Work for India's villages

If you were inspired by actor Shah Rukh Khan’s film Swades, where he quits his NASA job to work for his native village, this is your chance to follow suit by working with three villages in Uttar Pradesh as you chalk out development plans for them.

Want to be the next Mohan? Shah Rukh Khan’s character in Swades chucked his lucrative job at NASA to work in India’s villages. File Pic

How is it done?
Youth Alliance, an organisation that aims at shaping young leaders for social good, has recruited interested students and young professionals between 18 and 26 years of age for the second edition of their rural developmental programme, Gramya Manthan. They recruit 50 young Indians, and help them draw out sustainable projects for overall development of three villages in Uttar Pradesh: Tishti, Paliya and Ganga Deen Nevada.

27-year-old Prakhar Bhartiya, co-founder of Youth Alliance says, “Last year, we had applications from across India and the final participants came from 11 states. This year, we received applications from Bangladesh and Pakistan as well. Our focus is on building plans for these villages in different areas including education, sanitation, agriculture, employment and health. Participants have to understand localities and what is required to bring change, research it, internalise and post this, draw up different ideas.”

Swaraj and deeds
Last year’s programme led to the foundation of Swaraj, a livelihood centre in Ganga Deen Nevada and Kilkaari, a learning centre. Swaraj partnered with non-profit organisation Goonj and trained women to make cloth bags for commercial purposes and hence become independent. The result helped change the villagers’ outlook towards women, who aren’t given a lot of freedom. Several women have now approached the organisation for training. Kilkaari collected books through donation and has already admitted 45 kids.

Initial efforts were successful; and so we ask Bhartiya about its sustainability: “The group is divided into different sections based on areas of work. For example, those who are in education and livelihood from this year’s batch will check on the progress of the two previous initiatives, while those in other groups will create plans for a new area of concern. This year, we are looking at sanitation,” he says.

Bhartiya says that though the programme is for nine days, the participants are mentored in such a way such that they can replicate the thought processes and start initiatives in their local areas using their experience. “The ecological living, disciplinary life style and constant reflection makes them sensitive towards society and many of them make their future choices keeping the experience in mind,” says Shefali Bajpai, member of Youth Alliance.

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