A Lokmitra Kendra ( CSC ) in Himachal Pradesh
CSC ( Common Service Centres ) scheme is a National Initiative of Government of India. More than one lakh Lokmitra Kendras are being set up by the Central Government to benefit and facilitate about 6 lakhs villages in the country. The main objective of the entire process is to bring the country into the streamline through the ongoing communication revolution. The CSC Scheme started in 2006 with the main objective of improvement in the quality life of individuals as well as the communities in rural population.CSCs are run by Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) who are appointed by SCA ( Service Center Agencies ) to run and manage there CSCs. The CSCs focus on rural entrepreneurship & market mechanism and offers a multitude of services in area of e-Government, education, health , agriculture, retail etc. The Services in the scheme are G2C Services like and records, registration of vehicles, employment exchange, ration cards, identification cards, pension schemes, road transfer, railway tickets, electoral services, telephone bills.
The CSC scheme is popularly known as Lokmitra Kendra project in Himachal Pradesh. This aims to establish 3366 e-Governance centres at Panchayat level in the state. For implementation purpose the state has been divided into three divisions- Shimla division (Shimla, Solan, Kinnaur, Sirmaur), Kangradivision (Kangra, Chamba, Una), Mandi division (Mandi, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kullu, LahaulSpiti). Two private partners were selected as SCA for implementing the scheme in Himachal Pradesh out of which M/s Zoom Developers Pvt. Ltd. operates in Kangra Division covering Kangra, Una and Chamba Districts and Consortium of M/s Terasoft Ltd. and M/s GNG trading Pvt. Ltd. operates in Shimla and Mandi Divisions.
An interview with a VLE
Institute of Management Technology Ghaziabad ( IMT ) Research Centre have done a study on Lokmitra Kendras. IMT is working together with Centre for Sustainable Development Sundernagar for surveying the regulation of these Kendras in District Mandi.In this advantages of the services and the problems related to these kendras are discussed with the CSCs owners and the Beneficiaries. Dr Neeraj Awasthy , Jitender Verma, Anant Saxena and Asha Thakur conducted the survey in Balh, Sundernagar and Mandi blocks of Distt Mandi. The objective of the survey is to highlight the practical problems being faced by Lokmitra Kendras and the people in accessing various services being provided on the portal in the state. The data so collected will be analyzed by researchers of IMT – Ghaziabad and sustainable business model will be suggested for the smooth running of these kendras so that they can make substantial contribution in the development of the rural areas. A Report will be prepared on the basis of the survey, which will be shared with Government of India, the State Government and the departments concerned with implementation of the projects.
CLIC Abroad and Centre for Sustainable Development organized their second photography workshop in Himachal Pradesh at Pragpur, Kangra Valley. India, from March 9-18, 2013. Pragpur,established in 17th century, is India’s first heritage village and is located in the foothills of Dhauladhar Mountain’s about 60 kms away from the Dharamshala. The workshop was jointly sponsored by Nikon India, X–Com Global, and Goal – Zero.
These workshops educate and empower children in America and India by sharing their cultures and daily lives through photography. The workshops are inspired and organized by Bhaskar Krishnamurthy, world renowned photographer. Bhaskar is passionate about documenting and sharing old world Indian culture before modernization transforms the many faces of India. After extensive research and travel throughout India, Bhaskar identifies remote regions where many aspects of daily life exist in the same fashion they have for centuries. Previously, the CLIC Abroad workshops have been organised in various remote locations of Assam, Orissa and Karnataka. Not surprisingly, modern technology and new world ways are also discovering these regions. Given the workshops’ goal to document old world culture before modernization transforms India, Bhaskar believes the best way to achieve this is to have the very people that actually live and embrace these cultures document their own lives. And who might be the most interested, energetic, and enthusiastic people in the village be? Children. Cameras are substituted for writing instruments and photographs serve as their voice in this incredible experience.
