Be the Change
Swaraj Fellowship is designed to provide the youth with an opportunity for personal transformation through self-discovery and enabling them to contribute to the causes surrounding them.
Drought Duty was a unique attempt at bridging the increasing gap between rural and urban India and an effort to engage the young students with ongoing crisis of farmers and villagers. The campaign saw young students taking time out for a week-long internship in drought affected villages of India and to get a first hand experience of the problems being faced by a at least quarter of country's population.
It was an initiative of Swaraj Abhiyan in collaboration with National Alliance for People’s Movement, Ekta Parishad and Jal Biradari, coordinated by Jai Kisan Andolan and Youth for Swaraj (Y4S) of Swaraj Abhiyan. The campaign saw active and enthusiastic participation of youth from across the country. Stretched across six weeks and spread in six states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Drought Duty saw an overwhelming response from over 500 youth nationwide, at a short notice for coming forward and helping their fellow Indians is an assurance that the urban and rural divide can be dissolved. Over 30 villages were visited by 13 different batches of students and youths where the work of information dissemination regarding people's rights & entitlements, survey and water resource mapping was carried out.
The objective of Drought Duty was to help the urban youngster understand and feel the pain of farmers who produce our bread and butter with the hope that this initiative would be a step towards the convergence of the two Indias. The teams visited villages which did not have minimum basic necessities and they lived the same life as local villagers to understand the exact problems faced by villagers every day. “This campaign revealed the reality of working strategy of Indian government which is not so beneficial in uplifting the poor conditions of villagers. The government is passing new schemes for the people but they aren’t getting proper benefits. Proper measures are not being taken to inform the local people about these schemes”, expressed Ashish who was one of the interns. The drought duty teams connected local people with government officials to solve temporary problem of the village. Another intern, Khusnud Shahidi mentioned “Government officials were very positive about drought duty team’s findings and supported in mitigation of temporary problems. Although this program was for short duration but impact on the people is expected to be long lasting.”
“The fact which has come to light is that a few decent showers are not “the answer”. The teams learnt, dishearteningly, the downward spiral of drought, failed crops, debt & poverty, alleviating which requires organized effort on part of Government & villagers both”, voiced Shreela Sen, an intern.
The campaign concluded and certificates of participation were distributed to the young interns. DroughtDuty is a silver lining in the government's and society's response to the sufferings of rural poor and farmers. It has raised hope that the youth of India is concerned and committed to work for the betterment and development of agriculture and villages. Swaraj Abhiyan will continue to provide platform to the students and youth of the nation who are ready to shoulder responsibility for a better India for all.
DROUGHT DUTY: WHAT AND HOW?
15th May -30th June 2017
1. What is Drought Duty?
Drought Duty is a chance for young people to take action in drought relief in rural areas of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.
· First, there will be a chance to participate in a survey, to understand the actual reality of drought and the ways in which it affects people’s lives. Also, we will map water resources in the village, both ones that exist and those that have been lost.
· Second, the data from the survey will be used to help prepare a report which will highlight the truth of the ground;
· Third, and even more importantly, we will use this to help people understand their claims and assist them in demanding their share from the government.
2. Who is organizing Drought Duty?
Many organizations with long experience of working on the ground: Ekta Parishad, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, and Swaraj Abhiyan
3. When will Drought Duty take place?
For six weeks between mid-May and June. The tentative dates are 15th May to 26th June 2017. You are required to work FOR ONE WEEK ONLY. Of course if you want to work for longer, we can arrange that too.
4. Who can apply?
Necessary requirement: Any young person up to the age of 35, committed to understanding and working on issues of social policy, poverty, marginalization and rural development.
Absolutely necessary requirement: Any young person, tough and committed to living in rural India in the peak-summer without modern-facilities like electricity, toilets and running water.
5. Where will I be located if I choose to participate?
In any one of the following states: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand or Uttar Pradesh — you can request a state, but may have to accommodate according to the planning of the team.
6. Will I be working in a group or individually?
ALWAYS in groups: of around 10 people consisting of activists from the local affiliated centre and student volunteers. Wherever possible you will work, travel and reside together. Sometimes, the team may be split e.g. between host houses, but you will always come back together. There will be a balance of gender, language abilities, experience etc., and we will NOT be able to take any requests to be assigned to a particular team. Each team will have a team leader and all volunteers are expected to follow guidelines, cooperate and act in the best interest of the team at all times.
7. Where will we live during the internship?
You will be staying with a host family, or a common building of the village in the area assigned to your team. The details of the boarding and lodging will be shared with you after your batch has been formed. You should be prepared to not get basic modern-day comforts and be open to experiencing a different way of life. For women volunteers, arrangements will be with a local family only.
8. What do I get out of this?
An experience of a lifetime, a real sense of how people that give us food, live.
A CERTIFICATE in your name, signed by people respected for their commitment to the ordinary Indian.
9. Will I get paid?/ Do I have to pay?
You will not be paid anything, and you don’t pay anything either. We expect you to pay for your travel up to the point where you will be living and working. In case you cannot afford it, we will try to help you.
10. So what do I have to do?
Fill up a form, with your details and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you shortly.
Rest assured, you will be working with people who have lot of experience, came to work on the ground with backgrounds like yourself and will be able/happy to guide you.