मुंब्रा की पहचान: How Nine Girls From Mumbra Worked For Their Identity

Posted on June 7, 2013 in Entrepreneurship

A group of young girls, chatting amongst each other, boarded a local train from Mumbra (a suburb of Thane, north of Mumbai). Their chatting took a momentary pause as they realized that they were subject to unfriendly stares from fellow passengers. In subsequent travel outside Mumbra, the girls were even confronted with unabashed vocalization of this hostility. ‘ Here they come, the Mumbra people’, ‘ these Mumbra people don’t know how to behave’ and ‘this train will fill up to be mini-Pakistan ( Mumbra)’ were just some of the unpleasant comments that the girls had to hear. The girls, while initially discomfited, felt the best possible course of action would be to ignore these vile comments.

girls from MumbraAnd then PUKAR’s Youth Fellowship Programme happened. The girls were associated with Rehnuma Library Centre, a reading room, study area and resource centre in their neighbourhood. They participated in all the workshops and were thus introduced to PUKAR through the Library centre. The Youth Fellowship Programme is a unique initiative that conceives in group research as a tool of intervention and the group research process as empowering in itself. In this one-year programme, the Youth Fellowship team provides community youth with the knowledge, skills and attitude requisite for social science research. There is no need for any educational requirement or prior knowledge of research.

Significantly, the youth choose their own research topics that are usually connected to the problems that concern them. The process of choosing a topic is a long and arduous one, spanning more than a couple of months. It was while choosing their topic that the girls of Mumbra realized that they all shared the experience of social discrimination solely based on their area of residence. A little digging into Mumbra’s history, they found that Mumbra has emerged as a safe- haven for Muslims after the 1991 Mumbai riots. Moreover, the area was considered affordable for lower socio-economic strata of society. The demographic composition of the area was, therefore, predominantly poor Muslim.

research9 girls from Mumbra called themselves the Blue Angels. All of them Muslim, they were keenly aware of the low education levels of Muslim women from Mumbra. It was commonplace for women to leave school so as to get married. They, however, wanted to strike a different path. It wasn’t easy as the girls hailed from conservative Muslim families. Would they be allowed to conduct research that involved going around, meeting strangers and talking to them?

The research journey began in August 2012 and the Blue Angels have successfully finished and written out their report. They will also present their findings in the Youth Fellowship Programme’s Annual Graduation Event, scheduled to take place on 8th June, 2013, 4.00 PM- 8.00 PM, at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Library Hall. Along with them, there will be 12 other research project presentations that have been completed and ready for public scrutiny. We would appreciate your presence to share this unique and interesting experience with us.

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