Forty local school children from varied backgrounds were selected in the heritage village Prapgur and they were given a Nikon digital camera each. The students were divided into groups based on various themes: Environment; Religion and Culture; Women and Children; Family and Home; School and Education and Livelihood. Devin Gibbs and Marcus Grant volunteered to help teach children from Pragpur basic camera skills while immersing themselves in their Indian cultures and lifestyles. Fourteen students of University Lake School in Hartland, Wisconsin, led by Lori Sra and two of their teachers joined in on March 14 to discover the beauty of Indian life and culture. Local children took ULS students to their homes, their communities, their workplaces and showed them every sphere of their life. Children documented the ancient arts and precious customs that still exist in their lives through photography. ULS students helped to preserve the rich history of India while, at the same time, enriching their personal lives with new knowledge and understanding of primitive cultures. Tom Grant, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College Georgia shot a video documentary of the workshop.
During the workshop local students also interacted through video conferencing with Margaret D. Lowman, Director of North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Popularly known as “Canopy Meg”, Lowman is an American biologist, educator, ecologist, writer, explorer, and public speaker. Her expertise involves canopy ecology, canopy plant-insect relationships, and constructing canopy walkways. ULS students also celebrated an early Holi with local children and community. The celebration of Holi in Pragpur not only worked as an interaction but the students from University Lake School learned about the culture and love the people share through these festivals. So this was a perfect interaction between different culture and people of different Country. ULS students gifted 125 pairs of shoes and socks to the host students.
Outcomes Of the Workshop. The workshop at Pragpur was coordinated and and organised with active support of Jitender Verma, Praveen Sharma and Asha Thakur from Centre for Sustainable Development.
The workshop proved to be an important tool in documenting local art and culture through the eyes of local children. The local students who were shy in beginning developed confidence during the workshop and started reaching out and asking people for poses on their themes. The students also showed that they would like to know more about their peers from US, learn about them and show them their world. The local students started noticing and appreciating things in a way they haven’t done before. Devin Gibbs said, ‘I took everything for granted back in US and when I saw some of the students walk 4-5 miles to reach school and their eagerness to come to school and study despite scarce resources, I started to appreciate that many things which we take for granted in US are a luxury in many parts of the world.” Similarly when the visiting students saw the rich culture heritage of the local communities, the local children started to be more appreciative of what they had. When the students took photographs on various themes assigned to them, they started to notice things about their culture and life which they had never noticed before. Anchal Goswami, one of the participants working on her theme ‘Women and Children,’ realized how much hard work her mother puts day in and day out to keep the family running and she resolved to help her mother in household chores.
These workshops are not just about children clicking pictures but also about developing leadership, a sense of enquiry, confidence, curiosity, creativity and appreciation for things around them.
By Devin Gibbs
Pragpur, India: Saturday, March 9, 2013 7:34 PM
Tifton, Georgia: Saturday, March 9, 2013 9:06 AM
When I first made the decision to travel to India I looked at a globe in my boyfriend’s parents’ house. The only observation I could make at that point was that India is a long ways away. I really had no idea just how far we would be traveling, not only physically but mentally.
Now four days in I can honestly say this is nothing like I expected and I love every minute of it. From the time we landed my eyes have gone non-stop. I have asked so many questions that I worry that my new friends with CLIC Abroad will grow tired of me. Fortunately for me, and for all of us from the United States, for every question I have they have one in return. Marcus, Tom, and I have made fast friends with Ashi, Praveen, Jitender, and Bhaskar. Ashi is the only other girl with the workshop at this point so we are sharing a room. She and I are the same age—actually born only a few days apart—which makes it all the more interesting to me to see how different our lives have been.
We have joked that everything is opposite between our two countries, but today that statement really hit home. Today was the first day of the CLIC Abroad workshop and the first time that I have gotten to spend time with the children of Pragpur. There are similarities in some things, but at this point in the trip there are more differences than I ever expected. I have compiled a list of differences that show we not only live on opposite sides of the world and drive on the opposite side of the road, but in some ways we are so very different.
