Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

Thirty three years ago in 1983, after graduating from college, I started rolling and am happy to say that I am still doing so. Within a month or two I shall dissociate myself from any formal association with the organisations Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra (DGVK) and Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath (KMCS) in Alirajpur, which I had helped to set up in 1985 and with which I have been deeply associated for the past three decades. I am doing this, both to move on to new things and also to allow my Adivasi colleagues there to pursue their own genius without being dependent on and circumscribed by the modern skills of a non-adivasi person like I.
When I graduated from college as an engineer, I did not take a job in the corporate sector or go for higher studies abroad as all my other classmates did. Instead, I joined the huge informal sector of this country where people live from hand to mouth and and from day to day!! And the most informal of all in this sector have always been the Adivasis. So I went to live and work with the Bhil Adivasis in Alirajpur and that is how the organisations DGVK and KMCS came to be set up because in the modern world it is not possible to fight and survive without a minimal organisational presence. After a decade of great fights and great living at the margins in Alirajpur, I got married to Subhadra Khaperde in 1993. She insisted that I must move out of Alirajpur and work with her for the gender rights of women and girls. So we moved out of Alirajpur and began working in Khargone and Dewas districts from 1994 onwards. From 1994 to 2001 we worked in these areas setting up more organisations, the most notable being Kansari Nu Vadavno, which translates as the "Felicitation of Kansari", Kansari being the Goddess symbolised by the cereal jowar which is the staple food of the Bhils. This was a women's organisation that fought for reproductive health and rights. We were also simultaneously working for the establishment of Gram Swaraj or Village self rule for the Adivasis under the provisions of the Panchayat Extension to the Scheduled Areas Act. The Government of the day liked neither the women's mobilisation which had completely stopped the illegal sale of liquor nor the mobilisation for village self rule which had marginalised the administration in the villages in which the organisation was strong. So in a massive armed police operation it cracked down on the organisation and killed four of its members in firing and clapped dozens of others including me into prison. That was the end for that time at least of both the women's and village self rule mobilisations.
This made us roll again back to the city of Indore, as in the mean time a son had been born to us in 2000 and Subhadra also had decided to take a sabbatical from activism to pursue higher studies having been only a school pass out earlier. I too had to begin doing consultancy work to garner funds for the huge legal expenses that kicked in after the Government crack down on our organisation. Moreover, it had become almost impossible to work for rights given the huge repression that the Government resorted to against mass mobilisation.
Then from 2005 onwards the years of struggle for rights by many grassroots organisations began to bear fruit and we had legislations like the Right to Information Act, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the Forest Rights Act being enacted thus giving legal force to basic rights which earlier we had to fight and go to jail for. Our colleagues in Alirajpur asked me to help them to revive DGVK which had been lying dormant as it had become increasingly difficult to survive and fight just on ad hoc contributions from the people and well wishers and the odd fellowship. They said that it advantage were to be taken of the new legislations, then institutional grant funding would have to be accessed through the registered trust DGVK. So from 2007 onwards grant funding came into Alirajpur and work took off with a bang again. Within a space of just four years we set Alirajpur afire with significant implementation of the legislations mentioned above and also a big campaign for justice for migrant labourers some of whom had died after contracting Silicosis in quartz crushing units in Gujarat. DGVK was awarded the Times of India Social Impact Award for its exemplary mobilisation of Adivasis in Alirajpur in 2011. The trade union KMCS has always been a force to reckon with in Alirajpur and it has now gained in considerable strength. A picture of a typical rally of thousands of people that periodically shakes the earth and the air of Alirajpur is shown below.

However, our work on gender rights and especially reproductive health and rights of women had lagged behind and had become almost zero in this time. So, Subhadra once again has started this work in Indore from January this year. Once she got into the work, it became clear that it is a very difficult exercise and will require full time commitment from both of us. Moreover, the work in Alirajpur should ideally be led by the Adivasis there in all respects. Even though most of the programmatic work is directed by them, the work of managing the DGVK accounts and compliances was being handled by me. Now even that is going to be done by the Adivasis and to make sure that there is no dependence whatsoever on me, I have decided to move out of the organisations there completely. After two decades we are going back to reproductive health and rights work that we had first done in Khargone and Dewas, to try and reinvent ourselves working with some of the most deprived and oppressed people in this country - economically disadvantaged Dalit and Adivasi women.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Ravages of Marital Rape

Marital Rape is in the news these days with the controversial stand of the Ministry of Women and Child Development on this issue in its reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha which was later endorsed by the Minister, Maneka Gandhi, herself saying“We know it happens frequently but women need to come and complain about this aspect of violence, and once there is enough data, the government could respond.” 
