Mumbai-based NGO helping lesser privileged women earn a livelihood

Srujna, a five-year-old NGO at Kandivli, is helping lesser privileged women earn a livelihood for themselves

Srujna,an NGO based out of Mumbai’s Kandivli suburb, started its operations five years ago with the aim to train victims of human trafficking, who were staying at a shelter home. While interacting with them, these victims shared that they have it all—food, clothing and shelter but what they lack in are the skills and opportunities to work and earn a livelihood for themselves. This is also a major reason why most rescued victims go back to the flesh trade.

Enter Srujna…
Given this scenario, the role of Srujna is crucial. Jyotika Bhatia of Srujna shares, “We evolved as an organisation when we started with these 30 girls, as we trained them and sold the products made by them in various corporate organisations in a span of eight months.” Post this, the NGO tied up with various grass-roots organisations and created livelihood models for the women to sustain financially. Currently, Srujna has tied up with 14 such organisations across the city and products made by these women are sold to around 40 companies via exhibitions or direct orders.

The criteria for selecting the women to be trained by Srujna are vulnerability, level of economic backwardness and women living in poverty. Bhatia adds, “We train them in making paper products, paper quilling, jute products, jewellery, chocolate, tailoring and more. These products are then sold across the country at various exhibitions, as part of CSR initiatives.” The overall effort has given confidence and opportunities to these women in order to earn a livelihood. Now, it’s a regular affair to receive several orders for bags, jewellery and more.”

Success stories
A small unit exists in the slums of Vakola where a close-knit group of 30 women have been making bags. These women participated in the exhibitions that were set up at various corporate organisations, thus changing the way one woman looked at her own life. In her own words, Shobha* said, “I started participating in the exhibitions at various companies after I was introduced to Srujna. There I saw confident young women working efficiently. I was married when I was just 18 and I didn’t have this kind of opportunity. But I will now ensure that I will not marry off my daughter until she completes her master’s degree and starts a career.”

There is a shelter home in the city that houses 15 young girls rescued from human trafficking. These girls have achieved a certain level of skill in paper quilling, so Srujna helped them improve their craft and understand aspects like how many products should be made, how to go about it, which other skills can be developed in order to make a more sustainable livelihood. This opportunity to earn a decent amount of money has made these girls extremely confident. They even received an order from Godrej Nature’s Basket to make 3,000 rakhis made from paper quilling, which were all sold out in three days! (*name changed to protect identity)



Beach camps operational in Ganga, Uttarakhand misleading NGT: NGO

NEW DELHI: Uttarakhand government is trying to mislead the National Green Tribunal by denying the existence of several beach camps operating on the banks of river Ganga despite a ban, an NGO claimed today.

The NGO, which has moved the green panel against “unregulated operation” of beach camps in Rishikesh, informed a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that some camps were even involved in constructing semi-permanent structures on the tributary of the Ganga.

“The applicant has visited the area on January 19 for verifying contents of affidavit of state government and found that several camps are set up on the beach of river Hamel and also found two camps on river Ganga.

“The applicant also found that some of the camps are involved in construction of semi-permanent structure on the river bank in the form of tents and in some areas platform for setting up of semi-permanent structure was in progress,” the NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE) said in an affidavit filed before the bench.

On January 18, the Uttarakhand government had refuted allegations that beach camps are operational on the stretch from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh on river Ganga.

The NGO said it had inspected various sites to verify the statements made by the state government and found that large numbers of beach camps have “mushroomed” on the river bank.

“The findings of the applicant by site visit clearly establish the fact that the state government is trying to mislead the Tribunal by filing incorrect affidavit. The NGO has not only found large number of beach camps in existence but has also found that some of them are converting it into semi-permanent kind of structure.

“Some of the photographs already filed clearly show that semi-permanent structure are constructed in the form of beach camp on the bank of river Ganga and its tributary river Hemal,” the affidavit, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, said while detailing the locations of some such camps.

NGT had banned camping activities in the entire belt of Kaudiyala to Rishikesh till a regulatory regime came into force but had permitted the adventure sport rafting.

The panel had constituted a committee of officials from various departments of central and Uttarakhand government to prepare a regulatory regime.


NGO Surprised on Refusal of Stake to Goa Government in Mopa Project

PANAJI: A Goa-based NGO has expressed surprise over the state government’s move to hand over land for the proposed greenfield airport in North district to a private entity when it does not hold any stake in the project as indicated by the Union Civil Aviation ministry.

“Union Civil Aviation ministry has indicated that Goa government will not hold any stake in the proposed greenfield airport at Mopa but will have representation on the Board of Directors with veto powers. This came as a surprise to us,” NGO Gen Next President Durgadas Kamat said in a statement issued here.