1. Last night Marcus, Praveen, Jitender, Ashi, and I stayed up for 6 hours taking about life in both countries and making comparisons between our lifestyles. Those of you in Georgia may have heard us laugh from all the way over there when we started comparing the exchange rate and how much money will get you what in the United States. I was showing Praveen a picture of the chocolate lab that I bought my boyfriend for Christmas and he asked how much I paid for the dog. I felt a little uncomfortable telling him because 5 minutes earlier we found out that a person could live off of what would be equivalent to $100 for a month, and comfortably. I finally told him that I paid $300 for Keith’s hunting dog and the reaction I got was priceless. Keep in mind that $300 in American money is enough to buy a great deal in India. Praveen’s face dropped and he said, “For 15,000 rupees I would come to your house and bark for you!” We all died laughing, but then the reality of it hit me. Five of us ate a full meal with rice, two vegetables, curd, and bread for what would be $5 in the states. Of course, at the time it was hilarious but it really puts things into perspective of how low the cost of living is here.
2. When we reached the school this morning the children were singing their prayers and Tom was able to record them worshiping. Later when I was giving an interview I cried about this part of my day because it was so moving. The room we were in was packed with the most beautiful children all curious about what we were doing there, but they never stopped singing. The team from CLIC Abroad sat in the front while the children sang behind us and that moment moved me so much that it was really hard to talk about later. The children have such a passion for learning and for life in general. It was hard not to think of the attitude that we often see in the states. Very few American children enjoy school and even someone like me who loves school still has a tendency to complain. Being in a place like this and seeing people so different from the people I know is a mental rollercoaster. I am physically tired after playing tag and hopscotch with the kids, but I am also mentally drained from trying to make sense of it all. I have learned recently though that some things cannot be explained. The culture and traditions are so strong here that some things will probably never make sense to me, but it sure doesn’t keep me from asking.
3. The children at the school thought we were fascinating. Jitender reminded me that Tom, Marcus, and I live in a melting pot and we see people of every race and religion. There is a very good chance that some of these children have never seen a black man like Marcus, or blonde hair like mine unless it was on a television show. They had preconceptions about me as I did about them, but they were extinguished when we started playing with the children on their break between classes. I was given roses and candy and the nickname of Didi which means elder sister in their language. They opened their arms to me and each one wanted his or her picture taken with me.
4. When we left one girls house, Tom was carrying a small camera bag and his tripod. Ashi and I were just walking back to the van a few steps ahead of him. Ashi and I were laughing about a joke she told me about yak bull milk and Praveen gently scolded us for making our “elder” carry his bag. I looked all around to find an elderly person, but then I realized he was talking about Tom! They explained that in India you never let someone older than you carry bags. I explained that in the states it is usually that men help women carry their bags and Ashi looked at me like I was crazy. I told her that if someone was elderly (as in older than Tom) we would offer to carry the bags, but since he is an able bodied man he can carry his own bags. There again, some social situations are much different from ours in the U.S.
5. The people here are also very close—literally. Their “personal bubble” is much smaller here than back home. Both boys and girls are affectionate to one another. I have seen several boys hug, throw one arm around each other and walk and talk that way, and even intertwine their arms the way girls who are friends do sometimes in the states. Boys back home very rarely show affection towards their other guy friends. In general most of us are very sarcastic and our way of showing affection is by picking on our friends. Within an hour of meeting Praveen, Jitender, and Ashi they each had something so kind to say to me about my personality and my soul. I blushed and they didn’t understand why. I had to tell them that people are kind in the states but we don’t complement each other often the way they do here.
Even through all of these small social differences I have found that we are so much more similar than I originally thought. This sounds like a total contradiction from what I said before, but as I sit here blogging and talking to Ashi at the same time it is evident that we have the same goals. We both want a family; we want to be happy and successful. We want to earn a living in a way that we can be proud of and we want to treat people with kindness and understanding. The small differences are interesting, but the things we are similar on is even more interesting because we are from the complete opposite side of the planet.