Organisations working on issues of reproductive rights and health of women, especially poor women, know that this is a rampant phenomenon that devastates the mental and physical health of women. There is enough micro level data with such organisations but since they are few and far between and there has not been any effort to collate this data at the macro level, the Government can easily get away by saying that there is not enough data. However, the National Family Health Survey 4 which has just been concluded has a specific question no 1107 in the woman's questionnaire that asks the woman respondent whether she has been forced by her partner to have sex or engage in other sexual acts under threat of force, even if she did not want to and the answer options to this question are - often, sometimes and not in the last twelve months. So far only the preliminary broad results of this survey have been published and the detailed question wise results are still being analysed and are yet to be published. But once the complete results are in, there will be enough rigorous data on marital rape on which to go by and the Government can't slime its way out by citing data unavailability.
Here I will detail the heart rending experience of a woman residing in a slum in Indore who has suffered marital rape continuously and how difficult it is to remedy this problem. I will refer to the woman as Padma to mask her identity and her story is being made public with her permission. She was among 50 odd women who participated in a reproductive health programme that was conducted by the Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra in their apartment block.  Preliminary surveys were conducted to determine the status of reproductive health and rights of the women and then they were clinically examined by a gynaecologist along with medical tests in a health camp pictured below.

Subsequently medicines were given free and a follow up camp was held three weeks later to evaluate the results of the intervention. Subhadra has conducted such reproductive health interventions in both rural and urban areas before and the current programme has been launched by her in Indore with the aim of developing a replicable model and building up a large database on the status of reproductive health and rights.
Padma is 30 years old and works as a cook. Her husband is a motorcycle mechanic and they have two daughters and a son aged between 10 and 15 years. They live in a two room apartment in a block that has been built under the Rajeev Gandhi Ashray Yojana for rehabilitating people living in slums from which they have been displaced to make way for up-scale urban development. Clinical examination revealed that Padma was underweight for her height and suffered from general weakness and backache. She had severe cervical erosion from several infections of the vaginal tract and had white discharge. She was anaemic with haemoglobin level of 9.7 grams per decilitre. She was prescribed calcium, iron and protein powder to increase her strength and was given vaginal pessaries to insert to clear up the white discharge. She was also given a combination of drugs to treat her vaginal infections. Since these were very widespread and had been there for quite some time, the doctor asked her to ask her husband also to take this combination of drugs. She was also given anti-biotics.
This is where the problem began. Her husband refused to take the combination drugs to cure the vaginal infections saying that he was not ill so why should he take medication. We sat with the man and explained to him that if he did not take the drug then his genitals would continue to be infected and once again infect his wife after she was cured. He just nodded his head and went away but he refused to take the medicine. Talking to Padma we learnt that her husband came home drunk on most days and demanded sex despite her being so weak and if she protested then he would beat her up and allege that she was sleeping with some other man. A classic case of marital rape if ever there was one. Consequently there was not much improvement in her condition despite the medication.
During the follow up camp the doctor said that Padma's condition had not improved and she still had severe cervical erosion which would eventually result in her having to remove her uterus unless the cervix was cauterised and she desisted from having sex for some time.
Once again we spoke to the husband but did not get any response. Then, Subhadra got angry and she told Padma that she would have to take a hard decision. Either she would waste away if she continued in the present fashion or she would have to fight her husband for her rights. Subhadra said that she would take Padma to a hospital for cauterisation of her cervix, only if she stood up to her husband and stopped sleeping with him as otherwise the whole procedure would become useless. After much hesitation Padma agreed and her teenaged daughter also asked her to take courage. She went ahead with the cauterisation and then refused to sleep with her husband for a whole month telling him that a lot of money had been spent on her and she was not going to let that go down the drain because of his lust. When he tried to beat her she said, on the strength of the information given to her by Subhadra, that she would report him to the police for violating the provisions of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. She has since asserted herself more and now has sex only when she feels like it. As a result she has recovered her health.
Under the circumstances in which patriarchally oppressed women like Padma live, it is indeed a little insensitive on the part of Maneka Gandhi to say that the onus is on the woman to report marital rape and since she is not doing so and there is not enough data, the Government can't do anything. Padma is not alone as during the survey most women reported marital rape saying that they have to sleep with their husbands almost every day regardless of their own inclinations or face beatings. One woman, Rekha, said she had never enjoyed sex because her husband had been forcing herself on her ever since she got married as a young teenager even when she was heavily pregnant.
