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...
Sep 16, 2010

Colorful fishes makes money for rural women, India

ornamental fishes in cemented fish tanks
ornamental fishes in cemented fish tanks

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for your continuing support to the rural women of our region. With this letter, I would like to share with you a story of the ornamental fishery that women in Kaya village are doing.

However, before the story, we want you to know something about our monsoon. You will be very happy to note that the monsoon has turned out very good in Rajasthan this year. It has rained almost every day this monsoon which is unusual to our region. Usually we receive 20 rainy days in the monsoon. One of the most popular lakes in Udaipur city – Fatehsagar has filled up fully with lots of rain water and is currently over flowing. In villages too some of the streams are flowing and everyone is very happy. Hopefully we will have a good harvest of crops this year. The maize is the major crop and is currently growing in all the fields.

The women in Kaya wanted to help their families by supplementing extra income. The self help group (SHG) thought of starting a small business and therefore they started rearing ornamental fishes. The ornamental fished are in high demand in Udaipur. About Rs. 8 lakh (USD 16,667) worth fishes are sold in Udaipur every year. The Department of Fisheries of Mohanlal Sukhadia University in Udaipur was willing to provide the necessary support under their “Mega Seed Project”, supported by Indian Council for Agriculture Research.

Of the 6 SHGs, thirteen women decided to take up the project in 2006. They participated in a ten day training organized by the Department of Fisheries to learn about fish rearing, construction and maintenance of fish tanks, netting, etc. On completion of the training each of them were given 200 fish seeds. A buy-back arrangement had been agreed upon with the department who in turn sell them to dealers in Udaipur. Young boys from the village, who are children of the SHG members, have also been trained on aquarium fabrication, management and handling of ornamental fishes, and they provide the necessary support to women in rearing and in selling fish directly in the open market.

In the beginning women would dig up a pit in the ground in their field and would rear the fishes but eventually they realized that a kaccha pit (un-cemented) in the ground was a big challenge to manage. It also had a negative impact on the desired results because the seepage was high and the plastic sheet in the bottom of these pits got torn by the stones below and the rats & crabs ate up the sheets. These un-cemented tanks also got silted very soon and some tanks even collapsed. At regular intervals, the tanks need to be refilled with water. As you know water is scarce in the drought prone areas. As a result, the poor middle-aged women had to invest a lot of resources to keep their fishes alive.

It is then, when women decided to put up the cemented tanks. With help of funds raised from donors like you and Charities Aid Foundation India (CAF) the cemented tanks were built. Women also contributed 20% of the total cost (USD 521 for one tank) towards the construction of the tanks. Today thirteen women are rearing red, brown, gappi, silver and black molly fishlings in their tanks. According to an estimate last year women are able to earn between Rs. 500-1200 (USD 10-25) per member. Earlier, women were selling their fishes for Rs. 4 to 8/- but recently when I visited their village the women told me that they are selling the fished for more prices – like the golden orange fish is sold for Rs. 15 each. They are increasing their market base day-by-day and are quite happy with the progress they have made so far. Currently they are in communication with the Fishery Department to explore whether a shade over their tanks is useful and would help them yield better results.

This has all been possible because of the support received from people like yourself. We will keep you posted on these women’s progress. Your donations are significant at this stage when their investments are shaping up.

It would be very encouraging if you could provide us with your comments on our feedback reports that we post on Global Giving in addition to your continuing support. It would help us improve in our communication with you. Thank you once again.

We will keep you posted on our progress.

With warm regards,

Deepti

Sep 16, 2010

You helped Narayan get the right price for his dal

inside the Dal Mill
inside the Dal Mill

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for your continuing support to the rural farmers of our region. With this letter, I would like to share with you a small talk one of our colleagues had with one of the member farmers Narayan Lal of Dal Mill.

However, before I share Narayan’s talk with you, I would also like to share with you some good news. You will be very happy to note that the monsoon has turned out very good in Rajasthan this year. It has rained almost every day this monsoon which is unusual to our region. Usually we receive 20 rainy days in the monsoon. One of the most popular lakes in Udaipur city – Fatehsagar has filled up fully with lots of rain water and is currently over flowing. In villages too some of the streams are flowing and everyone is very happy. Hopefully we will have a good harvest of crops this year. The maize is the major crop and is currently growing in all the fields.

