Monday, July 04, 2005

Parivartan

Parivartan Shikshan Sanstha was set up in 1997 to provide non-formal education to children in Sangam Nagar, Wadala (East). This slum is home to around 200,000 people, mostly migrant workers, and the nearest Municipal school is at 45 minute walk. For 2005-06 Parivartan wishes to provide for the education of 100 children.

I visited Parivartan on Saturday along with other members of Aid - Mumbai.

The school is barely a room big right now, the education is informal - the teacher ensures that there is no rote-learning and is interesting enough that students get off the streets and come to school instead. They need resources : money for another teacher, a picnic for students if possible, more formalisation in education (textbooks, teaching aids etc.) so that students find it easier to cope when they r sent to a BMC school, and daily snacks for the kids....
If you can help, there is more info here

I felt very sorry for the kids, though didn't know my stand on the slums themselves - should they be demolished or not (thats a big issue cause the government demolished some 58 houses very recently in that area).

1 part of me feels that working to improve slum conditions is a waste - these people come and live in that slum fully knowing the conditions and if they can live with it, then why should a sane person spend his/her life in trying to improve their lot ? A lot of the homes were soo dirty, and small and had garbage all around, but also had a TV/radio blaring inside. Om Damani who was with us commented that maybe their condition is soo bad that they need to lose themselves in the fantasy world of television, but I felt that if they feel that TV is more important than cleanliness and toilets, then maybe they deserve a world soo bad... Then there is also the fact that when given flats, most of these slum-dwellers sell them, and come back again to live in slums ....

But when I thought about it : if I was born into a life less privileged, and had seen no better, then where would I get thoughts for self-improvement from? As people who have been blessed with good homes, it should be our responsibility to help out those less fortunate - teach them if they dont understand .... fight for them.... they need help soo badly....

Also met some people from TISS on this visit - they were students doing their Masters in Social Work. These were students who have decided to spend their lives in social work - as a profession.... working for only 5-10 thousand Rs a month - trying to help these slum-dwellers.

Thats a life-long commitment. I was inspired.

3 comments:

  1. that was very well put, its a vicious circle.. and a majority of the people can comment without ever knowing just wat it takes to make the difference.
    sad.. if you ever talk to them you'll see the attitude of having given up. they are convinced that life can get no better..
    hopefully i'll be able to do something about it. someday.

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  3. Playing devil's advocate for a while, don't you think its important that some kind of comfort hierarchy is necessary for our kind of society to function?

    Can we do without the blue collared labour class altogether? Maid servants? Car drivers? Auto/taxi drivers? Construction workers? Office-help? I know that education is the main parameter that affects the above mentioned classes and education and living standards are not complementary, but still, there is a chance that better education might lead to better living standards, and together, they both might lead to the disappearance of the labour class altogether.

    And again, unless a philanthropic revolution of sorts happens, getting the entire lot of under-privileged people to improve their conditions is not going to happen. And this kind of revolution will entail losing some individual freedom, violation of a the basics of capitalism (over and above taxes), and will be quite heavy for the privileged masses.

    Also, even the educated intellectuals do not agree on where to draw the line regarding the comfort level that the "privileged" classes should be providing through some form of welfare state. What is too poor? what is tolerably poor? How do you enforce that the welfare is not misused? Be it a flat, or the green-card, or whatever.

    The devil's advocate hat is getting too heavy for me as I think about the slums on the right hand side of the track from Chembur to Govandi. Seeing young children playing in a sewage, my insides are torn. Have seen quite a spectrum of slum poverty in third person - from living on a sewage island to a two storied slum-pent-house with cable TV, and I have no painless solutions.

    Maybe more socio-economic study and research might lead to some solutions, or a better understanding of the problem itself. I wonder what exactly the communist manifesto says about this.

    But as Sev said, some day, somewhere...me too...

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