The average cost of treatment of a woman in the programme was about Rs 800 and in Padma's case it was about Rs 2000. The Government can provide these services at even lower costs as it is a much larger procurer. If these poor women go to a private practitioner on their own then the cost will be much more and given the patriarchal social structure and the poverty it is impossible for them to bear this expense. Not only does the Government not provide these services, the women were all clinically checked by a gynaecologist for the first time as some of them had only availed obstetric services earlier, but sadly it side steps the serious problem of gender based sexual violence arising from patriarchy that most married women have to suffer from. It is time both society and the government stopped running away from the horrendous reality of marital rape.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

The Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath has fought many a battle for justice for the Adivasis of Alirajpur but possibly the most worthwhile and arduous one has been that it has fought for the victims of silicosis contracted as labourers in stone crushing factories in Gujarat. 90 per cent of the Adivasis of Alirajpur migrate to Gujarat to labour in factories, construction sites and agricultural fields as their agricultural income from their small farms is not sufficient to make ends meet. In the early 2000s the new millennium instead of ushering in a new dawn for the Adivasis brought on them a new pestilence of a fatal nature. The Adivasis working as daily wage labourers in stone crushing factories in Godhra and Balasinor in Gujarat, which were being run without proper equipment to ensure that the labourers did not inhale the dust generated from the stone crushing machines, began to fall fatally ill from silicosis due to the deposition of the fine stone particles in their lungs. Soon hundreds of labourers began falling ill and dying. Below is the picture of one such emaciated victim who has since died.

The KMCS took up the issue first with the Government of Madhya Pradesh and then with the Government of Gujarat. There was a furore and some regulation began of these killer factories but both the Governments were silent about compensation for those maimed and killed by silicosis.
The KMCS then took the battle further afield and contacted other organisations who were active in fighting to end the scourge of silicosis among stone crusher workers across India as this is a rampant phenomenon. It turned out that the Government of India and the state and central pollution control boards too were apathetic to the plight of the labourers affected by Silicosis. After five long years of campaigning it was decided to seek legal redress and a writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court of India in which KMCS was a petitioner along with other organisations seeking justice for the victims of silicosis across the country. The Supreme Court made this case W.P. (Civil) 110 of 2006 a test case for ensuring justice in the area of occupational health and especially the virulent neglect by the Government of the plight of victims of Silicosis. Many human rights lawyers of repute like Prashant Bhushan and Colin Gonsalves appeared for the petitioners. The Supreme Court after hearing all parties ordered the National Human Rights Commission to conduct a detailed enquiry into the situation of the victims of silicosis in Alirajpur and Jhabua districts. The KMCS as a petitioner played an active role in facilitating this enquiry on the ground.
The NHRC, after conducting the study, issued a recommendation in November 2010 that the Gujarat Government should pay a compensation of Rs 3,00,000 to the kin of each of the 238 Bhil tribals from Jhabua and Alirajpur districts who had died due to silicosis contracted while working in stone crusher units in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat Government after initial dilly dallying sent notices to the kin of the deceased that their complaints had been registered under the ESI Act and that they should come with all documents to the designated court to fight the case for compensation. This was in gross violation of the original basis of the Supreme Court order to the NHRC. The Supreme Court had reasoned that it was a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the Gujarat Government not to have regulated the stone crusher units, as it should have under the law and so it had a moral responsibility to compensate the kin of the illiterate and poor tribals who had died due to this governmental negligence. The NHRC then went back to the Supreme Court saying that the Gujarat Government was refusing to comply with its recommendations. A delegation from the KMCS also visited the Labour Secretary in Ahmedabad requesting him to comply with the NHRC recommendations but they too were fobbed off with the plea that the government had registered cases in the courts and that the victims should seek redressal there.
The NHRC had also recommended that the Madhya Pradesh Government should design and implement a rehabilitation package for the 304 tribals who are affected with silicosis but are still alive. The MP Government too did not comply in spirit with this recommendation by giving the affected Adivasis a special rehabilitation package and instead listed the benefits given to some of these Adivasis under ongoing social welfare schemes as its rehabilitation package.
Finally, on 3.5.2016, the Supreme Court passed an order directing the Government of Gujarat to pay Rs 3 lakhs to the kin of each of the victims identified by the NHRC without delay and report to it about action taken within a month.
Thus, after a decade long battle, finally the Adivasis will get some relief but it is a pyrrhic victory. If it was not for the mediation of the KMCS and other organisations across the country and pleading by noted human rights lawyers even this would not have been possible. Coming as it does after such a long delay primarily due to the fact that the Supreme Court is burdened with innumerable cases and given the intransigence of the Government of Gujarat, this relief has more symbolic than material value. Certainly something is very rotten in the State of India.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Making Facebook Productive!!


Generally Facebook is considered to be a forum in which people waste their time talking shop. I too had many reservations about joining FB initially and only did so to promote our mass organisation Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath through a page created for it. However, once I was on FB as a page administrator I began getting friend requests which I accepted and so joined FB in the personal capacity. Then one day one of my friends offered to help fund the running of some schools for Adivasi children and thus FB took on a new dimension altogether. It became productive instead of just being a talking shop. Over the past three years the work of the Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra (DGVK) which had started on the education front with support from this initial munificent friend on Facebook has now broadened to sanitation and women's health. This transformation has happened because of the huge support that has come from friends on Facebook which has enabled the organisation to diversify its intervention into these new areas. Here is a report of the exhilarating and high impact work that has been accomplished with these funds. 
