Narmada Commemorative Calendar Released in Austin

Release of 30 Years of Narmada Calendar

Conference Keynote Speakers Bharat Patel and Ajay Kumar release Narmada Commemorative Calendar in Austin.

Austin, 24 May 2015: Volunteers gathered at the 17th annual conference of the Association for India’s Development took a moment to salute the resistance and resilience of the people in the Narmada Valley over three decades of struggle.   The Intercultural Resource center has published a calendar spanning April 2015-March 2016 titled Narmada: 30 Years of Resilience.  Conference keynote speakers Bharat Patel and Ajay Kumar released the calendars and spoke about the groundbreaking work of the Andolan in defending people’s rights against forced displacement and destructive development policies.

The Narmada calendar will be available at selected AID chapters and at the Green Festival in the Washington DC Convention Center, June 5-7.

People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI)

This is a chance for us as volunteers to work with our partners in ways that reach beyond the measure of projects and targets but to recognize the value of people’s voices, ideas and practices at the everyday level.
Photojournalist P Sainath, whom volunteers have met at his public lectures, organized by AID and many other organizations, universities and institutes has launched a website called the People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI).  It is a fascinating project and I think that there is much that we can contribute from our village visits and our collaborations with partners in rural areas.
As you may recall, our 2003 calendar featured photographs from Sainath’s  exhibition on Women and Work.  And AID first hosted a talk by Sainath when he visited the US in 1997 after publishing his collection of articles Everybody Loves a Good Drought. 

Continue reading


Adventure Stories set in India

Dalal RanthamboreNational Book Trust, Children’s Book Trust, Tulika Books, Amar Chithra Katha and a number of other publishers offer a decent variety of books for children. Picture books, early chapter books, stories from mythology, contemporary culture, historical fiction and more wonderful books are available for early and elementary readers. However as children demand books of more advanced reading level, the selection dries up considerably. Those fluent in English turn to books published abroad which are imaginative, entertaining and also huge in number. This is fine as far as it goes, but what about books set in Indian landscapes, with Indian characters? Have we no room for adventure? Continue reading


Pedaling and Performing and Stuffing our way to Sustainability

As the year of the bicycle draws to a close, thousands of AID volunteers, well-wishers, family and friends-of-friends of AID around the world are preparing to take down the calendar that brought outstanding photographs of bicycles in use in diverse aspects of sustainable development including health, environment, employment, education, civic engagement and girl power.  The hard work, heartfelt aspirations, and simple joy shine through all the months of the year.

Not a month has gone by that Bicycles have not made news – be it the rise of bicycle sharing programs in cities and villages, the struggle for bicycle lanes and rights of cyclists, and the inspiring messages of youth undertaking bicycle tours to raise awareness of green living and green policy.  Even as we fold the 2013 calendar, let us recommit ourselves to the humble bicycle, and the rights and safety of the people who pedal the path of sustainability.
In 2014, our walls will showcase performance from various regions and traditions of India, as well as projects reflecting the depth, diversity, and reach of AID work in sustainable development.  Kavita from Boston has brought together the sounds of Bhil, Baul, Kalbelia, Garo, Muria and other musical and dance traditions featured in the 2014 AID Calendar in this soul-stirring video:  Natya.
Working on the eve of Thanksgiving, AID Berkeley volunteers stuffed envelopes with calendars and the letter to donors to ensure timely year-end mailing before the onset of final exams, papers and winter travel.
Now that I know this, you must be asking, what do I do? 
  • Watch the video
  • Reach out to to your friends, neighbors, co-workers and family to let them know about the work AID is doing in collaboration with grassroots organizations.
  • Ask them to keep the AID 2014 calendar on the wall of their homes and offices, to remember AID all year long.
  • Send a calendar as a new year gift to near and dear.
  • Raise funds for AID!
2014 Natya: Performance, Identity, Expression | video
2013 Bicycle:  Pedaling towards Sustainability | video

2012 Safar: Along Roads Less Travelled | video
2011 Jivika: Living in the Margins
2010 Makan: A Place Called Home | video
2009 Roti: Sharing Food, Sharing Values | video
2008 Kapda: Clothing the Nation
2007 Nurturing Nature
2006 Pattachitra on Rural Living
2005 Looking Forward: A Journey through North East India
2004 Wisdom of Grassroots
2003 Women and Work (Photos of P. Sainath)
2002 Inspiring Changes
2000 Rethinking India (Photos from Narmada Valley)

Bibliography, Resources

Uttarakhand Reading List

While we have all ears and eyes for reports form the ground regarding immediate relief and rehabilitation work, we should also pay attention to the very good articles and reports that are coming based on information already in our hands such as performance audits on existing programs and institutions.

