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 as well as 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.
- Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS) (Jodhpur)
One of the most respected development NGOs in western Rajasthan, GRAVIS works for the empowerment of Thar Desert communities in Rajasthan.
- 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 nongovernmental organization that, for more than 40 years, has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities, with the objective of making them 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.
- Gandhi Manav Kalyan Society (GMKS) (Rajasthan)
Led by tribal community activists, GMKS works in the areas of natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, child development, community health, Kathodi tribe rehabilitation, women’s empowerment, and disaster management. Students are able to see the NGO’s interventions in social development and social change in a rural arid village.
- Comprehensive Tourism Development Society / The Mountain Institute (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 interact with farmers from different communities and meet with Lepchas, the original inhabitants of the state. 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.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: India, Jaipur
Language Study: Hindi
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