ByÂ Shuchi Sinha:
If there is a soul to our nation, Gandhi said it resides in our villages. In its mustard fields and dusty roads, in the serenity of a quiet existence and in the togetherness of community living. The many colours and the many faces that define India find their roots deep inside Indian villages. How deeply however do we, the ones residing in the cities and towns, the ones going to skyscrapers and universities, the ones who desire and promise changes, understand these roots?
The story of rural India even today remains unexplored and unabsorbed by today’s youths who take comfort in the many depictions of rural life in larger than life Indian Cinema and often lost pages of literature. The precision of these depictions can be contested only by those who have for themselves had the luxury of experiencing the rural life, its many highs and lows, its pleasures and miseries and its exact realities.
Gramya Manthan, a Youth Alliance initiative which selects 40 most amazing hearts from the country and takes them on a nine days rural exploration trip, provides the rare opportunity to young adults of attaining a first-hand experience of life in Rural India. The idea is to give the youth a holistic exposure and deepen their interest and understanding about the pressing issues of the country and thus create leaders in the social space, passionate enough to work on those issues.
Through the nine days the participants adapt their life-styles to those of the villages often staying with local communities. Through a series of workshops, discussions and activities they are taught to identify the issues plaguing lives in villages and are encouraged to come up with solutions. The three main focus areas are those of education, health and livelihood. Participants are involved in organizing workshops for children, health camps and sanitation drives amongst other activities. There are also leadership forums by Anshu Gupta (Founder of Goonj), Ravi Gulati (Founder of Manzil) and R.Elango (Kuthambakkam), where they share their experiences of working in rural settings.
The founders of Youth Alliance, saw in today’s youth the fire to bring a change in and around them but a lack of understanding of the steps to reach there. It thus aims to provide these inspired and motivated youths with experiential exposure which will assist them in broadening their perspectives and concretizing their beliefs. In the past, Gramya Manthan has worked with many youngsters who have felt it provided them the mentoring platforms and support systems they were seeking for. A number of alumni members have gone on to founding social enterprises like learning centres, livelihood centres and health care centres in different parts of the country.
So for those, fascinated and puzzled at the same time by the life in rural India and for those who desire deeply to identify, understand and solve the many gaps which limit the capabilities of life in villages, Gramya Manthan might be just the exposure they are waiting for.
First Deadline: 20 April, 2014
Final deadline: 20 May, 2014