Mohit: The Republic of NGOs?

“He wears a mask and his face grows to fit it”
-George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant

On 12 January 2010, when a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean country of Haiti; the world saw a great human tragedy unfold. Depending on the various (conflicting) estimates, anywhere between 85000 to 360000 Haitians were killed in the tragedy. A tide of international sympathy and monetary/material aid poured into Haiti. Along came the phalanxes of the NGO and International development “experts”. These NGOs were so omnipresent in the battered country that a US magazine wrote:

“Welcome to the NGO Republic of Haiti, the fragile island-state born, in part, out of the country’s painfully lopsided earthquake recovery. The Haitian government doesn’t even know how many NGOs are operating within its borders. No one does. According to Bill Clinton, the UN special envoy to Haiti, the country has the second-highest number of NGOs per capita in the world (India has the highest).”

Well, India has the highest number of NGOs per capita. And neither does the Indian government know exactly how many are there. On 21st February 2014, the counsel for CBI told a Supreme Court bench that they “estimated” the number of NGO’s operating in India under the Societies Registration Act, to be around 20 lakhs. This means India has a NGO for every 600 citizens. And even this estimate is lesser than the actual as many other NGOs are registered as Section 25 Companies or Charitable Trusts. A survey of Non-Profits conducted by the Central statistical Office of the Ministry of Statistics and Policy Implementation put the number of “societies” at 31.7 lakhs. It again excluded the Section 25 companies but included the institutions registered under the various state trusts act and religious endowments acts. According to information obtained from the government records, an average annual funding of Rs.950 crores was disbursed as grants to the NGOs by the government for running various government schemes between 2002 and 2009. This was in addition to the Rs.12000 Crore received by the organizations reporting under FCRA from foreign sources , approximately Rs.2541 Crore  reported as exempted donations claimed under Section 80G of the IT Act and around Rs.600 odd-crore reported as exempted under the Section 35Ac of the IT Act. This makes it almost a 15,000 Crore strong sector of the economy (which by the way is greater than the GDP of most of the northeastern states). So why exactly have these organizations proliferated and how effective have they been?

The article 19(1)(c) of the Indian Constitution as well as articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognize the “freedom to form associations and unions”. This, in addition to the right to religious freedoms and protection of the rights of religious/linguistic minorities to establish and operate their own institutions provides a very conducive and solid legal ground (and morally required) for growth of non-governmental associations and institutions. This combined with the people-centric nature of the independence movement, post-independence idealism and the Gandhian legacy of keeping a distance from the state contributed to the formation of many such NGOs with similar ideology in the early days. With the leftist tilt of the intelligentsia and the student bodies and the need for a space for political dissent (inspired by the internationally prevalent rebellious mood and the emergency of 1975), this growth was further spurred. The government was broadly tolerant of such organizations (except few extreme cases). At least till and after the emergency. They were also looked upon as a supplementary mechanism to the government machinery which was pitiably limited in its reach and understanding of such a diverse nation. The international developments, impacting India in terms of the heavy aid from the western countries and the strengthening of the international organizations like UN, were further helping formalize the role and expanding possibilities for the “development” sector. A further expansion of educational institutions specifically training students in social work and development provided the necessary manpower (more on this travesty in a later blog “The Indoctrination of Minds”) and the post-liberalization economic scenario provided the necessary funds. The cumulative effect of this is the gargantuan “non-government development” sector which we see today.
The numbers at the beginning of the blog, however mind-boggling, hide a bigger story. That largely of a set of institutions as ineffective (if not less ineffective) as the government delivery systems. That of ossified ideologies and petty fiefdom wars. That of an open Pandora’s box with irreversible effects and yet a holier-than-thou retaliations, monumental failures and in many cases, insatiable greed. And all this, all the time with a pretension of “benevolence and greater good”.

