Old question, new debate – Aid to India

When India has a space programme, more billionaires than the UK and an aid budget of its own, should the UK still be sending money there?

This was a question raised by the BBC’s South Asia reporter Justin Rowlatt on Radio 4’s Today Programme, and skilfully debated by Oxfam India CEO, Nisha Agrawal earlier today. Despite being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, India suffers from vast poverty; over a third of the world’s poor live there and, according to Agrawal, between 30-40% of Indians live on less than $1.25 a day.

Livelihood projectJeevika Trust has been working in villages in India for over 45 years in an effort to revitalise rural communities, empower marginalised women and help some of the world’s poorest people help themselves out of poverty through building sustainable livelihoods. The projects we support in partnership with grassroots Indian NGOs have touched one hundred thousand lives in village India since 1970 and have brought improved sanitation, better health and nutrition, empowerment and increased financial stability to hundreds of villages in Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

Village IndiaWith India, particularly rural India, having been supported by the UK Government for many years, we are suffering after DfID’s decision to close its main aid programme to India by the end of 2015. One of our flagship projects, the Madhu Network Project, was funded for two years by the department and helped hundreds of isolated women from dalit and tribal communities in Odisha become self-sustaining village entrepreneurs by training them in bee keeping and the production and marketing of honey. Through participating in this project, some women were able to increase their household income by over 20 per cent after just one harvest, improving conditions for their whole families. Honey productionAfter the success of the pilot phase of this project, we hoped to extend the initiative to multiple other villages to benefit hundreds more marginalised women and their families; however, with the cuts in aid from DfID and from other funding sources following suit, this extension has not yet been possible.

Our Executive Director, Andrew Redpath said: “It is frustrating that there is a perception that India no longer needs aid. It is a country of 1.2 billion people and the world’s biggest poverty trap with over 280 million people living in poverty in rural areas and villages alone.

“We have seen immense success in our projects and, with our Indian NGO partners, we have been able to make a positive impact on a hundred thousand people over the last 45 years. There is still a huge amount of work to be done and millions of people who need the support of NGOs like Jeevika Trust.

Crab cultivation“We’re not about handouts – we’re about village livelihoods. We recognise that there is far greater success in helping marginalised communities stand on their own two feet through building sustainable livelihoods and enterprises than there is in simply delivering food or utilities.

“We’re calling on the world to recognise that millions of people in rural India still need help, and that aid cuts will have a long term negative impact on so many people living in desperate poverty.”

To make a donation to support our livelihood projects, please click on the link below:

Donate with JustGiving


Living with the Narikuravar

By Jeevika Trust’s former Communities Consultant, Becky Buchanan

Before I started working with Jeevika in 2012, I had spent the hot dusty summer of 2011 living with the gypsies on the temple-strewn plains of Tamil Nadu, India. Together we worked, danced and celebrated festivals, and we even got tattooed together. The recent blog documenting the work of Jeevika Trust and the Annai Mary Foundation with a different branch of this tribe brought back many memories as romantic as an Enid Blyton story.

Becky Buchanan with a Narikuravar babyI was a volunteer at the Narikuravar Education and Welfare Society. As team leader I strategised the approach to capacity building for the NGO, mainly in the fields of English grammar and social media, livelihood development for women and holistic education for the school children.

The Narikuravar gypsies are happy to capitalise on their mystical image, and travel to sell home-crafted cures for everything from baldness to impotence, as well as religious necklaces known as mala. These can signify a variety of blessings, from marriage to talismans with nine colours symbolising the 9 planets in harmony.

A Narikuravar Girl - Indian Gypsy childThis industrious self-employment is not without its problems. Locally, school children have to achieve 85% attendance to graduate to the next year, but with family welfare an immediate priority children commonly repeat 1st grade five times, then leave.

Discrimination remains rife from the local community who have been settled for longer. The stigma means it is hard to find other work and contributes to a continuing cycle of alcoholism, domestic violence and early marriage.

I had the joy of living beside a hostel for children to attend school whilst their parents worked. After work, I played games with the kids, applied basic first aid and gave them what they really needed – love and attention.

Narikuravar education teaching childrenThe Narikuravar culture persists through years of persecution. As the men pay dowry to marry (the opposite of wider Indian culture) women are more respected – they even had a lady shaman priest at one Kali sacrifice festival I went to! Dreams and symbolism are vital to daily life. The vagriboli language has no written dictionary yet shares roots with the Roma language.

