On the 16th of January, 2015, a group of 25 NSS volunteers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee along with program coordinator Mrs. Smita Jha visited an NGO, called the Bhartiya Gramotthan Sanstha in the District Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand.
The NGO, headed by Mr. Anil Joshi works towards rural and social development, and it achieves it by the production of handicraft, handloom and by giving commercial training to self-help groups of women. Around three thousand people are directly employed due to this NGO and several other are indirectly employed by them. The NGO works in the manufacturing of products like rags, carpets, woollen items, etc. which are made using the local fibres found in the state of Uttarakhand. Wool, jute and bark fibre, which is also called ‘bheemal’ in the local language, are the most commonly used fibres by the NGO to make their products.
The process of manufacturing used by the NGO is simple yet quite effective. First the fibre undergoes a mechanical processing called carding, after which it is put into a willow machine and then to a spinning unit. After another few rounds of processing the fibre is made into fine threads and transferred to the Khadi Gram Udyog which uses this fabric to make products of their own. The fibre is also made fine in several cases and assembled into uniforms and sweaters and such items.
The main aim of this NGO is not the production of items made from fabric, their main aim is to alleviate the social and economic status of the surrounding places. Due to the climate and lack of opportunities, several of the people from the nearby villages leave their home and go to the cities. But due to this NGO, these people now find employment near their homes and their children are now also able to receive good education, making their future bright and full of great prospects.
Apart from all this, the organisation also focuses on empowering women. They do so by providing work and important duties to the females. The shops set up by this NGO have women operating them, further strengthening their desire to enhance women employment. All this has allowed the female population of that place to be independent.
The NGO also follows several fair trade principles, making their workplace a great environment. The principles followed by them are-
· Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers.
· Transparency and accountability.
· Fair trading practices.
· Payment of a fair price.
· Ensuring no child labour and forced labour.
· Non-discrimination, gender equality and freedom of association.
· Ensuring good working conditions.
· Providing capacity building.
· Promoting fair trade.
· Respect for the environment.
Apart from these practices, they also perform their manufacturing without causing much pollution. Their electricity demands are not high because of the use of manpower, plus they prohibit the use of plastic bags and instead use jute or cardboard bags further saving the environment.
The Bhartiya Gramothan Sanstha, established in 1989, is now 24 years old and is still going strong in making a difference in the world. Their desire to empower the local people, especially the women and their collaborations with self-help groups is highly commendable.
NSS can take huge inspiration from them and learn how the smallest of things can make a huge difference. The NGO shows us how the smallest of thing can lead to generation of employment. Their work is a motivation for everyone.