3.1 4th Annual Convention of Gramin Mahila Manch
28th Oct. 2007 / Organiser: Gramin Mahila Manch/ Venue: Peaceful Society, Goa.
The fourth annual Gramin Mahila Manch Convention was organized on 28th Oct. 2007 in the campus of Peaceful Society. The programme began with a chorus song sung by all the representatives gathered from various States of India. The representatives sang songs from their own mother tongues viz. Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, Malayalam, Tamil etc on social and patriotic themes. It was indeed a scene of National Integrity to listen to songs of patriotic nature from these different Indian languages.
Smt. Jyoti Gaonkar anchored the inaugural Session. The session began at 10.30 a.m. The atmosphere was charged with enthusiasm due to sweet songs presented by the representatives.
Smt. Jyoti Gaonkar explained the role of Gramin Mahila Manch in the development of village women in Goa. She also introduced the women who were awarded the Gramin Mahila Manch Seva Puraskar during the earlier three years.
The earlier awardees were as follows:
- Shrimati Sulochana Vajarikar
- Shrimati Nilima Naik
- Shrimati Suhasini Naik
- Shrimati Mukta Naik
Then, a song was sung on the theme of Swaraj. The song is popularly called as Swaraj Geet. It was presented by Shri Bageshwar Bagi, Shri Ramesh Sharma and others. There were slogans on the subject of women awareness.
The dignitaries were invited to grace the dais. Shrimati Nirmala Sawant, ex-minister Government of Goa was the president of the function.
Following were the dignitaries to join the dais besides Shrimati Sawant :
Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar (Chief Guest of the Function)
Shrimati Bharati Bandodkar (President of the Gramin Mahila Manch)
Shrimati Lalan Kerkar (President of the Peaceful Society)
(Shrimati Lalan Kerkar)
Shrimati Lalan Kerkar in her welcome speech thanked Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar for having come from a distant place and graced this occasion. She welcomed Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar and expressed her good wishes for her social work.
Shrimati Lalan Kerkar appreciated the role of Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar in the field of social development of rural women by highlighting following points:
- An illustrious role was played during the freedom movement as well as in the environmental field by her father who was popularly called as Bhau Nawrekar.
- Smt. Nawrekar’s father formed an organisation called Nirmal Gram which later on was developed to greater heights and excellence by his daughter Smt. Nawrekar.
- Due to her efforts, this organisation is famous and nationally acclaimed today.
- Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar designed programmes to introduce the students of schools and colleges about the importance of environment protection.
- She introduced “The Village Cleanliness Campaign” (Gram Swachchata Abhiyan) at village level.
- To seek cleanliness at village level, she started educating the villagers, in particular the women about hygiene and proper cleanliness habits.
- As a part of Village Community Cleanliness Campaign, she encouraged to build cost-effective toilets for public use. She also taught the people to take responsibility of cleaning these toilets.
- Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar received various prestigious awards right from the Nehru Yuva Puraskar to the highest award of Rashtrapati Puraskar.
After this, Shrimati Lalan Kerkar welcomed and introduced the chair-person of the function Shrimati Nirmala Sawant. She welcomed all the women-representatives who gathered from various parts of India besides welcoming the women who came from various parts of the state of Goa.
Shrimati Bharati Bandodkar
In her introductory speech, Shrimati Bharati Bandodkar put before the audience her thoughts about following issues faced by Goan society:
- The rising incidents of suicides in Goa
- The percentage of failures in SSCE is rising. The number of students leaving their schools before completing SSCE is alarmingly rising.
- The number of unemployed youths is increasing.
- Inter-personal conflicts and divorce rate is rising in the Goan society.
- There is a rise in the physical as well as mental ailments among Goan people.
- The number of diabetic patients is rising.
- The ground level of sweet water is going down.
- The controversy of using traditional salt or the iodised salt in the daily food is creating confusion among the people.
- The effects of the over-dose of iodised salt are not studied properly.
- Issue of garbage management
After this introduction, the traditional lamp was lighted at the hands of Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar.
Shri Ramesh Sharma:
Shri Ramesh Sharma spoke on this occasion focusing upon the glorious role played by Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar in the field of community cleanliness campaign. Shri Sharma explained the dedicated role played by her father Moreshwar alias Bhau Nawrekar in the Indian Independence movement besides working for the cause of Nirmal Gram.
The flower bouquet was presented to each dignitary on the dais.
Then, there was a poem recital by Shrimati Suhasini Naik depicting the social work of Shrimati Bharati Bandodkar and Shri Kumar Kalanand Mani. Shrimati Suhasini narrated in her poem their zealous role in the social field which is reflected aptly in the success of Peaceful Society.
Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar :
In her address as a chief guest, Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar put her revolutionary thoughts on following points:
- Women should not feel inferior nor feel ashamed to clean their houses and the surrounding campus.
- The male members of the family should be made aware to keep their house and its campus clean and neat.
- We should properly manage the garbage and recycle the same as organic manure.
- It is shameful to go for toilet on the open ground and particularly in case of woman it is more shameful.
- The proper arrangement of closed toilets is not made in many parts of our country. It is an insult of our mothers and sisters to choose open ground for toilet. This is the reason why our villages and cities become dirty.
- The people of Europe and America notice civic sense lacking in our people when they come to India. They see the dirt everywhere and take back a very bad impression about our land. We have to change this scenario.
- We have to respect all the sources of water including sacred rivers of this land. Our culture teaches us that the rivers are our mothers and we have to worship and protect them. However, what we see is the utter pollution of the sources of water and the rivers flowing through this land. The sacred Ganga is also badly polluted today. The chemical effluents and other garbage are thrown in these rivers making the water dangerous for human consumption.
- During monsoon, the flowing water also carries along the disease bearing bacteria and viruses particularly that of polio released during open toilet habit in the villages. These viruses then enter into the bodies of healthy people through drinking water. This is one of the main reasons why people fall sick.
- Therefore, there is a need to use safe and closed toilets.
- There are different types of worms in our stomach like roundworms which eat the maximum food that go in our bodies. These worms, if not treated properly give rise to different illnesses. The root cause of many diseases is the eggs of such worms entering the body of a healthy person. Therefore the toilets need to be safely closed.
- Approximately 80% of the diseases are considered to be dirt-related.
- In Indian culture a cow is revered as mother. We worship a cow and at the same time it is exposed to the dirt on the open ground left as a matter of toilet.
- The food left-out is packed in the plastic and thrown out on the open ground. Such plastic packets are later on consumed by cattle and the result is the untimely death of the cattle due to congestion of these plastic bags in their intestines.
- There are certain types of plastic which remain on this earth without getting destroyed for minimum 400 years to maximum ten lakhs of years.
- The earth is our mother and we have to take care of her environmental balance.
- We should learn the practices of naturally recycling the garbage from our houses.
- There is nothing as waste in the world. What we see as dirt is only a matter misplaced. When we put the garbage or drainage water in its right place then it converts itself into manure.
- Today, Americans are learning and appreciating the age-old traditional farming ways adopted by Indians where organic manure had prime importance. Contrarily today, Indians are blindly following the modern concepts of using chemical fertilizers.
- The organic manure takes care of the soil fertility and the crop we get by using the organic manure is also better for health.
- We can use the garbage-turned manure for cultivating small garden in and around our house. This activity will also help us get rid of the dirt and keep our house, the campus and the village clean and safe for human existence.
- Even the Patanjali’s Yoga Shastra propagates the idea that the clean surrounding is conducive in the spiritual growth a person.
Question and Answer Session:
Shrimati Anjali Naik:
The women in rural as well as urban areas face the garbage problem. From the address of Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar, what we have learnt is that the garbage is not an issue. However, we need to manage it properly. So, what we need today is the practical demonstration of garbage management. This can help us adopt such practices in our day-to-day life.
Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar:
The books related to management of garbage are published by our organisation. These books can help you understand the proper methods of garbage management. Besides, our organisation also undertakes various camps on the said theme. A representative from Goa can come to our organisation and learn the methods and this knowledge can help teach people from Goa about healthy practices of garbage management.
Shrimati Suhasini Naik:
I live in an urban place of Ponda taluka. The surrounding is inundated with plastic use and throw-away bags. Due to this, the canals and gutters very often get congested.
Shrimati Nirmala Sawant:
Plastic is a world-wide issue. There should be research to curb this menace of rising plastic garbage.
Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar put following points in reply to above query:
- The research is going on world-wide to find ways to dispose of the plastic garbage in an environment-friendly manner.
- It would be worth stopping manufacturing of the plastic till we come across ways to dispose of the plastic garbage in proper manner.
- For our day-to-day shopping purpose, we must rely more on cotton bags.
- The highest garbage that we see around us is certainly that of plastic carry bags and, destroying such bags is a difficult process. We can not burn these bags because the carcinogenic gases emitted during the burning process are very harmful for health. Besides, these gases float in the atmosphere for a long time.
- The carcinogenic gases emitted during the burning process of plastic material also consequently lead to the depletion of ozone layer. If this ozone layer is depleted then the very survival of living beings upon this planet earth is endangered.
