Few team members from ‘News With Chai’ walked through the muddy and dark roads of Arjan Garh. Its on the way to Gurgaon. We wanted to meet a person known to us for her women empowerment efforts in that area. On our way we saw a government school which we heard runs in two shifts; one shift for the boys and the other for the girls! We asked the reason. They said that the parents prefer it that way, owing to the fear of child abuse. We heard it. We didn’t respond.

As we progressed, our têteàtête with dirty roads increased! We saw a small patch of concrete road being laid. As a small smile was about to begin from the corners of our lips, we heard one of the women accompanying us in this adventurous walkathon saying, “Lo! Yeh road tho abhi jaldbaaz mein ban rahi hain elections ke waje se. Iske baad koi mudke bhi nahin dekhenge isko”. We heard this too. We didn’t respond.

At last, after crossing the dark, dirty, murky, unkempt, unhygienic lanes and by-lanes in the national capital region of India, we reached Ramani Sekar’s Vishwassevak Society Office; a registered non-profit organization in the field of women empowerment and education since August 2008.

Talking about these women, Ramani says, “We have a group of 7 women, who migrated from different villages as newly weds with lot of dreams in their eyes. As life went on, the reality struck them. Many of them left their comfortable life just to get their kids educated! Education in the government schools was far below the standards and hence they had to send their kids to tuitions. This actually shows how pathetic our public-run education system is! The need for them to contribute financially in their homes was clear and much-needed. At this juncture, our ‘Koshish’ – the women empowerment initiative of vishwassewak, paved a way for them to learn and earn. We equipped these women with the know-how of foods and craft making – from key chains to quilting, from jams to pickles, etc – through a series of workshops and continued mentoring. Today, they are able to make a living out of it and add to their family’s sustenance. An objective achieved”.

What we saw here was the state of reality in the middle of the national capital region. What Ramani and her team’s doing might not get great publicity or raise major funds to scale to the next level. However, if many more people come out of their homes, discover and understand what India really is, we don’t need to tune into multiple television channels or churn through pages of newspapers in the morning, to appreciate what the country needs!

India needs you. India needs me. It is time that we come out of our homes and start doing. Three cheers to Ramani Sekar and her team for walking their talk.

As I was walking out of the lanes and by-lanes of Arjan Garh, the campaign posters for the upcoming elections cheered me, the frames of prime-time news anchors were fading in front of me and I was pushed into a wave of recurring thoughts and images of what I heard and saw. Somewhere from the corners of my memory, I remembered Snow White’s ‘MirrorMirror on the wall, Who’s the fairest of them all?’ and this time, I didn’t hide my smile. I heard. I responded.

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