 The education part of the project  encompasses the residential Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala in Kakrana, the single teacher day schools in Chilakda and Bada Amba and the coaching class in Ahirkheri low income group colony in Indore. The details of the activities are given below
I. BADA AMBA
There are now 58 students in the school in Bada Amba as opposed to 70 last year. Some of the older students have dropped out after reaching class five and sufficient number of new young children have not enrolled. The details of the total enrollment age and gender wise is given in Table 1.
Table 1: Total Enrollment in School in Bada Amba
Age in Years
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
Total
Boys
6
6
6
2
2
3
3
2
30
Girls
4
6
6
2
2
3
3
2
28
Total
10
12
12
4
4
6
6
4
58

Mavsingh Vaskel, the teacher, is also supported by the Madhya Pradesh Government Education Department and the school is registered as a primary school under the provisions of the Right to Education Act due to the efforts of the DGVK. However, since the Government pays only Rs 2400 per month as salary, DGVK pays the teacher another Rs 3500 so as to provide him with a decent overall compensation. Examinations have been conducted in accordance with the directives of the Education Department and the students have been graded on their performance. All the students have passed their examinations and currently there are 13 boys and 10 girls in Class One, 6 boys and 5 girls in Class Two, 5 boys and 4 girls in Class Three, 4 boys and 4 girls in Class Four and 4 boys and 3 girls in Class Five. The adult members of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath sit in the school in the evenings for adult education classes from the teacher Mavsingh.
II. CHILAKDA
There are now 47 students in the school which is 18 less than last year. Many of the students have joined residential schools elsewhere while newer intake in the lower classes has not been enough to compensate. The details of the total enrollment age and gender wise is given in Table 1.
Table 2: Total Enrollment in School in Chilakda
Age in Years
6
7
8
9
10
Total
Boys
5
5
6
7
2
25
Girls
4
5
5
5
3
22
Total
9
10
11
12
5
47
The teacher in Chilakda, Naharsingh, is also a guest teacher of the Madhya Pradesh Government Education Department and the school is subsumed under the Primary School being run in the nearby Nal Amba hamlet. They have performed well in their examinations and all have passed. The current classwise student strength is as follows. There are 6 boys and 4 girls in Class One, 5 boys and 4 girls in ClassTwo, 7 boys and 5 girls in Class Three, 9 boys and 7 girls in Class Four.
III. AHIRKHERI
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009,  known popularly as the Right to Education Act (RTE) has a provision that private schools which charge fees will enrol 25 per cent of their student intake from among socio-economically deprived sections and not charge any fees from them. The Government will compensate these private schools for the cost of this education. Thus, the Rani Kajal School in Kakrana too provides free education to about 5 children in each class since the class strength of fees paying children is about 20. In the city of Indore too all private schools have to enrol free students and the Government Education Department conducts an elaborate exercise each year at the time of admission to get applicants from deprived backgrounds into private schools. The elite private schools which charge exorbitant fees are much sought after and that is why the admission process has to be regulated by the Government to try and ensure transparency.
The Vishisht Jyoti Samajik Sanstha (VJSS) is an NGO founded by Dalit and Adivasi residents of the slums in Indore city who have been fighting for their rights for a long time. One of the great victories that this organisation has won is that they have secured rehabilitation for many of their members who were displaced from their slums in well constructed multi storied buildings built under the Rajiv Gandhi Ashray Yojana. They regularly campaign every year to get children from these slums enrolled in the elite private schools of the city under the provisions of the RTE. Over the past few years they have succeeded in getting about a hundred children enrolled in elite schools in Indore.
However, there are many problems that these children are facing. The first and foremost problem is that they are not able to cope with the studies in school. The teachers prescribe homework to be done at home and also give the children projects of various kinds. This requires supportive help at home but these children come from families that can neither afford private tutors nor are the parents capable themselves of teaching the children. Thus, just getting enrolled in a good private school is proving to be a bane rather than a boon for these slum children as they are falling back in class and in some cases have even had to leave these schools and return to the near defunct government school system.
The VJSS and the Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra (DGVK) have worked together on many issues that affect the slum residents of Indore. So the VJSS came to DGVK with a proposal for starting a coaching institute in one of the resettlement complexes in Ahirkheri to help the children enrolled in elite schools with additional help in their studies and it was decided to run it with funds that the DGVK garners from various donors through Facebook. This coaching institute began functioning from Monday 15th December 2015 and the picture of the inauguration is shown below. One of the students lit the lamp to inaugurate the coaching institute which has been named Savitribai Phule Adhyayan Samooh or Study Group. Savitribai Phule hailed from the Other Backward Classes and was one of the first women from the socio-economically deprived sections of the country to be educated in the nineteenth century because of the efforts of her husband Jyotiba Phule and they together initiated a very successful campaign to educate girls from deprived sections.