A Civil Aviation ministry official was also recently quoted as saying that Goa will not have any stake in Mopa airport project.

“Mopa will have the distinction of being the first airport project in India where the state government will not be owner, even partially,” Kamat said.

“Not being share holder is indeed surprising as land is being given by Goa government. A total of 381 acres of land worth Rs 3000 crore has been given for the project. As Goa government is giving prime land for the project it has to be a shareholder in it,” he demanded.

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has already issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to four private companies in connection with the airport project, the first phase of which

would be completed in 2019.

The NGO has also said the airport will bring in huge influx of people in the village changing the demography.

“Goa is already threatened with uncontrolled migration, the airport project will add to it,” Kamat said.

Source: The New Indian Express

NGO rescues burnt, beaten 6-year-old boy from house in Noida

NGO officials said the child was abandoned at the house by his alcoholic father after his mother died. Since then, he was living there.


With several burn injuries on his legs, he is barely able to walk. He is so traumatised that he is unable to speak. And he is just 6. This child, who was brutally tortured at a house in Greater Noida, has just been rescued by an NGO.

Childline, an NGO, received information on Tuesday night that a child working in a house in Dadri could barely walk as he had burn injuries on his legs.

“Acting on the tip-off, our team reached the house and rescued the boy. The condition of the kid was so bad that he could hardly walk. He was immediately taken to a shelter home and government officials were informed,” said Satya Prakash, programme manager, FXB Suraksha-Childline.

NGO officials said the child was abandoned at the house by his alcoholic father after his mother died. Since then, he was living there.

It is suspected that the six-year-old was made to work in the house and brutally beaten up by the owners when he failed to complete his work.

The name of the house owner, a businessman by profession, has been withheld as no FIR has been registered so far.

“As the kid could not speak up, we have not registered a case, but we have informed the district administration and police,” Prakash said.

Members of the NGO also took the child for a medical examination at a government hospital. Several burns were found on his waist and lower body. According to doctors, he was burnt with some heated metal object.

“The wounds and scars on his body show that he was beaten up badly and his skin was also burned with a hot metal object. The scar marks are rectangular in shape. There are traces of old scars and several burn injuries were found at the same place,” a doctor who conducted the child’s medical examination said.

As the kid is still in trauma and his injury severe, the NGO is thinking of shifting him to a private hospital for better treatment.

“We are waiting for him to recover before we take further legal action. We are yet to record his statement. Till the time, he will stay in our shelter home and we will take him to a private hospital for better treatment,” Prakash said.


For the people, of the people, by the people

The sixth edition of Mumbai’s Kabir Festival continues to promote India’s syncretic history and culture and runs on community participation rather than corporate sponsorship

It was in 2009 in Bengaluru that Priti Turakhia heard documentary filmmaker and artiste Shabnam Virmani sing Kabir. “I had not heard his music, had only read his dohas in school,” she said. The bhajans left a strong impact on her. Turakhia had just retired from her family business with which she had been involved for over 20 years and had all the time in the world to attend Kabir festivals in Vadodara and Pune. So inspired was she with the saint’s music that she later invited Virmani for a satsang at her Mumbai home. It was here that the idea to initiate a large-scale, community-based Kabir Festival in Mumbai took root. It finally rolled out in 2011.

It was the same year that Falguni Desai, a solicitor, attended the festival and heard Prahlad Singh Tipanya sing Kabir bhajans in Malwa style. She was mesmerised. “I am familiar with the works of the various saints but the way Tipanyaji sang, spoke and explained things, moved me. I was drawn to him. His music sent me on an inner journey. I wanted to know more.” Next year, she became part of the organising and coordinating committee, an association that has grown over the years. Her core interest is curating the content. “I like exploring bhakti poetry, and in turn, help people explore it.”

Sachi Maniar was just 22 when she got involved with the festival in 2011. Six years down the line, she admires the festival for retaining the pure, organic spirit it started off with. For Turakhia, the most unique and important aspect of the festival has been community participation and volunteerism. The festival accepts no corporate sponsorship. It is the ordinary Mumbaikars who have contributed liberally, giving their time and expertise and also helping with fund-raising initiatives, contributing amounts from Rs 500 to Rs 1 lakh. “People work without any expectations, selflessly, and they are from all age groups. The youngest, Aadya, is about 13-14 years and there are many older people in the 65-70 age group.”

