Archive for March, 2008

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit visits livelihood initiative at Savda Ghevra

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

CM’s visitIt was a smartly-turned out batch of trainees that the CM, Sheila Dikshit, met yesterday, at Savda Ghevra re-settlement colony. Seeing them, it was hard to believe that these confident youngsters were, until just three weeks ago, just another bunch of aimless guys and girls who would surely not be part of the ‘India Shining’ story.

Hats off to the team from our partner -Dr Reddy’s Foundation(DRF)- for their efforts to transform the lives of these 100-odd people. By April, these kids would have specialised in either Customer Care, Retail, Sales, Hospitality or Auto Repair, and be geared up to enter India’s booming service sector. As the CM walked around the classes, the first signs of this promising future were already evident. Confidence, optimism and good cheer were in evidence rather than cynicism and bitterness.

Smart trainees from the first batch

Among the large group of ‘basti’ residents who had gathered to meet the CM were the parents of these youngsters. For them, it would’ve been immensely gratifying to see the change, especially when some of them went up on stage and took a pledge to make their family, community and country proud.

For us, at Growth-for-All, this has been a proud and satisfying moment.

It signifies that our first ‘pilot’ project at Savda Ghevra has started off well. Our entire model for integrated development hinges on working with the best external partners for each aspect. In that respect, our close working relationship with DRF, and our ability to facilitate and support their work, were on test. The first signs are that we’ve passed this test.

This bodes well for the future. Please wish us good luck!

Growth-for-All takes up Savda Ghevra as its first project, thanks to CM Sheila Dikshit

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

On September 19th, we walked into the CM, Sheila Dikshit’s residence( thanks to a meeting fixed by my friend, Kanika Mathur, and her mother, Mrs Rajni Mathur) to describe the Growth-for-All model, and seek her advice for using this in Delhi. We hardly thought things would move so fast. But, the CMO quickly arranged for us to meet various stake-holders and before we knew it, we were in Savda Ghevra.

( As an aside, I must add that all our interactions with the CMO have been so dynamic that it goes contrary to popular perceptions that governments move slowly. Just about everyone-Principal Secretary to CM, Mr P.K Tripathi; Addnl Secretary to CM, Mrs Alka Diwan; Jt Secretary, Mr Kulanand Joshi; SuperintendentBhagidari, Mr Manoj Jain-has completely welcoming and responsive)

Its been an hectic, but energizing period for the team at Growth-for-All. We’ve spent the past few months creating the building blocks that will give shape to our ‘movement’ that helps achieve inclusive’ growth & faster socio-economic development through an integrated, scaleable model.

Our interactions with animated, agitated residents

Thanks to the CM’s Office, we’ve had the opportunity to launch our first pilot project at Savda Ghevra, the large re-settlement colony in North-West Delhi. Several week-ends and holidays were spent at Savda Ghevra, and it soon became apparent that this would be truly a test-case for the Growth-for-All model, which believes that each poor neighborhood or local community needs to have multiple ‘inputs’ dove-tailed simultaneously: livelihood, health, education, women’s empowerment, and whatever else is required.

With most Savda Ghevra families desperately looking for livelihood, this became the first focus for Growth-for-All. We quickly introduced Dr Reddy’s Foundation (DRF)to the community, and their livelihood program for the first batch of youth got underway. Three months from now, 100-150 youngsters will find jobs in hospitality, retail, sales, customer service, and auto repair. Repeat batches will then begin. A big ‘thank you’ to the dedicated, committed team at DRF-Amit Sharma, Sunil Sharma, and Gaurav- who’ve spent countless hours and road-miles with us, giving shape to this.

Launch of first livelihood program

Meanwhile, I was joined by two exciting people as full-time members of the team- Shakti Callikan, and Mathew Mathai. My 3-month-long search for the ideal team-mates had ended, with Shakti and Mathew coming on-board, in February.

Livelihood discussions with women
Our collective energies are now deployed in exploring a range of micro-enterprise options for the residents of Savda Ghevra, especially women. These include – carpet weaving, food products, assembly of kitchen appliances, running sales kiosks, offering community services, BPO services, and lots more.While livelihood programs get underway, detailed blueprints have been drawn up for upping the ante on health services - additional doctor(s) and clinic(s), specialized health camps and consultation, an ambulance service. In education, innovative education formats for school drop-outs, and adult illiterates are being explored.
While basic, and tangible areas like livelihood, health and education are vital priority, the socio-cultural environment cannot be ignored. Hence, Music & Sports - as a means of recreation & enjoyments, as well as away of building self-confidence and camaraderie. My friend, Hemu Javeri, flew down from Mumbai one week-end, to commit his support for a Music academy where 100 or more young girls will be provided formal training in music. The really-talented ones will be given special, individual coaching, as well as scholarships.

Watch out for more updates from Savda Ghevra as these programs get rolled out. And also, from Alwar district where our second- rural- project gets underway soon.

The Savda Ghevra story: would you believe that this is how a large part of Delhi lives?

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Ever wondered how different life in a big, glitzy city like Delhi or Mumbai would be if:
 no one in the family had a regular job, and one constantly wondered where the next meal would come from?
• the only hope of earning a possible daily wage lay in commuting 3 hours each way?
• the family just had a plot of land- 12 sq.m – and no ‘pucca’ house?
• there was no running water anywhere in the colony, and one had to fight a crowd to get to one of the Jal Board tankers that wandered in nearby?
• no proper toilets existed, and public places were the only option?
• one part-time doctor( 9 am-1 pm) catered to the needs of 7000 families? And due to the mad rush, the doctor spent precisely 20 seconds with you.

People queueing up to meet the solitary doctor

• no convenient hospital existed nearby in case of emergency or deliveries?
I discovered that this is how the 7000 families of Savda Ghevra lead their lives. As apparently does 50% of Delhi’s population.

The other side of urban development: the Savda Ghevra story

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Commonwealth Games, the Metro, a new airport, Gurgaon Expressway, new malls…. all these are part of Delhi’s exciting transformation that’s currently underway. Progress on these projects, their launch( and the opening glitches!) are stuff that newspaper headlines and party conversations are made of.
But the other side of this magnificent urban development is something that rarely makes headlines. The Savda Ghevra story is part of that ‘other side’.

Savda Ghevra Re-settlement colony

Located in North-West Delhi, near Tikri border, lies the large, 250-acre re-settlement colony of Savda Ghevra. Uprooted from various parts of central, south and east Delhi, to make way for urban development projects, 20,000+ families are to make their home in Savda Ghevra. About 7000 families from areas like Lakshmi Nagar, Karkardooma, Shahdara, Airport, Raja Garden and many others have already been moved here with nothing more than a 12 sq.m plot each, and promises of development.

 Settlers streaming into Savda Ghevra
For these families(‘below-poverty-line’ migrants originally from Eastern   Uttar Pradesh  , West Bengal, Bihar , Assam & Gujarat.), hasty and unplanned re-location has led to every kind of imaginable problem- lack of livelihoods, basic water & sanitation, adequate education and primary health services.
Savda Ghevra is symptomatic of the problems being created by rapid urbanization and migration. As Deepa Bajaj of NGO, Child Survival India(CSI) says, “As per the estimates of Economic Survey of Delhi (2000), the combined  population of  such resettlement and slum areas  is 72.5 lakhs ,which is  more than half of the total population of Delhi . Since  late nineties & 2000 ,the Delhi government has relocated a lot of slums from main city  to the rural outskirts of the city”.