Success Stories

Kunti


(This is a presentation made by Kunti Rawat, the President of the Furkenday village Bal-Panchayat. Furkenday is in the SBMA/Plan Gairsain PU. Kunti came to the ashram for a Rights of Children Workshop in which 151 children from 77 villages participated.)

On the 6th of June 2001 I went to Anjanisain and this was my first visit to Sri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram. There , Mohan Bhai and Sudhir Bhai told us about children organisation. After attending that camp when I went back to village I told to the children of my village about children organisation. I also talked to their parents but they did not understand the Idea. Elder children and their parents asked me, "What can you do? There is nothing in your hands?"

Then I talked to smaller children and they liked the idea. We formed our Bal-Panchayat. Slowly- slowly the elder children of the village have started joining our Bal-Panchayat. Children organised a campaign in the village about cleaning the village and all the members of the Bal Panchayat cleaned the main drinking water sources. We told to our parents about the diseases that happen due to dirty water. Now the women group of our village, locally known as Mahila Mangal Dal, cleans the water sources frequently. On the 31st November and 1st December we organised an awareness program and performed street play, songs and dances related to personal hygiene, sanitation, and environment degradation. Our organisation also helps our parents in organizing ceremonies such as marriages, MUNDAN and cultural events. And we have earned money, our organisation has now 3000/- Rupees, which we have received as public contribution during culture programs and managing the ceremonies.

Once, the time came when our regular meeting stopped. People of our village were in conflict and it affected the minds of children. Children lost their interest. At this time SBMA/Plan workers Mahavir Bhai, Rajeshwari didi, Manvendra Bhai and I talked to children, and we were again united. At present we have 40 children in our Bal Panchayat.

When Pratap Garhwali Ji was in Ghandiyal he suggested to us that we should have a children organisation at the cluster (group of villages) level, so that messages can reach many children and children can form their Bal Panchayat with the help of cluster level Bal Panchayat. We formed a cluster level Bal Panchayat. But at present it is not working well and after going from here I will work on activating this organisation.

Bal Panchayat Farkendy is able to achieve following with the collective children efforts:

 

  •     Organised a campaign on having a clean village.
  •     Cleaned drinking water sources.
  •     Made efforts to open a Balwadi (pre-primary education center) and now we have it in our village.
  •     Formed cluster level Bal Panchayat.
  •     Organised a people awareness program.

Children implemented a supervisory role in managing ceremonies and we have controlled the incidents of losing/missing things such as glasses, plates, thalis, etc.

Our Bal Panchayat has earned a reputation and Gram Pardhan and other institutions, i.e Mahila Mangal Dal (women Group), listen to us and extend their kind support.

 

Thanks,

KUNTI RAWAT
FARKENDAY VILLAGE
GHANDIYAL
CHAMOLI GARHWAL

The International Conference of Mountain Children
May 18 - May 23 2002; Dehradun, Uttaranchal, India


 

The International Conference of Mountain Children (ICMC) was much more than simply a meeting of children from mountainous regions: It was the first step in a revolution that means to change how the world works with and perceives children and mountain communities. Though millions of development aid money spent in the world is earmarked for children's issues, rarely are the children themselves consulted on what they need or want. Even worse, despite vast funds being pumped into children's welfare, many children still lack adequate nutrition, medical care, education, and, saddest of all, a childhood, for they spend their young lives struggling to survive. (According to the UNICEF, some 600 million children still live in poverty.) This is particularly true for the children of mountain communities, which continue to languish on the fringes of the world's consciousness, even as the mountains they live in are exploited for their natural resources.

The ICMC was inspired in part by two concurrent global events: the Global Movement for Children, headed by Nelson Mandela, and the UN designation of 2002 as the International Year of the Mountains. The conference itself served a dual purpose:

  • To bring together children from remote mountain areas (who wouldn't normally have an opportunity for such interaction) to discuss their problems and work together to find solutions; and
  • To provide a permanent platform for such interaction through the creation of the Mountain Children's Forum.

The ICMC was a success. The path leading up to it was fraught with problems and frustrations. Now that the conference is over, we can look back and try to learn from past mistakes and use the challenges we now face to help us evolve our methods. As we have always said, the real work begins after the ICMC is over.

The ICMC took place from 18th-21st May 2002 in Uttaranchal, India, the newest mountain state in the world. The conference was funded by Plan International, and hosted by the ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) at their IMD campus in Dehra Dun. It was made possible by an unprecedented collaboration of more than a dozen NGOs and was organized by RACHNA, a non-government organization based in Dehra Dun that works for the promotion of comprehensive and people-based strategies for socio-economic advancement of the Himalayan areas.