The work of Jeevika Trust respects the Narikuravar’s traditional way of life whilst equipping people with skills and options for self-improvement and health. By donating today, you can help Narikuravar women and their families access health care, improve their nutritional health and enjoy a better, more sustainable future.

Donate with JustGiving


The Dalai Lama & why we should all practise compassion

By Lucy Ferrier – Marketing & Communications Manager at Jeevika Trust

Though I am not a practising Buddhist, I have found inspiration in the Dalai Lama’s continual support and promotion of human rights, human compassion, and secular ethics, so it was an honour to visit London’s O2 arena recently to listen to his address entitled “Compassion: The Foundation of Wellbeing”.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet - Buddhist Spiritual Leader

I was instantly captivated by His Holiness’ two hour address. Composed, serene and humorous (he jokingly asked his translator at the beginning what the topic of his address was meant to be), the Dalai Lama gave a rousing speech on the importance of compassion, both to the individual and to society as whole.

“Compassion is a marvel of human nature. It is a precious inner resource and the foundation of our wellbeing and the harmony of our societies”

The overriding message of His Holiness’ address was that – regardless of race, religion, gender or any other factor – we are all ultimately the same. We all have the same needs, the same rights to a happy life and the same responsibilities to ensure the well-being of not only our fellow humanity, but also the planet.

The Dalai Lama at the O2Despite being “just one of 7 billion people on the planet”, the Dalai Lama made me feel empowered to make a difference (I’m sure others who attended the event would say the same) and made me assess my own responsibility to create a better, fairer and more harmonious world. Making positive change in the world starts with the individual – “through inner peace, world peace”. It is not just the responsibility of governments and institutions, but lies with all of us.

I have only recently joined Jeevika Trust, but part of the attraction of this fantastic organisation was the focus on compassion, service and co-operation, affectionately known as the “head, heart and hands” approach. Jeevika Trust prides itself on working to E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful model – through investing in small-scale, locally-appropriate projects, we not only make a difference to the direct project beneficiaries (mainly dalit and tribal women in India), but also their families and their wider communities. This is very much in keeping with the Dalai Lama’s address – many of the people we work with face routine discrimination and inequality but they have the same right to a happy, secure life as anyone else and we’re working to make that happen. Though we work on a small scale, we have touched hundreds of thousands of lives in village India over the last 40 years, proof that even small changes can add up to make a big difference.

We hope to have touched 1 million lives by 2020, an ambitious goal, but achievable with your help. You, as an individual, have the power and the responsibility to create a better tomorrow. Start by practising compassion, because if all 7 billion of us do the same, we truly can change the world.

As the Dalai Lama said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”.

If you’d like to get involved with Jeevika’s work, please pop us an email on contact@jeevika.org.uk.

To make a donation to support our life-changing projects, click on the link below:

Donate with JustGiving



What’s in store for Village India?

by Andrew Redpath, Director of Jeevika Trust.

Narendra Modi India Prime Minister BJPNarendra Modi’s BJP party, leading India’s present NDA coalition government, has completed its first year in power – so is it too soon to turn the spotlight on what if anything is changing for Village India? After successive governments over 60 years have failed to address the challenge of rural vs urban India – what might fairly be called the world’s biggest ‘elephant in the room’, – what signs are there of a fundamental advance in official or political thinking and direction?


A recent McKinsey Global Institute study is in little doubt: “The speed of urbanisation poses an unprecedented managerial and policy challenge – yet India has barely engaged in a national discussion about how to handle the seismic shift in the makeup of the nation.” That is not entirely fair: a ‘national discussion’ on rural India has been taking place at top political level over the past decade – but it has produced no cross-party consensus or shared vision and momentum.

In fact there has existed since before the Millennium a ‘Vision 2020’ whose first principle, as articulated by former President Abdul Kalam, was ‘a nation where the rural-urban divide has been reduced to a thin line’. Abdul Kalam launched in 2003 the mission for Providing Rural Amenities to Rural Areas, known as PURA, aimed at providing urban infrastructure and connectivity in rural hubs to create economic opportunities outside of cities, but by 2012 this was branded a failure by the government itself. Likewise, Congress’s later ambitious NREGA scheme for a ‘national rural employment guarantee’ of 100 days p.a. of public work for a set daily wage, has also run into the sand with inevitable charges of corruption, and a marked drop in the number of days worked from 2.5 to 1.5 billion p.a.

