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GRAMJYOTHI HOLISTIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

A PROJECT OF AJANUR GRAMA PANCHAYAT

FOR EMPOWERING THE PEOPLE

FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVES

CONSOLIDATED REPORT

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1. Historical Context

People’s self-governance is of the essence of Panchayathiraj. Empowering the people for this is the prime responsibility of the Panchayaths.

Though more than a decade has elapsed since the formation of Panchayaths, based on the principles of self-rule enunciated in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment, people are still far from the ideal state of self-reliance in the matter of planning and implementing projects of equitable and sustainable development. This is so, even after the famous People’s Planning campaign. Though a foundation was laid during the People’s Planning Campaign, the task of building self-reliant local polities remains unfulfilled.

People’s empowerment means the ability of people to observe and analyze facts, arrive at rational conclusions, make decisions and collectively as well as effectively implement them. This involves continued education and training. The basic process is participatory learning.

Ajanur  is one of the Panchayaths in Kerala, that strongly felt the need for empowering the people and took up this challenge in right earnest. The concrete expression of the Panchayath’s intention was the implementation of a one year project titled ‘Grama Jyothi Holistic Development Project’. On the request of the Panchayath SDC-CapDecK and Santhigram joined their efforts as support organizations. The Grama Jyothi project was implemented from May 2006 to March 2007.

1.2. Ajanur Grama Panchayath

Ajanur Grama Panchayat is situated in the west-central part of Kasargode District at the northern tip of the Kerala state. It is bounded by the Lakshadweep Sea on the west, the Kanhangad Municipality on the south, Pulloor periya Panchayat on the east and Pallikkara Panchayat on the north. Formed in 1937, during the British rule and forming part of the the Madras Presidency, Ajanur Panchayat has had an eventful history, spanning six decades. It became a Panchayat of Kerala only in 1962.

Ajanur Grama Panchayath is among the most underdeveloped regions in Kerala. The Panchayath suffers from a number of developmental constraints, including growing unemployment and social insecurity; low development of the productive sectors (farming, fisheries, industries); low level of educational and cultural development; social and gender inequality; low capacity of the Panchayath institutions.

The level of infrastructure development of the Panchayat is relatively low. Dropout is high especially among girls. There is also the problem of the hardships of linguistic minorities (the Kannada speaking population).

2. MAIN OBJECTIVES OF THE PROJECT

  • To enable the Grama Panchayath to prepare by the end of March 2006 a well-thought out and realistic Master Plan for incorporating into the 11th Plan.
  • To enable the Panchayath to conduct participatory studies about the development problems and needs of the Panchayath as well as local resources
  • To facilitate the formation and effective functioning of the Panchayath level Jagratha Samithy, with a view to ensuring the security of women and speed up the development of the Panchayath
  • To help the Panchayath to revive sustainable agricultural practices among the farmers of the Panchayath

3. KEY PLAYERS/STAKEHOLDERS OF THE PROJECT

The project was implemented by the Ajanur Grama Panchayat Samithy, in collaboration with partners and facilitators such as:

  • Related government departments and agencies
  • Financial institutions
  • SDC-CapDeck
  • Santhigram
  • Socio-Economic Development Society( SEDS)
  • Soil Survey Department
  • Grameena Padana Kendram (GPK)
  • Kudumbasree/ADS/CDS
  • ADHWANA – Kerala Forum of Partners in functional Vocation Training
  • SAHAYI- Center for Collective Learning and Action
  • Loyola college of Social Sciences
  • Bellikoth Institute

4. MANAGEMENT APPROACH AND STRUCTURE

Participatory approach was adopted in the management of the project. A team composed of the Panchayath President, Vice-President, Secretary, Chairmen of the Standing Committee on Development and Welfare, Chairman of Agricultural Working Group and Director of Santhigram was in charge implementation and monitoring of the project.   They were assisted by a team of 33 member Panchayat level Resource team (PRT) including members of various subject committees, plus the implementing officers.   Under the Core Resource Team three Program Committees were constituted to coordinate the activities under the main three programmatic areas of :

  • Master Plan Preparation
  • Women’s Development
  • Agricultural Development.

Under each of these, there were ward-level sub-committees to assist in the implementation. All the programs/activities were conducted simultaneously. Santhigram played the role of facilitator of the entire process. 

5. MAIN PROGRAMS AND PROCESSES

The main programs can be grouped under:

  1. Environment Creation
  2. Preparation of Master Plan for the 11th Five Year Plan
  3. Women’s development and Gender study
  4. The formation and operation of Jagratha Samithi
  5. Agricultural development and policy formulation

We shall now briefly describe each of these.

5.1. ENVIRONMENT CREATION

A conducive environment was created through building meaningful contacts, dialogues in formal and non-formal settings with the people and the Panchayath functionaries. Environment creation involved the following elements:

  • Meeting with Panchayath Committee
  • Formulation of draft project with people’s participation
  • Meeting with working groups and implementing officers
  • Finalization of   the project
  • Preparation of the implementation plan

5.2. PRELIMINARY WORK

The preliminary work, including consultation among the Panchayath, CapDecK and Santhigram, commenced in February 2006. An outcome of this was the finalization of the project. The meeting of the Panchayath Committee held on 25.02.06 to discuss the action plan to be decided on the letter of Santhigram Director was an important event. The meeting approved the project and decided to launch the project activities in April 2006.