A total of 72 young people attended the ICMC as official delegates. They represented mountainous regions across India as well as Nepal and the Tibetan community in India. Between them, they spoke more than a dozen different languages. As there was no single common language, the conference was conducted in a mix of Hindi and English with the adult facilitators acting as translators. The children also came from diverse backgrounds ranging from remote tribal villages to affluent private schools. There were 44 boys and 28 girls. They ranged in age from 14-18. For many of the children, this was their first trip away from their villages and the first time they had met people from outside their own communities.

The original vision of the ICMC had children from mountainous regions all over the world coming together in India for the conference. We hoped to make use of the Plan International's vast global network of programs and organization to help coordinate and bring the children to India. But in the end, Nepal was the only Plan program country outside India to send delegates to the ICMC. Realities of the post-September 11th world, tensions between India and Pakistan, which made people hesitant to travel to the region, along with insufficient funding to cover international travel expenses forced us to scale the conference down to a regional level. Nonetheless, the children that participated represented such diversity in background and experience, that the ICMC was a unique experience for all of them.

Since children were not just the focus of the conference but also the future stewards of the MCF, we attempted to keep the ICMC flexible enough that the children could direct discussions and activities, while maintaining just enough structure to keep things moving forward and compensate for the lack of time. When they arrived, the children knew little about the purpose of the conference or about the other delegates. By the end of the five days, they had not only set up a structure and rules for the Mountain Children's Forum, but also planned and carried out the function to mark the launch of the MCF and the end of the conference, an event that included nearly 400 people.

Cyril Raphael

The ICMC owes its existence to the vision of Cyril Raphael, who first came up with the idea of using the convergence of the International Year of the Mountains and the Global Movement for Children to create a special place on global stage for the children of the mountains. He has been guardian of the vision, ensuring that the true purpose of the ICMC is not lost within the details of planning the conference.

ICMC team RACHNA/SBMA, Janaadhar and SPECS

  • Aditi P. Kaur, Saji Kumar, Khila Bisht, Smita Patel, Sunil Kainthola, B.M Sharma, Pradeep Anthwal, Jayprakash Panwar ‘JP’, Gurjeet, Mohan, Sanjeeta, Ranju, Vinod, Pappu,
  • SBMA support for the event Gyan Singh Rawat, Manoj Bhatt, H.S Pankholi, Neetu Prasad, Rakesh Bisht, D.S Rawat, Usha, Rekha, Sant lal, Gajendra Nautiyal, Pradeep Dimri, CM Thapliyal, Meera,

...On the afternoon of the 17th, fourteen children arrived from the northeast. As they piled into the cafeteria, hungry and exhausted from their long journey, a young boy from Uttaranchal approached me, pointed at the newcomers and asked in careful English, "What country are they from?" "India," I said, laughing a little. "No," he said, frustrated that I didn't seem to understand him, "W hat country are they from?" "India," I replied again. This went on for a few minutes until I told the boy to ask one of the northeast children himself. He returned from the exchange with a puzzled look on his face and leaned to me to confide in a hushed voice, "I think they're from one of those countries next to India!"- Kirsten, an American volunteer for ICMC

Kirsten from the US who volunteered for the ICMCFriends and supporters Shalini, Ranu, Vijay Shahi, Subhash Rawat, Sreedhar and his wonderful family, Manish Gurung,

..................... and many, many others put their shoulders to the wheel and made the dream a reality.

Result of Right information and Dissemination


 

Rashi denizen of district Uttarkashi, Uttranchal, is a young girl of 16 years, belongs to an agricultural family. She couldn't pass the 10th grade exam. A common reason for dropping out from school was that the education of girl child is not in the priority of her parents and is not a good investment as she will be in her laws family after marriage. So they didn't allow her to attend the school. As Rashi is eldest among all brothers and sisters, her parents planned to get her married. They fixed her marriage with a boy living in a near by village. Rashi was also happy with her parent's decision, as she was not aware about the consequences of getting married before 18 years of age.

