home and benefits by proper use. Mr Ansari with his real time examples gained faith and love of audience  by touching grey point linking pride of women’s and toilet units use at home in villages.Ms Tabassum  focused on women empowerment through making of new VO s and strengthen of SHGs. 
  • Champa ben Dai ma from Motibhuwal villages shared that this is first time that they are getting welcomed and also shared her struggles while doing home deliveries in village. Women leaders Radha ben, Asha ben, Madhu ben, Sitaben, Sangita  ben, Bhawna ben and Gita  ben shared their journey of four years that how they feel transformation in themselves through  Mahila Manch and women’s engagement in VA .
  • Sangini ben from six VA also shared their journey of past 3 month working in Saksham project and it’s importance.
  •  Token of appreciation given to all participants by women leaders .
  • Contribution from 14 VA totaling worth ₹ 30,000 in cash and few other in kind were made for the event. 
  • Whole event manages and owned by women leaders with support of Girimala PC Guests and participants in the event praised efforts of VA leaders with RF for this grand success.

Quality in Development Sector

March 11, 2017

Quality is not an unknown word, mostly we heard about this in our day to day life. But, today trying to focus on qualitative aspects in Development Sector that what does it mean? How defined and interpreted? And, finally how impacts the organizations?

Quality can be defined as any distinctive attribute, features, characteristics that is possessed by goods, services, and processes. In Development Sector, usually we rarely manufacturer goods, and largely focusses either on processes or services or both. Quoting an real example of the organization where I am currently working that is Reliance Foundation. And, I am associated with rural transformation initiative called BIJ (Bharat India Jodo), the design of this program has quality in design and architecture. As community is at the fulcrum by organising themselves into a collectively governed and managed institute know as Village Association (VA). The process is completely democratized.

After the design, next aspect in quality is control of quality, which is initially being done by our front line professionals and in a planned manner transferred to the community. They control every aspect of the functioning like documentation, planning, budgeting, execution, etc. There are many VAs after 3-4 years of engagement with BIJ that now they are doing every thing at their own with laid down quality standards of services and processes.

In this transformation journey and continually improvement in the quality, BIJ set every year new benchmarks for services to be delivered towards marginalized community, BoDs (Board of Directors) for Producers Companies. It doesn’t stop here, also colleagues work at Main Corporate office sets quality deliverables benchmarks for all the 28 field teams.

All these are impacting organization by recognition among community, other developmental agencies, organisations including State Governments and within Reliance Family.

Skill and small financial support, transformed livelihood

Deoghar, 4 March 2017

In rural Bharat, there are millions of families who has skills to some extent but in the absence of proper support, guidance and complex Government system compelled to live in marginality. In order, to do simplify all this Reliance Foundation, in the year 2011 conceptualise and initiated a flagship rural transformation program know as BIJ (Bharat India Jodo). Today this program has reached out to 12 States, 32 Districts, 500 villages and >50,000 families. The core working principles are Direct Action, Participatory Approach, and Sustainable Development.

Below is one of the small story of a farmer named Sultan Sekh resides in the village Pahadpur. Under the guidance of Deoghar team villages collectively organized themselves and form a Village association (VA). VA members along with other dimensions of the work focused on nurturing the existing skills of the villagers and their transformation into a meaningful livelihood options.

Sultan Sekh being an active member of Pahadpur VA restarted a poultry unit some 3 years back and left due to loss in business. It has caused due to lack in proper skill and know how and encountered heavy mortality of chicks. 

VA members helped him to re-gain his confidence and re-vival of poultry unit by getting proper training from Abhibyakti Foundation, an organisation providing training on Poultry farming. Deoghar team of Reliance Foundation has helped VA in connection with Abhivyakti Foundation. Sekh was the first person to enrolled his wife for training. After completing the training of one month built new confidence in the family and decided to restart the closed unit of poultry in the village. For this he invested Rs 10,000 in renovation of poultry house as per the dimension and shape suggested in the training. Rs 5,000/ were supported as a loan from VDF (Village Development Fund) to purchase 100 chicks.