A dedicated lady teacher who is seen sitting in the picture, who is a post graduate in science and a graduate in education and has left her well paid job in a private school, will conduct the classes in the evening for a very modest salary along with her husband who is a board member of VJSS. The premises themselves will be used for other intellectual activities also during the day. The details of the total enrolment age and gender wise is given in Table 3 below.

Table 3: Children Regularly Attending Coaching Class in Ahirkheri
Class of Study
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
10
Total
Boys
1
1
2
2
3
1
1
4
1
15
Girls
1
3
2
4
4
4
2
1
2
17
Total
2
4
4
6
7
5
3
5
3
39

Education has become expensive like everything else in this inflationary world. The Government is not prepared to run a proper public school education system with adequately paid teachers in sufficient numbers and with proper teaching aids and infrastructure. It is also not prepared to implement the RTE properly as it does not compensate the private schools adequately and on time for the free education that they provide to the socio-economically deprived children. Consequently they do not pay good attention to these children and their parents do not have the wherewithal to provide them with additional coaching. Thus, there is a huge gap between the law and its implementation and in reality free and compulsory education of a good quality for socio-economically deprived children is a distant dream.

IV. RANI KAJAL JEEVANSHALA
Multigrade teaching in single teacher schools by inadequately qualified and trained teachers results in poor pedagogy and learning outcomes. That is why the DGVK established a residential school with many teachers in Kakrana village on the banks of the Narmada River in 2001. A separate organisation was set up for this so as to keep the school independent of the DGVK and its other developmental activities. However, last year Professor Swapan Bhattacharya, a retired, internationally renowned micro-biologist who had worked and taught in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Devi Ahilya University in Indore, came to know about the work of the DGVK from the internet where he had searched for a good organisation working among the Bhil Adivasis with which he could associate. He visited the Rani Kajal School in Kakrana and liked the place immensely and expressed a desire to stay in the school and give his inputs. He said that after retirement he had spent five years searching for a good institution to work in with children and he had finally found one. The only problem was that the spartan living arrangements in Kakrana where there were only a few toilets for the girl students and the guest house did not have proper electricity were too daunting for the seventy year old professor who is both an asthma and a heart patient. The Kalpantar Shikshan Trust which runs the school on a shoestring budget with some help from outside and some fees from the students had no funds to spruce up the guest house with proper toilet, electricity and water facilities. So, since the DGVK education project had a surplus due to the munificient donations received last year which were Rs 10,000 in excess of the target of Rs 2 Lakhs, funds amounting to Rs 80,000 were transferred from this to the Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala for the guest house renovation and remodelling project.
Professor Bhattacharya who is in residence in Kakrana since January 2015 and has established a laboratory, library, a garden and an insect park in the school. He conducts classes for the teachers and the children and also has taken on the task of documenting the bio-diversity in the dense forest protected by the villagers through community cooperation. A new dynamism has been added to the Rani Kajal School. Many people from Indore, Mumbai and the USA have visited the school and taken classes and demonstrated scientific techniques.
One such visitior, Ms Lipika Salaye , a PhD. student of Biochemistry in Wake Forest University, North Carolina, USA, visited Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala between 4-7 January 2016. She gifted to the school a computer controlled digital microscope, a video recordable binocular and a unique inflatable Globe that displays the view of Earth by a satellite in the night sky. She demonstrated the use of all these to teachers and students. She was impressed by the quality of the students and promised to bring more educational materials in her future visits.
Lipika's father Nitin arranged for a new photocopier machine to be given to the school by the distributor of the machine in Mumbai at a discounted cost. He also donated a printer to the school.This has been a great boon as earlier the examination papers of the students had to be printed and photocopied in Dahi which is 20 kms away. Nitin Salye also contributed Rs 2,50,000 for the purchase of a used Tata Safari diesel car for the school. This car, though initially in very bad shape, was repaired and reconditioned very well and now packs great power. It is used to buy vegetables from the whole sale markets of Kukshi and Barwani at a very cheap price and so the quality of food being served to the students has improved greatly. It is also used for various other purposes and has increased the mobility of the people in the school.
Another visitor recently to the school was Arjun Venkatraman who is a software engineer specialising in the deployment of Wireless Mesh based internet systems. He successfully demonstrated how internet can be hopped from the hill top in Kakrana where it is available through GSM mobile to the school below with the use of radio transcievers. From the next session the school will have internet and this is a great development.
However, some infrastructural problems still remain to be tackled as follows -
1.       A kitchen cum dining space has to be constructed as presently there is a small kitchen and only an open platform for dining.
2.       The old kitchen will be converted into a library cum reading room where children can study in silence.
3.       Laboratories have to be constructed and equipped.
4.       The electricity supply to the school is erratic and of low voltage with heavy fluctuations. This problem aggravates in the winter season when farmers nearby draw heavy power for their irrigation pumps. Therefore, a separate transformer has to be arranged for the school and underground power cables have to be laid as presently cables are hung on bamboo poles with a potential for disaster especially during the monsoons.
