Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ground Report India: News from on the ground to keep us grounded

In our daily lives, in one of the best of the western developed countries, how often do we stop to think of the reality of the daily lives of people far away from us.  Dropping into my email from time to time is information from India by way of a site called Ground Report India.  India is a massive, diverse, and heavily populated country.  In so many ways, the very opposite of Australia.  Ground Report aims to do what it says - to keep us all grounded by giving news from on the ground - not higher up the food chain.

Below is the latest missive which is an extract from a book by Vivek Glendenning.  He can be found on Facebook.

Excerpts from the chapter from the first draft of the Book “Social Experiments and Experiences” by 'Nomad' (Vivek U Glendenning) :: part one ... via 

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Running Education centers for beggars and migrant unorganized labourers 
Opening and running eight education centres for children of migrated construction labours and beggar children/ adolescents (teens) during student life 15-16 years ago.
At that time, I was establishing education centres at different places in Kanpur. As I was alone, I used to teach at every centre twice in a week and attended two centres every day. Thus, I could manage six centres in one week. For few days of week college finished off at 3 o’clock and some other days at 4 o’clock. The day when college finished at 3, I used to go centres which were far away and the day when it finished at 4, I preferred to go centres which were bit near.
I got very small monthly amount from home as student hence I had to cover a distance of 6 to 9 kilometre daily on foot to reach different centres.
Some professors from IIT Kanpur, IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, HBTI Kanpur gave away Blackboard, chalk, copy, pencil, books and emotional support to start these centres. Basis of this support was my personal relation with them.
While running these centres I gathered innumerable experiences and enhanced my understanding towards ground reality. I am grateful to supportive professors and will be obliged forever.
An Education centre for Beggar Children/Teenagers at CTI Crossing, Govind Nagar, Kanpur :
There is a place in Kanpur known as CTI crossing and it is adjacent to Govind Nagar. A big and stinking sewer-nullah (sluit) flows and local people call it ‘Ganda Nala’.

And on the bank of this nullah many families of beggar-children/teenagers used to live in hut-like structures made up of thrown away poly bags and torn clothes joined together and fixed on old spoiled bamboo sticks.
Stench of that sewer nullah, which we cannot bear even for one minute while moving on the road parallel to the nullah, had a round the clock lively relation with those families.

During rains, level of sewer increased and flowed through their so called huts.
Except few starting days, I had to search out these children and teens while begging and then I took them to the education centre holding their finger.
An SDO of UP Electricity Board had donated his portico for teaching for two hours, during which he used to keep his car out.

He also helped for copy, pencil, chalk and blackboard.

Sometimes children and teen used to pose strange conditions such as if you would not eat in our hut we would not study.

So, sometimes I had to eat on the bank of sewer nullah whatever they cooked and ate.

These children/ teens did not know how to read or write and it took many days to teach them how to write first letter of Hindi alphabet but in physical labour, making food and reading people’s psychology they were very dexterous .
Their talks and practical understanding surprised me numerous times and taught me so much. This relationship continues for only for one or two years but these memories are still afresh in my mind/ are still lively in the corner of my mind.
7 education centres for displaced Bilaspuriyan Construction Labours’ children/ Teens and bagger children/teens :
These centres were established and ran at Awadhpuri, Lakhanpur, Kalyaanpur, Vikasnagar, Naubasta and Barra.

Characteristics of these centres were same as sewer-nullah centres, there were only a few differences which I am going to state in following lines.
I no need to go far away to search these kids/ teens because these children usually found playing in their huts or near about areas.

Their parents met almost every day, hence sometimes they also came to study.
Place of study was hut of any of them, which changed after few days. These centres never continued for more than few months because after accomplishment of construction work of colonies they had to leave the place.
So, every time after few months, these centres displaced 2 to 3 kilometres.
I never showed false dream to children/ teens for study, never tempted them, never tempted them for sweets etc. I did not want them to suffer from any frustration or indulge in some impractical dreams. I knew these children/teens would face bitter reality
hence I had no right to hurt their understanding of life showing them false dreams.

As I was not showing any dream, not posing any lie and never tempted them so every time when I go to teach them first I used to walk 2 to 3 kilometre to find them and fetching them to the place for study and had to face their moods.
I have candidly stated to children/ teens and their guardians that study was not going to change their status. Only thing is that there will be less possibility of being cheated and perhaps this study may be useful for a few.

Today, when I remember this time, I find out, if I have not done during my student life, today I cannot be socially integrated, socially honest, sensitive and could not move ahead towards fundamental understanding of the society. 

Vivek U Glendenning ‘Nomad’

Dear Mentor,
Thank you for your continuous support.

I am trying to establish a "Social Accountable Media".
I go to the villages to see the ground works done by the common people. Some time for a report, I have to visit one area a few times.
Please support the idea and visit at

I am also organising 206 community conferences and a 1,00,000 kilometres long inclusive national tour in the time span of 2012-2015 covering thousands of villages of hundreds of districts in all over India.

Your all kinds of supports are needed.
For more information, please visit at

Thank you
Vivek U. Glendenning "Nomad"

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