Every weekend I try to probably recreate my life by something that interests me as I find myself at ease, away from regular chores of the week. This Sunday we decided to visit our neighbouring village for a change from the daily modern, mechanical and metropolitan life. To experience the rural solitude of village life! Amidst the enchanting sights and sounds of nature, what kept me bothering was the question “How would the life of village tribes be like?” We become so occupied contemplating on our own wellbeing, that we neglect the major section of the society, pushing them aside to their own plight. Should we just remember them while celebrating folk festivals, for landscapes or know ancient rituals and customs?
Throughout this muddle, I found a man walking towards me. He smiled and invited me for the inauguration of his new house under SADHGRAHA scheme. I went along with him and to my surprise found so many faces smiling in contentment. The joyous countenance was clearly the evidence for the bliss they were experiencing. Upon inquiry, I found the reason was HRDS INDIA, an NGO that has enlightened their life, pulling them out of the dark berms. Being inquisitive to know what role HRDS INDIA plays in their life, I took a sneak peep into it.
Ushered by the former Union Minister Dr S Krishnakumar IAS (Rtd.) and Aji Krishnan, President and Founder Secretary respectively, HRDS INDIA is an NGO that undertakes comprehensive welfare projects for the tribal development. Ever since its inception, they have resolved to uplift the living standards of the oppressed, especially the tribal community to induce a revolutionary change in their lives. The organization addresses all aspects of the Tribal and rural development in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Tripura, Assam and Jharkhand.
The officials at the site were cooperative and shared that tribal development is one of the prime focal areas of HRDS INDIA. They devise strategies to provide basic needs like home, food, shelter, education, clothing and medical care for tribal society. HRDS INDIA intends to create communities that are economically stable and self-sustaining, provide quality healthcare and ensure growth opportunities for all. Through its various welfare projects, the organization works towards uplifting the living standards of the Tribes. They diligently work to take development programs to the interior and physically inaccessible areas of the country.
HRDS INDIA has implemented various projects for the development of women empowerment, tribal development and child welfare projects. The NGO persistently works to encapsulate the values that foster the holistic growth of deprived tribes. It attempts to remove the prevailing bars through its various beneficial projects.
One of their highlights, SADHGRAHA—tribal housing project provides healthy and hygienic living spaces, which are also eco-friendly. The introduction of fibre cement panels is the distinctive feature of the homes. HRDS INDIA has successfully heralded the premise for house construction in Wayanad and Palakkad, including natural disaster-prone areas of various other states of India. HRDS INDIA, which has successfully completed 300 plus houses, proposes to construct 1 million houses for the poor Tribal Homeless Families in India at free of cost, within a period of 9 years, which would bring light in the life of around 40 Lakh Tribal people residing all over India.
Owning to a receipt of a total of 1700 applications from homeless Tribes in Attappady of Palakkad District, HRDS INDIA initiated the construction for 300 houses in the Agali and Sholayur Panchayat of Attappady. The construction was in full swing but was obstructed by the Panchayat Officials. Any house constructed could only be handed over, if availed with water and electricity connection, which in turn could only be applied after the issuance of a house number. Further, when approached for soliciting the house number, these officials refused to allot the house numbers. Thus, labelling HRDS INDIA as an intruder who undertakes fraudulent activities. These officials have even asked for bribes from HRDS INDIA for each house constructed in the land of Attapady. Upon the refusal from HRDS INDIA, they realized that such a Project can bear no monetary benefits and would actually trigger a social change in the long run. The withholding of numbers and subsequent allegations are mere a repercussion of this refusal.
The houses built for the benefit of these tribes lacks recognition as the ruling party of CPI (M) denies sanctioning of house number allotment to houses constructed under the project. Even bureaucrats tend to favour the ruling party’s decision that causes a huge turmoil and resentment between tribes. The humanitarian objective to help by providing roofs over their head is at the hands of slaughter when it should be the responsibility of the administration to support these unprivileged ones.
HRDS INDIA runs yet another important project—Karshaka that comes as an alternative means to generate medicinal plants, rejuvenating the fertility of the agriculture fields and promoting self-reliance. The project is being implemented in a region spread across five thousand acres of tribal land. As per the proposal, it is decided that 60% of the profits be deployed to the landowners and 40% used for meeting operational expenses.
Propagation of organic medicines and therapeutic plants in the country would be readily accessible with the implementation of the project. Yet another curdling agent in the milk is the disagreeable arguments raised by the ruling party of the state.
Yet again, when the Karshaka Project was initiated, the CPI(M) driven bureaucrats obstructed its further implementation. Upon inquiry, it was found that Hundreds of Crores of rupees has been sanctioned for the Tribal Development within the past few years and yet the Tribes are living under torn tarpaulin sheets and flooded roofs. These funds sanctioned, which they claim to be utilized has actually never reached them.
