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A tribal youth with continuous constructive ground efforts and success stories for tribal community over the two decades in Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukama and Jagdalpur districts of Chhattisgarh : Is he not a real ground hero?

Vivek
“SAMAJIK YAYAVAR”

This article is based on the vision, efforts, struggle and achievements of a common tribal youth, who started to work when he was a teenager of just 15 years.  This article does not follow the trend made by NGO business persons to project the paid employees of NGOs as the HEROES.

This article is about the great efforts of a common tribal, who has been working for his community for the last 20 years though his life moves with the various sacrifices.  this youth joined Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS) in the year 1995 and worked hard with BGVS, but never took a salary. He is very thankful to BGVS for giving him exposure of various development activities.

This youth I am writing about RamnarendraRamnarendra is a 35 year old tribal youth, who started to serve his community 20 years ago.  In these last 20 years of continuous activities, he has worked as a paid employee for only three years with just two organizations. The first time, he worked as a paid employee with Vanvasi Chenta Ashram (VCA) for around two years, while he was completing his Bachelor in Arts, with a monthly salary of less than Rs 2000 per month from 1996 to 1999,  and the second time he worked as a paid employee with PRAXIS India – an Institute for Participatory Practices for 4 months with a salary of around Rs 20,000 per month in 2004.

Vision:

Being a tribal Ramnarendra realised the need of developing an agriculture based economy. Such an economy would provide livelihood options, economic development and food for the tribal communities. Ramnarendra had this vision when there was no NREGA, MGNREGA or any other special package for the tribal community.  At this time there were no trends of micro-financing, or livelihood and agriculture promotion in the area.

Ramnarendra spent many years talking with the elder tribal persons and youths to start agriculture as a livelihood and economy. He has been working for prolific tree plantation, construction of new ponds, rejuvenation of dead ponds, fishery, vegetable cultivation, self-help group formation, hand-loom cloth manufacturing units, and education.

Waterman of the South Bastar region:

Over the past few years, Ramnarendra motivated people of more than 50 villages of Dantewada and Bijapur districts to construct or rejuvenate almost 80 ponds of size 2 to 5 acres area each. As part of the work, a few hundreds villagers go to the site to construct a pond and carrying food for themselves. In a week or two they finish their work. In this way all ponds were constructed in all 50 villages over the last three years.

Prolific Trees Plantation:

Over the past 5 years, more than 7 Lakh (7,00,000) trees like jackfruit, mangoes, guava, banana, and papaya  have been planted with community and individual ownership in many villages of the Dantewada, Bijapur and Sukama districts with the motivation and guidance of Ramnarendra.

He established an ideal farming centre in 8 acres land in Purantarai village of the Dantewada district.

Family Farming Centres in villages:

Ramnarendra has done tremendous work in the field of family farming in the region. Because of his efforts a chain of farming centres is going on. He prefers family farming in place of community farming for long term sustainability.  He says “Farming is not a project for me.  It is a basic need of my community. If they will do farming, they will get food and some money for their basic expenses. Family farming will not have any conflict of ownership, distribution of labour, profit shares or responsibility. At the present I see family farming better than community farming for my people. Being a tribal I understand my community well.”

There are 75 farming centres owned by individual tribal families with average area of around 2 acres in 50 villages of the Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukama and Jagdalpur districts, established with the motivation and guidance of Ramnarendra. 

Some years ago, Ramnarendra requested Ram Krishna Mission, Narayanpur to help him by giving training on farming to the tribal people. Ram Krishna Mission Narayanpur has been supporting him for last few years and has trained more than 500 farmers.

Each family with a farming centre has been earning around Rs 3000 per month by selling vegetables and other agricultural products in the local markets.

In a village named Katekalyan, six tribal women followed the suggestions of Ramnarendra to puruse maize farming. All together they invested Rs 20,000 and they made a profit of Rs 2,40,000 with only one crop season. The next year, more than 60 families cultivated maize and made a good profit. Villagers are also now growing sunflower successfully with profit.

