"blending activism and filmmaking"




What is Really Happening
in Gujarat Today?
A Talk by Grassroots NGOs from Ahmedabad

Discussion of the post-earthquake situation in Gujarat with Martin Macwan, Director of the Navasarjan Trust, an organization representing Dalit rights in India and Gagan Sethi, Director of Janvikas, an organization which focuses on the empowerment and development of NGOs in Gujarat.

Navsarjan and Janvikas were core members of the Janpath Citizens Initiative, a coalition of over 200 local grassroots NGOs coming together in the days following the Gujarat quake, to coordinate relief operations in Kutch and other affected areas. The two organizations are now playing a pivotal role in reconstruction and rehabilitation of affected peoples in Saurashtra.

A short documentary on the status of reconstruction efforts in Gujarat will also be screened. In addition, Martin will be discussing some of his work with the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights.

About Navsarjan Trust and Janvikas:

Navsarjan Trust is a membership-based grassroots organization working in over 2,000 villages of Gujarat, covering 34 talukas in 11 districts. Its historical focus has been Dalit rights; however, in recent years it has expanded its work to cover all poorer communities that have demonstrated their belief in social equality. Navsarjan conducts its activities through 187 full time activists (87 of them are women), who have a local base, have been trained professionally, and have established their credibility with local communities.

Navsarjan is the largest organization in the State addressing Dalit rights, and its experience has been the source of inspiration for the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights. Although Navsarjan is only ten years old, its Founder/Managing Trustee, Martin Macwan, has over two decades of experience in the field of human rights and social justice. He has recently been honored internationally with the Robert F. Kennedy Award for human rights and the Gleistman Foundation Activist Award for the year 2001.

Janvikas provides training and support to NGOs and other institutions in the field of social justice, and has done pioneering work in the field of legal education and human rights. It also provides core support to fledgling grassroots organizations, many of which have been groomed into independent organizations over time (e.g. Kutch Navnirman Abhiyan in Bhuj). Janvikas and its affiliated organizations also work in the field of water management, primary education, housing, and support for traditional arts and crafts. It operates its programmes through community volunteers as well as through professional staff in various parts of Gujarat and other states.

Navsarjan and Janvikas were core members of the Janpath Citizens Initiative (JCI), which was created in the days following the Gujarat quake and successfully spearheaded the relief operations. (The Indian media, NGOs, international donor agencies, and even the government, have commended JCI's no-nonsense, systematic approach to relief.) The two organizations are now very actively engaged in long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation of affected communities in the districts of Saurashtra. Their jointly operated Vocational Training Center (VTC) in Sanand, Ahmedabad District--which normally trains youth, men and women from the marginalized communities to eliminate their dependence on exploitative traditional occupations--is now playing a key role in training master masons to build disaster-resistant housing for the poor.

Martin Macwan and Gagan Sethi will attempt to answer many of the troubling questions of:

Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Efforts:

--Equity in relief: myths vs. realities on the ground
--Prospects for temporary shelters for all prior to the monsoon
--Role of the government so far
--Role of the private sector: pros and cons
--Situation of artisans, weavers, and salt workers
--Situation of Dalits and other marginalized communities

Role of Non-Sectarian Grassroots NGOs:

--History of Gujarat NGOs vis--vis the rest of India
--Their role in relief operations
--Their role in reconstruction and rehabilitation
--Prospects for coordination with religious/corporate sectors
--Historical funding sources vs. fundraising for e/q work

NGOs and NRIs:

--Outreach efforts during normal times
--Forging long-term partnerships
--Partnering in disaster management planning
--Linking volunteers from India and the U.S.


Ekta raises $ 3181 for
J a n v i k a s

an Ahmedabad-based NGO operating relief efforts in Gujarat

under the aegis of the
Janpath Citizen's Initiative

Ekta Fundraiser Fuses Entertainment & Awareness
By Vandana Makker

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