5.       More hostel buildings and teachers' quarters have to be constructed.
V. SANITATION
A major problem in the Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala in Kakrana was open defecation by the boy students as there were only three toilets which were being used by the girl students and the staff. So it was decided to build toilets and bathrooms in the school. However, the whole exercise proved to be a Herculean task.
The biggest problem with toilets in rural areas that is generally brushed under the carpet and overlooked is water supply. Toilets across the country are being built in the hundreds of thousands since the clarion call given by Modi but in most of these, there is either no or inadequate provision for water supply. Consequently, toilets across the country and especially public toilets, stink to high heaven and most private toilets built in rural homes remain unused. In rural areas where households have to bring water from a distance from tanks, streams, public wells or hand pumps for their drinking and cooking use, it requires great motivation on their part to get say fifteen more buckets or so for a five member household for bathing, flushing and keeping the toilets and bathrooms clean instead of bathing and defecating in the open. Even if they were to get these fifteen buckets of water, it would give rise to the problem of disposal of the waste water of almost equal proportions. Dry pit latrines without proper treatment of the sewage, which are promoted by policy makers across the world, as a consequence, to get round the high cost implications of providing adequate water supply to the toilets and treating the waste water properly, give rise to both a foul stench and contamination of the ground and surface water. Thus, Prime Minister Modi's Clean India campaign has mostly led to the construction of stinking toilets which are either not being used or if used are then contributing to greater pollution of the ground water than in the case of open defecation. The enormity of this problem was brought home to us in the construction of fifteen pairs of toilets and bathrooms in the Rani Kajal Jeevan Shala in Kakrana in two blocks of ten and five units for boys and girls respectively as shown below.
The quality of construction of the toilets and bathrooms was fairly good with brick and cement mortar, vitrified tiles, UPVC pipes and brass and ceramic fittings as shown in the picture alongside.
The campus has a hand pump in which there is inserted a two phase submersible pump of one horsepower (HP). Initially after the toilets and bathrooms were constructed they were fitted with two numbers of one thousand litre tanks in addition to the one thousand litre tank that was already there for the three toilets built earlier. These tanks were connected to the submersible pump. However, this total of three thousand litres of water supply proved totally inadequate for servicing fifteen bathrooms and eighteen toilets. The tanks would empty out within a few minutes during the morning hours of heavy use and then filling them up again and again was a big problem. Later during the day the tanks would remain empty and so the children would have to cart water in buckets from the handpump to the toilets over a distance of over a hundred metres which is a labourious exercise. Given this water shortage the toilets began to stink badly and became a potential health hazard. Moreover, the three septic tanks for treating the sewage were also improperly designed and the outflow from them was collecting near the tanks and creating a stinking pool of dirty water that was contaminating both surface and ground water. One of the septic tanks had even cracked due to improper design and construction that left one of the brick walls of the tank exposed without a retaining support, as a result of an inadequate understanding of the topography and soil quality of the area on the part of the mason who constructed it, adding to the problems.
To rectify the situation it was decided to build a ten thousand litre concrete tank on top of the highest hillock in the campus so as to provide enough water storage for the present and future needs of the school at all points. This then brought us up against a new problem of filling this tank with water. The one HP submersible pump could deliver water at a very slow rate to this tank which is at a height of about 20 metres above the hand pump. Matters were compounded by the fact that the voltage of the electricity supply was low and often fell to 160 Volts or so instead of the standard 240. Ideally the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board should be providing 240 Volt three phase AC supply to rural areas so that farmers can run pumps of 3 HP and upwards for irrigation purposes. However, the reality in most remote areas of the state is, that the supply is in two phases of low voltage of about 160 Volts with the third phase remaining even less at 20 to 30 volts and effectively non-functional for running pumps. That is why throughout rural areas in the state, two phase capacitor driven 1 or 2 HP pumps have become popular. However, given the low voltage there is a limit to the head up to which these pumps can raise water. The submersible pump of 1 HP took eight hours to fill up the hill top tank and often when the voltage became very low it would stop pumping altogether.
Given the uncertainty of electric supply we installed a 5 HP diesel generator and this improved the delivery of water by the pump but this was an expensive option that could be adopted only in emergencies when there was no electricity supply at all due to load shedding and not regularly. To solve this problem it was decided to lift water from an open well shown below that was there in the campus which was being used only for irrigating the two vegetable farms in the campus. The submersible pump in the hand pump was to be used henceforth only for drinking water purposes.