5.3. MASTER PLAN PREPARATION

5.3.1. Processes

The Master Plan preparation involved a complex process, and steps, including:

  • Consultation and planning meeting of all the members of the Working Group
  • Formation of the study team
  • Two-day Training in Socio-Economic Survey for the Study Team
  • Ward level committee formation
  • One-day Training  for the ward level committee
  • Two-day PRA training for the Study Team
  • One day PRA training for the ward level committee members
  • Socio-Economic Survey in all the wards of Panchayath
  • Ward level Resource Mapping for the study
  • Ward level consolidation of the findings of the survey
  • Presentation of the main findings in each ward
  • Finalization of the ward level report
  • Formation of the Ward Development Samithi
  • Panchayath level consolidation of ward level reports
  • Presentation of draft report before the Panchayath committee meeting

5.3.2. Panchayath Resource Team and Ward level Volunteers Team

In early May 2006, L. Pankajakshan, Director, Santhigram, facilitated a consultation meeting for discussing and finalizing the modalities for the planned socio-economic survey. After prolonged deliberation, the format for the survey was finalized. Guidelines were given for filling the questionnaire. Decision was taken to conduct a training for the members of the Panchayath Resource Team (PRT), which was to be shortly constituted.

In a special meeting of the Panchayath Committee held on 24 May 2006, the proposed 10-member PRT was constituted, with R. Muraleedharan and Sivaji as conveners and the ICDS supervisor and Devi Raveendran as office bearers. Subsequently a Ward level Study Team (WST), comprising of 30 members, was also constituted. TOT was given to the members of the PRT, who trained the WST members at ward level.

5.33. Training for the Survey

From 12 to 16 June an intensive training was given to the members of PRT.  The topics of the training included Master Plan, Gender Status Study,, Agricultural Development and Grama Sabha. The resource persons included Madam Mohan, Program Associate, CapDecK and L. Pankajakshan. The presentations and discussions were centered round the objectives and strategies of then project, the structure and functioning of the Panchayath Raj system. During the training the finalized survey format was presented and the participants were given practical guidelines for conducting the interview and filling up the form.

5.3.3. The Survey

The trained WST members conducted a detailed socio-economic survey, spending a minimum of 45 minutes in each household in the Panchayath.

The survey was followed by a training for the PRT members in survey consolidation and a selected group called ‘Ward Resource Team’ (WRT) completed the ward level consolidation of the findings of the survey.  The main findings were presented before each ward and the ward level report was finalized, incorporating the inputs provided by the participants of the ward level meeting.  On the same day the Ward Development Samithi was formed, with the ward member as chairperson and work was initiated to form neighborhood groups composed of 25-50 households with the aim of strengthening the people’s base for the Grama Sabha.  A training was given to the members of PRT in preparing reports based on the consolidated charts on 29th and 30 September.

5.3.4. Vision and Mission Building

A vision building workshop was conducted on 12 August 2006, in which all the Panchayath members and officials participated.  The aim was to prepare the Panchayath Samithi for developing plans for the integrated development of the Panchayath.  Resource   persons, including Dr. Joy Elamon, and Ms. Nirmala, Cap DecK representatives, facilitated the process.

5.3.5. Approach Paper

Following the Vision Building Workshop, a draft Approach Paper was formulated.  A workshop was conducted to discuss the draft Approach Paper on 25th October 2006.  The participants were divided into two groups: Productive Sector and Service Sector, for discussion.  They discussed in detail the present problems, the reasons and the suggestions for improvement in the respective sectors. The draft Approach Paper was streamlined and a Panchayath level approach paper was formulated for discussion in the forth-coming Grama Sabhas.  There were 30 participants in the workshop, including the representatives from the line departments.  Sri. L. Pankajakshan and Sri. M.V. Ramakrishnan facilitated the workshop proceedings.

5.3.6. Workshop on Eleventh Five Year Plan

A one-day workshop was conducted by CapDeck in Thiruvananthapuram on 21st and 22nd November 2006 for enabling the participants to prepare micro-plans at the local level with the participation of the Panchayath and other stakeholders. Smt. Devi Ravindran, Shri. P. Krishnan, Shri.  M.V. Ramakrishnan and Shri. L. Pankajakshan participated in the workshop.  The participants developed analytical skills for reviewing the 10th Plan and planning for the 11th Plan from.

5.3.7. Block-level Workshop

A Block level workshop was conducted on 7th and 8th December 2006 in the Ajanoor Grama Panchyat Conference Hall for the preparation of 11th plan in a participatory manner.  Shri. Govindan Pallikkappil, Vice president, Kanhangad Block Panchayat, inaugurated the workshop in the presence of Shri. Cherakot Kunhikannan, President Ajanoor Grama Panchayat.  The discussions were led by Shri. M. Govindan, Grama Panchyath Secretary, Smt. Devi Ravindran, Chairman Development Standing Committee, Shri. P. Krishnan, Member Grama Panchyath and L. Pankajakshan, Director Santhigram.  A total of 81 representatives participated in the workshop.  Only the Uduma and Kallar Grama Panchayats were represented by the participants.  The absence of delegates from the other Grama Panchayats in the Block was conspicuous during the workshop. One of the main achievements of the workshop was that the Ajanoor Grama Panchayat decided not to convene more than one Grama Sabha at the same time and same day in the Panchayath.

5.3.8. Training in PRA and PME

Two members of the project staff, namely Smt. K. Sathi, Smt. Sarala Narayanan and Kumari. P. Sreeja, participated in the 10 day- workshop on participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation, conducted by SAHAYI at Kollam from December 12 to 21.  This was very helpful in preparing the Master Plan for the Eleventh Five Year Plan of the Panchayath. 

5.4. WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT

5.4.1. Seminars

A two-day seminar on the the key issues of women’s developmentwas conducted on 14 and 15 June 2006. Devi Raveendran, former Panmchayath President, Seema of Sakhi and L. Pankajakshan were the main resource persons. The points touched upon during the presentations and the discussions included the need for assessing the current status of women for scientifically planning for their development, the difference between sex and gender, strategies for improving women’s status. Etc.

5.4.2. Gender Status Study

Selected women from the Kudumbasree units were given training for conducting the gender status study.  FGDs were conducted to analyse the present status of women in 22 wards of the Panchayath.  The study team came together to evaluate the study, clear difficulties and prepare reports. After completing the data generation process through interviews, case studies and FGDs, the study report was finalized.

