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Home » Jagriti Yatra, website

Tata Jagriti Yatra: Day 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11

Submitted by on January 6, 2009 – 21:472 Comments

Hi all. Sorry for the late update to this blog. A number of days have passed with no updates. Apologies in advance for any typos and mistakes in this update as I’m typing this very late and don’t have time to proof read. Things have been very hectic and busy on Tata Jagriti Yatra. On top of all the work to do, almost everyone in the AC compartments has come down with a flu, cold and cough most probably due to the bad air conditioning, the close proximity of so many people and the onset of cold weather. We seem to have passed on the cold bug to each other. Ironically, those in the non-AC carriages mostly seem to be fine as they have the advantage of natural air-conditioning by way of the outside breeze free flowing through their compartments. The cold and cough has has dragged down my wanting to update this blog on a daily basis but it hasn’t flagged my spirit of adventure or ability to enjoy the yatra.

I’m going to try and summarise events from the last few days in one blog entry to save some time. Enjoy!

Day 7

Ramaswami Elango is a social entrepreneur with passion and flare. To say that he is an amazing speaker is to do him some serious injustice. Elango has worked with many national committees on rural development, was recently awarded “Ashoka Fellowship” and has been invited by the UK and USA government to study local governance. The village of Kuthambakkam is in Tamil Nadu (India), with a population of 5000. A few years ago, the village was fraught with poverty, inflicted with violence against lower castes (dalit) and women, had 35% of its population involved in illicit liquor brewing and lacked infrastructure. Today, the village is transformed, has good basic infrastructure in place, and the villagers are now busy building an environment-friendly local economy based on a cooperative model, producing their basic necessities (like food and clothing) within their own village.

Our journey to Elango’s model village in Chennai was challenging. Although located close to a national highway, access in to the village was via a network of narrow village road. Navigating through these in nine large Volve buses was hairy and severely dangerous. We all got quite shock on the bus which I was traveling in when the bus in front of us snagged a live overhead electric cable and ripped it clean off. The cable ended up draped across the left wing mirror of my bus and hung there precariously directly over the exit door of the bus. After much worrying, and urgent requests for all yatri’s to remain seated and not go anywhere near the cable, a local villager managed to get word through to the electricity sub-station controller who must have turned the power off and we eventually managed to nudge the cable away with a large stick. With the commotion over, we proceeded in to Kuthambakkam where we all alighted from our buses and gathered in the village panchayat to listen to perhaps one of the most passionate, animated and totally amazing role models we have met so far on the yatra. Elango came across very much as the peoples man, someone who lived with his village and worked with people around him. He understood the day to day hardships and challenges of rural villagers in India. His zeal to lift villagers out of abject poverty and attain a basic sense of dignity and pride in their home and village struck a chord in the heart of all yatri’s that was so strong that during the Q&A session following his talk, Elango was barraged with a never ending stream of questions from the yatri’s. We were all very fortunate to get a personal tour of Elango’s village where he showed us how local men and women, all highly skilled and trained , were busy producing essential items of hardware to keep their villege going. Items such as gas burner elements, piping and all manner of other metal work. The word sheds were all extremely well equipped with machinery to grind, file and bend metals and wood. All in all, it was a very impressive set up.

Day 8

Bangalore certainly lives up to two of it’s reputations very well. Firstly, it really is India finest example of high tech development. The city if developed and strung with hundreds of ultra modern and vast techno and business parks hosting major world class India and International business all primarily in the high tech space. The second reputation that definitely do ring true with the grid-locked traffic. The atmosphere in Bangalore has got to be one of the most eye wateringly polluted environments I have ever been in. The traffic jams are so extensive that it would be faster walking, if it wasn’t for the fact that pedestrian walk ways are practically unheard of in India and negociating your way through Bangalore traffic by footed, weaving in and out on the side of  a side-walk-less road is really taking your life in to your own hands! It was, however, encouraging to see major progress taking place on the Bangalore metro which has yet to open but much of the construction work appears to be at a fairly advanced stage, and boy, if there’s a city anywhere in India that desperately needs a better public transport system, it has got to be Bangalore.