Governments have failed to develop a clear strategy on the massive scale of ‘urban drift’ from rural India into exploding slum cities: current projections are that today’s urban population in India will double to over 600 million by 2030, effectively reversing the present 70/30% rural/urban balance today, while India’s total population forges ahead to overtake that of China by 2022. And there has been no discernible ‘national discussion’ – let alone a clear central direction as we are seeing in China – about how the cities are to absorb this huge flow of people. To quote McKinsey again *: “The starkest contrast between the two countries is that China has embraced and shaped urbanization, while India is still waking up to its urban reality and the opportunities that its cities offer for economic and social transformation.”

Rural women India agricultureSo what if any evidence of a change of heart, direction or priority can we detect from the BJP’s first year in office? It made an energetic start, with a more active legislative programme than its Congress predecessor: a decisive shift in public finances away from central welfare subsidies – including child nutrition and clean village water – in favour of infrastructure – roads, bridges, etc.; a one-third increase in the share of tax revenue passed on to the states for them to administer; broad social initiatives on house-building, health-care, expansion of personal banking and digital availability of information on government services; and a ‘clean India’ campaign – of which only the last was angled specifically at rural areas.

Much publicised among Modi’s social initiatives has been the ‘100 smart cities’ programme: no clear definition of a ‘smart city’ has been offered beyond the fact that, in the government’s words, it will “attract investments, experts and professionals – and good quality infrastructure” and other features of a “citizen-centric and investor-friendly smart city”.

But the financial viability of this Mission is very far from clear: the central funds allocated in the 2015 Budget to the Smart Cities Mission is only 1/1000th of the $1 trillion estimated by accountants KPMG as the cost of the programme, – it being evidently assumed that the ‘smart’ process will draw in private investment to complete the task.

There then came a matching ‘smart villages’ initiative under which rural villages would be given Internet access, clean water, sanitation, and low-carbon energy, with the goal of at least 2,500 smart villages by 2019. Not only is this a drop in the ocean of India’s 600,000 villages, but again the credibility of funding remains to be demonstrated. The progress of this idea will still be worth watching.

Meanwhile, on the ground in rural areas, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, there are “increasing signs of rural distress (which make) Modi’s cuts politically risky”, while discontent over his anti-inflation policies and particularly his bill to open up farmers’ small-holdings to acquisition by businesses is ‘turning to anger’. These are trends he can ill afford to ignore if he is to hold on to power in key agricultural states like Uttar Pradesh – a state which alone contains a population about the size of Brazil – and Bihar. The Bihar state elections this November will be an acid test of the BJP’s standing in rural India.

In conclusion, it may be said at this stage that the new government is failing to maintain the momentum of earlier macro-initiatives to address the rural-India challenge and drive a cross-party strategic vision for what McKinsey calls the ‘make-up of the nation’.

Rural worker India Indian village



TO USE SNAPS or TO NOT USE SNAPS, that is the question!

THE WORD SNAPS is Jeevika’s working acronym for sanitary napkins. We currently support our Indian partner, Jeevan Rekha Parishad (www.jrpsai.org) to work with Tribal women in the Chandaka Forest Area of Odisha, to produce cotton, machinery-made, eco-disposable SNAPS. Formed into
Self-Help Groups, these women will make and sell the SNAPS to local women and make them available in schools for pubescent girls, while helping the women generate income to improve family life.
Adolescent girls in India, teenage girls in India, menstruation, sanitary healthWe already know that 73% of the women JRP surveyed use – and re-use – cloth during menstruation. Nearly 50% of these women were from impoverished village families. The survey also revealed that 66.7% of adolescent girls who use cloth develop Reproductive Tract Infections from the use of unhygienic recycled cloth. Almost 100% of girls surveyed, learned about menarche (onset of menstruation) only after it occurred. It is well-documented that girls who have access to SNAPS are less likely to drop-out from school or contract Reproductive Tract Infections.

JRP and the Jeevika Team – and Monsoon Trust who are funding this 1-year pilot project – believe this is an excellent opportunity to improve the understanding of health & hygiene issues and to trial safe modes of eco-friendly/discreet disposal of SNAPS within five high schools using either incinerators, burial or burning located within a target area of 25 villages.

THERE IS a counter argument in circulation: In July 2015, Sinu Joseph of Mythri Speaks Trust (www.mythrispeaks.org) posted a provocative blog on Swarajya titled ‘Why India doesn’t need the sanitary napkin revolution’.

While this article does raise a number of important issues related to the way menstruation is being addressed in India, it over-simplifies the matter of SNAPS and their use v.s. non-use. What is true is that outside India we do tend to judge menstrual practices in India as being poor or unsanitary because they don’t conform to a sanitized western ideal; just as it is true that we must allow women to decide for themselves.