5.4.3. Discussion on the Draft Report and Training

On 24 January 2007 a discussion was conducted on the draft report of the Gender Status Study. The group sharing generated a number of useful insights and new perceptions, which were incorporated into the report. It was decided to conduct ward level FGDs and interviews with those so far left out. The meeting was attended by 35 participants, including the Panchayath members, ADS delegates and the office bearers of the Jagratha Samithy.

The study team was given a one-day follow-up training on 31 January. The participants shared their experiences during the FGDs and interviews. Sarala Narayanan clarified the difficulties. A total of 28 women attended the program.

The ward level discussions that took place from 2 to 15 February 2007 were guided by K. Rasheeda, E.V. Sheelavathy, K. Sujatha, Sarala Narayanan, Sathi and Padmanabhan, the local L.P. school teacher. The programs were attended by 784, including 38 men.

5.4.4. Panchayath level Report

On 24 February the ward level reports were submitted by the reporters of the study team. Consolidating these, the Panchayath level report was prepared during the 27 February to 1 March period. On 1 March 2007 a meeting was held for giving an opportunity for the study team members to share their experiences and observations. Incorporating all the information available, the final report was prepared by a team led by G. Chandrababu and P.M.Dev.

5.4.5. Formation and Inauguration of Jagratha Samithi

With a view to preventing atrocities against women and children, Jagratha samithies were formed at the panchayath as well as ward levels.The Ajanur Panchayath Jagratha Samithy, the first of its kind in the district was inaugurated on 2nd October 2006 by Shri. K. V. Kunjuraman, MLA, at a function chaired by Shri. Cherakkot Kunhikannan, President, Ajanoor Grama Panchayat.   A total of 600 persons participated in the programme, of which 450 were women.  People have remarked that this was the first time in the history of the Panchayat, when so many people assembled for a function.

The office of the Jagratha Samithy functions in the same building, which houses the office of the Grama Panchayat.  Smt. K. Sathi, and Sarala Narayan were appointed as staff members to undertake the activities of the Samithy.

5.4.6. Composition of the Jagrataha Samithy

The Panchayath level Jagratha Samithy is composed of the following persons:

1. Pachayath President  – Chairperson

2. Circle Inspector/Sub-inspector – Member

3. A woman ward member – Member

4. A woman advocate – Member

5. A social activist from SC/ST communities – Member

6. I.C.D.S. Supervisor – Convener

The composition of the ward level Jagrataha Samithy is as follows:

1. Ward Member – Chairperson

2. Anganvadi teacher – Convener

3. A.P.S.

4. JHIJ

5. PHN

6. Social activists (2-3)

7. Prerak

5.4.7. Functioning of the Jagratha Samithy

So far six cases have been registered with the Jagratha Samithy: Wife beating (one case), Causing physical injury to members of the family including children after getting drunk (one case); mysterious deaths (two cases), not providing subsistence allowance (one case) and unfair treatment of employees (one case). In one case police arrested the culprit and the family members were shifted to a safe place; mysterious deaths are being investigated by the police; unjust treatment in work has been referred to the labor officer. The cases of wife beating and not providing subsistence allowance are still pending with the Jagratha Samithy.

The members of the panchayth as well as ward level Jagratha Samithies have been given training in gender, leadership development, communication, personality development, counseling law etc.

5.4.8. Gender Training

Gender training was conducted on 9th October 2006.  Ward level Jagratha Samithy Chairman, Convener, ADS members and PRT members were the participants of the training.  Topics like gender sensitivity, difference between sex and gender etc. were covered in the training. The team of resource persons consisted of Smt. Seema of Sakhi, Adv. Maria, Shri. L. Pankarjashan, Director Santhigram, Smt. E.V. Sheelavathy,  Smt. Devi Ravindran and Shri. M. V. Ramakrishnan.  The training provided the inputs for the formation of Ward level Jagratha Samithis.

5.4.9. Empowerment of Kudumbasree, ADS / CDS

With a view to strengthening the Kudumbasree and making the ADS/CDS structures more vibrant, a number of programs were conducted, such as the special session on 2 October, the day of the inauguration of the Jagratha Samithy and second programs on  22nd October in the 6th ward of  Grama Panchyat and a third program conducted on the 13th November 2006 Panchyath level.  Shri. K. B. Madan Mohan, and M.V. Ramakrishnan facilitated the workshop proceedings.  These discussions and exchanges of views were effective in enabling the Kudumbasree members to develop proper vision as well as strengthen their solidarity.

5.4.10. Formation of Ward Level Jagratha Samithies

The Ward level Jagratha Samithies were formed in October 2006.  In preparation for the formation of the Ward level Jagratha Samithis and to discuss the modalities of the golden Jubilee celebrations, a number of  meetings were conducted on 28th, 29th and 30th October­ 2006 in all the wards.  Representatives from the social and political fields and representatives of NGOs, Govt. officials, members of Kudumbasree and students participated in these meetings.  In addition, a series of 4 classes were conducted on Jagratha Samithi from 12th to 13th November and on 12th December in the wards12,10, 13 and 16.  Shri. K. B. Madan Mohan and Shri. M. V. Ramakrishnan functioned as resources persons.

5.4.11. Legal Awareness and Legal Cell

On 17 February a one-day workshop was conducted on the legal provisions for protecting women against domestic violence. The program was inaugurated by the Panchayath President at a meeting chaired by Devi Raveendran. Adv. Maria from Kalpetta, Wayand, guided he discussions. The program was attended by 82 women.

5.4.12. Leadership Training

A leadership training was conducted from 15th to16th November 2006. A total of 58 participants, including the ward conveners, joint conveners and representatives of the people attended the program.  The team of resource persons consisted of Smt. G.S. Santhamma, Joint Director Santhigram and Smt. P. Usha Health Educator, Santhigram.