With public attention turned towards Uttarakhand people are seeing real live impact of poor planning, poor implementation and climate change. As if ready for this moment to reach the public, Down to Earth Magazine has published a wealth of material on geographic and environmental aspects of the flood. Scroll down to see the links I have copied directly from their home page.

As part of Association for India’s Development, we must study these reports. We have a significant role to play in increasing public awareness of these issues. Although the tendency is to jump on eyewitness reports, we should not, to quote an excellent article by Himanshu Upadhyay, ignore the writing on the wall. I was moved by his commitment to understand the role of institutions and implementation in the present disaster:

“Yet, once again, while not rushing to ground zero to file a disaster-related human interest story, I have decided to browse through a source that friends often accuse me of being addicted to: Performance Audits by CAG of India on the working of institutions and implementation of Acts.
– Uttarakhand: Ignoring the writing on the wall

What Happened

Ground Reports

Heaven’s rage  (Down to Earth)
Food scarcity continues in Uttarakhand villages (The Hindu)
How Uttarakhand dug its grave (Tehelka)
Himalayan tragedy (Frontilne)

Disastrous Unpreparedness
Kumar Sambhav S,
CAG had warned state about lack of disaster preparedness 
(Down to Earth)  Uttarakhand government took no step to address shortcomings in three years.

Himanshu Upadhyay,  Uttarakhand: Ignoring the writing on the wall

Watershed Moment, Uttarakhand government ignored advice from CAG. Himanshu Upadhyaya, Times Crest, June 29, 2013
CAG had warned last year about Uttarakhand Crisis in Making Himanshu Upadhyaya, Governance Now, June 27, 2013

South Asia Network of Dams, Rivers and People
Lessons from Uttarakhand disaster for Selection of River Valley Projects Expert Committee (Sandrp)
Uttarakhand Floods disaster: Lessons for Himalayan states (Sandrp) 

Even as the Uttarakhand state faced the worst floods in its history, CWC, which has been given the task of forecasting floods across flood prone areas all over India, completely failed in making any forecasts that could have helped the people and administration in Uttarakhand.

Jyotsna SinghMan-made reasons for Uttarakhand disaster (Down to Earth)
Sunita Narain, Himalayan blundersDown to Earth
” … stop blaming the people living in the Himalayas for the floods in the Indo-Gangetic plains. Instead, focus on building a management system to live with floods; to harvest the excess water in ponds, tanks and groundwater recharge systems.”

Ammu Joseph, An unequal disaster in the land of Chipko (India Together) 
There is now growing international recognition of the fact that women and girls face an increased risk of violence in the chaos and loss of social cohesion that routinely follow disasters in many parts of the world. However, violence and exploitation are not the only hazards women face in the wake of disasters. Even the death toll is sometimes influenced by gender.

Excerpts from Floods, Flood Plains and Environmental Myths, Center for Science and Environment


L.S. Aravinda, Beware of Disaster Profiteering (India Together)

Throughout India farmers and social organizations are fighting an uphill battle to sustain local grains. Yet these are neither included in the public distribution system (PDS) of the government nor distributed through the private suppliers who have the infrastructure to work with large donor agencies. – See more at:

Throughout India farmers and social organizations are fighting an uphill battle to sustain local grains. Yet these are neither included in the public distribution system (PDS) of the government nor distributed through the private suppliers who have the infrastructure to work with large donor agencies

How to contain Himalayan tsunamis (Down to Earth)

The Himalaya is still geologically active and structurally unstable. Scientists speak on what needs to be done to mitigate disaster impacts in the region

CLIMATE JUSTICE STATEMENT ON THE UTTARAKHAND CATASTROPHE ” …similar catastrophes could recur with increasing frequency and intensity anywhere in the country in the coming years.”

Uttarakhand and Climate Change: How long can we ignore this in the Himalayas? (Sandrp)
” … we cannot ignore Climate Change and its associated challenges…”

PM kick starts 850 MW Ratle Project in J&K without full Impact Assessment: Invitation to another disaster in Chenab basin? (Sandrp)
India should start preparing for a large earthquake in Uttarakhand“…large parts of the Himalayas are overdue a large earthquake. Such an event would be even more destructive over an area hundreds of times as big.”

Development  in the Himalayas

The cost of development in Himalaya (Down to Earth)
There is a link between the disaster and the manner in which development has been carried out in this ecologically fragile region.

Uttarakhand: Existing, under construction and proposed Hydropower Projects: How do they add to the state’s disaster potential? (Sandrp)

Himalayas: the agenda for development and environment  (Down to Earth)

We need to think about a pan-Himalayan development strategy which is based on the region’s natural resources, culture and traditional knowledge.

