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South India Programs

Project Site Background: INDIA: SOUTH-INDIA: Tamil Nadu

generic India is a nation that has made great strides that it is rightly proud of. However, it has one legacy that modern India has decided to tackle head-on but for which it needs help. That legacy is its caste system—a system that existed for more than 3000 years although no longer officially supported.

Historically there used to be four main castes: the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas, and finally the Sudras (the farmers and the peasant caste). Beneath the four main castes is a fifth group, the Scheduled Caste. They are the untouchables, the Dalits. The Dalits historically performed what were considered the most menial and degrading jobs.

In India there are approximately 250 million Dalits. This means that some  25% of the population is Dalit. Today, although caste is no longer officially supported, there is a long road to go to empower historically disenfranchised peoples such as the Dalits (and the Sudras) in terms of past historic lack of access to education.

GLP HIGH LITERACY CLUSTER INITIATIVES

1. Human Rights Education Movement of India (HREMI) : Tamil Nadu

generic Among its many goals, the Human Rights Education Movement of India (HREMI) is a program that seeks:

To support the coordination and promotion of the education of [poor] village youth and women’s groups; To organize youth leadership camps; To facilitate the exchange of ideas, sharing of experiences and bringing people together from different political and religious groups for dialogue and discussion.

HREMI works to empower men and women, organizations and individuals working towards the realization of their human rights. Currently the organization concentrates on supporting educational initiatives for residents of seven (7) districts of Tamil Nadu covering a total of approximately of 209 villages, namely:

Thiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Madurai , Sivagangai, Chennai, Salem and Dharmapuri

The area has been divided into 7 clusters. Each cluster caters to 10 to 15 villages.

Global Literacy Project—HREMI (Delta Community College of Nursing Initiative)

genericOver the next decade GLP will be working with the Human Rights Education Movement of India (and its program at the Delta Community College of Nursing ) to facilitate the creation of a modern nursing library in support of their three-year certificate program and the one-year basic training program. We also hope to create a multimedia center for use by the students.

GLP also plans to develop small reference libraries in strategic elementary and high schools in the various clusters over the next decade to support the goals of the Human Rights Education Movement of India.

Finally, GLP anticipates having volunteers visit these sites over time to assist in a variety of ways via our “Global Learning Expeditions.”

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2. Integrated Rural Development Centre (IRDC): Gandarvakottai, Pudukottai

Integrated Rural Development Centre (IRDC) is a secular non-profit organisation ( established in 1987 registered as a public trust) that focuses its activities on the rural areas of Gandarvakottai--a sub-district of some 37 village in the Pudukottai district (click HERE for map)of Tamil Nadu state in South India. As described in IRDC's development literature, this sub-district receives little rain because the mountains create a rain shadow effect that blocks precipitation. There is little industry and 90% of the population depends on agriculture with some 60% of the population having noownership in land at all, while 35% own a homestead only. Remnants of feudal system still exist in Gandarvakottai..

The vision of IRDC is an egalitarian society, free from oppression, violence, exploitation and injustice, irrespective of caste, creed and gender. IRDC believes the vision can be realised through integrated development approach that ensures peoples participation and eco-environmental balance. Currently IRDC works with some 4,500 households providing visits by health workers on regular basis and imparting basic education with a focus on child development, family planning, environmental awareness and personal hygiene.

IRDC supports children from three to five years old in early childhood learning centres. At any point there are more than 500 children in the early learning centres who are provided with meals and nutritional suppliments. Children move from the early learning centers to local government run primary schools. However, supplementary education and coaching are provided to primary and high school children with the goal of preventing them from dropping out from school.

For the latest on GLP's efforts to support IRDC's work see the latest news about our Gandarvakottai HLC.

For more information on IRDC see http://irdc-india-uk.org/contact-irdc.htm.

 

INDIA:

A Brief Profile--> CLICK HERE

A Brief Primer on Caste

According to the Hindu religion, society should be divided into four broad classes called VARNAS. A person had the same varna that his or her parents had. And he or she had it from birth to death — there was no way to change it.

The Hindu caste system is ordered hierarchically, with Brahmins at the top and Sudras at the bottom. Untouchables, also known as Harijans or Dalits, fall outside of the caste system all together.

Dalits do all the most unpleasant work in South Asia. They are forced to live on the outskirts of towns and villages, and they must take water downstream from and not share wells with varna Hindus.

caste system

The caste system is not described in the Hindu scripture. The system was originally devised to create an understandable division of labor and identify different groups of people.

Beyond Books, Apex Learning Inc., Culture and Geography, The Caste System, http://www.beyondbooks.com/wcu91/3g.asp, Accessed: Monday, July 30, 2007

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India's Changing Caste System

India's lower castes are fighting for equal opportunities. Watch this video report about their struggle. WATCH VIDEO

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