Bhanwar Lal Pargi who works in Kotra Block office of Seva Mandir recently spoke with Narayan Lal during his visit to Dal Mill in Medi village. He has recorded what Narayan has to say about his experiences about the Dal Mill program. The notes that Bhanwar Lal recorded of Narayan Lal are presented below for your reference –

“Naryanlal has been associated with the Dal mill for months now. Earlier his fellow villagers were hesitant to join hands, but with time, today more and more farmers are selling their produce at the mill.

Before the Dal mill was set up farmers were traveling to nearby market situated in the village Kherbrahma. Along with the profit that they incurred, they had to bear expenses such as traveling cost to the village and also on selling their produce, they received the payment in installments. Farmers also faced problem of their produce being weighed incorrectly , leading to lesser return on the produce.

Narayn Lal is very happy with the setting up of the Dal mill. This year he produced 230 kilos, off which he sold 190 kilos to the mill, kept remaining for personal consumption and 8 kilos as seed for the next year crop. The profits are larger than before as he is saving on paying the middle men and traveling cost to the village Kherbrahma. Also the weighing machine at the Mill is good, hence he is getting the right price for his produce.

With more farmers now selling their produce at the mill, the turn over from the mill has increased and Medi village is gaining popularity for its being a self-reliant mill. The issue of payment being made in installments has completely been solved. All the farmers receive the payment straight away. Much excitement is visible in the village, for farmers today are free of external sources for selling their produce”.

As the talk above indicates that these farmers are happy for the right prices they receive for their dal. You have added to over-all happiness of these farmers. Many thanks to your support. Please provide us with your comments on our feedback reports that we post on Global Giving in addition to your continuing support.

Thanks and regards,

Deepti

Sep 14, 2010

You can read about the meeting Lucie attended

picture of the meeting Lucie attended
picture of the meeting Lucie attended

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for your continuing support. You will be very happy to note that the monsoon has turned out very good in Rajasthan this year. It has rained almost every day this monsoon which is unusual to our region. Usually we receive 20 rainy days in the monsoon. One of the most popular lakes in Udaipur city – Fatehsagar has filled up fully with lots of rain water and is currently over flowing. In villages too some of the streams are flowing and everyone is very happy. Hopefully we will have a good harvest of crops this year. The maize is the major crop and is currently growing in all the fields.

Lucie from France is currently volunteering with us in the Village Institution Program. She has spent few days in this program and is learning more about it every day. I would like to share with you few lines that Lucie has written about this program after her first village visit that she attended recently. She is very impressed by the way villagers are practicing democracy in remote rural areas of Southern Rajasthan. You can find her article below my letter.

We hope you enjoyed reading the report we submitted earlier. We would be absolutely thrilled if you share your comments about the program you are supporting or about the feedback reports we submit.

Once again, many thanks for your valuable support. We will keep you posted on the progress.

With warm regards,

Deepti ---------------------------------------------------------------- My very first week at Village Institutions Programme – Lucie, France

What delineates Seva Mandir from other development organizations might be its tireless effort in arguing importance of local democracy in rural development.

In this way, Seva Mandir started up the Village Institutions Programme or Gram Vikas Committees. The aim of these committees composed of elected villagers is to build an institutional base for strengthening villagers community development. GVCs attempt to fulfill the mission by bringing villagers together to participate to local politic life in investing in social projects. Indeed, the structure of a village is composed of three stages : the villagers community called Samuh, the elected committee named GVC and a common fund : GVK. Interaction between these three entities is the key of collective effectiveness. Seva Mandir’s role is to facilitate this interaction, nor to take part in GVCs’ projects, this post of guidance aims at making villagers accountable of their own development, « don’t give a man a fish, but teach him how to fish instead » said the proverb.

Providing guidance is fussier than leading. Making villagers accountable of their own development is more difficult than providing social services. I realized that while attending at a monthly meeting in the farthest block : Kothra. The meeting brought together five GVCs, its purpose was to submit the concept of a Federation and evaluate its feasibility in sharing experiences of different villages in order to find a collective answer. About twenty villages’ leaders gathered on the ochre carpets, only a few answered to the first speakers’ questions and it took a while to get all of them participating. Then, villagers spoke up, they told us absences of the school teacher, corruption of governmental shops, the corporates that have extracted natural resources without paying…

My first month of work will consist in informing of previous trainings, attending to meeting and talking with Seva Mandir Staff. This period of observation is necessary to understand GVCs functioning better. Thanks to this learning, I would be able to work on a villagers questionnaire, this survey aiming to evaluate quality of previous training and awareness of villagers.

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