Rashi's best friend Meena was out of village for last 15 days. She was studying in class 11th. When she came back to the village and heard about the marriage of Rashi, she was shocked. She went immediately to Rashi and asked her about the marriage & its consequences. As Rashi had attended adolescent empowerment camp organized by Shri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram, she was aware about the right age of marriage and the disadvantages of being married before that age. She shared all the information with Rashi and convinced her for not getting married at this age. They both went to Rashi's parents and tried to convince them but the parents didn't agree. But the girls didn't stop to convince other community members. They went to some of the adults of village and discussed the matter with them. Meena discussed about the right age of marriage for girls and the complications of early marriage with the village people in MMD meetings and adult consultations. The villagers were impressed with her arguments and agreed to talk to Rashi's parents. They talked to Rashi's parents and made them aware of not marrying Rashi before 18 years of age. The parents also became ready and the marriage was postponed. Now, at present, Rashi is preparing for her high school examination and she is very happy. When we discussed about her future, she told that in future she wants to be a teacher. She considers this " A GIFT from True Friend" as an opportunity to grow & flourish and make her career. She also wants to lead a self-dependent life in future.

This all could happen only due to the firm determination of Meena. It was great to see that she has this tremendous excitement about making her friend's life better.

(The real names of characters are confidential as they requested us to not disclose their names).

oldsbmapeopleThe growth of SBMA is a continual and on-going process, but there are a few precise moments that stick out and represent the larger changes.

First of all, the women and children who had the courage to take up residence in the ashram at the very beginning deserve commendation. Breaking tradition and leaving their impossible situations at home represented a serious shift in the normal ways of thinking that had predominated in the area for centuries. Almost none of the local villagers understood or accepted that change. The brave women, Mala Devi, Chankhi Devi, Santa Devi, Saunla Devi and others fought local perceptions and worked extremely hard, and ensured a solid ideological foundation for the ashram and its vision of change.

For the first seven years the ashram was completely self-sufficient, relying only on the hard work of its inhabitants for survival, but in 1984, funding agencies began seeing SBMA as an attractive investment. The first grant to SBMA came from Harijan Samaj Kalyan and was for 4000 rupees. Over time, money from various social development organizations began flowing in to increase the scope of SBMA's social work in the area. In the beginning no one thought that SBMA had the infrastructure to be able to manage in comming funds, let alone a larger staff. However, SBMA was successful and projects spread into the districts of Pauri, Chamoli and Terhi.

In 1991, an earthquake devastated the Uttarkashi area. SBMA staff members were some of the first relief workers on the scene. Uttarkashi is approximately 120 kilometers from Anjanisain. Originally, SBMA came only to help in the relief effort, but during that time the need for further SBMA programs became evident. Within a week, SBMA had established a presence and the ashram's coverage had greatly expanded to encompass the Uttarkashi district. Slowly, our presence in Uttarkashi grew and today there is a permanent office there. Over time, the area covered by SBMA programs continued to expand, and SBMA has worked in every district of Uttaranchal.

old sbma With the expansion of SBMA programs came, necessarily, the growth of the ashram's staff and organizational capacity. For example, the first SBMA vehicle was introduced in the late 80's and allowed greater access to and expansion of the coverage area. Organizational capacity was also greatly aided by the introduction of computers and innovative techniques in the early 90's. The first computer at the ashram was a bit of a spectacle, and the kids dragged Cyril ji to ponder the new machine on many occasions. The technical network of computers and equipment used in keeping track of accounts and programs, making reports, and keeping in touch with other organizations and partners. Along with technology, there has been a focus on human resource development. Staff members at the ashram began to expand their research and deploy new organizational techniques that came from other parts of India and beyond. All of this has allowed SBMA to be a successful and well-run catalyst for positive change throughout Uttaranchal.

The on-going change that is occurring at the ashram is a shift from a direct implementation force to a support organization that began with the formation of the Uttaranchal state. Research and advocacy to influence policy in the new state have become a focus. We have also been working closely with the local government in the Panchayat program, helping the panchayats to grow and gain capacity. Many other community-based organizations have arisen since SBMA began, and they are working with direct implementation programs. We are beginning to see ourselves in the role of facilitator. This means we would like to support them by sharing the expertise gained during our years of providing services, holding trainings to build their capacity, conducting research, and by increasing communication between the various groups. Positive change continues to occur throughout Uttaranchal, and the SBMA organization is evolving within that context.

