Samanvay Varg in Kolkata (29th - 31st December, 2006)
Ekal Yojna's Akhil Bharatiya Samanvay Varg was held in the sprawling premises of Kolkata's Heritage school this year. Around 500 office-bearers, karyakartas, whole-timers and guests from Bharat as well as abroad participated, creating a mini-India in this part of Kolkata. The theme of this year's Samanvay Varg, as put forth by Shri Shyamji Gupt, was -
Over 3 days of warm discussion, engrossing debate and beautiful cultural programs the participants enthusiastically lived the theme and emerged charged and motivated with ideas and directives to make it an integral part of the Ekal movement. In this regard, the importance of the Anchal Samanvay samitis and the crucial role they play in interlinking the villages and cities was emphasized. Indeed, in this context, nine Anchal samitis were honored for meeting their swavlamban targets!
It was also a homecoming of sorts, as it was from Kolkata that the Ekal movement started, and all participants were warmly welcomed by the very active and inspiring Kolkata team. Kolkata also has a very strong Mahila team and as usual, this spearheaded the events and together the Kolkata teams organized a truly memorable Samanvay Varg.
Imminent industrialist Shri SK Birla, accompanied by his wife Sarla Birla, were the chief guests for the function. They were joined by Swami Jitatmanandaji, from Chinmaya Mission.
Inaugural Ekal Global Learning Program in Jharkhand (1st to 8th January, 2007)
The inaugural E
earning program was organised from 1st Jan to 8th Jan 2007 in Jharkahand tribal areas, the oldest field of Ekal working. Around 11 office-bearers from Ekal chapters in Bharat and abroad participated in the program, conceptualized and devised to provide a practical hands-on exposure to Ekal working to complement the theoretical knowledge of the Ekal system. The participants were taken through a tour of various projects in Jharkhand including Birsa Seva Gram in Karanjo, Vikas Bharti Bishunpur, Ekal schools in Netarhat as well as Basic Management Training Centre and Prasikshan Vidyalaya in Ranchi where they could understand the practicalities and ground realities of the grassroot working which forms the backbone of the Ekal system. The visitors were most impressed by their experiences.
To highlight a few - The Chatra Swavlamban Yojana
in Karanjo whereby children are provided with theoretical education up to Class X and XII as well as vocational training in areas like carpentry, food preservation, cultivation and agricultural training, vermin compost and crafts. Each student has his/her own individual Bank Account in which they deposit their earnings while continuing with their learning, enthralled the visitors. Quote Dr. Lakhra " I am extremely pleased to see the dedication of our grass root work force and the strong organization network at ground level. We in USA can not imagine the volume and unagnarimity of enormous work being done in India unless we see ourselves and get first hand information of the ground work. The Karanjo Project must be replicated in every state by several units...".
The Jatra Bhagat
Statue in Chingri village served as an eye-opener through which the participants learnt tribal history and the tribal's strong resistance to British rule.
During the tour to Bishunpur, the participants had the opportunity to be a part of the annual Khelkood Pratiyogita
of Ekal children and witness the enthusiasm of the children, their parents and entire villages. The interaction with Shri Ashok Bhagat, Founder and Gen. Sec of Vikas Bharti was enlightening and inspiring. Shri Bhagat told the gathering "We do not work for society (rural/tribal). We work in the society with society. The ultimate goal of real social work to make society capable of serving their selves."
During the visit to Netarhat
participants experienced first hand how Ekal Vidyalayas are running in these remote and inaccessible regions and how our Ekal movement is working in this difficult and hilly terrain with minimal irrigation facilities to alleviate poverty through its Gram Vikas projects.
Through the visit to BMTC
and Prasikshan Vidyalaya
the visitors understood the deep focus Ekal movement places on Karyakarta training through basic management training as well as refresher courses and other workshops.
Hence, in a short period of eight days the participants were exposed to nearly all the differents schemes of Ekal movement, its system, its management, meetings, Workshops, integrated projects etc.
EGL impact in Ludhiana
Dr. Yashpal Lakra, President EVFUSA, was deeply moved by his experiences during the EGL program. The dedication of the karyakartas, the first hand exposure to the ground realities amongst which the Ekal system works impressed him. During his visit to his hometown of Ludhiana, he organized a meeting of prominent citizens where he shared the inspiring and memorable moments of his tour. Outlining the impact and tangible benefits of the Ekal Movement, he exhorted them to support and participate in the Ekal movement.
Ekal steals the show at the Mumbai marathon (21st January 2007)
After months of preparation and anticipation, we successfully participated in the Mumbai Marathon. The excitement in the air was palpable. Our visiting Karyakartas were moved by the spirit of Mumbai.
It was the first time for F
riends of T
ociety. Approximately 320 people wearing FTS
T-shirts with FTS
flags participated. Everyone was charged with excitement at the show of strength of FTS
. It was a good show, even though it was the first time for us and a new concept to understand. An interview was also taken on that day which was broadcast live and is being repeated even now.
Ten Vanvasi children had come with Karyakartas to participate in the event and they won over Mumbai citizens with their courage, confidence, presentation and attitude. They had dressed as Ram, Sita, Laxman with their troupe and they won the first prize
in the Fancy Dress Competition with a prize money of Rs. 25,000! The picture from the Times of India - Bombay Times is attached.