- In Nagpur, a researcher by name Shrimati Alka Zadgaonkar has experimented upon the plastic and found that it could be dissolved successful into its original elements. However, this is under experimentation and it is certainly not easy task to successfully disintegrate the plastic material which is heaped in large scale all over the world.
- The garbage problem is ten times more in urban areas than that of rural areas.
- What we can suggest as simple way of disposing the garbage is management of the garbage in one’s own house by recycling the same.
Shrimati Rajani Raikar:
- In Goa the problem of using open spaces for toilet purpose is very less in comparison to other Indian states.
- The real problem lies with the migraant labourers settled in Goa. The provision of toilets is not made and hygienic atmosphere is not ensured near the settlements of such labourers.
- Therefore, it should be made mandatory on the part of all the contractors who hire these labourers to provide them with all basic facilities including proper toilets and water.
Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar:
In her reply, she made following points clear:
- In every human settlement, toilets are important and they must be made compulsory.
- The contractors before hiring such labourers must ensure the availability of these basic facilities.
- The contractors before hiring such labourers can erect cost-effective, make-shift kinds of toilets.
Shrimati Nirmala Sawant:
Shrimati Sawant put forward following opinions:
- The Goan residents who let their houses for outsiders and labourers should ensure that the toilets are made available to these people. There should be a law to ensure every household letting their rooms or part of houses to equip them with proper toilet facilities.
- Why do we buy plastic carry-bags when there are other options to carry our day-to-day items?
- In case of fish and milk, we think plastic bag as a better option. But we should know that there are many solid items which could be very easily carried in paper or cotton bags.
- We should refrain from using plastic cups during public ceremonies since these cups are thrown out immediately after the use and become pollutants.
- I personally avoid the tinned cold-drinks since they are scientifically proven to be harmful for human consumption.
- I prefer eco-friendly items for my daily use.
- I prefer sarees which are 90% cotton-made.
- The habits of using eco-friendly items should be inculcated in our family members.
Smt. Jyoti Gaonkar:
Since many people live in small apartments and small houses, there is scarcity of space for their day-to-day belongings. In such cases how the garbage management is possible?
Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar
- We have introduced effective method of garbage management within a limited space.
- The garbage other than plastic could be successfully converted into organic manure by adopting this method.
- This method could be conveniently used by any person right from a rich person living in bungalow to a poor living in a hut.
- We use a small box for this purpose and this box could be accommodated in any small corner of the house, gallery or open terrace.
Shri Kumar Kalanand Mani:
He put up following points regarding garbage issue:
- We have to seriously study the future consequences before establishing garbage centers in rural areas.
- In Goa domestic garbage is not a big problem but the industrial waste and chemical effluents is becoming an alarming issue.
- Every industry in Goa should take proper steps to manage its own garbage.
- Western countries are dumping their e-waste in the under-developed countries.
- Today, Goan environment is more endangered due to mega-factories in Goa.
- The economic progress need not be at the cost of threatening our environment.
- The Government policies are some times directly or indirectly monitored and manipulated by people with vested interests.
Shrimati Nalini Nawrekar:
We have to inspect whether the arrival of Konkan railway has really contributed in the progress of Konkan region. Today, the industries are increasing and the result is again rise in the industrial waste.
Shrimati Effie D’Souza:
- Even today, the women are not free in the real sense.
- We have to manage bio-degradable waste and non-bio-degradable waste separately.
- Today, disposal of medical waste is also becoming a problem.
With this debate, the first session of the GMM convention came to an end.
The second session of the Gramin Mahila Manch convention
The second session began with folk songs in Konkani and Marathi. There was a thought-provoking debate on the theme of ‘Challenges before today’s women’. In this debate two women representatives viz. Shrimati Anjali Naik and Shrimati Kalawati Patil participated and expressed their views.
Challenges before today’s women
(Shrimati Anjali Naik)
Shrimati Anjali Naik put following points in her speech:
- Today, new challenges are faced by women. During pre-independence times, the women were not provided any opportunity for their development.
- The scenario has changed today. Women are coming forward in several fields, viz. medicine, engineering, aero-space technology etc.
- However, this progress is not seen in all the parts of India. Very few women are privileged to seek their development and large part of women community is still in some or other kind of slavery.
- Therefore, there is a need from all the sides to seek an all-round development of women in this country.
- To combat the rising inflation, the women should take initiative and try to establish themselves in trade and industry. The Government should encourage women- entrepreneurship.
- The sad part is that many times the highly educated women have to restrict themselves in the four walls of their houses.