Ms Desai adds, “People have offered their homes and cars for the artistes to stay and move around in Mumbai.” Some have just helped in manning call lines and guiding people around the venues. “All this helps involve people. They feel a sense of ownership for the festival. It is not just about being the audience.” Currently, they have a database of 2,500 such individuals.

Desai also calls volunteerism a boundary-breaking exercise, one which gets people together for something bigger. The city is riddled with differences: economic and social, religion, caste and class-based. The festival seeks to erase these boundaries. “A confluence of mystic poetry, stories, music and films”, as they call it, the Kabir Festival Mumbai is unique in how the performances underline our syncretic history and culture and take messages of community spirit, peace and harmony propagated by the saints of yore to the mohallas of Mumbai. As Ms Desai says, “It’s not about telling, teaching or preaching to them. But the process begins while attending the performances.”

According to her, urban life is all about material needs. “People no longer engage in an inner journey,” she says. The festival helps people to take a pause and think. Turakhia concurs. “Life in Mumbai gets too mechanical. You get bound to things. The performances in the festival make you look inside and beyond.” “It is about connecting with oneself from within, to feel grounded,” she says.

All events are free and open to the public and are held across the length and breadth of the city. See for schedule and other details.

Art with a heart

The core of the festival is the numerous rural performers, the repositories of the oral tradition, and urban artistes who have experimented with a newer idiom of presentation. Through their songs, storytelling, dance and films, they bring the audiences closer to the thoughts, teachings and works of the mystic saints.

Hindustani classical singer Radhika Sood Nayak attended the Kabir Festival for the first time in 2014. She was fascinated by the audience. “The performances were no-frills-attached. There was no big orchestra but the audience was deeply immersed.” It was the involved audience that prompted the singer to perform at the festival for the first time last year. “As an artiste, you always look for an audience that is aware and open,” she says. Nayak put together a performance of the kalaams of Bulleh Shah. “I wasn’t sure if it will tie in well with the festival but they were open to the idea,” she adds. And so, the Punjabi sufi kalaam got introduced to the audience. Nayak is an XLRI graduate, who has a day job as visiting faculty at the Human Resource Management department at SP Jain Institute, Nayak is otherwise fully devoted to pursuing music. She has been singing devotional thumri and dadra and feels there’s a lot to explore in Punjabi Sufi poetry, “It’s so vast, one needs to go deeper,” she says. This year at the Kabir Festival, Nayak will sing Baba Farid, whose poetry, she feels, is far more complicated when compared to Bulleh Shah’s. She will explain, tell anecdotes as she sings, so the audience will know the context. “It’ll be a challenge to take his complexity on to the stage.”

Carnatic classical singer Shruthi Vishwanath will also weave in stories to contextualise the Gyaneshwar and Waari songs she will sing during the festival. She has been associated with the festival for the past two years. She moved to Mumbai in 2012 to work as an analyst for the Bombay Stock Exchange and recently shifted completely to music. “I have been singing abhangs through my childhood, but it’s the music that chose me and not the other way round.”

For the artistes participating in the festival, it’s not just about the pure art or the craft of performance but also the socio-political environment within which art lives and breathes, and an artiste’s own awareness of it. And, most of all, channelising art to reach out to the people. Ms Vishwanath says, “We are living in the age of increasing intolerance when the voices of reason of the saints are increasingly becoming important. Sheikh Mohammad wrote about Vitthal, Sant Tukaram wrote an ode to Allah. Numerous other abhang saints bridged the religious divides through their poetry.” For her, the festival is about taking the message of unity and harmony to the people.

Crossing musical boundaries

“Exploring Qawwali” is a musical collaboration that will make a debut at this year’s Kabir Festival. Ajay Tipaniya and Vijay Tipaniya, who have been performing as part of their Padma Shri awardee father Prahlad Tipanya’s troupe, are keen to try their hand at something new.

The Tipaniya siblings belong to a Dalit family from Madhya Pradesh that traditionally sings Kabir, Mirabai and other poets in the Malwi folk bhajan form. Of late, they have been training hard to perfect the qawwali. This is outside their framework of oral transmission of songs from generation to generation, and therefore a challenge.

“We are using a lot of the material we have learnt from our father but presenting it in a form that is different. A qawwali is much longer than a bhajan, and it allows you to weave in shorter poems from various poets. Qawwalis are usually sung by Muslims but we thought we too could do it. The style may be different but the feeling and the essence are the same,” says Ajay, the older of the siblings. This “mingling of region and religion” has been documented by Kabir scholar Linda Hess in her 2015 book, Bodies of Song: Kabir Oral Traditions and Performative Worlds in North India.

