It is easier to break one stick but difficult to break a tied bundle. This has been the eternal lesson of unity that we have learned over and over again. Unity plays a major role in urban poverty alleviation and the efforts of PRIA and its partner Chetna in the slums of Chhattisgarh is exhibiting exactly the same – The power and advantage of Sanghāta.
PRIA has initiated organisation of Slum Improvement Committees (SIC) in 7 slums of Raipur and 9 slums of Bilaspur, wherein representatives from the community become a contact point of knowledge building, awareness and dissemination to the whole community.
In standard Sanskrit, sanghāta is a term meaning the ‘fitting and joining of timbers’ or ‘the work done by a carpenter in joining two pieces of wood,’ and can refer to carpentry in general. It has a specialized use in a few Buddhist Sanskrit texts, where it means ‘vessel’ or ‘jar,’ and this image of ‘something that contains’ is evoked several times within the sutra, when Buddha calls the Sanghāta a ‘treasury of Dharma.’
Whether we take sanghāta as having the sense of joining or connecting that it has in standard Sanskrit, or the sense of holding or containing that it can have in Buddhist Sanskrit, the question remains as to just what is connected or held.
One possible interpretation is that what ‘is’ connected are sentient beings, and they are joined or connected by the Sanghāta to enlightenment.
This idea of being connected and a collective to move towards a larger good is translated even in the SIC and the larger aim of moving towards a socially inclusive urban city. As seen from a recent event wherein the SIC of Indrabhata Kushta basti organised a slum level meeting and invited the SIC members of other slums such as Kashiram Nagar, Chandrashekhar Nagar and Durga Nagar. The Slum Level Meeting was an opportunity for all slum dwellers to discuss the pressing issues in each of their slums and advise each other from better practices as seen in some other locale.
They discussed about how to participate in the survey of Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) on-going in Raipur city and being undertaken by the professional agency hired by Raipur Municipal Corporation (RMC). In the process of slum survey, according to RAY policies and guidelines community participation in the process of survey is a must. The SIC members of Kashiram Nagar shared their experiences of the survey conducted in their slum by the professional agency wherein the agency while conducting the survey did not even communicate with the slum dwellers that for what purpose was the survey being conducted. SIC members however a dialogue had with the surveyors and cautioned them to involve the slum dwellers in the entire process. SIC members were able to convey this message to the surveyors because of the prior knowledge of RAY and its mandatory process and guidelines.
The participants also discussed various other applicable central and state schemes. For instance Mr.Bhagwan Das Yadav (SIC member of Durga Nagar) informed the participants about the scheme of “Shramik Card” which is an initiative of Labour department of Chhattisgarh State that under the banner of Chhattisgarh Bhawan Nirman Avam Anya Karmakar Mandal. He informed that under this initiative any labour can get the card by submitting 3 photographs and birth certificate/Residence Certificate/ Marksheet with date of Birth in the Labor office.All those labor who have this card will be eligible to get the benefit of the scheme such as availing bye cycle and stitching Machine to the women labour, availing support sum of 7000/- rupees to the pregnant women and 3000/- thousand rupees to the husband of that lady, scholarship of 500-1500 Rupees to their children and 2000-5000 rupees to the intelligent children, compensation of 40,000-50,000 rupees in case of any accidental death and upcoming scheme for pension in which the worker have to contribute 100/-rupees every month and another 100/- will be contributed by state government and another 100/- will be contributed by the board and this money will be deposited in the account in the name of the worker which will be opened free of cost in the bank and then after the age of 60 years he will be provided by the amount with the addition of appropriate interest in it.
The movement is on! It’s the power of collectivization and knowledge that is the key towards any form of empowerment!