Joseph criticises the media on the subject of menstruation: ‘you will find horror stories of how only 12% of Indian women are using sanitary napkins and that the others are almost dying from lack of access to such products…of the poor Indian girl in a village who is dropping out of school because she suddenly started her period…how India is full of superstitions and menstrual taboos that are coming in the way of us breaking free and embracing our body…and sanitary napkins.’ In reality, we think these ‘stories’ are not too far from the truth.

Joseph makes other criticisms: of the statistics and claims made by major NGOs and international organisations who ‘look down upon indigenous women who for generations have bled naturally without using any product’ – a comment of extraordinary complacency given women’s rights in a fast changing world.

To establish what the women we work with want, we at Jeevika working with JRP, will continue to give women – and particularly school-girls – the opportunity to freely trial hygienic, eco-friendly SNAPS and choose for themselves whether they do or do not use SNAPS! Once the pilot project is complete, we will share this information with you.

Menstrual Health India

Help Jeevika Trust to support, sustain and expand
Project SNAPS
by donating now

Donate with JustGiving

Project Narikuravar, our Indian Gypsies

Did you know that the gypsies of the world originated in Northern India? After a presence in India for some 1,000 years they dispersed to arrive in Mid-West Asia, then Europe, sometime between the sixth and eleventh centuries.

The gypsy community in Tamil Nadu with which Jeevika and its partner, Annai Mary Foundation work are known as the Narikuravar. The name Narikuravar is a combination of the Tamil words Nari and Kurava meaning jackal people, a name bestowed on them due to their highly honed hunting skills, with meat being the primary food on which they have traditionally survived.

During British rule the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871 prohibited the Narikuravar from hunting and treated them with mistrust and suspicion. It was not until 2008 that India’s Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment recommended equal reservations for gypsy communities similar to those for Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

The stigma surrounding gypsies continues to exist: they still remain banned from entry into forests to hunt; they remain living on the fringe of villages subject to poverty, illiteracy and discrimination; and they suffer from poor nutritional health.

Narikuravar family, Indian gypsy family

Our Project Narikuravar in Tamil Nadu is designed to provide the Narikuravar villagers with a Govt. Health Card which gives them access to health services; to raise the awareness of the issues surrounding nutritional health, hygiene, STDs and HIV/AIDS.

Annai Mary Foundation will also work directly with the 250 Narikuravar villagers to form 100 women into Self-Help Groups to grow vegetables, cultivate mushrooms and poultry to supplement their diet as well as to become self-sustainable. There will also be cooking classes for adolescent girls and women to prepare nutritious food from their own resources, including soups and pickles.

Narikuravar family, Indian gypsy family

Help Jeevika Trust to support, sustain and expand Project Narikuravar by donating now

Donate with JustGiving

Sustaining Our Planet’s Future

Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs – Brundtland Commission 1983

Priya Anand, the author of this blog, is India Coordinator for Jeevika Trust. She works with Jeevika’s partners to build their capacity to deliver livelihood projects that are innovative & sustainable

It is always a great idea to align ourselves with thought-leaders in whichever field we operate in. With sustainable technologies and methods being truly the need of the hour, Auroville became Jeevika’s training ground.

In 2013, Auroville conducted a customized workshop for our partners from Tamil Nadu and Odisha that focused on sustainability. The workshop enabled our partners to visit innovative alternative livelihood opportunities being undertaken by rural women. Most importantly, it exposed our partners to an alternative style of living that was simple, eco-friendly and enabled people from different communities, religions and countries to live together in peace and harmony.


Inspired by Auroville, our partners have since implemented environmental activities such as repairing and desilting traditional reservoirs to conserve and recharge ground water, planting mangroves to protect coastlines and prevent soil erosion and have installed smokeless chulhas (stoves) to create smoke-free environments within the home.

Late last year, I received an invitation from Auroville, to the workshop: Exploring a Sustainable Future. It focused on the need to move from being an industrial-growth society to a life-sustaining society and addressed the all-important issue of the impending environmental crisis and concepts of sustaining and rejuvenating planetary resources.

Focused on the individual, the change agent, it gave me an opportunity to revisit Auroville and examine the environmental crisis through concepts of sustainability like water harvesting, waste-water treatment, solar energy, earth construction, organic food cultivation, community-building and wellness. This was done through a mix of classroom sessions, practical demonstrations and site visits that focused on environmental campaigns spearheaded by individuals and non-profit organisations.

india water pollution

The workshop also highlighted the transformative belief in the ‘Power of One’ with audio-visuals of how various individuals – acting singly or in a group through their unwavering commitment and perseverance – have succeeded in bringing about change.