  • All our work and programs will center on our vision and mission of 'happy children'. People, their institutions, natural resources and environment are the focal points of our programs and activities.
  • We will approach our goal to redefine the way we work with children as a vital task of great magnitude. We will create an enabling context for the children to live and grow, learn and participate, decide and implement, monitor and evaluate, analyze and change.
  • All of our activities will be organized to ensure the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage. We will undertake no work that is in conflict with this principle.
  • 'Happy Children' is a quantifiable and measurable factor. This indicates that we want the development process to focus on the advancement of man's sensibilities and values. In the absence of these all development is restricted to material development, which in our view is often limited and skewed. We believe it essential for the development process to establish and revive values and sensibility.
  • Our way of working will reflect that of children - unrestricted by established norms and based on equality and freedom for all.
  • Gender equity has always been an important principle for us. We believe that men and women should have access to opportunities based on their material, educational and societal merits. We also believe that often it is important to encourage women to take advantage of opportunities.
  • We believe that 'self sustainability' is as important as 'process' in development. To achieve sustainability, evaluation is imperative at every step. We will adopt the mechanism of frequent monitoring and evaluation in all our activities.
  • We believe that all development activity should be undertaken with the consensus and collective agreement of the concerned community. Social Development organizations should play a part in society's activities, innovations and attempts, and not the other way around. Therefore our work will be community based. We will work towards the empowerment of communities so that they can take the initiative. We will help them acquire the capacity necessary to collect facts and develop independent and relevant plans and, if the need arises, be able to gather governmental or non governmental help. Also, they will be able to evaluate their programs and, after they are finished, to deal with their maintenance and to make necessary amendments.
  • People/ organizations that are working for a better world face immense challenges with limited resources. Money is a scarce resource for poor communities and for those who are working for these communities. Keeping this fact in mind, efforts to create change must be focused, sustainable and cost effective and they have to go to scale. We need to utilize resources with proper research, feasibility studies and with proper and well-thought methodologies and strategies and with conscious/ designed evaluation, impact assessment and documentation plan. This will help in developing cost effective replicable models for scaling-up the interventions. This will also help in designing advocacy strategies and sharing of learning with other partners. In short, research, advocacy and communication shall be the integral part of our program designing and implementation to maximize impact and to ensure cost effectiveness.
  • We realize that to achieve sustainable change we will have to work on attitudinal and behavioral change among all the stakeholders of the change process. Attitudinal- behavioral change can be achieved through providing an enabling environment to all the stakeholders. We believe that training, credit or financial support alone cannot change behavior and cannot provide the enabling environment for the poor for his/her empowerment. Behavior and attitudinal changes can be seen when the enabling environment pushes them to act and behave differently. The timely inputs of training and credits can make a difference if an enabling environment is already effective. Hence, working with the government and community groups/institutions to create enabling environments for the poor is a precondition to achieve sustainable, cost-effective and large-scale change.
  • We are committed to the principle of accountability. All our activities will be governed by complete accountability and transparency. We believe that work that is not accountable has no positive impact on society and in fact can lead to negative trends in society and limit the impact of future development processes.
  • Our activities will work towards ensuring equality. Inequality is a breeding ground for violence and violence is dangerous for development. Inequality in some Himalayan areas has already led to violence, communalism and terrorism. A development process that is based on inequity is a process opposed to development. We will undertake a serious attempt to root out inequality and lay the foundations for complete equity.
  • All our efforts will be set within the parameters of sustained and continued development. We believe that interventions that are not sustainable are not complete. We will concentrate on work that communities will eventually adopt and will feel inspired to carry on.
  • We will work towards creating a feeling of ownership for all programs that directly impact the communities we work with and thereby ensure the continuation of interventions. We will also work towards the involvement of people who feel that they have no direct link with our work.

Stories about the people who have blossomed with the ashram and the events that have occurred here are the best way to understand the history of SBMA and its interaction with the local communities. The folks who have lived and are living here come from all over Uttaranchal, all over India, and even from distant parts of the world. They have all contributed to creating the environment wrought with possibilities that is SBMA.

From the stories of the kids who have grown up here to those who run the place, and some of those little anecdotes one tells around the 'chula', cooking fire, at night, we've tried to give a small taste of life here at the ashram.

 

cyril

 

Cyril ji is the mastermind of the madness here. Born & raised in India, a genuine product of the 60's, he's given up the fast lane to dedicate his life to the improvement of these mountains. A hard man to describe, here's a try.(Read more)

gyanfine

Gyan came to the ashram with his mother, Saunla Devi at the age of about 2 in 1976 from Chamiyadi village, District Tehri. After much hardships and dedicated work, he is the "SECRATERY" of the SBMA now. (Read more)

shashi

 

Shashi came to the ashram in 1980 when he was only six years old and has observed and participated in its evolution since then. Now, he lives nearby and works on various projects.

