A BRIEF LOOK AT OUR HISTORY

All Photographs By: Simon Williams

RACHNA (CONSTRUCTION)

Ekta Parishad strongly believes in Constructive Engagement which allows building self-reliance in its true sense.

Since 1978, nearly 25,000 grassroots leaders have been trained who are active in villages across the various States of India. It is one of the most popular and iconic interventions of Ekta Parishad. These Youth Camps, meant for leadership training, are also known as nursery of Social Activists. In general, a 3-day residential camp of 100 persons from the villages is organized which allows them to realize their own positive energies to change the society.

Youth Camps towards generating Grassroots Leadership from the Villages

Started in the Early 1980s in Chambal Valley, it received tremendous responses from the youth and local people. Shramdan camps are where a community agrees to work together through its labor contribution on a project, such as de-silting the village pond, clearing a water channel, construction of small check dams for water conservation, plantation of trees, etc. These actions provide long term benefits to the community.  This type of initiative is quite common in relief and rehabilitation programs and the participants are likely to get a meal from grains donated to/by Ekta Parishad or other lead organization in place of wages.

Organizing Shramdan Camps

 

Since1982, nearly 4000 weavers are getting their livelihood by producing Khadi. Khadi is a hand-spun and handwoven cloth popularize by Mahatma Gandhi. In India, Khadi is popularly known as a symbol of self-reliance. Ekta Parishad’s Khadi Units are accredited by Government of India.

Establishing Khadi Spinning and Weaving Centers

In 1984, the first Stone Quarry cooperative was set up in Basing villages of Chhattisgarh. Later such cooperatives were set up for various rural occupations like Carpentry, Bamboo Work, Brick Making, Grain Mills, Oil Extraction and Tailoring, etc. These cooperative give confidence to the local artisans and help strengthening local economy.

Setting up Cooperatives of Villagers & Local Producers

In 1992, women collectives were set up in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to get lease of agricultural land and to collectively grow food grains with their own efforts. Such community- farming areas have expanded in the recent past and got encouraging responses from the women collectives involved in varieties of crop production in various states.

Encouraging Community Farming

In 1995, Mukti Gram – a village center for the rehabilitation of released Bonded Labour - was established in Tamil Nadu.  During 1990s hundreds of bonded labour who were released through Ekta Parishad’s interventions were rehabilitated and trained in various occupations at Mukti Gram Center

Rehabilitation Centers for Released Bonded Labour

In 1996, the systems of creating Village Fund and Grain Bank were initiated in the villages as a part of organization building processes. Village Fund is a system of voluntary donation of money while Grain Bank encourages every member of Ekta Parishad to voluntarily contribute or donate a small portion of food grain they grow. These local collections of money and grains help them in strengthening their own village economy towards self reliance.

Strengthening Self Reliance

In 2000, Manav Jeevan Vikas Samiti in Madhya Pradesh, especially established to allow exposure to the small landholders towards low cost & organic farming as a sustainable way of livelihood and green earnings, started focusing on it. Considering the agrarian crisis of the present time, these farming techniques show a path of green investment with risk-free results.

Promoting Low Cost & Organic Farming

With the unique initiative of community-led micro-economic activities in the villages, more than 500 MHGs were constituted during 2001-04. This initiative later impacted a large number of local producers across various States. The revival of handmade cloth for the Baiga community in Dindori, Millet Bank in Rajnandgaon, etc. are successfully impacted by the local producers.

Encouraging Mutual Help Groups

In 2001, Bee Keeping started in the Chambal Valley, which very quickly adopted by a large number of villagers across various States. Today Ekta Parishad encourages a large number of Honey Beekeepers and has federated their efforts as local cooperatives. This also inspires a large number of farmers to adopt this family occupation.

Building Honey Cooperatives cum Collection Center

Since 2003, Ekta Parishad is deeply involved in promoting the production of organic cotton in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. Today nearly 2000 small farmers have completely adopted organic cotton farming for their livelihood.

Setting up Organic Cotton Cooperative

In 2006, soon after Tsunami, an organic cottage industry was established in Nagpattnam of Tamil Nadu especially for encouraging the local farmers towards organic production & consumption systems. In Kerala also, various small cooperatives were encouraged to promote the concept & practices of Swadeshi – means home-produced items for local consumption.

Establishing Organic Cottage Units

During Cyclone in Odisha, Tsunami in Tamil Nadu & Kerala, Earth Quake in Gujarat, Drought in Madhya Pradesh & Uttar Pradesh, Flood in Assam -   massive relief and rehabilitation operations have been organized and reached out to thousands of people on the ground. Ekta Parishad’s strong volunteer base has always been instrumental in carrying out such operations on a large scale.

Relief Operations during Natural Calamities

In 2010-2011, Bihar and Jharkhand units of Ekta Parishad encouraged a large number of marginal and small women farmers for starting Vegetable Grower Cooperatives which later federated and resulted in great success and impacted in the earnings of women farmers.

Vegetable Cooperative & Federation

The current CV Pandemic (2020) has set multiple challenges for the life and livelihood of a large number of migrant workers across the various States of India. Ekta Parishad with its strategic short term and midterms relief and rehabilitation interventions are reaching out to thousands of people in need.

Rehabilitation of Migrant Workers during Corona Pandemic

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