Seva Mandir

Seva Mandir's mission is to make real the idea of society consisting of free and equal citizens who are able to come together and solve the problems that affect them in their particular contexts. The commitment is to work for a paradigm of development and governance that is democratic and polyarchic. Seva Mandir seeks to institutionalise the idea that development and governance is not only to be left to the State and its formal bodies like the legislature and the bureaucracy, but that citizens and their associations should engage separately and jointly with the State. The mission briefly, is to construct the conditions in which citizens of plural backgrounds and perspectives can come tog...
Oct 27, 2016

From an Orthodox to a Humane and Equitable Society

Seva Mandir is mainly working among the tribal population located in the southern districts of Rajasthan, namely Udaipur and Rajsamand. The Village Institutions Program (VIP) of Seva Mandir aims to create and nurture alternative and autonomous platforms through which communities can take responsibility for their own development; they can solve their issues with their own effort. The structure created on the basis of these principles, seeks to organize the members of the community as the general body of the villagers called the Village Group or Gram Samuh, which is the primary platform for discussion and decision making. The groups are led by democratically elected committees known as the Village Development Committees or Gram Vikas Committees (GVC). Each village also maintains a common village fund called a Gram Vikas Kosh (GVK). Each block is divided into several zones, every zone has one zonal federation committee where their representatives are mainly belong to the existing GVC in the zone.

The zonal federation committee of Magwas and Brahmano ka Kherwara zone have taken important steps, with the help of Seva Mandir, to curb extravagant expenditure on death feast and liquor consumption during a tribal festival called Gavri. Gavri festival is celebrated during monsoon season, where people follow simple lifestyle, they don’t eat spicy and non-vegetarian food, and their consumption of alcohol is prohibited. They lead a lifestyle of austerity for one and half months and when the festival is nearing to end, the community usually celebrate by distributing sweets and clothes. Also men and women consume liquor in high amount. This sudden and high intake of liquor among the community leads to the conflict and tension among the different groups of the community, it sometimes even results in death of the community member. It has repercussions on family members where the probability of gender violence becomes high. Another occasion where people spend large part of their savings is death feast. The aggrieved family invite a large number of people for the dinner.

Virmal from Magwas Zonal federation and Kishan from BKK Zonal federation have taken initiative to check these old practices. With the help of Seva Mandir, both of them called the meeting of the committee members from their respective zones where they proposed that they need to campaign against these old practices where expenses become so high that it puts burden on family’s economy. Both zonal federations contributed the total amount of Rs.5,000 ($75 approx.) from the village fund for campaigning against these old practices. They formed a group of 10 people and visited 8 villages of the two zones and conducted group meeting where they briefed villagers about the consequences of high expenses involved in death feast and Gavri celebration. They also met the head of the village and other members where their efforts were appreciated.

Seva Mandir immediately could not convince community people to cut down their expenses on feasts and consumption of alcohol as it is a part of their custom and it takes time to bring any change in religious and traditional practices. But we saw community considering our suggestion and therefore some positive change can be observed in terms of changing attitude and behaviour of the people towards these old social practices; for example in BKK, the members of the committee of Talai have unanimously accepted that they will monitor the high expenditure involved in death feast. The larger positive impact is yet to take place, as it takes time to change people’s attitude and behaviour.

We thank you for your generous donation and wish you and your family a very HAPPY DIWALI.

Regards

Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir 

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Oct 16, 2016

Lentil Mill: Some Views of Farmers and Visitors

Today, 10,000 destitute farmers of southern Rajasthan are connected with Seva Mandir’s lentil processing mill. These poor farmers, who were often cheated by the dealers - now don’t have to sell their crops at low prices. Lentil processing unit procure their crops in the village itself and provide them fair price by finding niche markets for their produce, hence increasing their profit share by cutting transportation expenses and dealer commission.

Below are the views of some of the farmers and visitors who are linked with our lentil mill:-

Seeing the losses in agriculture, farmers were forced either to migrate or to commit suicide. Today every farmer in Kotra is pretty confident that his produce will get a fair price in the market.”– Ram, Farmer

“The lentil mill gave farming a new vision.
– Naresh, Farmer

“Faydo hai Faydo” meaning “There is profit” – Jelki, one of the elderly woman of the village said with her toothless smile and glittering eyes. She is associated with the lentil mill since its initiation.

I was on a verge of quieting farming for it only gave me loss. The lentil mill gave me new hope– Sohan, Farmer

Emily, one of the visitors to our lentil mill said “It is clear that this mill has been a very important resource for the local community.” 

Another visitor Mrs. Shankar said, “I will be talking about the progress of this project to my friends when I go back to my home in the US”.

It is because of your support we have been able to help increase profits of these poor farmers. Thanks for your trust and support, the lentil mill has grown over the period of time providing livelihoods to thousands of farmers who would have otherwise exploited in the supply chain.

We look forward for your continuous support. If your travel brings you to this part of the world, please do visit us. We would love to take you to Kotra village where you have been helping these poor farmers break the vicious circle of poverty.  For any quarries, question, doubt or just to have a word with us feel free to write to me at atul.lekhra@sevamandir.org

Warm Regards,

Atul Lekhra and Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on www.facebook.com/sevamandir

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Sep 21, 2016

Thanks for Bringing Light in a Darken Village

Dear Friend,

You will be happy to know that with your help and support our project “Lighting up a Darken Village in India” is now fully funded. Thanks to you.

Our first phase of installation of solar home lighting has been finished in the Mala hamlet near Madri village of Jhadol tehsil in Udaipur district. The villagers are very jubilant after the first phase of solar lighting installation got over; they said ‘our dark nights are over now’. Totally ten households have been electrified out of twenty, rest of ten household will be electrified in the next month.

The villagers almost had lost their hopes, that they will never have light during night time. They imagined that lighting up of village will never happen in near future, considered it as a distant dream for themselves. The demographic constraint likes hilly terrain, less and sparsely located population, unavailability of any communication always put their dream of lighting in question. In this hamlet, most of the households are of BPL (Below poverty Line) categories, who can’t afford to generate power for their night light on their own. Their livelihoods are basically dependent on subsistence farming and rearing of cows and goats. The lower level of literacy and unavailability of basic amenities like electricity for every household, pointed towards their bleak future for their younger generation. But the installation of solar light in the village has started to make great impact in their day today life.     

One of the solar power beneficiaries told us that “every night was like curse for us for many years, where we used to finish our daily routine work under kerosene oil lamp it was suffocating for us; we had to inhale smoke released from lamp as well as we had to put strain on our eyes for finishing day-today task, due to less visibility. It was often a norm in the village as the sun set to dusk; we used to finish our household chores and initiate ourselves to go for sleep.” Their children were always deprived of studying in the night, their education used to affect most during school’s exam. Now, the parents are relived that their children will have better future because they would be able to study in the nights too. This hamlet is located in the forest area, where there is always a chance of attack from different wild animals like Panther, wild foxes or even high risk of snake biting. Many solar light beneficiaries opined that they had several cases of snake biting during night sleep. Due to these reasons their movement within the household was also restricted during night. Now, they say solar light has given them new life where their life would be little carefree and able to perform their day to day task more efficiently. Even the inaccessibility of lights in the night has impact on their nutritional intake. Usually they used to cook food early in the afternoon or evening and used to eat in the night which usually kept in the open for longer duration without any protection, which led to mixing of dust particle and insects in the food. But now they say solar lighting will allow them to eat fresh cooked meals under light in the nights, which will improve their overall health and well beings.

Thank you once again for all your help and support.

Regards

Atul Lekhra & Seva Mandir Team

Follow us on: www.facebook.com/sevamandir

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