The Tipanya brothers’ interest in Sufi music comes from interactions with diverse singers on their travels and at music festivals. They have been rehearsing over the last few months to present much loved Sufi songs such as ‘Allah Hu’, ‘Nit Khair Manga’, and ‘Aaj Rang Hai’, among others. They hold Pakistani qawwals Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen in great esteem.

This collaboration also includes Devnarayan Saroliya and Mahesh Yadav from Madhya Pradesh, who have been performing with the Tipanya family. Joining them are Vedanth Bharadwaj from Chennai, and Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy from Bangalore, both of whom are trained in classical music. This coming together of the folk, the classical, and the qawwali forms, was the brainchild of Falguni Desai, coordinator of the Kabir Festival.

“I was apprehensive about an art form that I am not traditionally trained in. Without the guru-shishya tradition, it might sound like an imitation of what I have heard as recording. That was my worry. Over the last year, my relationship to qawwali has changed. It makes my soul soar. It is a new found love,” says Narayanaswamy.

Chintan Girish Modi is a freelance writer.

Sensitising communities

In January 2014, the first time SAHER (Society for Awareness, Harmony and Equal Rights), a Mumbai-based NGO staged a musical performance for the Kabir Festival there was not a single Muslim in attendance. But when the same musicians sang, ‘Allah Hu’ later that evening, people came out in hordes to see the performance.

Located in Jogeshwari, SAHER’s office is sandwiched between impoverished Muslim and Hindu communities on both sides. “The young people from the Muslim community, who have grown up in the ghettos aren’t aware that Kabir’s songs are not Hindu devotional songs but deeply connected to Islam as well,” says Rama Shyam, one of the co-directors of the organisation known to work with children and young people from various religious communities, especially with that of the nearby slums of the neighbourhood. It works towards a holistic peace building among various religious communities through various activities.

Since that January in 2014, there has been a marked behavioural change in the Muslim community. Today, they form an important workforce in the annual festival through volunteering. Through talks and discussions that provide the context of a shared culture to the musical performances, the residents’ ideas about religious differences have also evolved. “It’s the only space in the festival, where slums are involved in putting up a public performance,” says Rama, married to Masood Akhtar, the co-director of the organisation, traces its origin to the communal disharmony caused by the 1992 Hindu-muslim Bombay riots. Fittingly, their son is called Kabir.

Another NGO that is involved with the Kabir Fest is the Ashiyana Foundation that works with the Umerkhadi Children’s home, Dongri. Here music is binging in quiet, profound changes in orphan boys and girls aged 8-18 who often resort to violence. “In a one room space, we sometimes have more than 200 boys. In such a negative environment, the value-based music of Kabir almost works like a therapy,” says Sachi Maniar, co-founder Ashiyana.


NGO Jetairways

Jet Airways partners with NGO to provide relief to rain-hit Tamil Nadu

NGO Jetairways

Jet Airways said it has partnered with the Indian arm of global NGO ActionAid to provide relief to the flood-affected people of Chennai.

NEW DELHI: Private carrier Jet Airways BSE 3.15 % today said it has partnered with the Indian arm of global NGO Action Aid to provide relief to the flood-affected people of Chennai and Thiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu.

In the long-term, the partnership will focus on rehabilitation including recovery and development of livelihoods, reconstruction and repair of damaged houses of over 2,000 people, Jet Airways said in a release.

he immediate joint efforts by Jet Airways and ActionAid will focus on providing food and essential items such as drinking water, health and sanitary kits, clothing, utensils, sleeping mats, bed rolls and materials for temporary shelters, among others, it said.
“Lives of many people in Chennai and neighbouring region have been severely impacted by the floods. Jet Airways has partnered with ActionAid to bring immediate relief to those most in need in this unfortunate situation…
“Jet Airways staff from across the country will volunteer to lend a helping hand and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of the region for on-ground relief efforts,” Jet Airways Chief Executive Officer Cramer Ball said.

In the long-term arrangement, the two partners will also work towards providing vocational skills training and employment opportunities to women from these communities for them to rebuild their lives, the release said.

“We are happy to partner with Jet Airways in transforming lives and livelihoods of the most excluded and marginalised women from Irula tribals, homeless and slum communities,” ActionAid India Executive Director Sandeep Chachra said.

ActionAid India has been working in four districts of Tamil Nadu, providing relief and rehabilitation support since early November.

Source: Economic Times

7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes Tajikistan, tremors felt in Delhi, surrounding areas

An earthquake of 7.2 magnitude struck Tajikistan today rattling areas as far as India and Pakistan.

An earthquake of 7.2 magnitude struck Tajikistan today rattling areas as far as India and Pakistan. Tremors were felt in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh Punjab and entire north India, reports said.