- The women have high degree of patience and perseverance. They can provide excellent moral education to their children and can inculcate good values in their children.
- There are rising instances of physical and mental torture and sexual harassment of working women. The problem is much faced by the women who stay and roam alone and work for night-shifts.
- Many times the male members of the family impose their ideas and suggestions upon women who other wise are competent to take their own rightful decisions while serving as people’s representative.
- The women mostly are affected by blind faiths and superstitions. The need is to impart scientific attitude in the women.
- Awareness should be made among women about their constitutional rights and duties.
Challenges before today’s women
(Shrimati Kalawati Patil)
Shrimati Kalawati Patil reflected on following points in her speech:
- A woman should introspect and try to understand her potential power and her weakness as well.
- It is foolish to continue suffering from the injustices. Today, Women have to openly challenge the social norms and customs which go against their democratic rights.
- While looking after and caring for the family, the women neglect their own health and silently suffer from various ailments.
- The power to oppose injustices is not yet built within themselves by today’s women.
- The women are also not particularly concerned about exploring their own potentialities.
- Therefore, we need similar kind of programmes and conventions at every place in order to enable women to voice for their rights.
- All the women should unite and struggle against the blind-faiths, and superstitions prevailing in the Indian society. However, we have also to ensure that the best elements within our culture need to be protected.
The year 2007, Gramin Mahila Manch Seva puraskars
The year 2007, Gramin Mahila Manch Seva puraskars were awarded to Shrimati Aruna Dhuri and Shrimati Pratiksha Gawade.
Shrimati Nilima Angle read out the Manapatra describing the social achievements of Shrimati Pratiksha Gawade.
Similarly, Shrimati Suhasini Naik read out the Manapatra presented to Shrimati Aruna Dhuri.
After presenting the awards by the hands of Shrimati Nirmala Sawant, the audience greeted and wished the awardees to excel to greater heights even in future in their social activities.
After receiving the award, Shrimati Pratikasha Gaude put following reflections before the audience:
- Today’s women should get themselves introduced with progressive thoughts.
- In 21st century, women have made lot of their progress in various socio-economic fields due to wide-spread educational facilities. However, the common women are not seen yet to reap the fruits of technological advancement.
- The rural women are still confined to the four walls of their homes.
- The rural women are deprived of the opportunities to express their talents.
- This felicitation is actually the felicitation of my village people.
- The women should come forward, unite and try to sort out their problems.
- We have to appreciate Peaceful Society for this commendable job of felicitating particularly rural women who strive for social cause but remain unnoticed from the eyes of the general public.
- This step will certainly encourage other women who are also working for similar social cause at the grass-root level. The women will develop self confidence and will in no way experience inferiority complex as a result of such social recognition of their social commitment.
Shrimati Nirmala Sawant:
Shrimati Nirmala Sawant put her views meaningfully as follows:
- The women are not particularly fond of sitting and idling at one place. They do not prefer to sit at one place and silently listen. They believe in work. And, it is a good quality that women prefer to work more than to sit idle.
- It is difficult to bring large number of women at one place and hold this type of function in a disciplined manner. We have to congratulate Shrimati Bharati Bandodkar and Peaceful Society for having arranged successfully this kind of function particularly for women community.
- Today, there is a need to bring self-confidence among women.
- The cleanliness is not only of our body and our surrounding but it encompasses also the clean moral values and attitudes which are essentially required for the healthy growth of any society.
- A person should follow what she or he believes in and asserts in her or his daily life. However, what we see today is persons talking louder about many things but not putting those things in practical life.
- The tears of any woman have tremendous power. We have to use the tears for good cause.
- Though, there is Domestic Violence Act, we sadly find cases where 70% of the women atrocities are from their own family members and relatives.
- The senior women from the house should shoulder the responsibility of educating teenage girls about their growth-related issues and queries.
- We have to judiciously use the time available to us. The 24 hours of our day should be properly planned and worked out for optimum output. We should avoid spending more time in sleep and gossiping.
Vote of thanks by Shri Kumar Kalanand Mani:
While expressing sincere thanks to one and all, Shri Kumar Kalanand Mani put before the audience a few thoughts. He applauded the ideas put by two women representatives about the challenges before women in this century. However, he lamented about today’s scenario of the mother earth in the name of development. He brought to the notice of the audience that few years back Punjab was considered as the most progressive and developed state in India. But today, it is a bankrupt state facing lot of problems, Shri Mani revealed in his address. He further warned that, “we have to seriously think about the conditions that led to degradation of this state and similarly, we also have to be careful about the future our dear state Goa.