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.’
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.
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.
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.
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