Two journeys in one Yatra

A great day. An unusual day by all means. Unusual but inspiring and positive as a day before Christmas should be.

What usually happens when we come out of a conference, show or gathering is we get out and move, meet a few people and leave. Here, there are 450 individuals who all want to know all! Everyone is greeting everyone and trying to know what makes them come to this event which should supposedly change their lives or, may be, inspire them enough to change their respective societies.

There is a lot of positivity where young people who are in their early twenties are CEOs or are working seriously for the society to make some impact in the areas of health, education, water, sanitation, energy, agriculture, arts & culture and sports, and manufacturing.

There are some serious thinkers from all over India and abroad who are aiming to build enterprises which are socially relevant and sustainable. There is an energy which convinces you that these are the few who are driven enough to do things that can contribute towards the betterment of Indian social fabric,

We met two ‘role models’ at the #TISS Auditorium, one each from waste management and water conservation/recharge/management.

The first role model was Jyoti Mhapsekar, President- Sree Mukti Sangathan, which works for the betterment of rag/garbage picker women by making them earn money through waste management. She talked about how even such a ‘trivial’ thing by our perspective can be gender stereotyped and females being suppressed and underpaid.

She started this movement in early seventies after she saw the condition of these women. What inspired me the most was that she created an opportunity for hundreds of women who would struggle to get any decent money or regular hours of work. Highly irregular industry where all the money, and there is a lot of money, was taken by the middlemen.

She started training ladies to segregate different waste materials, dry and wet, different kinds of plastics, papers, bio degradable and non bio degradable etc. by doing this it became quite easy for the women to sell it as it was properly organised and it fetched them money.

She taught them how to compost, how to make bio gas and how to make society a zero-waste place. And she remarkably achieved that. And then she went on to talk a lot about why we should move to organic things, making organic manure, use bio gas as an alternative fuel and how state’s policy of burning things was disastrous for environment and society as a whole.

I was impressed with her thought process that changed societies and made women self empowered by something as trashy as trash itself. I saw a happy old lady with the enthusiasm of a teenager who wanted to do something for the society and succeeded with her sustained efforts.

The question is, if she can do this at this age and still has a lot of energy, why can’t we, who are young and brimming with ideas, do something which can make an impact?

The SECOND role model we met was Popat Rao Pawar, Sarpach of Hiwde Bazar Bazar which is a model village on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s dream village. This person, urged by his village women to utilise his education at the village, left a career as a Ranji cricketer, government employee and returned to make a village which witnessed drought and suicides, to one which has been praised by almost every country in the world and the UN for its innovative ways of water harvesting and ground water recharge.

The village used ways of banning bore-wells, those crops which consume more water for growth as well as telling people to be sensible with the use of water.

Apart from that, he as a Sarpanch made sure that all the voices are being heard by the means of Gram Sansad or village parliament which works all the seven days of a week and discusses, formulates and execute policies that are need-based and not caste/religion based. This completely wards away the negativity in the minds of people who want a better life for the whole community.

Heavily awarded and acknowledged all around the world, Popat Rao wants to replicate his model of village which has a great school that aims to educate cultured students rather than mere academicians.

A clean village which doesn’t ever celebrate or mourn on any anniversary of great leaders rather pushes to put their thoughts and ideas on the ground. You won’t find even one mosquito in that village which Popat Rao aims to replicate in at least a hundred villages across the country and then train individuals to have a chain reaction all around India.

Popat Rao and Jyoti are very grounded human beings, they are not your typical social workers that spend their lives under threat and penury rather they chose a path which will change lives all around the society they live in and by that inspire another set of individuals to think in those lines and sustainably replicate this model of innovative collaboration which is financially and socially viable.

This journey, as Revati Prabhu- one of the board members said, is at two layers: outer and inner. We physically travel all around India, meeting individuals who have made an impact and those who want to make an impact. That is the outer journey where we see intangible ideas being tangibly executed.

Then there is a certain self-realisation that starts to take place once we start this phenomenal journey. People start to think and believe that there is a lot which can be done when they see things that has happened. When we see people, who with whatever means they had, started enterprises, companies, schools, hospitals etc. we feel that we can make this happen. We need to return and change they way people think about us and themselves.

This is the inner journey. This is the time to be assured of ourselves that social work and social enterprise is one of the ways that can impact our individual society and clearly make a huge impact on India in the process.

This is a moment of knowing ourselves and feeling like Hanuman who was reminded of his powers before he took that giant leap to Lanka.

I sincerely thank Shashank Mani Tripathi, the chairman, and other team members behind this beautiful concept and hope to mentor my fellow Yatris and myself to think and do things that has always been roaming in our brain.

#JagritiYatra #JagritiYatra2013 #PopatRaoPawar #HiwdeBazar #JyotiMhapsekar #WasteManagement

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