There are no statistics available on how effectively the NGOs have functioned and their impact in their field of work. But a glorious example would have stood out. In many cases, the same NGOs who whined about the inefficiency of the government-run schemes have lined up to be a partner in the cash cow schemes the government has fashioned out of heavy deficits. Some have even been formed just to partner with the government (safeguards do exists but are not very effective). Most are based on minimal ideas/experience and are either un-scalable or downright impractical. The lack of a uniform system of registration and a defined system of classification is one of the major issues. The regulation is so fragmented among different state and federal agencies that a complete oversight is impossible. Hell, even getting a near-accurate count of the NGOs is impossible. The databases of the organizations are not consolidated and shared between agencies. Criteria for recognition are not uniform. A body recognized by a state official as a charitable body does not pass muster with the federal tax authorities and vice versa.
The funding and financial records are opaque. It has been repeatedly brought to public notice that most NGOs are reluctant to disclose funding or even file tax/disclosure returns. In spite of laws like Prevention of Money Laundering Act and Foreign Contributions Regulation Act, the NGOs could be used as a conduit for money laundering due to loose reporting standards. It has also been pointed out in many cases that the NGOs have engaged in political propaganda and have been involved with political opinion-making often coinciding with high amounts of foreign funds (and this is not just based on the leaked IB report on foreign funding of NGOs but also from other authenticated newspaper reports. More on that in a later blog “For a few pieces of silver”). That a NGO cannot engage in political activities is not ethically sustainable but then the state also deserves a right of due diligence for the possibility of sinister activities and a responsible citizen’s body should be open to that.

Given the fact that the sector has formalized into a career option, it becomes harder to preclude the possibility of manufacturing of issues for the sake of self-preservation. This has lead to entrenchment in the area of work with intentional confrontation with the administration and fights amongst the NGOs over their fiefdoms. As in any career, imaginative job descriptions have cropped with multitudinous expertise in terms of fund raising, mobilization, social entrepreneurship etc. Long careers have been made and nests feathered at the expense of tax payers money.

This is not to say that all NGOs can be painted with the same brush but the public’s right to know and demand legal behavior calls for better (arms-length) oversight of the NGOs. A judgment by the Supreme Court in October 2013 (civil appeal no. 9017 of 2013) ruled that NGOs substantially funded by the government are “public authorities” under the RTI act. The government will do well to modify the law to bring ALL NGOs which claim exemptions under 12A of the Income Tax act or which are registered under the FCRA be declared public authorities as they are claiming an exemption from taxes AND are by the virtue of the definition of 12A exist for public good. The disclosure requirements being subject to section 8 exemptions of the RTI Act. The state will have to review of all exemptions issued under section 12A and remove the overlap and possible loopholes in the registration process. It must also initiate a review of all Section 25 companies to verify their functioning with respect to the initial objects of the company.

Some housekeeping is essential to save the sector from itself.

(Correction: The blog was changed to correct the amounts under 80G and 35AC. The earlier numbers were as given in the annual statement of revenue foregone. These were the tax liability which would have arisen and not actual donations. In the calculation for actual donations, a average tax rate of 30% has been assumed.)

Laxminarayana: Organisation, Ideology, Work!!!

Mohan Bhai,

Did you hear the term “social enterprise” yet?  This concept of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship has received much attention since late 70’s. What is it that is so explicitly social about any particular enterprise? Every company that is organized for a commercial purpose is an enterprise, and every enterprise strives to add some or the other value to the society, ergo a social enterprise. Isn’t it implicit? Isn’t terming an enterprise “social” just a branding strategy? Would you call your Khadi Gram Udhyog unit a social enterprise? Oh why do I ask, you yourself are a master at this.

Anyways, the reason why I ask all this is because I am now a part of an organization that calls itself a social enterprise. Trying to understand whether it’s an advantage to be called a social enterprise or if it binds the strengths of a firm and creates unnecessary impediments. A proper profit-making capitalist firm seems to hold the capacity to have a greater impact than an enterprise bounded by self-created encumbrances. You liked the Birlas more right? Lets see, I have an year more to figure this out.