5.4.13. Counseling and Information Center

On 21 March 2007, under the joint auspices of  SEDS, Nehru Yuva Kendra, TAHA Project, Jagratha Samihty, Kudumbasree and Santhigram, a one-day program on counseling was conducted and the TAHA Project Counseling Center was inaugurated by the Panchayath President at a meeting presided over by Devi Raveendran. K.J. Justin, District Assistant, TAHA Project, elaborated on the purpose of the Center, which is to prevent trafficking of women, to rehabilitate those who have been victims of trafficking, and to prevent the occurrence of diseases like HIV/AIDS.

5.4.14. Panchayath Souvenir and Jagratah Samihty Manual

It was decided to bring out a souvenir, titled ‘ Ajanur Vision 2020’, incorporating the summaries of various study reports and project reports as well as guidelines for the management of Jagratha Samihty on the lines of the directions given by the Women’s Commission, which could serve as a manual.

5.5. AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND FORMULATION OF  AGRICULTURAL POLICY

5.5.1. Training in Sustainable Agriculture

The Core Group Meeting held on 26 March 2006 decided to name the project ‘ Grama Jyothi Holistic  Development Project’. For steering the varius activities, a seven-member sub-committee was formed. The meeting also discussed varius issues related to agriculture and appropriate strategies for promoting self-reliance in the farming sector.

Ajith Venniyoor, member of KILA faculty, facilitated the group learning sessions on natural, eco-friendly, balanced, sustainable farming. The facilitator laid great stress on the conservation of natural resources, maintaining soil fertility and adopting organic farming practices.

5.5.2. Watershed Development Study

Focus Group Discussions were conducted in all the wards to analyse the problems and to identify the challenges in the Agriculture Sector in the light of Watershed Development.  The deliberations in the FGDs were helpful formulating an agricultural policy suited to Ajanoor Grama Panchayat.

5.5.3. Finalizing the Report

The FGDs were completed on 15 February. The study team members assembled for comparing notes and giving final shape to the report on 27 and 28 February and 1 March 2007.G. Chandrababu facilitated the process.

5.5.4. Presentation of the Report

The final report was presented before a meeting held on 21 February 2007. K.P.Balan, Panchayath member chaired the sessions and Muraleedharan Master moderated the proceedings. During the meeting the resource mapping report also was presented. It was noted that the data with the Krishi Bhavan and those of the Resource Maps did not always tally. The participants gace their suggestions on the plan of action to be included in the 11nth Plan for addressing the problems faced by the agricultural sector.

5.5.5. Resource Mapping

As part of the integrated PRA, a resource mapping exercise was conducted, in collaboration with the Land Use Board and the Grameena Padana Kendram. A team of 110 volunteers, composed of the selected members of PRT, WST and students, who had completed the land survey course were given a. two-day training. The work was done in 15 days. The maps prepared by the team depicted the Panchayath assets, land use patterns, water sources etc.  A resource map re-plotting camp was conducted at the Panchayath level and final resource maps were prepared.  Sri. S Nalinakumar and Sri.T. Pramod of Grameena Padana Kendram (GPK) guided the resource mapping exercises.

5.5.6. Study on Soil and Land Resources

Another study conducted in connection with agricultural development was a study, by the Soil Survey Department, of the types of soil and land resources of the Panchayath.

This study has served to provide the details of the various types of soils found in Ajanur panchayath and to identify problems and solutions connected with the improvement of  agriculture.

5.5.7. Publication of Report

A draft report incorporating the findings of the resaource mapping exercise, the soil survey and the study on the problems, possibilities and challenges of the agricultural sector, and the agricultural policy of the Panchayath was published at the end of March 2007.

5.5.8. Haritha Mitram Master Farmers Training

A program called ‘Haritha Mitram’ was proposed to enhance the activities of Karshaka Samities and thereby increase paddy cultivation and promote organic kitchen gardening by every house-hold.  It was planned to be implemented with the co-operation of ‘Ayalkootams’ and under the technical guidance and leadership of ‘Krishibhavan’ under the Agricultural Department.  Though decision was taken to give a six-month training based on the syllabus prepared by the Agriculture University to 100 selected farmers, it could not be implemented due to lack of co-operation from the officials of  Krishi Bhavan.  However, taking into account the interest of the farmers and the views of the Panchayath Committee and the Working Group some training was given to the selected farmers. This has given an opportunity to the farmers to learn the use of organic fertilizers and pesticides in their farms.

5.5.9. One-day Seminar

With a view to educate the farmers on the urgency for switching over to organic farming methods for protecting the future generations from contracting fatal ailments, a one-day seminar was conducted on October 11,2006.  The seminar was inaugurated by the President of the Grama Panchayath in a meeting  chaired by Shri. P. Krishnan, Chairman of the working group for agriculture.  Smt. K. Nishabai, Agriculture Officer, delivered the key note address. Shri. K. Suresh from GPK facilitated the session.

5.5.10. Discussion on Watershed Development

A discussion was conducted on 26th October 2006 on watershed development, its current status, possibilities and future scope.  A concrete outcome of the workshop was the constitution of  a working group consisting of 9 members, including the Chairman of the working group, the Agricultural Officer, Agricultural Assistants and  members of the working group for formulating and revising the project proposals and visiting research institutions etc. The Chairman of the working group,  Shri. K. Suresh, from GPK facilitated the sessions.

5.5.11. Haritha Mitram – Women’s Seminar

A seminar was conducted on 27th October 2006 for the members of Kudumbasree for discussing matters related to promoting kitchen garden in the Panchayath.  The seminar was attended by 104 participants, who took a bold decision to promote kitchen gardens in each household.

5.5.12. Haritha Mitram – Conveners Meeting

Haritha Mitram convenors meeting was conducted on 8th November 2006, with  Smt. Radhamony, President of Haritha Mitram in the chair.  Shri. P. Muraleedaran  Master and Shri. M.V. Ramakrishnan elaborated on bio-cultivation and Smt. T.V. Karthyayani elaborated on the procedures and methods of organic farming. An Academic Council was constituted for training and linking with scientific institutions.