The problem was that this open well too had a 1 HP pump on it and unlike submersible pumps these pumps have less power and so it could not push water up to the hill top tank located at a distance of 250 metres and height of 25 metres from the well. First we replaced this pump with a 2 HP pump from Kirloskar Brothers but that too did not work. We then chose a 2 HP pump from another company and that also failed to work. Finally, a third pump from yet another company was able to lift water up to the hilltop tank, thus solving the problem temporarily. There was a small hiccup as the weight of all the water in the pipeline proved too much for the plastic foot valve that we had put at the end of the suction pipe and it went kaput!! We then replaced it with a more robust foot valve. Currently the water level in the well is very high and just 2 metres below ground level. But as summer approaches and the water level goes down it is likely that the pump will not be able to lift water to the hill top tank. Therefore, in future we will have to make a further investment in replacing the 1 HP submersible pump in the hand pump with a 2 HP one.
The bigger problem was regarding the disposal and reuse of waste water. Huge amounts of waste water were being generated from the bathrooms and toilets and these were being released untreated into the surface and ground near the septic tanks and were polluting the water sources of the school and also other farmers nearby in the village. First the cracked septic tank was repaired with reinforcement and supported by a retaining wall to ensure that it did not crack again. Then a water treatment system was put in place to clean the water flowing out of the septic tanks. The water from the septic tanks enters this system and gets purified while passing through it to reach a Biological Oxygen Demand level less than the 30 mg/litre value for release into the soil prescribed by the Central Public Health and Environmental Health Organisation. However, instead of releasing this water into the soil it is being collected in a tank and recycled to flush the toilets thus saving considerably on the use of potable water for this purpose as shown below. The waste water consequently flows in a closed loop repeatedly after being treated. The excess treated waste water is used for gardening and plantation purposes. There is a vigrorous soil and water conservation and plantation exercise going on in the school to improve both water and biomass availability so as to eventually make the campus energy sufficient also.
So now the toilets in the school are being used regularly, they are not stinking and the waste water is not polluting the environment resulting in a sanitised atmosphere conducive to good health. A very happy resolution of the exasperating and persistent problem of cleaning India in a remote corner of its vast expanse. However, this has not been achieved without considerable difficulty. Kakrana is situated in hilly terrain 45 kms distant from the nearest town of Kukshi where all the hardware, cement, steel, sanitary fittings and pumps are available on sale. There are no competent, masons, plumbers and electricians available in Kakrana and so they have had to be brought from Indore and Ahmedabad all of three hundred kilometres away to implement the project. Consequently the average cost per a unit consisting of a bathroom and toilet has worked out to be a whopping Rs 70,000. The Government, international agencies and NGOs on the other hand want to build these units for Rs 20,000 by skimping on the costs of water supply and waste water treatment and that is why they end up making a royal mess of the whole exercise and India remains as unclean as ever. We had initially budgeted for Rs 40,000 per each bathroom and toilet unit but due to the complexities of the problem, eventually the cost escalated. Even now there is a need for a further investment of about Rs 5000 per unit to replace the submersible pump in summer. Even if we economise on the use of vitrified tiles, ceramic and brass fittings and quality of construction there is no way in which the cost can be less than Rs 50,000 per bathroom and toilet unit at current prices.
A proper twin leach pit latrine was also constructed in Pandutalav village in Dewas district where the DGVK is setting up a new centre for conducting a primary health programme. Here the water sources are quite far from the latrine so there is no danger of the waste water contaminating them. The cost of construction of the latrine came to Rs 20,000 with good quality materials and construction techniques which is much more than the Rs 12000 that is sanctioned by the Government under the Clean India Campaign. The most important part of the construction was the piping and valve system to ensure that only one pit at a time was functioning and a photo of this is shown here.
 VI. WOMEN'S HEALTH CAMPS
The reproductive health, especially gynaecological health, of poor women in India is generally very bad. Even though poor women in urban areas do have a lesser work burden in terms of physical labour as compared to the rural women they are nevertheless handicapped by having to live in very cramped and dirty surroundings in slums and suffer from the effects of patriarchy in the same way as rural women. This creates serious reproductive health problems for them. Government health services are mostly not accessible to these women and they have to rely on private doctors whose fees and treatment for reproductive health problems are more expensive than in rural areas. So urban women suffer from various reproductive health problems and are anaemic. In most cases the women are not able to articulate these problems due to their lower status in society. Reproductive health problems lead to both economic loss through inability to work and mental stress due to illness for women and so need to be urgently addressed to ensure gender equity.
Current thinking among feminists broadly defines the discipline of reproductive and sexual health as the social and clinical study of those problems and diseases that arise from the social asymmetries influencing human sexuality and reproduction. Specifically a reproductive health approach has been defined as that which "enables women, including adolescents, everywhere to regulate their own fertility safely and effectively by conceiving when they desire, terminating unwanted pregnancies and carrying wanted pregnancies to term; to remain free of disease, disability or death associated with reproduction or sexuality and to bear and raise healthy children.". In reality, however, this ideal state of affairs does not prevail anywhere in the world and especially in India most women have to suffer from serious reproductive and sexual health problems. Feminist sociology has pinpointed the dominance of men in society as the prime reason for this and termed this phenomenon as patriarchy. Analysing all the main institutions of society like the family, marriage, kinship groups, media, religious hierarchies and the state, they have shown that all these play a role in maintaining the overall patriarchal structure of society. Over thousands of years this structure has become so well entrenched that to most people, including women, it seems quite natural instead of being the social construct that it is.