Local Hand-loom Manufacturing Unit:

More or less five years before Ramnarednra started a local hand-loom manufacturing unit run by the local community. But because of the shortages of funds, it stopped three years ago.  However, this year it will start again.

Formation of Self-Help-Group, SHG, and livelihood:

Ramnarendra has formed more than 270 SHGs in which more than 180 SHGs are active and successfully working. He formed more than 230 SHGs in Dantewada, Geedam, Kuwakunda and Katekalyan blocks of the Dantewada district; more than 35 SHGs in Bijapur, Osoor and Bhairamgarh blocks of the Bijapur district and SHGs in the Sukama district. 

These SHGs have been working for family farming, livelihood and trainings for livelihood. Sometimes these activities are supported by the various government departments and officers.

Education:

Ramnarendra formed a non-formal group of around 30 self-employed youths to contribute their time in primary schools. They adopted 30 schools non-formally and started coaching classes with extra-curricular activities. One or two youths gave two to three hours per day at the schools to teach the children and also play with them.   

These youth coaches worked in the schools for three years before they were stopped because of the sufficient improvement of the schools over that time.

Community Collection of MAHUWA:

MAHUWA is one of the forest product in the region, which gives an income to the tribal people. Villagers collect MAHUWA and sell for low prices to the local marketers. Ramnarendra motivated villagers to buy, store and sell MAHUWA collectively in order to improve the price they receive.

Around 200 tribal families contribute Rs 100 to Rs 500 each to buy MAHUWA from themselves, store it and sell in the market collectively. Last year they bought MAHUWA of Rs 40,000 and sold after a few months for Rs 2,00,000, though one trolley of MAHUWA became off due to the problem of storages. 

Success story of Toilets Construction:

There are policies of the governments for the building of toilets in individual houses in villages. The government departments build toilets in houses with government support. 

Ramnarendra motivated villagers of three villages to place a proposal to the government officers for toilets. Villagers asked for the material they needed for the toilet which did not exceed government support for toilets, in place of the government constructing toilets. Villagers built better and big space toilets than the government toilets because villagers used their own physical labour rather than hiring labourers. They used bamboo, straw and other local materials for roofs and doors in place of concrete. More than 600 toilets were built by the villagers themselves in Keshapur, Midkulnar and Kawalnar villages with the material support from the government departments.

Wildlife Awareness Activities:

Ramnarednra supports wildlife protection programs. He campaigns in schools to make school children aware about the environment, wildlife and forest.

 

 

Ramnarendra’s services to the communities outside his local community:

He has been providing trainings to support village livelihoods with the invitation of various departments of state and central governments, banks, rural development institutes and social organizations in the states as Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh. 

Ramnarendra has also actively supported the victims of the Koshi flood 2008 and spent a couple of weeks working for the flood-victims in Bihar.

Talking with the Ground Report India, Ramnarendra says “I prefer to work with a low profile on the ground but with a constructive and productive approach. Community development cannot be done with tricks in order to become a big media sensation. Though I was never appreciated in media, I was encouraged by Sh. R Prasanna IAS, Sh. Anbalgan IAS, Sh. N S Mandawi IAS, Sh. Pisda IAS, Sh. P Dayanand IAS, Sh. Subodh Kumar IAS, Sh. K C Devasenapathi IAS, Sh. Rajat Kumar IAS, Sh. O P Chaudhary IAS, Sh. Ashok Kumar IES, Sh. Mahawal Prasad IES, Sh. Arun Pandey IFS, Sh. Rupesh Garg USA, Dr Naresh Kapoor, Sh. Amresh Mishra IPS and others.” 

He adds, “I am very much thankful to Prof. H C Verma (IIT Kanpur), Late Sh. Rahul Sharma IPS, Smt. Amla Ruia Mumbai and Umesh Rashmi Rohtagi advisor Michigan University for their unconditional supports, appreciation and encouragements.”

 

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