Maybe, as per the popular perception, any enterprise that consciously tries and whose central theme is about fixing a social problem is a social enterprise. The issue that my organization perceives as a problem is the threat of extinction that the social fabric of rural life faces. We believe that the values that rural India represents-community living, living in sync with nature, a life of contentment; is worth preserving, and that it has to be saved from the onslaught of the consumerist culture propounded by the city life, if the society has to last longer. The country has been witnessing a disproportionate rise in migrations from rural to urban in recent past. But I doubt it man, I wonder if it’s a recent phenomenon or this has been the case ever since the rise of cities in human society. I guess it’s just population explosion coupled with the revolution in information technology that is making the figures look so scary. Ultimately, everything comes down to population, isn’t it? Plato was so right!

Back to the problem-sustenance of rural lifestyle. How do we fix it? By creating sustainable livelihoods and developing basic infrastructure in the villages. “Sustainable communities” is our tagline. We also have an NGO wing that works in partnership with the government, CSR wings of corporate companies, and various other development organisations in implementing things at grass root level. We operate around the principle of “shared prosperity”. More about that later.

Our office is set up in the 8th floor of a corporate building (like the ones in Hyderabad’s Hitec city) in the outskirts of the national capital. A typical corporate style glass building, exactly the place I didn’t want to be in. People with soulless eyes, formal attire, complaining minds … Did I say complaining? The irony! To be fair, it’s not all that gloomy. There were people in my office who seemed to be driven solely by passion and had a purpose other than just making money in their lives; like 4-5 people. The work culture is pretty horizontal – no separate cabins for the top management. We believe in the bottom up approach. It’s just the building that left a disappointing first impression on me. Damn the first impressions!

Thankfully, that building was not to be my work place. I am assigned to a project on vegetable supply chain and will be based in Gohana for the next few months. As you know, agriculture has always been a prominent sector of our economy and still accounts for about 54.6 percent of total employment. Interestingly, this decade’s census showed a decrease in the absolute number of cultivators in the country, which is unprecedented, from 127 million (2000-01) to 118 million (2011-12). I don’t know if it’s a positive or a negative sign for a 21st century economy. But to a country with a population of 1.2 billion, that is aggressively mechanizing, this might be too early. What will absorb the displaced labor? Even the government feels there is an urgent need to make agriculture more farmer-friendly and one thing that we identified as a major bottleneck to the progress of agriculture in the country is the Mandi system that came into existence with the APMC act. Although the mandis have contributed to the growth of agriculture greatly, most people think the system has served its time. The Mandi bharath is a long story, lets keep that and my project for a separate discussion.

Gohana is a medium-sized town in the Sonipat district of Haryana – a state with 80% of its land under cultivation. Man, how big was the forest that was burnt down by Arjun? One can see acres and acres of fields with Basmati crop as far as the eye can see on either side of the highways while travelling through the state. An extensively irrigated state, with canals everywhere. The people here are hardworking, well-built, a bit arrogant, and in general, content with their farming life. They seem to be obsessed with milk and milk products. Nobody eats a roti without butter on it. They grow all the basmati in the world, but then they don’t eat much rice. What’s wrong with these people?

Haryana is one of the most prosperous regions in agriculture in India. However, every time I sit with a group of villagers, the one question that I encountered all the time is  – “kya scheme laaye ho bhai?”. The farmer of one of the most fertile regions in the world, ask him if he is facing any problems in farming, he says “bhai, khethi mein bass dhikkate hee dhikkate hai”. He wants a subsidy on seeds, subsidy on tractor, subsidy on fertilizers, on insecticides, pesticides, on bloody electricity, on a polyhouse, interest free loans … Why this dependence? Did you ask your heir yet, why he strayed from your idea of village republics after independence or is he in the other house?

