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A Model Farmer, Savitri Shows Off Her Special Skills
Saadia Azim

Savitri Devi from Jhanji village in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district is a model farmer today. She has been able to successfully incorporate sustainable integrated farming systems (SIFT) techniques on her 60 decimals of farmland to produce bumper crops of maize, paddy, chickpea, millets and potatoes. However, till just three years back, she and her husband were struggling day and night to cultivate their land but all their hard work was to no good as crop failure was common. To feed their family of eight, Ghanshyam, Savitri’s husband would have to migrate every few months to work as a labourer in nearby Deoghar town. What changed her fortunes was the creation of a farmers’ club in the village under a unique food security initiative, where unskilled tillers like her were taught different ways to maximise their yields.

“These clubs have managed to bring disillusioned farmers back to their fields. They have given up the idea of migrating and instead want to train their energies on becoming successful cultivators.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA13D 1250 words

The Whistling Women’s Mission Sanitation
Rakhi Ghosh

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign) with a lot of fanfare and oodles of star power to inspire ordinary citizens to make all possible efforts to keep their surroundings clean and sanitary. This is the story of a group of women who decided to go in for a full clean up act in their villages much before the PM’s impassioned call. Arati, Anusuya, Rajalaxmi, Sasmita and Ammbu are part of a brigade drawn from various Self Help Groups in different villages of Jagannath Prasad block in Odisha’s Ganjam district, and they have launched an all out offensive against open defecation. Every day, from 4 am to 6 am and then again from 4 pm to 8 pm, 30 women leave their household chores to take on a task they feel merits their urgent and undivided attention. For starters, in groups of three, they have taken to patrolling the main road that connects the block headquarters to their villages in a bid to stop people from relieving themselves in the open. Armed with whistles they fulfill their duty sincerely, reprimanding those who don’t listen to them. Next on their agenda is to motivate families to build a toilet in their homes and also put them to good use.

“We have held discussions with the Block Development Officer on this issue and submitted several applications of the villagers to construct toilet through Bharat Nirmal Abhiyaan.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA14 1280 words

The Untold Suffering Of Bohra Muslim Girls
Kirthi Jayakumar

Waris Dirie, in her biographical account, ‘Desert Flower’, which was released in 1998, told the world a shocking story of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). With that, people began to understand FGM as being a largely African phenomenon and especially a Somali one. Then, as more and more stories related to this practice began to emerge, it became clear that it was common in the Middle East as well. However, what the world is yet to know with as much awareness, particularly in terms of numbers, is that a section of Indian women, too, is no stranger to this brutal tradition. Hana (name changed), is a Bohra Muslim, who, like all other girls in her community, has been circumcised to ensure that she is “fit and pure for marriage”. It was not a surgery done under the influence of anaethesia but a procedure that was performed by a senior community woman using an unsterlised blade. Although it makes them vulnerable to infections and gives them a lifetime of psychological trauma, sadly, these girls have simply resigned to their fate.

“I know this is wrong. I have gone through it and, today, I face problems with everything from using the bathroom to menstruation. I shudder to think what will happen when I get married or when I am pregnant. No one listens to the stories of pain that girls like me want to tell.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA15 1080 words

Rida’s Musical Folks Sing For Planet Earth
Ninglun Hanghal

She is only in her 30s but her music is ancient. Inspired by nature and wildlife, she composes tunes along with her band of gifted folk artistes from her home state Meghalaya, most of who are in their 50s and 60s. Together they put up an authentic Khasi show, complete with a Pyrta Shnong, or traditional announcer, who kicks off the proceedings that include a musical story-telling session, poetry recitation and Khasi dance performance. Meet Rida Gatphoh, founder, songwriter and lead singer of 'The Musical Folks'. Over the last few years she has travelled across Meghalaya’s remote and beautiful countryside meeting with folk musicians and documenting their sounds and stories. In addition, Gatphoh has taken to conducting workshops on indigenous handicraft, textiles, art and music, in a bid to prevent it from getting lost in the sands of time.

“Through our music, we are attempting to encourage people to think of the world in which they live today and see how our collective actions are affecting planet earth.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA18 1100 words

Men Engage To Break Free From The Bonds Of Patriarchy
Rimjhim Jain

Men across 50 villages in Maharashtra’s Beed, Solapur and Pune districts have made their wives joint owners in the family property. Another four hamlets in the state have been declared ‘Honda-free’ because young men there have pledged not to take dowry; the Honda motorcycle is the region’s most in-demand marriage ‘gift’. In Uttar Pradesh, where a highly patriarchal mindset prevails, groups of men are happy to chip in doing household activities, including taking care of children. And Delhi’s three lakh autorickshaw drivers now have a dedicated men’s helpline to help them shed their chauvinistic assumptions. In a twist to the feminist movement, where empowerment of women was the longstanding mantra and sympathetic men mobilised women to break the bonds of gender dominance, a new ideology has emerged from the ground. It calls for men to challenge their ‘privileges’ and bring about personal change.

“There can be no gender justice without the active, intensive and persistent effort of men to recognise their privileges and consciously turn away from them. Men need to practise a new masculinity - that, which rejects the notion of power and patriarchy.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA16 1230 words
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