5.5.13. Training in Organic Farming

Training in organic farming was conducted on 8 and 9 January 2007. The program was inaugurated by the Panchayath President in a meeting presided over by the Vice-President. Sri Sunny Paikada and P.K. Dahrmaraj, General Secretary, State Forum of Organic Farmers, facilitated the sessions. The topics covered the invasion of the market, wrong social forestry, recalamation of paddy fields, simplke living, internal and external nature, various types of energies, oranic fertilizers, medicinal plants, panchagavya, organic pesticides etc.

5.5.14. Organic Vegetable Gardening

The training in methods of organic vegetable cultivation was facilitated by M.P.Krishanan Master, Vilakkottoor, Kozhikode. He stressed the importance of maintaining the natural health and fertility of the soil, which is a living organism with millions of friendly microbes, which are killed by the use of pesticides.

5.5.15. Agro-industries

A workshop was conducted on 6 march on the feasibility of agro-industries. K.G. Girishkumar, Chief Executive Officer, Province Agri-system was the main resource person. He analyzed the Panchayath reports on agriculture and assessed the possibility as well as feasibility of agro-industries, such as neera. Fruit products, products from sweet potato etc.

5.5.16. Sharing on Organic Farming

A one-day experience sharing program on organic farming was conducted on 22nd November 2006 in the Panchayat hall. The Panchayat President inaugurated the seminar. Prof. John C. Jacob, the main resource person, shared his experience and vision about bio/organic farming.  The program was attended by 82 farmers.

5.5.17. Organic Farmers Association

As a follow-up of the findings and recommendations of the studies, it was decided to form an association fore the organic farmers. During the Panchayath level meeting conducted on 22 February, the vision, aims and objectives, structure, management, membership, activities etc. of the contemplated Organic farmers Association were discussed and a sub-committee, composed of P.Krishanan (ward memeber), Basheer Vellikoth (ward member), Janardanan, Agricutural Assistant, Krshi Bahavan), T.V. Balachandran (farmer) and K. Sathy, was constituted for drafting the bye-laws.On 14 March the draft bye-law was presented and discussed and modified.

5.5.18. Panchayath level Consultation

A consultation meeting on the formation of the Organic Farmers Association was conducted on 29 March 2007. P. Krishnan, Chairman, Working Group, presided. It was decided to have a minimum of five members in each ward and stipulate Rs 25 as membership fees and Rs.10 as registration fees. It was also decided to from the ward level committees before 10 April and the Panchayath level committee on 11 April.

Decision was also taken to conduct the Gramotsavam on 26 April and ensure the participation of at least 500 people. Sub-committees were formed for various tasks. The program was attended by 30 people, including the ward members.

5.5.19. General Body and Election

The first general Body meeting of the Organic Farmers Association was held on 11 April in the Panchayath Conference Hall. It was attended by 63 farmers. The bye-law was approved and an ad-hoc committee, composed of 11 members was constituted for steering the follow-up activities. It was also decided to conduct a study tour n 21 and 22 April.

55.20. Study Tour

The study tour was conducted on 23 April to Kalichamaram Lijnas Food Products and the organic farm of Lucas Kadalikkadan at Palavayal. Eighten farmers participated.

5.5.21. E D P

An EDP training was conducted on 23rd November in the Panchayath Conference Hall. Sri. P. Dinesan, Taluk Industrial Development Officer, conducted a class on different government schemes. The program was attended by 83 participants. A concrete outcome of the program was that three members were motivated to start a Tailoring and a Garment making unit at Mavumkal, with a loan of Rs 20,000 from the Grameen Malabar Bank.

5.6. OTHER PROGRAMS /EVENTS

A number of other supportive programs/activities were conducted. Some of the important events are mentioned below:

5.6.1. Preparation of “Pouravakasa Rekha”

A Focused Group Discussion was conducted on October 27, 2006 in the Panchyath Conference Hall to revise the “Pouravakasha Rekha” (Document on Citizen Rights).   Shri. K. B. Madhanmohan, Programme Associate, CapDecK, facilitated the discussions.  There were 17 participants.  A sub-committee of the Panchyat Committee was formed to prepare / edit the Pouravakasha Reka, incorporating the latest facts and figures and services rendered, as well as the procedures to be followed in each service delivery.

5.6.2. Review Meetings

Regular meetings were conducted with the Panchayat Committee, the officials, working group members, members of the Jagratha Samithy, PRT and the Sub- committee for the proper planning and implementation of the project activities. The suggestions of the participants were incorporated into the project implementation plan.

5.6.3. Project Review Meeting

Three delegates from Ajanur Panchayath (Smt.Devi Raveendran, M.V.Ramakrishnan and L. Pankajakshan)  participated in the review meeting held at Shreyas, Wayanad on 6th and 7th October 2006. The interactions and the reading materials were helpful in strengthening the activities in Ajanur Panchayath.

5.6.4. Study Tour

Shri. Cherakkot Kunjikannan, the Panchayat President, Smt. Devi Raveendran and Sri. M.V. Ramakrishnan participated in the study tour organized by CapDecK from 21st to 22nd December 2006 to Mettupalayam and Kuthampakom Panchayaths in Tamil Nadu. The Gandhian Grama Swaraj Models they observed during the study tour provided motivational input for planning sustainable development projects.

5.6.5. KILA Training

Ms. Devi Raveendran, Chairperson, Development Standing Committee, participated in the training conducted by KILA on Jagratha Samithi functioning.