By the way, I’ve ordered the book on your naked ambition. <*excited*>

Arthi: So Let The Gumption Flow…

She was just like us. Born among the millions and doing everything right by the structure laid out for her – schooling, becoming a girl, graduation, becoming frustrated, masters and a first job with no life. It was never her ideal state though. She was a deep thinker. She was sensitively furious when she witnessed any kind of injustice. Life according to her was full of love and anything that made it otherwise broke her. Her dreams were never about making it big. It was more about making life easy for two or three in her lifetime. She would have sleepless nights upon her role in making ‘something’ right. It made her lifeless. She was tagged with every possible depression tags.

Years passed yet she never had the gumption to start making that ‘something’ right. One day she decides that she has had enough of this unearned guilt ridden life and starts making changes. She overcomes all her inhibitions and starts her journey with registering an NGO. Millions of questions were still left lingering in her mind. She goes about it anyway stumbling across all the new things, learning from mistakes and having more sleepless nights but with a satisfaction that these were for the better. She has grown from being born among the millions. All she did was have a little gumption.

It has been 20 years now. She has made a place for her in the development sector. All her sleepless nights has paid off. She was at peace. She was known among everyone from the operational sector as an idealistic person who followed her passion leaving behind all the comforts to start all over. Headlines were written upon her and she has become an inspiration for many ‘clueless’ out there. All she could do now was follow the structure laid for her – be the director of an NGO, attend meetings, debate with like minded people, travel, shake hands, give interview, have an opinion on just about everything and make it all seem so easy and in doing all this inspire one or two in the process. But deep inside she always knew that her gumption did not grow further. All her success meant nothing for her until and unless she was able to pass her gumption for she knew how difficult it was to find one. So her sleepless nights continued after 20 years. During one such night she stumbles upon India Fellow and signs up as a partner organization in the hope of making her gumption flow.

Vinay: My Own Little World

This is a story about Vinay and his little world.

Mangilal studied till 5th grade and lives with his father. Much of the harvest from farming is used for their own consumption and the rest is used to buy other necessities. Mangilal has no other skill to supplement this income earned by his father. He is too shy and would raise a doubt in anybody’s mind on how he would be able to navigate through this complex world. There are a group of tribal women, many of them from scheduled category. Unlike our facial creams, gels and packs they have their own style which naturally adds to their beauty. They are adorned with ornaments and this somehow feels more natural. Some wear similar nose rings as a tradition, they have a look of big loops which were fitted into small colorful beads. Some wear maang tikka (head piece jewellery) of badam size which unlike our affluent middle class is put in position by a simple thread running across the parting line on their head. While some strike out from among the rest by their glittering bangles and some by their exotic forehead stickers. These women have little information on the government schemes intended for them. They get income sometimes on MNREGA or depend completely on husbands who migrate for work. They have little economic independence and source too. Their self confidence can thus be guessed without much difficulty.

ujala kiran

Everyone strives to better their living conditions and money is arguably the biggest means to achieve it. Now enters Vinay with his own cute little fantasies and expectations. He wanted to see things the way he would ideally like them to be. So keeping in line with this, he wanted to see each person associated with organization devote themselves selflessly to their utmost capacity for the welfare of society at large and be like demi-Gandhis. But Vinay sees arguments over petty issues and lot of loud voices of anger or frustration around him and feels these are rather avoidable quite easily.

Mangilal received skill training under an Aajeevika Bureau’s program. He got trained in ‘pipe fitting’ work and also received a tool, useful in that trade, at the successful completion of his training along with a certificate of appreciation. Aajeevika Bureau trains a number of youth in different fields which also include fields like security services and mobile repairing. And to give this story a happy ending (or actually a new beginning), it leverages its organizational capabilities to place them too. Tribal women who were once unaware of government schemes now educate other women in their localities about them. These women are made aware and trained to address the concerns of not only themselves but also their neighboring communities. This is done under the auspices of Aajeevika’s yet another program. These women call themselves – Ujala Kirans, which also metaphorically defines them. They now discuss in the meeting on the number of complaints or requests that were lodged by them in the government offices. Not only connecting themselves with government schemes, they share with pride the number of people they educated and connected with various schemes or programs. This particular meeting; they were also learning about a new scheme called ‘bhamashah’ and seemed excited to reap its benefits and inform their community folk. They decided to conduct meetings in an organized manner and seeked the organization’s opinion on procuring resources like a bag, register and a pen. They could in fact purchase from their own collective money. To elaborate, each of them contribute little amount of money every month to make their group sustainable over time. During the meeting, they come out and address the circle either as a part of some activities or to share the work they have done in their localities. Some speak with giggles, some talk shy, and some bold and passionate.

