The Genesis

Sunday, February 24, 2008

It all started with a challenge thrown by Prof. G. S. Sanyal, Ex-Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur to we students to convince atleast two rickshaw pullers of IIT campus for investing in anyone of the schemes available with the post office. The challenge showed us a ray of hope of doing something which had the potential of breaking the monotony of the Autumn Semester. Without wasting a single moment we headed straight to our target destination "the Frust Corner" (any KGPian reading this post will take 2.3 nano seconds to recognize this place, for those who are taking more, Frust Corner is the junction point of Scholars' Avenue and the road which takes you to the PAN loop). I dont know whether this has been a trend but I have invariably found a rickshaw-stand there at Frust Corner. So, we approached a rickshaw-puller named Tapan Dey. I am presenting a part of the conversation with Tapan daa below:

WE: Dada aapka naam kya hai?
TD: Tapan Dey.

WE: Kahan rehte hain?
TD: Ravindra palii, ye to Nehru Hall ke peechey jo tower hai, wahin mera tina ka makan hai.

WE: Ghar mein kaun kaun hai?
TD: main, mera aurat aur do tho bachcha log.

WE: bachcha log padhta hai?
TD: haan dono Hijli School mein padhta hai.

WE: bachcha log ke bhawishya ke baare mein kuch socha hai?
TD: haan babu...padhane ka mann hai...paisa hoga to padhayega nahi to dekhega kuch karega...

WE: Achcha...aap daaru peete hain???
TD: (Reluctantly)..nahi babu...jyada nahi...
(we then knew this was a bad question to ask and hence changed the topic)

WE: To bachchalog ke liye kuch paisa bachake rakha hai?
TD: nahi babu kya bachahyega...din ka 50-60 rupya hota hai...kabhi kabhi to 20 rupya hi ho pata hai aur chutti ke samay to wo bhi mushkil hota hai. uspe rickshaw ka kiraya dena hota hai 15 rupya daily ka...kahan se paisa bachayega...

WE: Oh!!! to humlog ek tareeka batayenge paisa jama karne ka to aap karenge?
TD: kahan babu, hum padha likha nahi hai ...kahan se kar paayega?

WE: Aapko kuch likha-padhi karne ka zaroorat nahi hai...humlog aapka paisa Post Office mein jama kara denge. Kagaz-pattar ke liye agent ko bulayenge woh aapka sab kaam kar dega..aapke paas se paisa bhi le jaayega. aur bahi khata (pass-book) bhi dega. Isse aapko pata chalega ki aapka kitna paisa jama hua hai.
(TD was by then joined by other rickshaw-pullers who found the converstation interesting)

TD: to dada humko kya karna padega?

WE: aapko mahina mein 100 rupya jama karna hai...karnege??
TD (takes time to think): !!!!!!!

WE: arey dekhiye ...apko din ka 4 rupya jama karke ek jagah rakhna hai...din ka 4 rupya jama kar paaynege???
TD: haan babu...kar lenge

WE: badhiya...aisa karte karte mahina mein 120 rupya ho jaayega...hai na...fir Post Office wala agent se mila denge..wo aapka paisa jama kar aayega...aisa teen saal tak karna hoga thik hai???
(I intentionally didnt tell them about the fines for defaulting the installments fearing it would act as an deterrent)
TD: par babu...hum to padha nahi hai...hum kaise karega???

WE: Aapko uska chinta nahi karna hai...Form humlog bhar denge aapko sirf sign karna hoga...sign karna jaante hain to???
TD(proudly): haan dada jaante hain.

WE: to bachcha log ke liye kuch karna hai na...unka future ke liye...unlog ko bada aadmi banana hai...hai ki nahi??
TD: haan babu...karenge....
(This conversation had already attracted 6 more richshaw-pullers. Their body language was saying that they were also interested. So, i din't waste the opportunity and asked them if they were interested...the answer was affirmative).

I was taking pride on myself as I had successfully achieved the target. The very next day I contacted a Post Office agent and asked her to help us. She willingly agreed to lend her support. How we procured the forms and got their accounts opened requires another posting on Indian Bureaucracy but after unrelenting efforts from our side we were able to open some 30 accounts within 10 days.

That feeling of achievement could not last longer and then I realized the essence of the challenge thrown by Prof. Sanyal and it was the sustainabilty of the saving patterns started by us. After 2-3 installments nearly 60% of the investors started defaulting. The reasons I chalked out for this were firstly our own negligence. We got involved in things like GRE, CAT and placements and hence our connection with those poor investors got snapped. Secondly, we ignored the fact that they were already having low levels of income and without creating any source of the same we kind of added extra burden on them. We realized that we had committed a grave mistake. It was now our responsiblity to do something to increase their income level. Having this thing in our mind we fixed-up a meeting with the wives of those richshaw-pullers. We targeted women this time because we learnt that women are more capable to save than males. We convinced the 20-women group to utilize their free time in some kind of kutir udyog to raise their income level. We named it Jagruti Mahila Gramodyog Samiti and started with a business of pickle manufacturing. The result is that, today we have received the first returns on the first lot of pickle sold. Though it is a meagre amount of Rs 560 which we, rather those women have earned but it definitely bears a mark of the bright future of those 20 families.

Posted by TS at 9:47 PM  
6 comments
aks said...

Gr8 work!!! Keep it up...our society needs this... :)

February 25, 2008 at 1:37 AM  
Surendra said...

Great work !!!! ..nicely presented...How can I assist this group?... physically....economically Feel free to contact me for any help

surendra.iitkgp@gmail.com

February 28, 2008 at 9:28 AM  
Mann said...

thanks you for your support guys ... right now best help you can do is keep urself updated and in touch through this blog. We soon will need as much help as we can get.

Team Jagruti

February 28, 2008 at 12:44 PM  
Abhishake said...

great work guys...will surely love to help u in whatever way i can

March 7, 2008 at 12:15 PM  
rick said...

@abhishake...thnx for the support but how do we know who u are...

March 7, 2008 at 3:16 PM  
elisha_007 said...

Was it necessary to open recurring bank accounts? To avoid defaulters, couldn't we open normal saving accounts?

July 9, 2008 at 9:09 PM  

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