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For development to be sustainable, it has to start from the roots: Jane Schukoske, CEO, Sehgal Foundation

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In an interview with NewsGram, Jane Schukoske, CEO of Sehgal Foundation talks about the vision and the accomplishments in India.
In an interview with NewsGram, Jane Schukoske, CEO of Sehgal Foundation talks about the vision and the accomplishments in India.

Jane E. Schukoske photo 2014
Jane E. Schukoske , CEO of Sehgal Foundation

– Nishtha  & Rukma Singh of NewsGram

The Sehgal foundation designs and promotes rural development interventions that create opportunities, build resilience and provide solutions to some of the most pressing challenges in India’s poorest communities.  With ample recognition of the need of good governance, the foundation is bound by values of integrity, professionalism, and optimism.

In an interview with Newsgram, Jane Schukoske, CEO, Sehgal foundation, tells us about the working of this organization and its future goals.

NG: Sehgal foundation was formed in 1999. What was the basic aim behind the establishment of an organization working for sustainable development?

JS: The Sehgals had made their mark in hybrid seeds. Their interest in rural India came from their agriculture background. Also, Dr Sehgal was from unified India. After partition, his family moved to India and he was raised here until he went to the United States for graduation.  Basically, from the beginning, they have wanted to support community led rural development. They understood that if development had to be sustainable, it needed to start from the roots, i.e. from the level of the community. The goal is to have social, economic and environmental positive change in the rural India.

NG: When you interact with the rural public during your various field visits, do you see an improper implementation of governmental policies?

JS: There is a pressing need for governance to work properly. We have a good governance programme which has two parts to it. One is working with Panchayats ; village nutrition and health committees, school management committees, etc. We help the members of these committees develop some of the required skills, design a proper layout for implementation and design a budget so as to effectively access funds from the government.

On the other side, we work with citizens. If citizens know how to constructively raise demands  and channel their demands to the right departments, it will help the government to work in a better manner because it will know that its activities are under spotlight.

NG: How was the initial response towards the projects that you started, both, in terms of public participation and administrative procedures?

JS: In the early years, the organization gave a lot of time into finding its feet and building its reputation in the community. One thing that it did was to allocate adequate money to the villages, so that people would understand the sincerity of the organization. We wanted them to look at us as a group that will work with them and not as just another organization looking for grants.

NG: Do you want the rural India to get empowered in such a fashion that they can further govern themselves and become self reliable?

JS: Yes. Empowerment and community leadership are an essential part of our vision. We need to encourage these to ensure future sustainability, because after the brief period of time that we work for in these areas, people should have the knowledge of how to take things on from where we leave.

NG: Do you plan to venture out somewhere in the apathetic conditions of government schools of these areas, especially when it comes to gender based health and sanitation problems?

JS: Yes. Our water management programme also focuses on providing access to clean water to school students in these areas. Rainwater harvesting systems for schools, when coupled with a bio-sand filtering procedure has been believed to be very helpful. In addition, there are other kinds of innovative systems that we are looking to employ, and that we already have begun with. Sea saw pumps are an example of the same. When children play on the sea saw, the pumping mechanism is triggered by their action and then the pumped water is used for the toilets.

What we found was that there were a lot of toilet blocks that had been made, but they weren’t functional because of the lack of water. We are responding to those kinds of needs. Some of our donors are interested in school infrastructure improvement and we have facilitated that. But our own focus has been to allocate as much money as possible to encourage the presence of adequate drinking water in schools as well as sanitation facilities.

NG: Many corporates indulge in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Do you think these organizations work for the greater good of mankind and not just the enhancement of their own image?

JS: I think it’s really important to have stakeholder partnerships to get anywhere. Fortunately, we work with corporations that are really serious about the kind of work they do.  It’s really wonderful to see the bright eyed employees feeling good about their contributions to the world.  So, our experience with corporate has been very good.  You get to deal with people in corporations who have values and who are not just processing papers, they want to make a difference.

NG: We are well aware of the kind of treatment meted out to women in the rural areas. Is that why women empowerment has been a strong part of each and every programme that your foundation has built?

JS: Yes. We actually have a gender policy that causes us to look at everything we do in terms of gender. It is so easy to interpret things written in neutral terms, as pertaining to men. Hence, this gender policy helps us understand how we can feature women, involve women, and bring their issues out in the open in a better manner.

NG: What’s next for the Sehgal Foundation?