So coming back, Vinay sees all this and tries to understand the impact that is leaving on the lives of these many people. During this time, he also gets an opportunity to meet his organization’s heads. Coincidentally he has the discussion with them on whether he was having a good experience over there. One thing is that this attention and care towards him given was too much to ask for, given they could spend their energies on other things that matter – like the programs that were mentioned. But the more important thing is which story should Vinay carry with him to the outside world and how correct or smart (or can say fair) would it be to carry insignificant petty stories than the beautiful larger picture. He has to be wary of not forming an impressionable mind for little things he sees at close quarters on a daily basis which could cloud the incredible positive impact that brings joy and optimism.

The frog which never turned into a Prince!

 

It’s pouring in Pune with barely any sun out. I keep longing for the Sun. Though I love rains, this constant downpour here is sickening. I wake up to gloomy cold mornings almost everyday.

Every evening when I come home from office I have a visitor waiting for me at home. It is still a mystery to me how these visitors enter my house when the door and window are closed. I think apparition is true like in Harry Potter(yes, I am lot into fiction and sometimes I escape from reality being in my fictitious world). I can’t find any other plausible explanation how these visitors are entering otherwise.

It all started like this. Last week when I came home from office in the evening, I saw a tiny little thing at my door step. I quickly opened the door got inside the house and banged the door shut before that creature could enter. Just when I was happy about my victory I saw an other creature inside the house. This time it was an earth worm. Insects disgust me. I some how managed to pick it up and throw it out of the house.  Next morning when I woke up I saw an other insect whose name I don’t know. I once again threw it out. But that evening again this tiny creature from previous day was waiting for me at the doorstep. This time it happily jumped inside the house before I did. It became a herculean task for me to catch hold of this creature while it was happily jumped around laughing at me in MY HOUSE. I lost my temper and stomped my foot down. The creature stopped jumping and looked straight at me.

“Hello human,” said the creature.

I forgot all about my anger and got startled as the creature started talking to me.

“I am Mr. Froggy the Frog,” said the creature.

“Mr. Froggy the Frog, as in you are a frog,” said I.

Now this frog got offended and said, “stop calling me a frog, I’ve got a name and it’s Mr. Froggy. I’d appreciate it if you called me by my name and nothing else. How would you feel if I just called you a mere human instead of calling you by your name missy?”

“Let me refresh your memory, you did call me human a while ago.” A frog with an attitude and bad memory. It was tiny, cute and grey. But it had a way with words for sure.

“No, I did not,” said Mr. Froggy.

I was already exhausted from a long day at office and did not have the patience to argue with Mr. Froggy so I decided to ignore him for a while and started doing chores at home.

Mr. Froggy didn’t like being ignored, he poked his nose into everything that I was doing. By now I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped doing my work at hand sat down and decided to talk to Mr. Froggy and be done with him.

“You do realize that if you kissed me I’d turn into a handsome Prince,” said Mr. Froggy.

“Oh, really! I didn’t know about this Mr. Froggy, could you please elaborate?” I asked with sarcasm. Apparently Mr. Froggy is clichéd as well. A frog with many characters. Yes, I am into fiction but not into fairytales. Am past that age now. I know, I know, look at me talking as if fiction is any better. But that is a different story and let us not divert from the topic and stick to Mr. Froggy. He was already feeling edgy.

“Have you never read the story ‘The Frog Prince’ human?” Asked Mr. Froggy.

