The Kumarappa Institute of Gram Swaraj operates in two complementary spheres. Our primary reason for being is to improve the lives of the marginalized and downtrodden in rural Rajasthan. To this end, we decided to carry out research into the problems they face, as it is our belief that impartial knowledge is crucial to progress. On the basis of our studies, we work in collaboration with other like-minded groups from the governmental and non-governmental and foreign and domestic spheres to implement the measures we deem are most conducive to sustainable development. To find out more about them, click on the links below.
There are people living in villages in Rajasthan who depend on earth that looks more like sand than soil. On a level playing field, their traditional expertise is equal to the task of coaxing adequate crops from the earth to live a life of food security, and exist free from the deadening battle for survival which has instead dominated their existence. But with the water table dropping and the earth drying up, things became difficult. And when their traditional techniques are teased away from them by a programme of disinformation and government propaganda, sponsored by world trade institutions with sinister agendas, their task became too heavy, and the battle became a losing one.
It is perhaps fitting that an institute inspired by the principles of Mahatma Gandhi should find that the way to win this battle is by recognizing that fighting it on the wrong terms is counter-productive. The conditions for the fight are rejected. Instead of using marketed weapons to battle with unfertile soil, the weapons become the enemy, and the farmer turns back to treating his land as an ally. The problem ceases to be how to use new technologies and seeds to produce enough to gain the rewards promised by government and corporation, but how to regain the traditional techniques that have been undermined by the stealthy spread of these revolutionary aids.
Further augmentations to the initial water management initiatives focus on broadening the economic base of the communities. Rather than relying on exporting crops, we strongly recommend to the people that they first make sure they can feed themselves, before considering selling produce. Under our guidance the number of crops being grown increases and diversifies. So we see fields of vegetables, and fruit trees, watered by new irrigation systems, where previously there were sandy swathes of cereal, destined for sale. In this way, the people are able to maintain a better standard of nutrition, and a far greater sense of economic independence.
We encourage the people to treat agriculture as an integrated part of the village structure, rather than simply a source of income. As such, we urge the village to broaden its activities to include animal husbandry in a basic symbiotic cycle relationship with agriculture. By keeping cows or buffalo for example, the villagers instigate a cycle of activities, with the animals as a link, which requires fodder on one hand, but provides milk, compost and possibly biogas on the other. These outputs eliminate the need for purchase of commodities like chemical fertilizer, thus reducing the need for dangerously comprehensive participation in the wider economy at the expense of self-sufficiency.
Of course, this sort of self- sufficiency would appear to be a backward step if measured in conventional GDP-style. But that just serves to highlight the fact that conventional standards are the wrong standards, especially when they are applied to rural communities like these
It is only in conjunction with this sustainable base that the Institute considers it advisable to participate in the economy. We are realistic, and recognize that with 2 out of every 5 years likely to bring drought, it would be a potentially costly piece of enthusiasm to spurn economic activity altogether. That is why we introduce various types of cash generating possibilities to the community. These range from gemstone polishing machines to cotton cultivation and processing. These activities allow each village to become specialized in one particular stage of a new kind of regional industry, thus linking them together in a new and symbiotic local economy. Whilst one village grows and processes cotton, another refines it and another makes rugs out of it.
When interwoven with our other civil society initiatives – including health and education awareness programmes, technology workshops and others – it becomes clear that our activities aim at a wholesale invigoration of the local communities. The programmes refresh and embellish most aspects of people’s lives, enabling them to face harsh climatic and economic conditions with dignity.
During the last three decades KIGS has been endeavoring to establish strong sustainable balanced societies by preparing and implementing micro level development plans based on people’s needs. The Institute has been actively involved in Jaipur, Sikar and Tonk districts of Rajasthan. The coverage in these districts is as follows
|District||Block||Number of Villages||Population Affected|
|Activities||Sikar district||Tonk district||Jaipur district|
|Natural Resource Management|
|Construction of ponds||-||7||12|
|Roof top rain water harvesting in schools||-||-||16|
|Well recharge structures||-||14||95|
|Contour bunding||-||3600 ft.||2,19,000 ft.|
|Land leveling||300 ha||12 ha||186 ha.|
|Deepening and repairing of wells||115||-||282|
|Gypsum treatment||-||-||209 ha.|
|Earthen compost pits||408||625||1000|
|Vermi Compost pits||50|
|Increase in irrigated area||350 ha.||72 ha.||1000 ha.|
|Income Generating Activity|
|Dairy||70 buffaloes||30 buffaloes||96 buffaloes|
|Goat Rearing||-||1548 goats||-|
|Vegetable production||70 ha.||175 ha.||31 ha.|
|Gem stone cutting||-||20||10|
|Tailoring||50 women||25 women||53 women|
|Computer & vocational training||-||-||300 students|
|AariTari training to women||100 women||-||-|
|Self help groups||50||15||7|
|Number of members||600||153||360|
|Village Council (Gram Sabha)||8||12||15|
|Women Cooperative Society (members)||-||1600||-|
|Low cost houses for weaker sections (SC/ST families)||-||-||150|
|Cement block low cost houses||-||-||50|
|Fire proof thatched roofs||-||-||70|
|Chaff cutter machines||60||40||-|
|Non formal school for migrant children – Bricks School||-||-||5278 students since 2013-2014|
|Set up of library in schools||-||-||20 schools|
|Fluoride water filter||-||-||90|
|Solar lantern distribution in rural areas||-||-||100 lanterns|
|Solar lights installation at public places||-||-||30 lights|
|Furniture in govt. schools||-||-||800 sets of table and stool|
|Fan installation in govt. schools||-||-||130 fans|