5.6.6. Gramotsavams

(1). Ajanoor Gramotsavam

Marking the conclusion of the Grama Jyothi Project, a gramotsavam/village fair was conducted on 27th April at the Mahakavi P. Smaraka Higher Secondary School. The program was inaugurated by Sri B. Balakrishnan, Member, Kanjangad Block Panchayath, at a function presided over by Sri C. Moidu, Vice-President, Ajanur Panchayath. Felicitation speeches were made by M. Karthampu, former Panchayath President, K. Gangadharan, Chairman, Welfare Standing Committee, Dr. Joy Elamon, Chief Program Coordinator, CapDecK, and Basheer Vellikoth, panchayath member. M. Govindan, Panchayath Secretary welcomed the participants and Smt Devi Raveendran, Chairperson, Standing Committee, extended a vote of thanks.

After the inauguration the participants had an opportunity to visit the exhibition of village products, medicinal plants, books etc, as well as the acupressure medical camp, organized by Santhigram Samagrarogya Geveshana Kendram.

At 12.30 a symposium on ‘sustainable agriculture’ was begun. Dr. Joy Elamon was the moderator. P. Muraleedharam Master presented the keynote address, which was followed by a general discussion around the need for reviving our agriculture. The salient points included:

  • The Panchayath and the people should intervene to stop the anti-ecological farming practices and take the initiative to conserve the natural resources of water, soil and bio-mass, if we want to ensure not only sustainable development, but even our very survival.
  • People should be wary of the traps and ploys of the multinationals and their supporters, who want to establish that organic farming is not viable.
  • The Panchayath should take up the  challenge of making use of the opportunity provided by the National Employment Guarantee Scheme for conserving natural resources and reviving eco-harmonic farming and other production patterns.

(2) Karumkulam Gramotsavam

a. Remembering late P.E.D’Cruz

The Gramotsavam served the twin purpose of remembering the previous Chairman, late P.E.C.D’Cruz and celebrating the fellowship of Santhigram community. The prayer session that started at 10 a.m. on 21 December 2006 was guided by Sri R.K. Sundaram, Chairperson, Santhigram.

Sri Maramangalam Prabhakara, former Panchayath President, spoke recalling the services rendered by late D’Cruz. It was followed by a session of sharing by the participants.

b. Seminar

A seminar on participatory and transparent good governance was conducted on 22 December 2006 at Sahrudam Hall, Karumkulam under the joint auspices of Karmkulam grama Panchayath, Kudumbasree, Farmers Associoations of Kottukal, Karumkulam and Kanjiramkulam Panchayaths, Swaraj Swasraya Federation, Kuttikottams, Continuing Education Center, and Nehru Yuvakendra Youth Development Center.

Sri P. Govindapilla, noted Marxian thinker, who had agreed to inaugurate could not come due to illness, sent the phone message that people have to be vigilant if decentralization and people’s planning are to succeed, and the voluntary organizations have a key role to play in promoting awareness among the people. The actual inauguration was done by Adv. George Mercier, local M.L.A, who said if democracy has to succeed, people must wake up.

Adv. G. Sobodhan, President Trivandrum District Cooperative Bank, inaugurated the exhibition and sale of books, eco-products, and medicinal plants. The meeting was presided over by Sri Antony Yesurajan, panchayath president.  Sril R.K.Sundaram and sri. L. Pankajakshan addressed the audience.

G. Placid, Director, Sahayi, moderated the discussion session that followed. Papers were presented by M.P.Varkey, Program Manager, Sahayi, K.B.Madan Mohan, Program Associate, CapDeck and Ajith Venniyoor, Consultant editor, KILA. The presentations were followed by discussion and clarification of difficulties. The program was attended by 102 delegates.

c. Suryotsavam

On 23 December Sri Suryaji, world renowned Surya Yoga Guru conducted a session on Surya Yoga at the Kallumukku Beach, Karumkulam. More than 200 people participated in the program held at 6 a.m.

d. World Peace March

After the Surya Yoga program, a peace march was undertaken from Puthiyathura junction. The march was inaugurated by Dr. Vincent Samuel, Bishop of  Neyyattinkara. Among the participants of the march were Sri Suryaji, representatives of the Panchayath,. Members of Kudumbasree, members of Kuttikottams from the three Panchayaths of Kottukal, Karumklam and Kanjiramkulam, SHG members, farmers associations, artistes of the Samaya Kala Bhavan, Trissur  and a cross section of political and social activists.

e. Holistic Health

As the peace march entered the Sauhrudam Hall,Sri P. Gopinathan Nair, Chairman Gandhi Peace Foundation, formally inaugurated the Gramotsavam celebrations by hoisting the flag, specially prepared for the occasion. Following this Sri Suryaji inaugurated the People’s Health conference. In his address Suryaji emphasized the fact that the Sun is the source of all energies for all beings and only man is reluctant in fully receiving it. Those who love the Sun and regularly perform surya yoga will be free of all diseases and will lead a joyful life, he added. Felicitation talks were given by Smt. Rosario Elizabeth, Hai M.M.Badaruddin Moulavi, State General Secretary, Ulema Council and Yesu Rajan, Karumkulam Panchayath President. The best performing farmers were given awards. More than 400 people attended the program.

5.6.7. Social Audit

Social audit was conducted on 27 and 28 April 2007. The program was attended by more than 250 people. The preliminary session on 27 was facilitated by Dr. Joy Elamon, who explained the nature, aim and methodology of social audit. This was followed by a presentation of a brief report of the project by L. Pankajakshan. Next, the participants were divided into groups  for studying and discussing the report, copies of which were distributed to all. The groups made a thorough analysis of the report and prepared points for presenting during the public meeting on the following day.

P. Krishnan, Chairman, Working Group on Agriculture welcomed the participants of the public meeting and presented his assessment of the project. The meeting was chaired by Smt. Devi Raveendran, Chairman, Standing Committee on Development. Sri Cherakot Kunjikkannan, Panchayath President inaugurated the function. Several persons spoke giving their views on the project, including Sri Govindan Pallikappil, Vice-President, Block Panchayath, Adv. Renukadevi, K.P. Balan, K.Rasheeda. This was followed by honoring the key architects and players of the project, including the Panchayath President, Vice-President, Secretary, Standing Committee on Development, other Panchayath members, members of PRT and WST and the resource persons. The meeting ended with the distribution of certificates to all those who had successfully completed the EDP and the vote of thanks by Sri Ramakrishnan, the project Coordinator.