“Come on now, it’s just a fairytale,” I said.

“Oh!” said Mr. Froggy with gloomy eyes. I felt a little sorry for him now.

“I think am stuck in this form forever. I really hoped to change into human form.” Said Mr. Froggy.

“But, you are as good as a human. You are able to talk.” I said.

“But that’s not the only thing that you humans do, do you?” asked Mr. Froggy. He wasn’t that dumb after all.

I tried to cheer him up by offering him some chocolates, telling him how he could find a beautiful Mrs. Froggy and how he could spend the rest of his life happily with her. This seemed to lift his mood a little.

“I’ll go find my Mrs. Froggy, so long human and watch out for me,” said Mr. Froggy and left.

BOOM!! Suddenly there was this loud noise and I woke up from my slumber only to realize that this was all a dream.

CROAK came an other sound. I look down from my bed only to see a certain Mr. Froggy looking at me with humor in his eyes.

Transitions and Translations – 5: Noahs’ Legacy

There is a certain beauty to floods – to the way they wash away all imperfections, all the grotesque protrusions from the land, leaving nothing but pristine brown uniformity in their wake. No other natural or man-made disaster does this. Earthquakes, hurricanes and even a nuclear explosion leave broken or blasted husks of buildings, trees and also people in their aftermath. But not floods. Floods cover everything, enveloping them like some bizarre kind of natural foundation makeup. But, like so many beautiful things, they are merely hiding the ugliness underneath.
Flood 01Flood 02The Still Waters Of Desolation

The best place to see that ugliness is at the waters’ edge, where the destructive effects of the initial surge of water are uncovered as the water begins its slow recession. And so I found myself travelling to Jajpur district to see firsthand the disaster that had befallen the whole region, including many other neighboring districts. We had just finished organizing the distribution of shoes in two schools and were now heading to meet a partner that was requesting more materials for the relief efforts. We had already sent them an initial consignment, but the scale of the problem meant more was needed. Such a commitment required verification, however, and so we were headed to the area. The numbers were certainly concerning – around 20 panchayats containing over 70,000 people had been affected in this district alone. But a flood could mean anything from mild inundation to entire buildings disappearing underwater. Pictures from the partner could have been taken anywhere and at any time. We had to verify the situation ourselves.
Flood 05 Flood 08 What Lies Beneath…

As we approached the waters’ edge, that ugliness which was hidden from view everywhere else was revealed in stark detail – broken roads, fallen trees, assorted flotsam drawn the newly-formed “coast” by the slow ebb and flow of the water. At first, they were just sections of the road that had fallen away on either side. But eventually, we reached the proverbial ‘end of the line’. There would be no more driving from here on, and only a bit more forward progress by foot. A short walk through the muck, strewn about with branches and sacks – as if to prove that nature did not discriminate between man and its own – of mud forming a makeshift path, and we were there.
Flood 03 Flood 07You Shall Not Pass…

The waters’ edge. No going forward from here, unless one is willing to swim – which was certainly not recommended. One of the people from our partner NGO in the area put a stick in to check the depth at the edge – over 7 feet. And it would definitely be deeper farther out. In the distance we could see the road – or what was left of it – continuing on, as if daring us to cross and see what else lay beyond. We didn’t take the bait.
Flood 04 Flood 06Far Side Of Road                              

There is, of course, a human tale to tell as well, although fortunately no deaths as far as we know – at least so far. We’d passed a flooded village just before reaching the break in the road. There was no one there as far as we could see, although there were plenty of folk on the road. After we were done at the edge, we came back to a small building just about a hundred meters from the terminal point to check on the status of the material we had already sent. Although it was not all stored there – for obvious reasons – a quick chat with the locals reassured us that the supplies were being distributed properly. They asked for more, but then that was to be expected. We didn’t oblige. There were many more people to reach with even this level of supplies first. Satisfied, we departed.
Flood 09 Flood 10Nobody Home…Fortunately