As a result, traditionally, women have had to work more, they have been denied the right to inheritance of property, they have had to assume total responsibility for house work and the care of children and the elderly and this work is not counted as of being of any economic value, they have had to go underfed and have been subjected to domestic and external violence of the worst kind. As a consequence of this secondary status women have to bear more babies to ensure that there are male progeny who will inherit the property and provide security in old age. Along with this there is social control over the sexuality of women so that men can be assured that the children born to their wives are truly theirs and so ensure the purity of their descent. Naturally all this adversely affects the overall health of women.
Since there is a taboo on the discussion of these issues women have to suffer their troubles in silence and this leads to mental problems. Thus there is a deafening culture of silence surrounding women's reproductive and sexual health problems. The biggest irony is that the menstrual cycle which is an integral part of the reproductive process is considered in the prevailing patriarchal system to be the cause of various  negative things and has been given a dirty connotation in India. This affects the ability of women to maintain personal hygiene and results in their being afflicted by various diseases of the reproductive tract. In the cramped surroundings of urban slums, the washing and drying of menstrual cloth is a serious problem.
Government policies for women have largely centred around ensuring safe motherhood and putting most of the responsibility for family planning onto them and so treating them just as child bearing and rearing machines. This completely ignores the ground reality that in the patriarchal social structure that prevails in India there is a preference for male children which forces women to bear more children or promotes female foeticide. There is a woeful lack of thrust in the reproductive health programme towards mitigating patriarchy and providing good gynaecological services despite the Government being a signatory to such United Nations covenants as the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the various declarations of the three Women's Conferences held in 1975, 1985 and 1995 which clearly speak of women's agency in decision making related to reproductive health and control over their bodies as a basic step towards establishing overall gender equity.
The first effective steps towards improving the status of women's reproductive health in India were taken by NGOs in the 1980s. The pioneer in this respect is the NGO, SEARCH, in Gadhchiroli district of Maharashtra. In the course of their work among the Gond indigenous people they found that all women were not reporting their gynaecological problems properly. So they decided to conduct a detailed study which has now become a landmark in this field. The study revealed that 55% of the women surveyed admitted to some gynaecological problem or other but when they were tested clinically this proportion rose to 92%. The most disturbing finding was that only 8% of these women had come to the NGO for treatment of their problems indicating a tremendous level of reticence to confront their serious reproductive health problems. Many other studies, both in rural and urban settings, have later confirmed these disturbing findings.
A programme of reproductive health and rights has been started following the feminist approach described above within the slums of Indore by the Dhas Gramin Vikas Kendra in 2016 with some funds that remained after conducting all the other activities described above. The para health workers were given a basic training so as to make them aware of the patriarchal social relations that contribute to reproductive health problems and also to make them capable of taking the women into confidence regarding their problems. A survey was first conducted in the slums and this revealed a similar sorry status of reproductive health and lack of awareness of the women as in earlier studies elsewhere in India.
All the women surveyed were then motivated to attend the camps for clinical checkups by the doctors regardless of whether they reported having problems or not. Special arrangements were made to ensure privacy in the camps so that the women felt comfortable about being examined. Blood and urine samples were taken for lab testing and medicines were prescribed and given to the women who were diagnosed with problems and the para health workers did follow up rounds to ensure that the women were indeed taking the medicines. Especially, considering the importance of actively engaging men and boys also in achieving gender equity, their involvement in the programme was also ensured. The results were very encouraging as all the women reported improvement in their condition and attended the follow up camps. Thus, the intervention has been very successful and both the para health workers and the women felt that for the first time they had gone through a liberating experience. Three camps have been conducted so far.
These camps are very easy to organise and require only about Rs 30,000 per camp. Some organisational support is required which is provided by DGVK. The crucial input is that of the para health worker who has to prepare the women for the camps and then carry out follow up and monitoring to ensure that they are taking the medicines. Since, the men in the family have an important role to play, this intervention also involves sensitisation of the men to establish gender equity on a sustainable basis. The important thing is to ensure continuity of the camps so that the programme gains credibility, sustainability and impact and a replicable model is established.
V. FINANCES

No financial target was placed last year as the demands for various activities were open ended. A total of Rs 5,61,950 were contributed by various donors apart from the many material gifts like microscope, car and photocopier etc. Rs 27,000 was carried over from last year so the total funds available for spending were 5,88,950. Rs 97,000 were spent on salaries of the teachers of the two rural schools and the urban coaching centre. Rupees 10,000 were spent on the roofing of the Bada Amba school. Rs. 51,000 were spent on the repair of the car. Rs 3,62,000 were spent on the sanitation and water supply systems and Rs 68,950 on the women's health camps.