From 5 p.m. variety entertainments were staged, including mudiyattom, mangalamkali, mulamchenda, folk songs, by Mundot Pazhamaa Nadan Kalasangahom.

6. RESULTS/ACHIEVEMENTS

We shall  list the multiple positive results and achievements of the Grama Jyothi Samagra Vikasana Project, grouping them under the main project themes.

6.1. Master Plan Preparation

  • A team of 66 persons, including members of the Panchayath Resource Team (PRT), Ward Study Team (WST), leaders of Kudumbasree Ayalkoottams, worked for 15 days and gathered basic data of 7629 households. The data were scrutinized and consolidated at the ward level in another 10 days. The ward level reports were discussed in the grama sabhas and other groups and got approved. With the help of Loyola College of Social Sciences, the data were analyzed and the final report published in Malayalam and English.
  • A team of 110 volunteers, assisted by the Grameena Padana Kendra, worked for 5 days in 22 wards and prepared resource maps, indicating the assets, land use, water sources etc. and submitted the ward-wise maps and  reports to the Panchayath.
  • The soil survey organization conducted a study about the types and classification of soils, land use analysis etc and submitted a report to the Panchayath.
  • The Panchayath has formulated a document called ‘Approach paper on the 11nth Plan’.
  • The Panchayath Samithy has been given the integrated citizens chart, guidelines for improving the functioning of the institutions transferred to the Panchayath as well as models for issuing orders based on the decisions of the Panchayath Committee.
  • A two-day Block- level workshop was conducted for preparing the Panchayath and the people’s organizations for evaluating the 10th Plan as well as planning the 11nth Plan.
  • The Master Plan can be prepared within two weeks of receiving the review reports on the Panchayath institutions and projects.
  • With a view to assessing the situation of women in the Panchayath and suggesting remedies for their low status, a gender status study was conducted with the support of Kudumbasree and the ward level Jagratha Samithies. Its report has been published.
  • As part of the gender status study, 58 FGDs and 152 interviews were conducted in the 22 wards of the Panchayath.
  • A series of capacity building programs were conducted for the benefit of  the members of the study team, the Kudumbasree, ADS and CDS.
  • With a view to preventing atrocities against women and children, Jagratha Samithies were formed at the Panchayath level as well as ward level. The Ajanur Panchayath Jagratha Samithy, the first of its kind in the district, was inaugurated on 2 October 2006. Two women have been appointed as full-time workers for supervising the activities of the Jagratha Samithy.
  • So far six cases have been registered with the Jagratha Samithy. In one case police arrested the culprit and the family members were shifted to a safe place; two cases of mysterious deaths are being investigated by the police; a case of unjust treatment in work has been referred to the labor officer. The cases of wife-beating and not providing subsistence allowance are still pending with the Jagratha Samithy.
  • The members of the panchayth as well as ward level Jagratha Samithies have been given training in gender, leadership development, communication, personality development, counseling, law etc.
  • The International Women’s Day was fittingly celebrated.
  • Counseling facilities were arranged on the third Fridays of all the months, in partnership with Taha project.
  • With a view to realizing the goals of watershed development, a study was conducted on the issues of the agricultural sector, with focus on the challenges and possibilities in the agricultural sector and the report was published.
  • The Harita Mitram scheme has been helpful in initiating organic farming with the participation of women. The lack of cooperation of the Krishi Bahvan has stood in the way of achieving better results.
  • As many as 18 training programs have been conducted in  topics such as vegetable gardening, organic farming, environmental protection, medicinal plants and their uses, possibilities of agro-industries for the benefit of the Harita Mitram members and the farmers in the panchayath.
  • With the cooperation of ‘Adhwana’ a five-day EDP was given to 22 prospective entrepreneurs.
  • A study tour was conducted to the organic farm of Lukose Kadalikkdan (Palavayal, Chittarickal), in which 18 farmers participated.
  • Organic kitchen gardening was started in 15 households and organic composting was initiated in 25 households.
  • Five Harita Mitram conveners volunteered to share seeds of vegetables like ladies finger, amaranthus, beans, brinjal, cucumber etc. with 15 farmers.
  • With a view to effecting total change in the agricultural sector and promoting collective endeavors in the farming sector, an association of organic farmers has been formed with ward level and Panchayath level structures.
  • A total of 110 farmers have joined the organic farmers association and most of them have paid their membership fee. For streamlining the activities, a Panchayath level 11 member executive committee has been constituted.
  • The launching of the farmers fellowship has been marked by a gramotsavam/village fair.

6.2. Women’s Development

6.3.  Agricultural Development and Policy Formulation

6.4. General

  • The Panchayath members and the study team members have understood the issues of the people and the Panchayath.
  • Teams have evolved in the Panchayath composed of people who have both theoretical and practical knowledge about Panchayatiraj, decentralization of power, Grama Sabha, gender, women’s empowerment, watershed development, resource mapping, participatory planning, integrated development etc.
  • Participatory leadership has been accepted by the people as the most effective management strategy for ensuring the integrated and sustainable development of the community.
  • The self-confidence and enthusiasm of the elected representatives have been strengthened.
  • Gender sensitive and pro-woman attitudes have been developed among the team, members
  • Basic data about the Panchayath have been collected.
  • The spirit of cooperation and collaboration has been strengthened
  • A working cordial relationship has been established among various stakeholder agencies, including the Panchayath Samithy, SEDS, Santhigram and local social activists
  • The group of 19 volunteers selected as P.R.T. members developed skills/competencies for handling the tasks/activities, such as data generation/survey, data consolidation, report writing, resource mapping,     micro-planning/PRA, gender status study,  FGD,    Jaratha Samithy management, gender mainstreaming, organic farming/bio-farming, production of organic fertilizers and pesticides,    counseling/mediation, project preparation.
  • The Panchayath implemented the decision that more than one grama sabha should not be conducted at the same time on the same day.
  • The Panchayath Committee has prepared the annual budget taking into consideration the findings of the study.

