By Suzanne York, HowMany.org, Feb. 21, 2012

Recently I had the privilege of meeting with Dr. Prakash Tyagi, a medical doctor and director of Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS), a rural empowerment organization based in the state of Rajasthan, India. Dr. Tyagi was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, courtesy of the International Development Exchange (IDEX).


The mission of GRAVIS, grounded in Gandhian philosophy, is to promote sustainable rural development via capacity building, community and women’s empowerment, social justice, and protecting the environment. I am familiar with the work of GRAVIS, having written previously on how the organization empowers rural communities through employing traditional knowledge of taankas, a water storage system.


GRAVIS works in the Thar Desert in western Rajasthan. It is the world’s most densely populated desert ecosystem, with 23 million people. Life is tough, with unpredictable rainfall, environmental degradation, climatic extremes, resource scarcity, few health clinics, and oppressive social standards for women. GRAVIS incorporates a holistic approach, focusing on water security, food security, health, and education, and reaches approximately 1 million people.


Dr. Tyagi explained how GRAVIS works to overcome the difficulties facing women in the Thar Desert by making them equal partners. They are guided by the idea of “sitting on one carpet”, meaning equal voice/equal rights for men and women. Much of this work is done through Self-Help Groups, which aid women in life skills and economic self-reliance. Projects include support for seed banks, micro-credit lending, and nutrition.


Overall, GRAVIS takes a life-cycle approach to meeting the needs of girls and mothers, and promotes leadership development, health education, maternal health, and girls education. Currently, the organization has set up 90 primary schools to help increase girls’ enrollment.


We discussed family planning, a sensitive issue in rural areas. GRAVIS has put much effort toward prevention, capacity building, and the training of village health workers. I asked Dr. Tyagi about the “mother-in-law” effect, as this particular family member has culturally had much influence on births in India (with a preference for grandsons). Though still an obstacle, Dr. Tyagi said they were slowly changing deep-rooted beliefs, especially by involving men in family planning, and by improving literacy. GRAVIS states on their website that village health workers, who come from rural areas, have the trust of their respective communities, which enables them to overcome some of the village skepticism regarding modern medicine and health practices.


Another cultural barrier to overcome is that of child marriage, a still-too-common practice in Rajasthan, and one rooted in social poverty. Official government figures show the percentage of girls getting married before the age of eighteen is 68% in Rajasthan. Dr. Tyagi said that their Self-Help Groups work in villages to change attitudes and beliefs. GRAVIS has been able to reduce rates of child marriage by empowering women, educating girls, and improving economic opportunities.


Lastly, our discussion touched upon overcoming desertification, overgrazing, erosion, and other environmental problems. GRAVIS works with communities through locally-based organizations to create community forests and pastures. The forests – called orans – are considered sacred, dedicated to a local god or goddess and protected by ancient laws in each community. According to the social entrepreneurial group Ashoka, the land is sacred because it provides villages with grazing land and pasture for livestock, produce and medicinal plants such as berries, roots and herbs, and also fuel, timber and water. Traditionally, orans allowed for equal access of all people to resources. GRAVIS is working with communities to protect more orans in the Thar Desert region.


The short time I spent with Dr. Tyagi gave me hope and inspiration that by taking a holistic, traditional, and empowerment-based approach to the critical issues facing not only Rajasthan, but also much of the world, we can create positive change.


Suzanne York is a writer with the Institute for Population Studies / HowMany.org

Views: 9

Tags: Community, Development, Family, Health, Planning, Sustainable, Women's

Comment

You need to be a member of Transition California to add comments!

Join Transition California

Latest Activity

Doris Anne Beaulieu posted a video

Pumpkin Carriage Cake

Learn the do's and don't of making this cake as I tell you about every step needed to make this cake for Birthday or a Halloween Party.This is for one of my ...
Oct 15
Yuri Smirnov posted a video

Sacred Russia retreat (September 2014)

Sacred Russia tour (10 days retreat and short tours: 5 and 6 days), explore the dolmens, Shetinin's school (Kin's school) and ecovillage of Kin's domains Sin...
Oct 13
Yuri Smirnov commented on Yuri Smirnov's blog post Sacred Russia retreat, September 2014
"Please enjoy the video from the recent Sacred Russia retreat! ))) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8rroJdCA8M"
Oct 13
Yuri Smirnov posted a status
"Please enjoy the video from the recent Sacred Russia retreat! ))) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8rroJdCA8M"
Oct 13
Yuri Smirnov posted photos
Oct 5
Yuri Smirnov posted a blog post