Abhibyakti Foundation is providing handhold support to the family in timely vaccination, medicines and regular followup. Looking at the performance of the first two very successful cycles there is a prevalent hope to turn up his poultry business as a great success and will became the replicable model for the other VA members.

Gram Panchayats and Corporates for Development in India

1 March 2017

In India there are about 2.5 lakh Gram panchayats (GP) and are the key players for the local governance and take care of all the development initiatives. Under the three tier arrangement of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), Gram panchayats are at the base, and headed by Sarpanch as it’s elected head. Constitutional body of Gram Panchayat comprises of Panch or Ward Members elected by all the adult citizens of their respective wards. The Sarpanch, all the Ward Members and Gram Sevak (Panchayat Sachiv), who is appointed by Government to support democratically elected body to perform major functions as:

  1. Implementation of welfare plans
  2. Social justice and development
  3. Upliftment of womene
  4. Economic development,d
  5. Development of infrastructure such as roads, waterways, etc.
  6. Ensuring social justice,
  7. Making arrangement for drinking water,
  8. Improvement in agricultural methods,
  9. Development of improved irrigation methods,
  10. Development of small-scale, cottage and food-processing units,
  11. Eradication of poverty,
  12. Housing for rural people,
  13. Making arrangement for elementary and secondary education facilities for rural children,
  14. Fight illiteracy and encourage adults to learn to read and write,
  15. Improvement in hygiene and sanitation, etc.

Even these functions doesn’t limit the scope of work, GPs can stretched to take up other tasks as well suitable for the welfare and development of the people and region.

However, Government provide enough financial resources for the development but still many GPs are struggling to get the sufficient support not only to have money but how to put available budget in proper use. 

Corporates under their CSR initiatives can proactively support eligible GPs in nurturing their capacities on making holistic, self-reliant and sustainable developmental plans, hand-hold support in making and designing technical plans, projects formation and bringing in dimension of Project Management. 

It is high time to work in association for Corporates with especially backward GPs. One has to take initiative so that left over areas of the country (low in HDI) also became active contributor in the country development.


History of Good Morning

28 Feb, 2017

Usually when we meet each other first time at the start of the day, greets each other by hands-shake, saying “Good morning”, short smile with eyes contacts, etc in a civilized society. Different cultures has different ways of greetings each other when meet first time during the day.

But as every thing has it’s own history, curiosity arises in my mind that what is the history behind saying “Good morning”? Who has introduced this English phrase? What is the really meaning, behind this phrase? While mind was boggling with such questions, searched Google and could find few information that is as below:

Etymologists has agreed that “good-bye” directly derives from the phrase “May God be with ye”. And, through similar routes The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that “Good morning” and “Good night” derive from “May God give you a. good day and b. good night”. (Source-Google) Means, it a wish that have a good and pleasant time ahead.

Still struggle was on to know / find that who has first used this phrase and when? So, the answer is….This phrase originated in Milford, Delaware in 1918. Roberta and Bob Roberts had a rooster named “Sunshine.” Every morning, Sunshine would crow to wake everyone at sunrise. Mr. And Mrs. Roberts would call out “Good morning, Sunshine!” as  a greeting to the beloved rooster. This became the Roberts’ family standard morning greeting to one another and everyone they encountered and continued non-stop even after Sunshine’s tragic passing in 1923 when he was eaten by a red fox.  The Roberts’ daughter, Bobbie, a teacher, said it everyday for 32 years to her second grade students. The Roberts’ son, Bob, Jr. greeted his staff at the Feed & Seed every day for 44 years. Of course since then, the greeting has spread far and wide. (https://www.quora.com/profile/Patti-Charron). An interesting history.

But, current reality is that our modern society is running way from this beautiful way of expressing something good for others. What I have observed that most of the people use this phase with their ‘hidden greed’ and rarely for ‘respect or by heart praying or wishing “May God give you a. good day and b. good night”.