Some key learnings I took away from the workshop were –

  • All of us should have a life purpose of consequence to the world beyond oneself, which brings about a positive change in the world.
  • A small change at an individual level can grow into a empowering project that changes the neighbourhood and/ or a community
  • Be the change you wish to see in the world.

The process of our inner exploration has now begun!

I, as one among them, plan to inspire and work with Jeevika’s partners to continue to integrate interventions that relate to the environment and initiate innovations that are more integral, unifying and comprehensive in their vision and action and provide local, cost-effective solutions. Watch this space!

Help Jeevika Trust to support and sustain the environment, simply…

just giving secure donate button

We, as women, have earned freedom of speech

Our volunteer Geraldine of innocent foundation shares her insights into how our project with our partner JRP works on the ground.

JRP supports villagers in strengthening the ecological resources of their environments. In Barhampur village, they have set up self-help groups for women, to train them on farming activities so that they can make a living.

How do self-help groups work?

JRP supports 6 self-help groups (SHG) of 15-20 members each.  That’s 100 marginalised women members getting together to improve their situations. Each woman gives 20 Rupees per month to belong to the group. JRP gives a revolving fund of 10,000 Rupees per year. A revolving fund means that funds remain available as they are invested in activities which repay the money used from the account. Self-help group members can start intra-lending towards productive activities. JRP also assists them to set up a bank account so they can save money there.

Self-help groups are empowered to make change happen. For example, when latrines need to be built, SHGs receive the money and organise for artisans to complete the work. JRP has learned it is safer to give the money to SHGs and train them rather than to individuals (e.g. a co-ordinator) as, this way, there is accountability and the money is well utilised.

india toilet

Some self-help groups have also put rules together, which their members have signed up to: if someone commits a crime, for example, the person is judged and need to pay 3000 Rs.

What was life like before the project?

Some self-help groups were put in place before the project started, and they had received money from the government, but the money was badly used, in some cases siphoned off to feed individuals’ addictions. There were also relationship problems whilst the groups were forming.

They weren’t able to save much money.

What has changed in the village since the project started?

The project has brought security to the whole village. Now, thanks to JRP training, the villagers are able to make much more profit from their activities and save money in the bank, which they can use when needed. They can also get microcredit from rural banks and loan schemes which provide cheaper access to finance than traditional money-lenders.

When I asked one of the self-help group members about the achievement she was the proudest of, she initially sounded self-deprecating: I haven’t achieved anything in my life. Then she thought about it and added: Actually, we as women have earned the freedom of speech. Before, in my family, I wasn’t able to talk to make decisions. Now I can give the money to men.

The sanitation system is improving as latrines have been built. On one of them, the following message was painted: Jeevika Trust/JRP with this toilet have improved our dignity. Another message read as follows: I am only going to give my girl [for marriage] to a house which has a latrine.

Ten women were trained to build smokeless chulhas. These stoves are replacing the old chulhas, which create smoke women inhale whilst cooking, leading to respiratory problems.

smokeless chula

They have planted lemon, chili, papaya, banana and coconut trees to both generate income and protect the island from high winds and exposure to the Bay of Bengal.

Education is improving as some teachers received support from JRP. The number of children going to school is also rising. The school now has one computer and a cooking stove, latrines and solar lights.

One thing they also organise is a deep clean-up every couple of weeks in the village: they get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and divide themselves into groups. One group goes to clean the school, another one to the port, and so on. They have brooms, kerosene and matches. Anything that can be burned gets burned so the village stays clean and there is less ground for mosquitoes to develop.

What was the impact on women’s lives?

One of the women explained that, as a self-help group member and small enterprise owner, she was empowered to make decisions. Belonging to a self-help group and generating profit is a truly empowering process for women previously excluded from economic processes.

Women have got together to learn how to cultivate the ground. They can now communicate with each other and work together.

Villagers are so enthusiastic they’ve become entrepreneurs and are keen to expand. For example, women have asked to mill flour. JRP has listened to their needs and organised for 10 group members to be trained on using flour milling instruments. Women have already divided the different tasks between themselves: some will get the wheat, others will be using the flour milling machine, and others will be selling the flour.