When HRDS INDIA is being tagged as an intruder conducting illicit activities trying to embezzle the lands of Tribes, the reality is disguised. The cooperative society named VCFS in which, District Collector has been designated as chairman has misappropriated 3500 Acres of Tribal land. Yet another society named ACFS also designated by the District Collector as its chairman has swindled almost 4000 Hectares of land.
On one side is the NGO’s sane intention and on the other, there is enormous political resistance towards the upliftment of the tribal community. This was a clear indication of the purposeful suppression of a community to utilize them as a source of funds. The administrative who are entrusted with the protection of these deprived are jeopardizing the dignity of Tribes, casting them down to lead a life of slavery.
Another project pressed into action by HRDS INDIA is the development of a Silk Village at Attappady. The primary objective of the project is the upliftment of the local people with a sharp focus on their holistic development, keeping the traditional values intact. Sericulture, which is unique in its vast employment and income generation potentialities, is a viable activity for the local people of Attappady, especially small and marginal farmers. The real core of life woven with strands of the working class, this textured silk in future would be renowned as Tribal Silk.
At HRDS INDIA, they believe women, if equipped with opportunities, can actually mould a better livelihood for themselves. Under the light of this fact, they have initiated the Project Jwalamukhi, solely concentrated on empowering women. Initially, financial aid was deployed to women by forming Self Help Groups helping them to start a small-scale unit. Further enhancing, HRDS INDIA has proposed project on “Enhancing Vocational Skills to Women in need of Assistance in Attappady, Palakkad District of Kerala” under which 500 women will be imparted with skills in stitching and embroidery.
EKAGRAH – Educational Scholarship Programme allows students from socio-economically disadvantage areas to enrol for higher education. In remote areas, enrollment to higher studies is comparatively low, the result of which is that they are left behind from pursuing their dream even after possessing proficient capabilities. The primary cause of which is the unequal distribution of opportunity and financial shortage. They provide scholarships that assist or cover costs of pursuing higher education to the recipients, thus reducing the financial burden on low-income families. The most obvious benefit of scholarships is that they make college more affordable. Further, HRDS INDIA joined hands with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd to manifest the dream of digitalising Navodaya Vidyalaya campuses across the country under the Project JAI (Joy Awakening Innovations). At the first phase of Digitalization, 250 electronic tablets fully loaded with educational learning contents were provided to JNV, Alleppey. It proved successful by enhancing the mode of learning, exam performance as well as made student assessment easier, accurate and smarter for the teachers at the school.
Another significant project that has proved beneficial DDU- GKY (Deen Dayal Upadhaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana, Govt. of India) focuses on the rural youth between the ages of 15 and 35 years from financially backward families. HRDS INDIA has been sanctioned the project in the state of Kerala as well as Tamil Nadu. It focuses on imparting skills through NSDC affiliated training centre with all the parameters of SOP actualized is functioning in Thodupuzha and Coimbatore.
Encapsulated with humanity at its height, Niramaya project is based on conventional drug therapy, rooted in Attappady. It advances the treatment of intense sickness and also an important step to foster a healthy society as it renews the scope of age-old traditional medicines through its herbal and organic remedies. Its affordability and cost-effectiveness make it a preferable choice as compared to the usual practice of prescription-based medicine consumption. It has no side effects and is easier to obtain which reinforces natural healing. The pros of installing such a project are also a symbol of ancestral progression for the betterment of society.
Last but not the least in the bucket, Parasparam is a psycho-social, learning movement set in motion by HRDS INDIA for the upliftment of the adolescent young generation and the families. They fundamentally work towards helping people who are subjected to excessive substance use, children in conflict with law, and children from broken families, and families with conflict. The project sets their sight on the holistic development of youngsters through various psychological interventions, assessments, tests and training. It helps to improve the academic excellence of the students, develop self-esteem and confidence among the students. There is a 24*7 Tele counselling Help desk for psycho-social support and guidance in the name Parasparam Green Voice inorder to help the people encountering the issues of increasing fear, anxiety, sickness, stress and other social and psychological problems.
Observing and learning the objective to spread goodness across the tribal community, I feel it must be propounded and strongly supported by civilians and the government. HRDS INDIA, who believes that genesis of all problems lies in the phenomena of shrinking humanity around us has resolved to fight against the issues. Their intentions have received widespread support and appreciation from eminent personalities and common man alike. HRDS INDIA has pledged to create a smoother and better society through its three-way process of identify-educate-inspire, thus increasing more smiles per day.