Friday, May 14, 2010

Workshop on RTE and its Implications | 19th May | 9:30 am onwards

There are no registration charges or charges of any kind for attending this workshop, but it would be helpful if you could RSVP to


Dear Friends,

Greetings from AARTH ASTHA!

Many of you may be aware that a new set of amendments have been proposed regarding the Right to Education Act, which came in to effect on the 1st of April this year. In addition, to the proposed amendments we are also aware that the Model rules have been made as well.

In the light of these changes, many of us are not sure how the existing systems of education will function and what kinds of steps will be taken towards inclusion. How do the new proposed amendments and Rules affect people with disabilities? Some of us have our apprehensions, what are they? What is it that we as a sector need to be aware of? How will the current systems of education be affected with this Act?

We would like to invite you to a workshop on the 19th of May, at ISI, Lodi Road from 10 am onwards to discuss these issues mentioned above. We hope to have a better understanding of the Act and its implications on children including children with disabilities.

Please find attached the agenda for the workshop. We look forward to have you there.
Thanks and regards,
Pauline Gomes
Prog. Manager
Aarth - Astha Basti Vikas Kendra, Bal Mukund Khand, Giri Nagar,
Kalkaji , New Delhi-110019. Phone No. 011-26449026, 011-26466251 Aarth
(Astha) - National Trust Hepline -011-26466250


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Micro-credit exploration for cycle rickshaw pullers


For those who haven't (yet) gone through our latest newsletter, some of us have been investigating into a micro-financing possibility that enables rickshaw pullers to own their vehicles rather than renting them (which they currently do by paying up about a 1000 Rs a month - 20-25% of their earnings). I am appending the piece I wrote in the newsletter for handy reading. Please go through it to know of the exploration thus far and where we stand now.

We ideally would like existing micro-financing institutions/groups to take charge of the legalities, with the ground work undertaken by another group that has a rapport with a pullers' community, while we play the mediator/facilitator. While we have found one field partner, we haven't made much ground on the former (although a proposal has been sent out to Rang De). In the light of that, to comprehend the legalities involved in us taking on the role of micro lending, an informal discussion has been arranged with Devahuti, the same expert who delivered a general talk on micro-finance in the last ORM. Those of you keen on working on this or any other application of micro finance may benefit from taking part in it.

Venue: Dilli Haat
Time: 9:30 am, Saturday (15th May)

Please reach your confirmations to me on 9278857591 or by an email response.

(Micro) crediting the green paddlers

Not so long ago, through an article in this very forum, Deepak had aptly urged us to step up the use of cycle rickshaws. Rickshaw pulling is sometimes refrained from due to a misplaced sentiment of guilt - one human carrying the load of another. The truth, however, is that the pullers would much rather have you hire them than pity them. More importantly, the work conditions of rickshaw pullers are far healthier and safer than those of most industrial workers who are confined to a close, often polluted environment. Rickshaw pulling is also one the few truly green jobs, without which, Delhi alone would consume a thumping 5 lakh liters of additional fuel each day and choke the lungs of many of its residents, most acutely the poor/homeless. Reiterating the appeal to favour rickshaws over autos and private vehicles, though, is not the prime motive of this article.

Most pullers across the NCR region don't own the rickshaws they ride. They shell out 30-40 Rs everyday on the rent to the rickshaw owners, who often happen to be members of what's called the rickshaw mafia. Indisputably, this is a considerable loss, which prompted us to ponder on how to do away with it. Having made the observation, arriving at the thought of loans was a no-brainer, as you'd expect. Like all other poor, rickshaw pullers have no collateral and hence no access to traditional banking services. So, it would have to be micro-finance. The heartening thing about applying micro lending in this context is that if a loan of around 10k is extended to a puller for rickshaw purchase, he can actually own the rickshaw in a year, with the SAME daily amount (say 40 Rs) going into loan repayment.

We have begun digging into the implementation possibilities of this concept in Delhi and Noida. For the capital, a Rohini-bound cycle rickshaw cooperative spearheaded by NGO Path is one group we have identified (potentially) for grass roots coordination. A micro-financing venture like Rand De, which connects social investors to needy micro-entrepreneurs, is to form the other half of the system. Our role in the simplest case could be that of a facilitator. We have already initiated preliminary joint discussions involving Path and Rand De. Depending on Rang De's priorities and constraints, it could well come down to us having to assume the key role of a micro-financer ourselves. However, these are early days, and the picture is likely to remain blurry for some time more. For now, we just wanted to give you a heads up and sound you out.

The wicket is far stickier in Noida. Through a meeting with a distinguished Ashoka fellow, Dr Pradeep, who has attained precisely what we envisage and more in Guwahati, we learnt that there exists no regulatory body to license Noida's rickshaws! Dr Pradeep, who has been based out of Noida for the last few years, has met with various bureaucrats in Noida Authority, but to no avail. Post the meeting, we have filed an RTI application on the matter, and are in touch with Parivartan for mapping out the future plan of action. Micro-lending to the pullers is obviously contingent upon the legitimization of the service.

For any suggestions, info on micro-lending organizations or brickbats, please drop an email to Pulkit at

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Protest against honour crimes on Saturday 15 May at 5 pm in Central Market, Lajpat Nagar

From: Saheli Women <>


“Babli and Manoj Killed”….. “Nirupama killed”…… “khap panchyat diktat out against couple”...“couple seek police protection”…. 


We have to say NO to these crimes justified in the name of 'honour'!

We have to assert our right to choose our own partners irrespective of caste, class, religion, ethnicity or gender!


On a daily basis one hears these kind of news about killings in the name of 'honour' and diktats against couples whose crime seems to be to love a person of another caste or the same village. On the one hand we have the Khap Panchayats who are exercising power and control through various diktats and valorising the murder of young couples and on the other there are family members who are party to killing their own daughters or pushing them to suicide to protect so called family honour. These incidents have spread in an aggressive way and are becoming more widespread not only in rural areas but in big cities and among people of all classes and castes.


The silence of the Government against the diktats of the Khap Panchayats, which deny fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution, indicates the reluctance of the state machinery to uphold the rights of young men and women. We are also shocked by the active support to the Khaps given often by State governments, political leaders, the local judiciary and police. We have already got endorsements from about 200 groups/individuals for letters to Chief Ministers of Haryana, Delhi, UP and Rajasthan demanding action against khap leaders and instituting inquiry into incidents of 'honour killings'.


We invite you to a protest to condemn these killings and to ask the Government to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens as laid down in the Constitution.


Please bring your placards and banners. You are also welcome to join us in the Saheli office on the 15th of May at 2 pm where we will be making placards.


Date: Saturday, 15th May 2010 at 5 pm

Venue: Central Market, Lajpat Nagar

Meeting point: 3Cs Cinema Hall


Let’s get together to raise our voice, in hope that a time comes when we don't open the newspapers to news about crimes against young people in the name of ‘honour’. 


Spread the word and join us.


In solidarity,




Please forward this mail to all your friends!

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