7. CHALLENGES

The following challenges are taken from the views and suggestions of all those who have participated in the project:

  • Though the Jagratha Samithy has been formed, it has not become active yet. The ward Samithies have the feeling that the less the cases the better. People will be interested only if at least one case is taken up and properly pursued.
  • Since the formation of the ward Samithies, no meeting has been conducted. It is doubtful if the people have the same enthusiasm as in the beginning.
  • The question that is raised by the mothers and sisters of the families with drunken men is “Will the Jagratha Samithy be able to stop illicit brewing?”
  • For activating the Jagratha Samithy, legal aid cells should be formed at Panchayath and ward levels.
  • The ward members should continuously intervene to make the Jagratha Samithy and the Organic Farmers Association vibrant.
  • Men’s participation in the project was very low. They preferred to keep away from the programs.
  • Non-participation of the farmers in discussions about agriculture had a dampening effect on the project.
  • The high use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides still persists.
  • People’s participation is very low in some wards. This reflects the inefficiency of the ward members.
  • Grave environmental problems are created by factors such as proliferation of tube wells, encroachment of rivers, filling up of paddy fields, hill excavation, littering of plastics etc.
  • The Kudumbasree members are not happy that they have to participate in every program. It is important to ensure the participation of other groups such as farmers associations, youth associations, the pensioners.
  • Forming ward development committees and neighborhood groups of 25-50 families will serve to strengthen the relationship between the people and the Panchayath. We can also think of an office for the grama sabha.
  • The working groups should be strengthened for preparing people’s projects. People-centered management procedures should be adopted in offices such the Krishi Bhavan.
  • The performance of the staff in the transferred institutions should be periodically evaluated and their style of functioning should be made more people-friendly.
  • Officials who do not follow the directions of the Panchayath should be given exemplary punishment.
  • A ‘data bank’ should be created at the Panchayath level, using the corrected information of the survey.
  • It will be very useful to publish a news bulletin so that the people are informed of the good practices and achievements of the panchayath.
  • The organic farmers association should be developed into a mighty people’s movement capable of leading the Panchayath along the path of total development through the development of agriculture.
  • Priority should be given in the income generation programs undertaken by the Panchayath to those who successfully complete EDP.

8. Positive Factors

  • The interest and creative intervention of the Panchayat President and Committee
  • The co-operation and participation of the officials of the Grama Panchayat and Line Departments
  • The initiative and dynamism of the members of SEDS, PRT, WRT and  Kudumbasree
  • The Co-operation of the members of Haritha Mitram and the Anganawadi workers.
  • The availability and dedication of the resource team.
  • Participatory learning and action as well as transparency
  • Knowledge and experience mediated by CapDecK through workshops, discussions and the study tour

9. OBSTRACLES AND HOW THEY WERE ADDRESSED

1. Lack of co-operation from the Agriculture Officer and Krishibhavan The expertise of other professionals was ensured with the help of Panchayat Committee, working group, farmers and Kudumbasree
2.  Low participation of farmers in the programs
Extra efforts were made to identify and induct interested farmers (Through programs such as Haritha Mitram)
3. Lack of trained personnel
Training was arranged and the service of professionals was ensured.
4. Low interest of ICDS Supervisor
The Kudumbasree members and Anganvadi workers were given active roles in the project.
5. Lack of support from men
Efforts are being made to get more men involved.
6. The project implementation is lagging behind, as a result of delay caused by the Jubilee celebrations of the formation of Kerala.
This has not been fully resolved.


10. LEARNINGS AND REFLECTIONS

The project has mediated a number of important learnings for the key participants, which provide ample scope for reflection.

  • There is wealth of basic goodness and enthusiasm among the people and the people’s representatives. This is pronounced among the women, particularly from the disadvantaged sections. However, there is a deplorable lack of proper orientation, mobilization and capacitation, particularly a lack of vision/clarity about the long-terms goals and systematic approach for addressing the basic issues.
  • A big obstacle to sustainable solutions is the state of divisiveness of the village population, particularly on misguided political stances.
  • Male domination and male insensitivity as well as lethargy are too deep-rooted to be overcome through simplistic and short-lived solutions. Sustained educational and mobilization interventions are necessary to maintain the gains made and break fresh ground in the path of equitable and creative gender relations and interactions.
  • The creative role of secular, non-governmental and non-party voluntary organizations is increasing by the day; but the prevailing political climate is not conducive for the growth of voluntary organizations.
  • Several opportunities and avenues are opening up, such as the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which if linked to the Panchayath innovations like the Organic Farmers Fellowship, are capable of generating revolutionary and lasting changes in the agrarian sector.
  • The quality of leadership, probably, is the single most important factor underlying successful interventions/projects. Enlightened and committed leadership is a rare phenomenon.

11. CONCLUSION

From feedbacks and responses from different stakeholders, it becomes evident that the Gramajyothi Project has been quite successful in achieving its set objectives in a very satisfactory manner. Going beyond the specific objectives, it has generated excellent outcomes of general awareness and enthusiasm among the people and the Panchayath functionaries. One year is too small a period for ensuring sustainable results. Hence it is important that the momentum created by the project should be maintained  and improved upon in the days to come, if we are serious about the  sustainability of the achievements. We have reasons to entertain hopes in this direction, given the very positive environment created in the Panchayath. Whatever achievements have been made are the result of  synergistic interactions among the different participants of the project. We like to end this report by thanking all those who have in some way or another contributed to its success.

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