JS: In  2011, we were in 17 villages. We methodically planned our expansion.  Through the good governance programme, we expanded to virtually all of Mewat, Haryana. Then, through agriculture and water, we entered Rajasthan. The newest addition is Samastipur, Bihar, where again the focus is on agriculture. We are in talks with our CSR partners about expansion by two means. One, by re-scoping areas to see what would be appropriate to work on, in terms of the interests and needs of people. We’ll be able to attract donors based on these, like in the case of Mewat.
Second, by having prospective donors express interest in a particular area and seeing if it’s feasible for us.

One thing that we have realized is that in areas where we don’t work, we can still train people. Swadesh foundation in Maharashtra, a huge team that works in a lot of areas, asked us to train their team about the governance activities that we do.  We sent some people to train them. For further help, we encouraged one of our employees who worked in Mewat, to go to Maharashtra. He went and stayed there for two months, and guided them along as they went ahead with the implementation of their governance schemes.

So, training and associations with other NGOs with the same perspectives are two things we’d always continue to do.

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David Frawley Highlights PM Modi’s Respect for Indian Culture which Pandit Nehru nearly Gave Away to the Marxists

"Delhi elite, which though located in India, kept their minds residing outside the country."

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PM Modi and Indian Culture
David Frawley is the Director of American Institute of Vedic Studies. Wikimedia
  • Nehru had affinity with Communists and Marxists
  • Politically independent India continued to be dependent on the west for intellectual progress
  • Nehru and his followers rejected India’s past and envisioned a different nation away from its important culture

August 22, 2017: India’s culture has been its representative in the global arena. The cultural background of the country can be traced back to thousands of years. The Vedas, written thousands of years ago, still dictate our lifestyle and thoughts.

But this remarkable cultural heritage was infused with Marxism and Communism by India’s leftist leaders. David Frawley, in his recent article, traces the impact of leadership on Indian traditional culture.

But, Pandit Vamadeva Shastri also known as David Frawley- the Director of American Institute of Vedic Studies observes how the exclusive Indian culture was outsourced to the left by Pandit Nehru. “Congress outsourced education and cultural development to the far left, Marxists and Communists, with which Nehru had much affinity,” says Frawley in his website vedanet.com. Nehru was vocal about his different idea of the country that goes away from its genuine culture. Nehru, along with his followers, rejected the Indian past.

Also Read: Padma Bhushan David Frawley points out Christian Missionaries’ assault on Hindu Dharma

Although the country had become politically independent, the intellectual progress continued to be dependent on the west, courtesy of the “Delhi elite, which though located in India, kept their minds residing outside the country.” Traditional Indian culture was criticized by these very people.

Indira Gandhi cannot be said to have continued this trend, but she too “supported the same westernized elite for whom Indian civilization was a dangerous myth to be eliminated for modern progress,” writes David Frawley.

Dr. Frawley also highlights that the influence of Marxism on Indian education was known to very few people in the West. Additionally, the West was also unaware of the socialist stand of the Indian economy.

It was the RSS through the expression of BJP that sought to retain Indian values and culture. But the efforts proved futile as it was perceived backward and antique to stick to Indian cultures. As David Frawley rightly observes, “Much of this was owing to Marxist propaganda that has always demonized its opponents, which the Congress dominated media gladly followed.”

There was hope in 1999 when BJP took the power through PM Vajpayee, but not much changed in the mindset of the nation. Rather, “India fell back into the old leftist rule with a vengeance and a massive corruption and nepotism under the UPA in 2004 that continued for ten years,” notes Dr. Frawley.

The 2014 elections saw the formation of Modi government in India. India’s new leader, Narendra Modi, came to national politics with “the power of vision, personal charisma, a forward development agenda and tremendous work to usher in a new India.”

Modi envisions a technologically advanced India through older Indian ethos. The PM plans on introducing “social media, cashless society, smart cities and a radically improved infrastructure.”

David Frawley acknowledges Modi’s love for Indian traditions. The PM has come up with a lot of programs to help the poor masses of the country. “He is not afraid to be a Hindu or to attend Hindu functions, while at the same time excelling as a modern technocrat,” explores David Frawley.

Modi’s beliefs in Hinduism are not confined to sectarian thoughts, rather, a broad spiritual pursuit of “Yoga, meditation, universal consciousness, and self-realization.”

David Frawley believes that humanity can be inspired through a renovated and revitalized India. The Nehruvian idea of India is slowly dying as PM Modi builds a competitive India in sync with its traditions.

– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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Rankings of Aam Aadmi Party Delhi MLAs Drop due to Poor Performance. Praja Foundation publishes Latest Government Performance Report

This year, the performance of BJP MLAs in Delhi was better than AAP

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Praja Foundation
AAP Legislator's performance are going down in quality. Wikimedia
  • Praja Foundation assesses the performance of the government every year
  • The government performance for AAP has revealed the reality of the situation in Delhi this year, as per report released on Aug 22, 2017
  • The AAP legislators ranking has gone down while BJP members have improved from last year

August 23, 2017: The Praja Foundation, which gives a performance report of the government every year, presented a detailed report of the performance of the Delhi government in the year 2017.

The Praja Foundation had reported on the performance of the Delhi government last year even when there was a lot of attacks on the party. This year too it has issued ranking based on the performance of the legislators.

Also Read: Birthday Song for Arvind Kejriwal: A Special Troll and Parody by AAP’s Ex Minister Kapil Mishra

The Highlights from the Report released on Aug 22, 2017:

– The quality of the work of the MLAs from AAP has drastically dropped down.

– Criminal legislators increased, more than half the legislators are tainted. The number of criminal legislators is now 39 (56 percent). Last year, this number was 14.

– Surprisingly, it is not only lawsuits but also charge sheet that has been filed against 25 of the 70 MLAs.

– In 2016 sessions, BJP legislator Vijender Gupta asked 98 questions for the most. After that, the second was also the name of Jagdish Pradhan of BJP. He asked a total of 81 questions. At the third place was AAP minister Alka Lamba who asked 49 questions. Compared to last year, AAP asked fewer questions this year.

– This year, the performance of BJP MLAs was better than AAP. 7 MLAs of Aam Aadmi Party did not ask a single question in the 2017 session. While two legislators Raghubinder Shukin and Mo Ishrak did not ask a single question in 2016 and 2017.

– Record number of complaints in Delhi Jal Board (DJB): It is not that complaints did not come. In 2016, the highest number of complaints were related to waterboard (Jal Board). There were 2,27,444 water complaints. Only 40 questions related to water were asked. After that, the PWD department received the most complaints. 19,152 complaints were of the drain, sewer drainage, while only 5 questions were asked. In 2016, there were 11,099 complaints related to mosquitoes and fogs. At the same time, the question was asked just 2 times.

– With the functioning of the legislators, the opinion of the people of Delhi was also asked and on the same basis, the MLAs were given the rank. It was told that the Hansa agency from 24,000 people of Delhi asked questions and got ranking on the functioning of the legislators. On the basis of work and public opinion, the Aam Aadmi Party MLAs were given the rank.

– AAP’s Mohinder Goyal was elected the best legislator. He got the first place as out of 100, he got 75.4.

– Who were the bad performers? Ram Pahalwan got the lowest at just 27.26 while Rituraj Govind was second and Dinesh Mohania was third.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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‘Namma Bengaluru Habba’ : Green Festival in Bengaluru Witnesses 1,000 people taking part in the event

People from all walks of life participated in Bengaluru's Green Festival

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A man on Jet Ski, Green Festival, Bengaluru
A man on Jet Ski, Green Festival, Bengaluru. Pixabay
  • The fest had about 20 artists who performed the traditional ‘Yakshagana’ theatre and drum dance dollu kunita
  • Visitors had an opportunity to cruise around the lake with fly boards and jet skis
  • As environment protection is a cause of concern, it is events like these that will create awareness among the public and lead to greater sustainability

Bengaluru, August 21, 2017: About 1,000 people from all walks of life took part in a cultural festival titled ‘Namma Bengaluru Habba’ (Our Bengaluru Festival) at the Sankey Tank here on Sunday to create awareness on the protection of environment.

Organised by the Karnataka Tourism Department, the fest had about 20 artists who performed the traditional ‘Yakshagana’ theatre, and drum dance ‘dollu kunita’, while apart from the street musicians, magicians, jugglers, caricature artists and painters, visitors had an opportunity to cruise around the lake with fly boards and jet skis.

There were also 20 stalls and a flea market selling organic produce and eco-friendly products, including terracotta jewellery, natural soaps, millet-based products and jute etc.

“As environmental protection is a cause of concern, it is events like these that will create awareness among the public and lead to greater sustainability,” said state Information Technology, Biotechnology and Tourism Minister Priyank M. Kharge in a statement.

“It is great to see so many people participating in support of the cause. The fest is a community building activity to preserve Bengaluru’s ecology,” he added. (IANS)