The Yatri’s were treated to a talk by three role models Harish Hande, S. Rajagopalan and Madhura Chatrapathy. Each came on stage one at a time to give their talk. Harish Hande co-founded SELCO INDIA, a social venture to promote sustainable technologies in rural India. With its headquarters in Bangalore, SELCO has 25 branches in Karnataka and Gujarat. Today, SELCO has installed solar lighting systems in over 85,000 households in the rural areas of these states.

Established in May 1993 at Bangalore by Dr. S. Rajagopalan, TIDE (Technology Informatics Design Endeavour) is devoted to promoting sustainable development through technological interventions. It identifies economically rewarding, environment friendly technologies invented in India’s research institutions, and develops them into successful enterprises. TIDE focuses on those technologies which are suitable for the rural environment, address energy issues and build rural entrepreneurs. Amongst the many technologies promoted by TIDE are energy efficient stoves. These have been developed for various informal industry sectors like Ayurvedic medicine preparation, rubber band making, areca boiling, textile processing, sericulture etc.

The third speaker is Madhura Chatrapathy who represents a women focused angle in entrepreneurship. Madhura, as she would like to be called, wears two caps – as a Social Entrepreneur and a Business Entrepreneur. She is a food technologist by training with Post Graduate Diplomas in Marketing & Advertising and Journalism to her credit, both with distinction. As a businessperson she set up her business of a de-hydration plant in 1981 with know-how from CFTRI for Tamarind Powder. After two years of struggle she diversified into a range of de-hydrated food ingredients that today meet international standards and caters to international markets like North America, Europe, Australia and Japan and also domestic market that includes multinationals. Today, Food Associates Bangalore, is a leading customized food ingredients producer and a sourcing agent for a range of ingredients for its very discerning customers. FAB’s B2B operations mean – processing against order, no inventory pile up and no major problems with marketing. As a Social Entrepreneur, she has initiated and built up many institutions including Association of Food Scientists & Technologists (AFST), Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka (AWAKE) of which she was the Founder President and also Asian Centre for Entrepreneurial Initiatives (ASCENT).

It was clear from the reactions of the women contingent who were packed out in the hall to hear Madhura speak that she was a inspitation to all who listened to her and respresented a strong female role model for all other women to look up to – especially those with aspirations to become entrepreneurs and make it big in a business world that is still largely male dominated.

Day 9

Hyderabad is home to the Nandi Foundation. a not-for-profit organization, may soon find an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for setting up the world’s largest kitchen. Spread over two acres with a built up area of 14,000 sq ft, this biggest central kitchen located at Uppal in Hyderabad caters mid-day meal to 880 schools in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, benefitting 150,000 children on all school days.

Naandi Foundation, formed in 1998, was conceived by the former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and was set up as a public charitable trust. When the Andhra Pradesh Government began a mid-day meal scheme to reach 7,500,000 poor children in 70,000 schools across the state, it chose Naandi and entrusted it with the gigantic task of preparing and distributing the food.

Naandi’s operations are expanding to Madhya Pradesh & Delhi very soon. Leena Joseph was honored with the Manava Seva Dharma Samvardhani Award for excellence in social service in March this year at the Guru Nanak Bhavan in Bangalore.

We actually have a member of the TJY organising team who actually works for Nandi and so we’ll be posting some more information on this amazing foundation soon.

Day 10

Bhubhaneshwar. I’m going to update this part of the blog tomorrow at it’s very late here. Here’s a little teaser. We all got chucked off our train at 2.30am and had to sleep on the platform. We also traveled almost ten hour by bus which wiped most of us out pretty badly.

Day 11

Jamshedpur/Tata Nagar. I’ll update this tomorrow when I have some more time.

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  • Avijit Sharma

    Commendable effort Kaustuv..!!

    Zillion thanks for putting the yatra details down.. It will much easier to recollect the things that went on.. and to reflect with our own thoughts…

    If you could detail the last days as well.

    Thanks again.

  • Sanjay

    Thanks Kaustav