Shripad Dharmadhikary (2009), Mountains of Concrete

Resources on AID work in Livelihoods

Resources on AID work in Livelihoods: Agriculture, Land Rights, Labor, NREGA
How has AID worked with and learned from people’s efforts to sustain, restore and generate livelihoods?
Explore these resources to find out.

Livelihoods forum currently covers four overlapping themes: Agriculture, Land, Labor & NREGA.

AID website – Agriculture page stores a wealth of information on AID campaigns, projects and saathis working in agriculture, as well as resources for further reading.

Vigil for farmers
No GM: I Am No Labrat

Projects in Agriculture
Chetana Vikas
AID sustainable farming project with Chetana Vikas
Mozda Water Co-operatives
Surodi Watershed

Resource Persons
Sridhar– Thanal, stopping GM
Revathi:TOFarm, Mahanadhi – organic agriculture: Safety Net for Organic Farmers
Prasanna Health & sustainable agriculture
Reetu Sogani – traditional knowledge and sustainable agriculture

Recent Speakers P. Sainath | recent lecture in Austin video
Sudhir Goel, District Commissioner of Amaravati

Land Rights
Nisarga, working with agricultural workers, has helped many landless families secure government land for which they are legally eligible. AID Supported awareness programs on land rights in Visakha District.Land for Landless in Kondavedhi

AID supports traditional income generation projects assisting small groups in training in new skills, manufacturing & marketing products, and using these goods and services to earn income.

Some successful income generation projects have been:
Jivika: handloom, handspun (khadi) cotton garments and bags made in Srikakalam (AP) and Gajapati (Orissa)
Some Jivika products: kabbadi shirt | nursing kurta | hoodie
[new catalogue under construction]

Himmat:Women survivors of Naroda-Patiya carnage, joined together in 2003 and started training in sewing. Today 18 women manage the production unit, selling in the market and at exhibitions.
Article on Himmat in South Asian

SEWA:World renowned for empowering self-employed women, SEWA, with AID support, set up infrastructure to regulate the flow of raw material and finished handicrafts between the craftswomen and the market. AID also supported SEWA when it exhibited at Smithsonian Festival in Washington, DC(2002).

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA)
NREGA GoI site:
covers all of rural India, effective April 1, 2008
[announced in 200 districts on Feb 2, 2006, extended to additional 130 districts in 2007]

Projects to assist people in applying for jobs and demanding full and timely wages for work via NREGA:

Nisarga, Chittor
Nisarga, Visakha
SPS NREGA Consortium
AID – NREGA implementation in Visakha District
AID Bangalore Chapter – NREGA Rally at Bangalore
AID Publications – NREGA survey in Mathurapur
AID – NREGA work- Gumma Block, Gajapati Dist., Orissa
The South Asian: NREGA Audit in Orissa Finds Inconsistencies

Reflections on 2 years of NREGA in Economic & Political Weekly, 23 Feb 2008


Educational and non profit outreach in US

Educational and non profit outreach in us

Aashish (Bay Area) is taking care of sending calendars to schools in the US. Renuka, Swati and selva are taking care of sending to orgs in india.
We are actually sending to university departments and a few nonprofit organisations working in areas related to sustainable development, india, agriculture and poverty – here is the list of what we have so far – pls suggest additional names. Also if you can suggest high school teachers who would use the calendar for educational purposes we would like to send to them as well.

we have drafted this cover letter to send with it:

Dear ………..

Greetings on behalf of the Association for India’s Development. Please accept our gift of a complimentary 2009 calendar. Thousands of hours of labor of love were put into forging the partnerships with the people at the forefront of social change and sustainable development in India, and developing this publication as a tool to raise awareness on issues of food security, livelihood of farmers, sustainability of farming and vitality of Mother Earth.

As a group of volunteers, we have been alarmed by the agrarian crisis in India. As we studied the issue, we were awakened to the crisis in the United States as well. We see the links between this global crisis and many issues of human development, and through Association for India’s Development, we are joining with grasroots organizations in rural and remote areas in India to address these holistically. In solidarity with people’s movements and non-governmental organizations, AID works to address issues of poverty, injustice, environment, human rights, health, education, livelihoods and all aspects of development.

We have come across your work and would like to stay in contact with you. May we call on you for guidance when we are working on issues related to your areas of research and expertise? We would appreciate it if you could share this calendar with your colleagues or students. And please do let us know if we can ever be of help as you work on issues of rural development, sustainable agricutlure and related issues. We have 35 chapters and several hundred volunteers in the United States, working with over 100 grassroots organizations in India.