Bigger disasters have happened in other times and places, of course. Orissa itself is no stranger to flooding. Indeed, it happens somewhere in the state pretty much every year. But its size relative to others and the regularity of its occurrence shouldn’t lull us into blasé acceptance. These are human lives we’re talking about here, after all. And, unfortunately, it looks like it has. There has been little, if any, mention of this flood in the mainstream news. If Sachin Tendulkar or Amitabh Bacchan were to say something, or if the stock market were to dip even slightly, it would be discussed on the 9 ‘o’ clock segment for an hour or more. But I doubt the flood we visited would elicit even a line on the ticker. The lives of the underprivileged matter only when in sufficiently massive numbers. Nevertheless, we, at least, were convinced. We would provide what assistance we could.

On the way back, I saw a boy relieving himself in the water. It seemed almost like a defiant act, despite the seeming ordinariness of it – as if daring the gods to hit him again. The resigned eyes of the people we had met, however, told me that they knew that next year, they would…

Vinay: Crèche At The Construction Site

Firstly I urge you to think critically whether crèche is really required? Stop right here, really think for a few seconds before reading further. You might think that crèche being a closed space and so could be contrary to the whole idea of ‘freedom for children’. I can only guess what else you might be thinking, like separation of the kids from their parents at that tender age even though it is for a few hours daily.

Now I shall mention just a couple of things I saw on one normal day, not more. A kid was playing with an iron rod orange in hue – rust and dust, the coloring agents – of length minimum 4 times his/her own height. The kid seemed to be having great fun in that sultry heat surrounded by these hard long sharp and dangerous toys of his. There is no parent in sight, and now feel free to imagine all the possible ill happenings. Second visual is of a kid rolling in the opening field with cement, mud, pebbles, dirt and what not present there. A kid safely holding a safety pin in his/her mouth with no one really noticing it. Okay, but the important point is that these are exactly the images I saw, and no exaggeration. It’s also not that I came to see such things in one of my numerous other similar visits to that construction site. Seeing these things is pretty common and these are not rare is what I mean to say.

Kids while parents are working

Kids while parents are working

I think above few lines might have put a little stress on our conscience, so now let us just plainly look from the parents’ angle. They stay in little dwellings with the so-called walls and roof formed of asbestos sheets. If you are an athlete you could easily do a long-jump and jump across the length of their dwellings. All they have are a few wood sticks, a wire to hang clothes, a cot in some cases, a few utensils, electric connection for a plug and a bulb (some cases). I know it’s hard to believe, but what else can I say other than ‘believe me’. Now it is understandable how important their daily earning is for them. A significant percentage of them have small kids too. These little ones have to be taken care of, that you, me, those parents and everyone knows. But unfortunately here we have only specific hours in a day and so taking care of these little ones invariably reduces our work time and affects our pay. Without over emphasizing, I can safely say that each extra rupee earned by them is a luxury (for them).

Parent taking time out for kid

Parent taking time out for kid

Now Aajeevika Bureau comes with this idea of opening crèches at the construction sites itself, and formulating into action opened one. Main motto is to both provide a safe environment for the kids and to take care of their nutritional needs. Nutritional need can easily be understood and now I believe you can relate to the safety aspect too, given the above images. What if something falls on the kid who was rolling on the ground or how difficult is it not to swallow that safety pin?

So the nutrition and creative space is being provided for the kids. You see them here do drawings, washing hands before having a meal, sleeping inside nets, learning rhymes and much younger ones sleeping in a cradle.

Trainer didi taking care of kids

Trainer didi taking care of kids

So why am I saying all this and posting here for you to see? I want the space to look spectacular with various toys and also include plenty more activities. This is also more like an open invitation and to make you aware of this crèche. You can come and spend time with kids, tell them stories, or help in bettering the look of this space, donate toys, donate crayons and drawing books, donate games which stimulate brain, or you are most welcome to just visit for your own curiosity.

Creche

Creche

See you at S.T. (Gita Mandir), Ahmedabad ;-)