Rural India deserves a break. The so-called ‘other India’ is quite certainly the real India — if such a classification is to be made — and it is coping better than its urban counterpart in these difficult times, be it with the Covid-19 outbreak or on the economic front.
Our cover story examines why community organisations, primarily women-led self-help groups, are so vital in bringing meaningful social development to the doorsteps of villagers eager for the opportunity to get ahead, and it explains how agriculture and efforts allied to it are increasing the incomes of farmers yearning to go beyond cropping and pull in extra money. Professor Bhaskar Vira from Cambridge University weighs in with what it will take for transformative change to be effected in the lives of rural communities.
The special report in this edition of Horizons sheds light on the conditions that Mumbai’s conservancy workers slog away in, and how a Tata Trusts project is trying to ease their woes. Illuminating what it means to be part of this hidden army — literally so when they labour in underground sewers — is a set of searing images shot by acclaimed photojournalist Sudharak Olwe, who brings alive the stories of these invisible souls.
Our collection of feature stories has been gathered from near and far: a programme that is an enabler for West Bengal’s much-maligned and marginalised Kheria Sabar tribal community; the ‘Annapurna Central Kitchens’ project to provide nutritious food to school-going children from some of Maharashtra’s most backward regions; the Antaran endeavour to help handloom artisans hit hard by the lockdown; an initiative in Andhra Pradesh to preserve a centuries-old tradition of handcrafted toys; and an account of how women in Bihar are finding their way to financial independence.
There’s more to bite into as well. We have updates on the multi-state migration programme of the Tata Trusts and on how the collective organisation’s support to contain the coronavirus pandemic has panned out. Our photo essay frames a picture-postcard look at an innovative ‘floating huts’ venture in Manipur’s Loktak lake.
This issue of the magazine also features interviews with Ramon Magsaysay award winner Anshu Gupta of the path-breaking NGO Goonj, and with Shaheen Mistri, education warrior and founder of Teach For India. We have opinion pieces penned by Partha Mukhopadhyay of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and the Trusts’ own Prabhat Pani.
Happy reading and all the very best, dear reader, for what we hope will be a better year than the one we cannot wait to say goodbye to.Christabelle Noronha
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