Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jagriti Yatra Diary - Okhai, Mithapur, the last stop

Jan 9 - The whole day was spent in the train as various teams finished off their role model presentations and we were briefed about making presentations on TJY. We reached Mithapur by late evening almost 10 hours ahead of schedule so we had to park the train at some place 10km away.

Jan 10 - The penultimate day and the last stop of the yatra. We were loaded on funny buses with sleepers etc and split into various groups that visited various places. While some groups visited the Okhai SHG groups, my group visited Tata's watershed programme for a village.

After a short bus journey, we had to endure probably a kilometre of rocks and shrubs to reach the place. Out of nowhere in the barren land a large man made dam stone lined dam. The dam served two purposes, it has stopped the inflow of sea water by increasing the ground water and replenishing the wells. It provided for an extra season or two of farming apart from the summer crop. The Tatas, the villagers and the government had all contributed for the small dam. There was little water when we went, but we were told that the benefits of building the dam recover the money through agro-produce in one year itself!

We were then taken to the Tata Chemicals plant where through a short photo exhibition we were told of the history of the plant. After lunch, the yatris had to be extracted from their dancing shoes to visit the stalls set up by Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development.

The Okhamandal area is drought prone, so the Tatas formed Self Help Groups (supposedly the first in the country) in villages of the area to not only promote better livelihoods but also nurture handicrafts of the region. Now hundreds of women of the area benefit through the sale of handicrafts produced by them under the 'Okhai' brand. Some Rural BPOs are also running in the area which support various Tata companies.

In the evening we had the final CNBC TV 18 panel discussion at Tata Chemicals itself, 'the power of one'. The panelists included Mr.Elango of Kuthambakkam, Mr.Anshu Gupta of Goonj and Mr. Anand Kumar of Super 30.

Mr.Anand Kumar, runs Super 30, Ramanaujam school of Mathematics, which for the last seven years has been identifying talented students among the under-privileged around Bihar, providing them free boarding, lodging and coaching to ace the IIT entrance exams. Hundreds of students have benefited and he was hilarious during the panel discussion.

We had a good discussion, which was aimed at telling us what we could achieve as one person even in the absence of a team. We had the closing ceremony of the yatra at that venue itself. Late into the night we had valedictory sessions for all the groups where certificates and medallions were given to every Yatri.

PS: I'll update the blog with some pictures later

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