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12The Arkitect,Volume 04/03

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  • arkitect95
    Mar 5, 2003
      01/ 06/ 03

      The Arkitect
      An Ark Newsletter
      Volume 04/03


      1. Report
      2. Volunteers' Column
      3. Two Ways
      4. Invitation
      5. Notice

      1. REPORT


      In the evening of January 19, 2003 I went to Ark Education Centre at
      Dhapo Colony Slum. While parking my scooter at the entry point of the
      slum, I heard a voice "Sir aagaye (Tr. Sir has come)". I heard this
      voice several times and that too in a chorus. And before I could able
      to park the scooter, I was surrounded by these kids with huge smile
      on their face. Within a few minutes the message reached to other
      students of Ark Education Centre. All assemble around the scooter
      with one question in their mind and lips- "why are you not coming
      these days?" No one was ready to subscribe to the fact of cold wave.
      We teach them in an open park, so we had to close the centre to save
      the children from unbearable cold wave. Deepa, practically shivering
      out of cold, was asking that where is the cold? No Sir there is no
      cold. Vibbha joined her in her argument and gave me an ultimatum-
      agar kal nahin aaengen to maim kabhi nahin padungi (Tr. if you won't
      come tomorrow, I will never attend a class). It was so heartening to
      see these young kids demanding for education. They have so much
      desire and passion to learn.

      I tried my level best to convince them but it is hard to convince
      those kids who have been born and brought up in the problems like
      this. For them chilly winter, burning summer or flooding rain hardly
      matters. They have learn to live with such kind of problems. But we
      knew how dangerous it would have been to ask them to sit for two
      hours in an open air classrooms. I felt helpless.

      This will remain one of my most memorable evenings. It is hard to
      express the exact feeling on this computer screen. But one thing is
      crystal clear. Their love and affection strengthen our commitment.


      Sarah Scroope
      Australian National University, Canberra

      Land is the fundamental base of human culture. It is from the land
      that a society derives the resources necessary for survival. Natural
      resources such as fossil fuels and timber, and spiritual resources
      such as tradition and a sense of belonging. As a volunteer working
      in rural Rajasthan, I was given the opportunity to develop an
      understanding of how humans interact with the land. I did this
      by `reading' the Rajasthani landscape.

      Reading the landscape involves observation of the physical landforms
      and being aware of the processes and time in which they have
      evolved. Reading the landscape also involves looking at the human-
      made, built environment such as infrastructure design and settlement
      patterns. These patterns provide insights into the nature of human
      interaction with the land and resources. For me personally,
      understanding how the Rajasthanis interact with the land made me more
      aware of my world. Being part of the Rajasthani landscape, albeit
      for one month, was the greatest learning experience.

      It would be unjust for me to describe the landscape in south-western
      Rajasthan (Udaipur district) as `stunning' or
      `pretty'. The natural
      landforms in the region are absolutely beautiful. Beauty that truly
      only occurs in the natural world. Beauty that aroused in me feelings
      of respect and humility for Earth's systems. The region is
      by the Aravalli mountain range, one of the oldest mountain systems in
      the world. The average altitude of the mountains in the area is 600
      meters. The undulating barren and stark terrain is dotted with dry
      (non-perennial) rock-strewn riverbeds and rocky outcrops. The region
      has experienced severe drought for the past four years. The land
      lacks sufficient vegetation cover, yet this harsh landscape is simple
      and beautiful.

      Reading beyond the physical landscape, I developed an understanding
      of how people interact with the land. As a volunteer I worked on a
      project that essentially aimed to provide village communities with an
      ecologically sustainable future.

      An issue of concern in this region is villagers encroaching on common
      forest and pasturelands. Villagers are motivated to encroach on
      these common lands for a number of reasons, such as the dynamics of
      population pressure and hence economic necessity, administrative
      inefficiency, and political appeasement. Surprisingly, rival
      who adhere to a communist ideology, had also encouraged encroachment
      in the past.

      All these factors motivating encroachment result in fragmented
      landholdings. The individuals who manage these fragmented
      landholdings are essentially competing for survival. This
      compromises the carrying capacity of the land and the quality of the
      natural resources. There is minimal desire to practice sustainable
      agriculture as each encroacher is using the land to meet their short-
      term survival needs and not long-term ideals.

      Seva Mandir is an NGO operating in the region. Seva Mandir is trying
      to encourage encroachers to vacate common forest and pastures lands
      so that these lands can be developed for the common good. They
      believe that the development of common lands will essentially provide
      the local villagers with greater control and responsibility over
      their livelihood. Common lands will also produce profitable gains on
      a community level and promote the sustainable use of resources.

      Reading the Rajasthani landscape gave me insights into cross-cultural
      perspectives on environmental management. In addition, reading the
      landscape made me more aware of my world and how I interact and use
      the Australian landscape and resources. Being in the rural
      Rajasthani landscape at times made me feel like I was literally at
      the ends of the earth. I felt physically isolated. This was a
      positive feeling that resulted in the greatest learning experience.
      I developed a deeper respect for the land and a greater understanding
      of human interaction in the landscape.

      [Sara is a student of Anthropology in Australian National University,
      Canberra. She came to India for volunteering in May 2002.]

      3. TWO WAYS

      "I like the concept of a development circle but I would like to know
      about its functioning. Does it work?" -Lallan Gopal (Bihar, India)
      in response to The Arkitect, Volume 03/03.

      Right now ARK has only two Village Development Circles (VDCs) namely
      KDC in Kataila and CDC in Chitarkoni.

      In KDC we are running a high school which has been recognised by
      Uttar Pradesh Education Board up to 8th standard. We are working on
      to get it recognised by the government till 10th standard. ARK
      activists from Kataila village have collected old books and kept them
      in a room. Now this place functions as a library. As I have mentioned
      earlier that ARK is a group of teachers and research scholars hence
      it its activities are restricted to few important programmes like
      education. Other activities viz. Ark Health Care Centre, Ark
      empowerment Centre, Ark Youth Bank, Ark Old Items Bank, Ark
      Information Dissemination Centre, Ark Eco Club will take sometime.
      But we are working on this line. We will keep on updating you through
      this newsletter.

      In CDC we are running a primary school and planning to make it a High
      School in the coming years. Uma Singh and Uma Shankar are taking care
      of the primary school. Dr. Ahmad Khan is working on establishing a
      library on the line of KDC.

      So the concept of Village Development Circle, though on a limited
      level, is working.


      The readers are requested to send their ideas and experiences before
      25th of every month. to share with other people through this
      newsletter. Comments and criticism are also welcome. Please visit
      arkitectindia on yahoogroup.com for earlier issues of The Arkitect
      and photographs of volunteers in action.

      5. Notice

      Please send your comments and suggestions directly on

      Dr. Shaheen Ansari
      Programme Coordinator
      Ark Foundation