India: Sustainable Development and Social Change
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The program includes visits to a diversity of NGO headquarters, prominent academic and research institutes, and villages. Visits to locations in Rajasthan, such as Bikaner and Jodhpur, expose students to the realities of rural life in India and to rural settlement patterns and infrastructure.
In a typical semester, the program visits many of the following NGOs as well as other organizations:
- Bodh Shiksha Samiti (Jaipur and Rajasthan) works toward quality education for underprivileged children through its community residential schools founded in 1987. It currently serves more than 26,000 children (urban and rural) through its bodhshalas and government schools in Rajasthan.
- Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (Jaipur Foot Factory)
The Jaipur Foot Factory is the world's largest producer of prosthetic below-the-waist limbs provided free of cost to those in need, irrespective of caste, religion, origin, and ethnicity. This excursion introduces students to one of the most successful models of a physical disability rehabilitation center and provides an opportunity to learn about social change and the empowerment of individuals with physical disabilities.
- Binani Girls College, University of Bikaner
Binani Girls College is a private institution that provides higher education for women in the Bikaner district of Rajasthan. SIT students may interact with students their own age currently enrolled in the college.
- Gram Vikas Navyuvak Mandal Laporiya (GVNML) (Laporiya, Rajasthan)
GVNML is run by Mr. Laxman Singh, an Asoka fellow, social activist, and development practitioner. The organization is engaged in various development and conservation initiatives including biodiversity conservation.
- Pak Visthapit Sangh (PVS) (Jodhpur)
PVS is a rights-based movement that highlights the plight of Hindu refugees who have been victims of religious fundamentalism. The organization conducts advocacy work for their citizenship and rehabilitation.
- Uttari Rajasthan Milk Union Limited (URMUL) Trust (Bikaner) works with indigent individuals to facilitate increased self-reliance.
- Barefoot College (Tilonia)
The Barefoot College is a rural development organization led by the people it serves and whose development goals are self-defined. The Barefoot College provides basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities, with the objective of making themselves self-sufficient and sustainable. These solutions can be broadly categorized into the delivery of solar electrification, clean water, education and livelihood development, healthcare, rural handicrafts, and communication.
- Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) (Dehradun, Uttarakhand)
RLEK works for the empowerment of marginalized indigenous groups, women, and children.
- Navdanya (Dehradun, Uttarakhand)
Navdanya (“nine seeds”) works to promote biodiversity conservation and protection through organic and integrated farming systems by emphasizing farmers’ rights and traditional ecological knowledge. The organization is led by Dr. Vandana Shiva, a feminist environmentalist and physicist who has been a strong critic of genetic and chemical agriculture, bio-piracy, monoculture, and policies that promote corporate monopolies in agriculture.
Gain practical and hands-on experience working in development through the program’s five- to seven-day workshop. Diverse options are typically offered in Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan, the states of Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh in the Indian Himalayas, Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and Pune in the state of Maharashtra.
Sample workshop sites:
- Kiran Centre (Madhopur/Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh)
A center for education and rehabilitation for children and youth — many of whom have polio, cerebral palsy, rickets, or hearing impairments — Kiran provides children with education, vocational training, physical rehabilitation, and other skills. At Kiran, SIT students are able to see the work in all the units and to volunteer their time with children and youth.
- Shikshantar is an organic learning community, video and library resource center, and applied research institute working in the areas of lifelong societal learning and just and balanced living for the 21st century. It aims to challenge and dismantle the existing monopoly of factory schooling and enable and connect open learning communities that support the generation of new visions of Swaraj, or self rule, envisioned by Gandhi. At Shikshantar, students engage in various activities to go through an unlearning process through transdisciplinary reflection, dialogue, vision-building, and experimentation.
- The Mountain Institute/Comprehensive Tourism Development Society (Sikkim)
This workshop gives students the opportunity to live in a rural village and observe traditional farming systems, agro-forestry, and biodiversity conservation in the region. Participation in household and farm activities, including making local handicrafts, orients students to the community’s integrated farming methods. Students also observe weekly markets, terraced farming systems, mountain communities and their livelihood patterns, the region’s infrastructure, and challenges and issues related to development in a mountainous context.
- Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture for Women, Pune University
Run by Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Samstha, this workshop exposes students to the challenges associated with Indian urbanity, visions of urban sustainability, the functionality of an educational institution in India, and the alternative approach to slum development in India.
- Jagori Grameen (Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh)
Jagori is a national feminist-based organization committed to social justice that works with communities to address discrimination based on gender, class, caste, religion, and disability. At Jagori, students are exposed to different interventions such as informal women’s courts, rural knowledge resource centers, inclusion and capacity building of women in local governance systems, and sexuality and human rights education.
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