The publicity generated was tremendous and this proved to be good way of making the FTS brand famous. We should try to participate in the various marathons that are held in the other parts of the country also.
Thanks to our sponsors --- SKF, RR Kabel, Edelweiss, Inox, Omega Investments & Properties, Gitanjali Diamonds, IL&FS and Lupin Ltd. Ofcourse, the event would not have been possible with out the efforts of Smt Chandralekha Roongta - Vice President FTS Mumbai and Shri Anil Kumar - Yojna Pramukh.
Ekal visits to Kerala and Gujarat
Shri Vinod Varapravan from Canada visited Vandiperiyar (near Thekkady) in Idukki district of Kerala on 5th January, 2007 with his family. The visit included a three hour interaction with the students of Passumalai's Ekal Vidyalaya and their parents. Here are some of his experiences and insights, in his own words - "As a first-time donor, new to Ekal - this visit has left an indelible mark in my mind and sparked the desire to do more.........According to the town samiti, Ekal has helped enhance the performance levels of these children at the State Government school and these children are out-performing other children. Well this must come as no surprise because this group of children turn up for Yoga classes at the Ekal Vidyalaya at 5:30 am...some determination and discipline, when temperatures in this high range area of Idukki in the morning does dip down to single digits."
They also interacted with various levels of Ekal organization including town samiti, gram samiti, acharyas, karyakartas and whole-timers during the visit. Quote Shri Vinod "The passion, dedication, the positive/can do attitude, optimism of the teachers, their support/training workers, full-time workers to the Ekal cause, despite challenges (some of which I witnessed first hand) was an eye-opener. The numerous sacrifices they have made to accomodate Ekal in their lives - to me makes them the true heroes of this movement. According to them, a visit like this to an Ekal Vidyalaya has helped them realize that there are people in far off places who care/appreciate the work they do, helps them put their work in perspective and provides extra motivation to them...... All of the 3 teachers I met were women. All of the 3 teacher training/support staff, I met were women. The village samiti pramukh was a woman. Ekal, to me has captured the essence of what is required for a developed India - involvement of its women, empowering its less privileged children." Following pictures show Shri Vinod's father lighting the lamp before commencement of class, Shri Vinod's 5 year old joins the Ekal students during introductions, group picture of Ekal students, parents and teachers, Shri Vinod with Ekal children, Shri Vinod with support staff and teachers at one of the teacher's homes -
Shri Ramji from USA visited EkalVidyalaya in village Shiyali in Gujarat (near Narmada, Dediyapada) in December, 2006.
Vanyatras to Kanker Anchal (14th January 2007 and 21st January 2007)
Shri BP Jalan and Shri Sudhir Maggu, along with other office-bearers of the Raipur Chapter of FTS decided to share the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti with their tribal brethren. Hence, a truly memorable one day vanyatra on the 14th of January was organized with 21 prominent citizens from Raipur and Kanker Anchal participating. The group left Raipur at 6:30 am and reached Kanker at 9:30 am. The highlight of the vanyatra was the visit to Ekal Vidyalayas in villages Thema
At Thema, the vanyatris were impressed by the intellectual prowess of the students as exhibited during the interaction and discussion with them and their teachers. The students, teachers and vanyatris participated in some interesting games organized by Shri Anil Daga, Vanyatra Prabhari. At the end of the interactive session, Shri BP Jalan honored the Gram Pramukh, Gram Mahila Pramukh, parents of the Ekal Vidyalaya Acharya and other prominent village citizens with shawls and gifts. Shri Jalan also distributed umbrellas and jerkins specially brought from Kolkata to the villagers, and Shri Maggu and Shri Chaggan Patel distributed blankets. After having lunch together, the vanyatris bade a warm farewell and traveled to the next stop.
At the Ekal Vidyalaya in village Nisanhara they were warmly welcomed by the vanvasis with a performance of the traditional "Sua" dance. The warmth and joie de vi·vre was so infectious that the vanvasi dancers were joined by ladies in the vanyatri group! Once again, the students impressed the vanyatris with their knowledge levels and skills. The Vanyatris honored the prominent village citizens with shawls and gifts before leaving with treasured memories of a truly memorable Makar Sankranti celebration.
The Raipur chapter of FTS also organized another vanyatra to the villages of Nathukonha
on 24th January 2007. Around 22 prominent citizens from Raipur, Bhilai and Dhamtari participated in the Vanyatra where they interacted with the students of the Ekal Vidyalayas and their vanvasi brethren. Once again, leading the vanyatra from the front were Shri BP Jalan and Shri Chaggan Patel with their energy and enthusiasm!
Ekal movement strikes a chord with Amity students
Inspired by the presentations given by Shri Ajay Singh and Shri Virendra Jaitly at Amity University, students from Amity approached Shri Ajay Singh to discuss how they could join and contribute to the Ekal Movement. A few students (Priti Gupta, Swati Ahuja and Shefali Saxena from AMITY Business School MBA first year), visited the Ekal office too in this regard, where Shri Ajay Singh explained various facets of the Ekal system to them. As a result of these discussions, the students are forming "Amity Forum of Students for Ekal Movement" with Shrimati Sujatha (from Amity University) as staff coordinator. Pictures below were taken during the student's visit to the Ekal office -