People in Islamabad and Peshawar in Pakistan also experienced the earthquake.

According to the USGS, an earthquake measuring 7.2 magnitude on the Richter scale hit Tajikistan on Monday. The depth of the earthquake was recorded at 25 km.


The earthquake shook buildings in Delhi and other surrounding areas like Noida, Faridabad and Gurgaon. People were seen rushing out of offices and homes. No news of  any of damage to life and property has been received so far.

Mild tremors were also  felt in Kashmir but there were no reports of any damage from anywhere in the Valley so far, police said.

The tremors passed by and large unnoticed, as people went on with their normal business, he added.

An official of the MeT Department said further details on the earthquake are being ascertained.

Source: India Today

AAP Govt Needs ‘Effective Strategy’ to Push Plan to Fight Pollution: NGO

Delhi government announced that personal vehicles bearing odd and even registration numbers would ply on alternate days from January 1, 2016.

NEW DELHI:  The proposed move to have ‘odd-even’ restrictions on the plying of private vehicles in the national capital can “catalyse” the change needed to purify the air in Delhi, a green NGO said today while calling for “public support” and an “effective strategy” for pushing such an initiative.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said it “welcomes the firm decision of the Delhi government” as the city has “little choice” but to take recourse to “aggressive and drastic immediate measures” to check air pollution.

Lauding the proposal mooted by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to “cut down traffic volume, eliminate emissions from coal-powered plants and push for tighter emission standards to curb killer air pollution in the city”, CSE executive director Anumita Roychowdhury said that “these measures promise to catalyse change needed to bend the curve of ever rising air pollution levels in the city and prevent premature deaths and illness”.

The action agenda announced by Delhi government envisages, among other things, that personal vehicles bearing odd and even registration numbers would ply on alternate days from January 1, 2016.

Emergency services and public transport will not be under the ambit of the restriction.

CSE has urged Delhi government to “detail out an effective implementation strategy and organise public outreach for glitch-free implementation” of its plans.

“Alarming trends in air pollution levels in the capital city and its devastating impacts on public health have made the city desperate for urgent solutions. Such choking peak levels demand aggressive and drastic immediate measures,” Ms Roychowdhury said.

“Small incremental steps will not help. If the public demand for clean air has merited this action, this needs even stronger public support to make it work as well.

“The city has little choice when there is at least one death per hour due to air pollution related diseases and the lung of every third child is impaired,” she said.


Atrocities against women on rise: NGO

In India women are being raped at every 29 minutes, every 22 minutes we can see one dowry victim and violence against a women at every 3 minutes.

About 42 per cent women face physical or sexual violence in the state of Odisha.

In modern society day by day there is a rise in violence cases against women.

In 2014, 14,606 cases of crimes against women were registered in Odisha (NCRB). They are not only being tortured, raped etc but also subjected to domestic violence and even murder.

These were some of the shockers that figured at the launch of a 16-day of activism launched here by the People’s Cultural Centre ( PECUC), a NGO.

The 16-day campaign is an international campaign that started in 1991. Since then, over 5,179 groups in 187 countries have taken part in this campaign.

This campaign provides each and every one of us-with the opportunity to break the silence around domestic violence. The campaign aims to raise awareness about domestic violence at community level.

A mobile campaign van was flagged off by MLA Sashi Bhusan Behera. It will move around 17 panchayat’s and 31 villages of Bhubaneswar and Balianta Block of Khurda district to make aware the people on the issues of VAW and more specifically domestic violence.

An workshop on violence against women was organized by PECUC in collaboration with The Hunger Project today with Behera, Member Women Commission Snigdha Panigrahi, Snehanjali Mohanty , Rasmiprava Mishra,(DV Protection officer) Khurda Dist, Prof Adaramani Boral ,Chairman PECUC taking part in it.

Ranjan Kumar Mohanty, Secretary PECUC said,” PECUC is taking initiative at different level to address the issues to protect women from violence and abuses.

Anuradha Mohanty, Executive Director spoke on the objectives of the workshop and the campaign.

In this launching programme more than 100 women PRI’s, SHG leaders from Bali anta & Bhubaneswar Block participated and by putting messages on the signature banner on the issues.

They demanded that panchayat should be given adequate power giving birth certificate, marriage certificate, caste certificate, death certificate etc; formation of prevention of Sexual Harassment committee at panchayat level; single/ divorced women, unmarried girls/ widow’s life should be protected; every panchayat should have separate toilets for women; two-child norm at Panchayati Raj system should be completely banned etc.