(Read more)

maushiji

 

Maushi ji has been part of the ashram since its very conception, and even hosted people in her own home before the present location was established. She still lives here in the Ashram and is President of SBMA. (Read more)

mohan

 
Mohan came from Ghat when he was only eight. He quickly stole the hearts of everyone here and has become an integral part of the campus and life at SBMA. He's now twenty-two and works on various projects and arranging accommodation space at the ashram.(Read more)

manoj

 Manoj joined SBMA in 1995 to be a part of the efforts of the organisation for people's empowerment. Since then, he has been a part of many programs as coordinator, manager and leader but he mainly focused his energy on strengthening of community governance in Uttaranchal. He carried-forward the central value of the organisation that community empowerment is possible only when people have ownership on the process and government and NGOs focus their efforts on the strengths of the people rather than focusing on problems only. He believes that a sustainable development process requires partnership between community, government and NGOs. (Read more)

jp

Jayprakash joined a voluntary organization called Shri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram (SBMA) and started development communication work by using different media technology to disseminate massage and building awareness among mountain communities of Himalaya. It was a great platform for me to work and get experience in different development media practices right from conceptualization, writing, designing, illustrating, sketching, and photography to production and dissemination.

JP is the director at his own venture "Channel Mountain Communication". (Read more)

womanwithbanthaIt is a strange and sad irony that while Uttarakhand supplies most of North India's water, many of its villages remain dry and lacking in even basic water facilities. The Ganga and the Yamuna and all their tributaries, huge snow fed rivers, leave these Himalayan slopes and irrigate the North Indian plains while some mountain villages stand back and watch helplessly. Meanwhile, many of the areas in Uttaranchal suffer drought-like conditions. In these villages, women have to walk five or six kilometers each day to reach a dwindling water source. Then they must walk back carrying 15 to 20 liters of water in a brass bantha on their heads. Young girls get initiated early to the process, usually resulting in the detriment of their schooling. They sometimes spend up to eight hours a day fetching water, and this is a day that is already filled with back breaking work.

Swami ji saw the evidence of this deprivation and difficulty while living in the mountains. After seeing just how desperate the situation was, in 1975, he and his followers began travelling from village to village, those that were afflicted and those that were not. They raised awareness and organised huge gatherings and meetings, and the community was spurred into action.

Meanwhile, Swami ji had done his research. He had put together an extensive survey of the region that included statistics on sources of water, demographics, and other relevant information. According to these statistics, there were places in which individuals only had access to one liter of water per day. The report was presented at a huge gathering that was organized on the SBMA campus. The then Commissioner of the region was present and it was to him that Swami ji addressed the results of the report.

On that day, the "Hinsariyataa/Hindolakhaal drinking water scheme action committee" was formed and Swami ji was elected its president. Pamphlets were printed and information about the problem widely distributed, and soon the whole area had joined the movement. The movement exerted a great deal of pressure on the administration. Proposals for drinking water schemes were sent to all relevant offices, huge gatherings were staged surrounding the offices, and women even converged on the Prime Minister surrounding him with empty banthas and vessels when he visited.

Eventually, the relentless community efforts caused the administration to buckle. In 1976, a scheme to pump water from the Alakananda river up to the affected areas was passed. It was handed over to the water board for full implementation by 1985. Today, well-placed water pumps and man-made streams have greatly improved the lives of the villagers, especially women.

The Silkot Tea Estate was established during the British Raj. The tea estate sprawls over 346 acres and was used to grow tea to supply the neighboring states. Along with the tea plantation the estate was comprised of a large forest, which three villages were dependent on for their firewood and fodder requirements. Small conflicts in the past had established a system in which the villagers were allowed to graze their cattle and collect firewood in exchange for a nominal fee. This situation remained unchanged until the time of independence.

When the British moved out, the estate was auctioned and the new owners refused to let the local people use the land. On top of that, trees were cut down by other timber companies, despite the fact that this was illegal. Also, the tea plantation was eradicated cutting off the only source of income for many of the laborers who had worked there.

During the 70's Swami ji was working in the Chamoli area and had become well-known for his efforts in the university movement. He was asked to spearhead a movement that would reinstate the people's rights on the estate. He also began addressing the fact that the local timber mafia was decimating the forests causing widespread environmental degradation. Huge community gatherings were held, and the local men and women were encouraged to fight for their rights.

From there the movement became an awareness campaign, and posters were printed and put up everywhere in an attempt to inform the people and the government of the situation. On April 15, 1975, there was a huge procession in Garsain. Hundreds of signatures were gathered and another gathering was organized for the 16th.

