Placed at: Jajpur, Odisha
Education: BE in Computer Science Engineering, Visvesvaraya Technological University, Karnataka
Prior work experience:
- Worked for one and a half years as a Software Engineer in an MNC and then pursued an internship in Wildlife Conservation for six months with Nature Conservation Foundation, Bengaluru.
One key work during fellowship
- Skill-based livelihood opportunities for the rural women of Odisha keeping in mind their constraints of time and effort:
- Poor women of Sundaria Gram Panchayat, Jajpur District (chosen to be developed into a model village under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana), like those in any rural part of India spend a majority of their time in domestic chores such as gathering firewood and fetching water thereby leaving them with little time to engage in livelihood activities to supplement the family income.
What was done:
- Women left out of the Self-Help Group framework were first brought under its cover. Using Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, accounts were opened in their names thereby giving them easy access to credit from the above two sources. I arranged training in tailoring through Jan Shikshak Sansthan (JSS) for 80 women for a period of 5 months by charging a nominal fee of Rs. 25/- and at a time of the day when they are most likely to be free. Once confident of their skills, these women were encouraged to purchase sewing machines by accessing credit. Those without a machine were allowed to use the ones provided by JSS. A Production Unit in the form of a Joint Liability Group was formed, which would manufacture a wide variety of garments such as Shayas (saree petticoats), uniforms for school children, etc. The Panchayat was encouraged to provide them with a place from where they could operate a store to sell the garments. Raw material was directly sourced from wholesale markets in Cuttack and was distributed to the women according to their capacity. They would then stitch the garments at home at their own convenient time but within a fixed number of days.Other initiatives taken up include:
- Increasing participation of women in Gram Sabhas through PRI-SHG Convergence
- Advocacy of System of Rice Intensification (SRI)
- Promotion of organic farming through Kitchen Gardens and NADEP Compost Pits,
- Cleanliness Drives, 100% toilet coverage in 4 villages using CLTS approach and an emphasis on handwashing by schoolchildren under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
- Organisation of Bharat Nirman Volunteers in the development of the village such as conducting surveys to gather data and to disseminate information.
- Establishment of an Ultra Small Branch to achieve 100% bank account coverage under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
- Promotion of insurance schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana
- Soil Testing Awareness Campaign and distribution of Soil Health Cards
- Strengthening governance through Common Service Centre
- Organisation of Health Camps
- Skill development under Deen Dayal Upadhaya Grameen Kaushal Yojana
- Solid Waste Management in Rural Areas
- Adult Literacy Campaign to achieve 100% literacy
- Development of Village Development Plans by making use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
- Sensitivity to the constraints of time faced by rural women is of utmost necessity if livelihood opportunities are to be designed for them. Given the constraints that no special funds are available under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, the inherent strengths such as the strong SHG network and the limited capital available with them were used to establish a Tailoring Production Unit. Disparate components such as SHGs, Panchayat, Jan Shikshak Sansthan (JSS), Wholesale and Retail markets were converged together. All the usual formalities such as preparation of Detailed Project Report, Sanctioning and Construction of the building was done away with. The focus was only on strongly knitting the components together so that they complement each other. Records were maintained not in a register but on the chart in the SHG office that was visible to everyone thereby maintaining complete transparency. The finished materials was then sold in the local markets as well as through the store and also within the SHGs which formed a good distribution channel. The women made a profit of 17% from their first production. Orders for school uniforms have now been received and future plans include manufacture of cloth sanitary knapkins after taking into account their acceptability.