They plan to import wheat from other villages in order to produce more than 200kg of flour each month. They can then use this flour to make sattu for example, an Indian sweet nutritious paste. They also plan to rent the instrument to people from other villages who are keen to make their own flour. This activity was not part of the original brief and is very promising.

What are the challenges?

Cyclone Phailin, which hit the Orissa coast in October 2013, has had a devastating impact: 1000 coconut trees were uprooted, fishing nets of more than 100 fishermen were washed out in the seas, 100 boats were damaged, 12 vermi-compost pits were completely destroyed, 100 kitchen gardens were destroyed as well, and so on. The villagers received extra money thanks to an emergency appeal made by JRP and are now re-building everything.

Now other villagers are keen to get involved in self-help groups and income-generation activities. 12 new self-help groups have been formed, even though they are not supported by JRP. At this stage, JRP can ‘only’ support 100 members, who were identified through a needs assessment at the start of the project. They currently can’t afford to help the other self-help groups.

There is very limited access to healthcare. When women are about to give birth for example, they have to go a long way to get medical support. JRP organised health camps after the Phailin cyclone in October 2013: a team of doctors came to the village to provide free emergency treatment. They came twice and had a huge response. They gave antibiotics and treated people for infections and injuries following the cyclone.

What are the villagers’ hopes for the future?

In the future, they would like health assistance to be provided in the village. They would like even more toilets in the village so everyone has access to a latrine.

To help the women in Chilika Lagoon achieve their hope for more toilets and regular medical care please donate now

just giving donate button


World Toilet Day 2014

1.5 million children die in India every year from diarrhoea.

Last week we ‘celebrated’ World Toilet Day (19 November). What does your toilet look like? Is there a mirror? What colour is the rug? Is it en-suite? Is it in the open beside a railway line or in the field behind your school? Jeevika Trust build toilets in India’s villages and schools.

Our projects are changing things for the 23% of Indian adolescent girls who drop out of school when they hit puberty due to a lack of toilet facilities. With rooftop rainwater harvesting systems we have a simple eco-friendly technology that fits the local context, and doesn’t drain low groundwater reserves.

india toilet

India is a land of contradiction – nearly half the 1.2 billion population defecate in the open, but more than half have a mobile phone. People in the West find it hard to understand how money can be poured into providing water and sanitation for years, yet still the need is so great. It is true Indian government grants have funded the building of toilets for the majority of people below the poverty line. But these builds are of poor quality, and there has been little spent on promoting awareness of hygienic practise in the community.

We work with our five trusted grassroots NGO partners on hygeine awareness workshops. Despite a renewed dedication by the new Indian Prime Minister Nahendra Modi to provide toilets for all, this cannot happen without experienced support from the NGO sector to change cultural attitudes.

When you donate to Jeevika Trust you give dignity and health, so if you’re feeling flush don’t get bogged down in guilt and donate here now.

just giving donate button

Jeevika Trust at Small is Festival

To explore and celebrate the approach of Jeevika Trust founding father E. F. Scumacher to sustainability and poverty the Small is Festival happened in Bristol in September.  There was a rammed timetable of debates, workshops and music.  Jeevika Trust were represented with a talk on ‘Schumacher in Village India.’

E. F. Schumacher India

I introduced the scale and suffering of poverty in village India. The wide reaching meaning of ‘jeevika’ regarding right livelihood financially and vocationally on a human individual scale, respect for the environment to support livelihoods now and in the future and the enabling conditions necessary for livelihood were touched upon.

Ooranie water reservoir redevelopment and school roof top rainwater harvesting are appropriate technology that fit the context of the project without overloading the community with difficult to up keep modern solutions. I described organisation of producers into Self-Help Groups for human scale self reliant local economy’s that are integrated and protected from global fluctuations.

Schumacher infographic

Photos courtesy of Arran Hodgson

Appropriate knowledge was illustrated by the Project Madhu Network bee-keeping initiative to stop wild bees being raided for honey then destroyed.  Involved in this is the state level framework for a standardised product. The tri-sector was introduced by way of a description of the Oxford University Symposium ‘The Dilemma for Rural India: Urbanisation or Village Prosperity.’

The only divergence with Schumacher’s approach in village India is the focus on women. Empowerment at the heart of the family has been proven to be the most effective and reliable method.  

jaipur brass band

Photo courtesy of Kaucus Sound-Film

 It is amazingly gratifying to see Schumacher held is such esteem by so many forward thinking experts and the ‘Small is festival’ cultivated a positive view for the future of the world and its people.

To support us in furthering Schumacher’s vision donate here now

just giving donate button