Meanwhile, the local government had been keeping a close eye on Swami ji, and later that year he was arrested in Karnaprayag. An obscure law from British times was used to hold him and he spent four months in jail. Eventually, the case was dropped and he was honorably discharged.

The problems at the estate continued, and in 1978 Nanda Singh was appointed manager. The timber industry continued to wreak havoc on the forests and the local people were still being deprived of their firewood and fodder. But later that year, with Swami ji's persistence and the help and involvement of the community the rights of the people to graze their cattle and use the land of the estate were re-installed. It was a huge victory for the movement.

chandra Chandrabadni is a temple that stands at 8000 feet on the mountain of Chandrakut just a few kilometers from where the SBMA campus is now located. Legend has it that Shri Shankaracharya was so impressed by the area here that he set up a 'peeth' at Chandrabadni. According to another legend, temples were set up wherever the parts of Lord Shiva's dead wife, Sati, fell. The Chandrabadni temple marks the resting place of her torso.

For centuries the tradition of sacrificing animals to please and appease the Goddess had prevailed. According to tradition, every Navratri one buffalo and nine goats were to be sacrificed at the temple. They were chased up the hill and cruelly beheaded in a fashion that supposedly pleased the Goddess. The tradition of animal sacrifice was widespread in the region and the reasons were varied. A promise or a wish to the Goddess had to be supported by a sacrifice, or devastation would ensue.

The traditional reasons had strong roots, but, on the ground, the sacrifices created a difficult reality for the local people. Sacrificing buffaloes and goats on a fairly regular basis was far beyond the economic means of the majority of people.

Swami Manmathan was quick to realize upon his arrival in Anjanisain in 1966 that the only people benefiting from the barbaric practice were the numerous moneylenders. Ordinary people were forced to rely on these loan sharks to provide them the necessary means to continue sacrificing animals at the temple.

New generations inherited debt from their grandparents that had been poured into the needless killings. So, when the then Block Pramukh, Govin Prasad Gairola, invited Swami ji to head a movement against the wasteful practice, he readily agreed.An action committee was formed and Swami ji elected its president. The committee knew that the only chance of success was to convince the local community of the futility of the practice. Community mobilization began with the students. Swami ji addressed large gatherings of students convincing them of the negative economic situation that the sacrifices were creating and that it was a wasteful, unnecessary process. From there larger and larger community gatherings were held, even at the temple, and the issues that surrounded the sacrifices were addressed and discussed.

The debate became extremely intense, and matters even became violent between the anti-animal sacrifice committee and some devotees during the 1967 Navratris. Women and students kept vigil through many nights to ensure that animals would not be killed. Swami ji sat among them and told the pro-sacrifice devotees that they would have to kill him first before any animals would be sacrificed. Heavy police presence was needed to keep the situation under control. Eventually the community was united and pledged to discontinue the centuries-old practice that was now creating horrific economic situations.

It was only by the Navratris of 1969 that the tradition was abolished for good. A special puja was held to mark the end of the old way and a beginning of a new, less destructive, tradition. The economic situation began to rectify itself, and the wasteful practice had been put to an end. The community had mobilized and an old custom had bowed to new will.

Swami ji was strengthened and inspired by the commitment of the young people and their ability to perceive the need for change. They stood in the face of considerable opposition and even danger in order to mend their social woes, and it was their joint efforts that had brought about this huge change.

univer1 Before the 1970's the status of education in Uttarakhand was poor at best. Few basic schools for secondary education were available, and students had often unmanageable distances to cover in order to get to class. These distances were generally to long for girls to travel, because of safety issues and social restrictions. Those with little money had greater difficulties, because they were unable to sacrifice potential working hours.swami4

Higher education was reserved only for the most fortunate. The only centers for higher education were located in the plains.

In 1970, a movement began to create a center for higher education. The movement however, lacked sufficient leverage, thus the people sought out Swami ji to lead the way. Helping the communities with this struggle, Swami ji was often, imprisoned during demonstrations and hunger strikes, as he posed a threat to government inactivity. These struggles led to dialogues with higher officials, including Prime Minister Indra Gandhi, who among others helped force the state and central governments to establish not one, but two Universities on the first of December 1973, located in the regions of Garhwal and Kumaon.

Page 6 of 7

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  • Story of SBMA can be an exemplary ideology for the… Written by Rakesh Purohit
    Foundation of SBMA

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