Sacred Russia retreat, September 2014

Here we go! Please enjoy the new inspiring pictures of the quest to dolmens, the Kin's School and the Kin's domains of Russia... )))https://www.flickr.com/photos/spaceoflove/sets/72157648349201041/See More
Oct 5
Ms. Berry C. Bartolillo updated their profile
Sep 29
Darkin Tanner left a comment for Miriam Weinstein
"Hello Miriam and welcome to the Transition California Community Network! We are happy that you joined and welcome your involvement and sharing with the community. Here is a link to the 'how to' video tutorials for using and navigating the…"
Sep 27
Darkin Tanner left a comment for Ms. Berry C. Bartolillo
"Hello Berry and welcome to the Transition California Community Network! We are happy that you joined and welcome your involvement and sharing with the community. Here is a link to the 'how to' video tutorials for using and navigating the…"
Sep 27
Darkin Tanner left a comment for Mike Smith
"Hello Mike and welcome to the Transition California Community Network! We are happy that you joined and welcome your involvement and sharing with the community. Here is a link to the 'how to' video tutorials for using and navigating the…"
Sep 27
Darkin Tanner left a comment for Andrew Seeley
"Hello Andrew and welcome to the Transition California Community Network! We are happy that you joined and welcome your involvement and sharing with the community. Here is a link to the 'how to' video tutorials for using and navigating the…"
Sep 27
Profile IconMiriam Weinstein, Ms. Berry C. Bartolillo, Mike Smith and 1 more joined Transition California
Sep 27
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted a blog post

Harnees Racing ( Poem )

Harness Racing ( Poem )Horses pull a two wheeled cart If it breaks you will departPlace a bet before it starts Good wager wins if played smartRiders ready at the gate Fans no longer have to waitAthlete sport with high speed Is a skill you surely needAt times a horse can fall down Sad to see that come aroundLast turn has crowd in a roar We wait to hear close end scoreIf your looking to explore My playlist has so much more…See More
Sep 21
Victoria Armigo posted an event

Fourth Friday Film - Surviving Progress - Sept. 26, 2014 7:00p at Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto - UUCPA

September 26, 2014 from 7pm to 9pm
Fall Fourth Friday - New Films of Vision and Hope SeriesFinding Meaning in an Uncertain WorldA special film series is coming up for fall Fourth Friday. What does it mean to be human in today’s uncertain world - to survive, live among others, and find meaning and happiness?Surviving ProgressFriday September 26, 2014 7-9PM   NOTE time change just for this monthHuman advancement is awe-inspiring and double-edged, but we’re running the 21st century’s software — our know-how — on the ancient…See More
Sep 12
Victoria Armigo posted an event
Thumbnail

TPA Fall Sharing Expo at Common Ground in Palo Alto at Common Ground

September 21, 2014 from 1pm to 3pm
Transition Palo Alto Fall Sharing Expo atCommon Ground Organic Garden Supply & Education CenterSunday, September 21, 20141:00 to 3:00 PM559 College Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94306Mark your calendars.  The Fall Sharing Expo is taking shape.  Besides goods (garden and food, books, clothes and toys), to share, we'll have a number of Skill-Share demonstrations.  Given the drought, our theme will be Water Saving Tips this time.  Confirmed demonstrators include:William Mutch - Permaculture Cafe, saving…See More
Sep 2
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted a blog post

Kids Love For Animals

Kids Love For Animals ( Poem )Children’s favorite shows are of animals I have hours in a playlist that are laughable Like a camera pecking rooster and fun monkeysTo a mom and a baby miniature donkeysVideos of wild turkeys and charming geese Ducks in water and chicks learning to speak Dazzling ostrich and many free birdsSome you would not want to move towardsA large unique animal is the alligator The total opposite of the caterpillar Camels and alpacas are tall and exquisiteBut they spit at you…See More
Aug 26
Doris Anne Beaulieu posted a blog post

Tractor Pulls

Tractor Pulls ( Poem )America’s passion tractor haul Ford and Farmall want to take it all Showcasing your tractor is never dullCase give a strong performance callSee a smokey John Deere tractor Unleash yourself in an Oliver Massey Ferguson speeds uncoveredAs International pulls with no effortWhite’s power with high tractive force As McCormick is running the course Agricultural machinery CompetitionFun family oriented tractor pullin’Opportunities may come and go You all know it’s a successful…See More
Aug 23
Yuri Smirnov posted a blog post

Dolmen pilgrimage, August 2014

My dear friends,Please enjoy beautiful pictures from the August dolmen pilgrimage: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spaceoflove/sets/72157646184247100/ A couple from Germany visited dolmens of Pshada, Shetinin's school and ecovillage of Kin's domains Sinegorie. For details please check…See More
Aug 22
Yuri Smirnov posted photos
Aug 22
Yuri Smirnov commented on bob banner's blog post Call of The Ringing Cedars by Scott Fraser
"Please enjoy beautiful pictures from the August dolmen pilgrimage: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spaceoflove/sets/72157646184247100/ A couple from Germany visited dolmens of Pshada, Shetinin's school and ecovillage of Kin's domains…"
Aug 22

© 2014   Created by Dandarius.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service