With warmest wishes for the new year,


Gender Issues & AID: Brief Chronology

Gender Issues & AID: Brief Chronology

Chronology of attempts to raise women’s issues in AID meetings / discussion groups (work-in-progress)

May 1997: All chapters meeting (College Park) – talk about how women can participate more. Informal survey found that women were fewer than 10% across all AID chapters at the time. Some noted that often a woman who would come would be the only woman at the meeting, she would come for a few meetings and then stop coming, and not be there by the next woman came, so that she too would be the only woman during the time she attended. Difficult to reach critical mass of even two women. May intersect with other factors such as attracting only from NRI or otherwise limited communities (engg grad students). [Same issue comes up from time to time afterwards]

May 2000 AID Conference in Boston. Guest Speaker Mythili Sivaraman, President of AIDWA.

Savita Kini – conducted a survey – when??
Savita began by explaining the motivation and goal behind the discussion and survey. “There aren’t enough women participating in AID, and women’s issues aren’t being addressed enough. We can not speak about India’s development without the development of India’s women. It is fairly obvious that ther is no gender equality in Indian society …

… These social problem exist even in educated populations. The gender biases have to also be eliminated from the education imparted in schools.”

July 2000 Volunteers form yahoogroup “aid-women” to follow up on women’s issues such as family planning, dowry, child marriage, bride burning, early marriages, forced marriages, binding stereotypes that women are pressured into adhering, harassment and rape, female infanticide, domestic violence, prostitution. Sought to identify more projects in women’s empowerment and addressing sterotypes in textbooks, and addressing lack of support for alternative lifestyles, like working women’s hostels that allow children. Read complete message at:

Group message rate (number of msgs per year in AID Women yahoogroup

2000: 2
2001: 171 – discussion on dowry. linking to ECAAL campaign. na lenge, na denge
2002 – 401
2003: 445
2004: 348 – much cross posting
2005 129
2006 31
2007 4
2008 2

Apparently from above numbers, cross posting and many members’ “write-only” participation may have led others to stop reading as well and activity rapidly declined.

April- May 2002: Kalpana Karunakaran visits AID chapters, talks about “Women & Urban Poverty”

2002: P. Sainath brings photo exhibition on Women and Work.

May 2002 College Park. Anti-dowry skit based on volunteers’ true stories and anti-female foeticide dance set to Gaddar song performed at India Beckons. Video available?

May 2002: Aruna Roy is keynote speaker at AID conference, Bay Area. Volunteers pass resolution to ake anti-dowry pledge.

December 2002 AID India conference Bangalore, volunteers take Anti Dowry Pledge.

2003: Calendar on “Women and Work in Rural India” featuring photographs of P. Sainath.

2006: AID Delhi report: “Prayas has now started holding classes for the ladies in the community. This is a significant achievement since women are foundation of the home and society and can make a marked impact on the thought process of people around them. ”

2006: Women write to BoD about absence of women in BoD. Some members of BoD take part in informal discussion in Columbus conference on how to encourage more women to join Executive board, and take more leadership in inter-chapter teams.

2006: Discussion at TX-LA meet (in Houston) on “why women’s empowerment is important” reveals extent of gender gap and need for awareness.

2007: Men and women volunteers raise issue of “ad” perceived by some as demeaning to women. No consensus at chapter level, ad remains. Volunteers feel need to raise more awareness and sensitivity and make some kind of policy similar to pluralism policy, on gender equality and common respect or standards of decency.

2008: forum discussion on dress code, segregation in education and public transport, and sexual violence raises issue of gender gap and need for awareness

2008: gender survey and private email thread brings out bias, stereotype, harassment, violence women volunteers in AID have faced, limited avenues for acknowledging / dealing with these issues. Feel need to break silence.

2008: Session on gender sensitivity in Buffalo conference. Follow-up session in College Park. Nafisa Behn from Uthaan present in both sessions, raises critical questions. Volunteers express need for explicit policy on gender equality and sexual harassment.


AID Calendar Video: Roti – Jis Des Mein Ganga Behti Hain

AID Calendar Video: Roti – Jis Des Mein Ganga Behti Hain

Dear friends,

This 3 minute video advertises the 2009 AID calendar Roti to the tune of Jis Des Mein Ganga Behti Hain song with beautiful pictures and theme of food and agriculture.

Show at your chapter concerts, meetings etc!

Download high res version by clicking this link!!

The hi res link will expire in 7 days so download soon!!

Watch low res version in youtube:
[url]♫ Sharing Food, Sharing Values ♫:[/url]

Hi Res version is far superior in picture quality….its worth downloading.