This Varanasi-based man is eliminating dowry, casteism, child marriage and much more in an interesting way.
Changes in the lives of children brought by him
A young boy who worked as a child laborer 10 years ago now has a government job. Another kid has a Masters degree, and the girl who was all set to marry at a very tender age is now learning various life skills.
These are just a few examples of change that one man’s efforts have brought in the lives of people of Rajatalab, a village near Varanasi. All thanks to a local weaver, Nandlal Master, who has spread head the initiative to not only abolish child labor from the state but also empower women and educate them for a better future.
His own NGO LOKSAMITI
Nandlal wanted to cover more grounds and he did just that with the help of his own NGO Loksamiti.
In 1999, Nandlal and his colleagues founded Loksamiti in Rajatalab. Loksamiti has spread to 25 villages today and the various Loksamiti groups focus on educating the people about their rights, raising awareness about problems specific to each village. They believe that to bring about economic, social and political change, groups like Loksamiti need to act as watchdogs, demanding that their elected officials truly represent them. Loksamiti raises awareness of social issues through the street play them, Kala Manch. Loksamiti has also played an important role in the creation of 35 self-help groups for women.
After Coca-Cola plant started its extensive bottling activities in Rajatalab, the community in the neighboring areas have been suffering from water shortages and health problems due to the harmful waste from the plant. Since 2003, Loksamiti has been actively campaigning for control over its water.
Initiatives were taken by Nandlal to Stop Child Marriage
Having a strong dedication to educate the girls of the community and spare them from early marriages, he started a personal training center where girls learn various life skills like sticking.
He started an initiative of group marriages in the less privileged communities and put an end to child marriage.
Nandlal started a group wedding programme in 2007 where he got 13 couples married at one place. He raised funds through his community and asked the guests to give gifts which can be beneficial for the newly-wed couple. So all the expenses for food, lodging, gifts, etc. for the couple as well as for the guests are taken care of by the villagers.
He also promotes inter-caste marriages and looking forward to break some old age traditions of marriages within the same caste like dowry.
The impact of his work is evident through the tremendous change Benaras has seen. Child labour has gone down by a great extent and the number of child marriages have reduced too. Girls have started working and benefits of MNREGA scheme i.e. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act are now being utilised by women, who constitute 35 per cent of labour force.
In the future, Nandlal wants to engage the more privileged communities in his initiative and inspire them to organise weddings across different castes in a simpler way