Green is the new pink

A gang of women have banished drug and liquor from Kushiyari village near Varanasi

swati

Swati Chandra | April 16, 2016 | New Delhi


#varanasi   #Khushiyari village   #gulabi gang   #green gang  
Members of Green Gang in Khushiyari village
Members of Green Gang in Khushiyari village

Like hundreds of other villages in its vicinity, Khushiyari in Varanasi district, was another village lost on the map of India, until a group of women popularly known as Green Gang brought it to public attention. 

 
Dressed in green sarees, these women took the pledge to eradicate drug and liquor addiction from their village. Starting this drive from their homes, the women first persuaded their husbands to leave alcohol. When persuasion failed, the women threatened the men by barging into their houses in large numbers. Now, the entire village has become liquor and drug free. 
 
“Men in our village were addicted to drugs to such an extent that they wasted all the earnings. They even started neglecting their farms. Whatever little they earned, they spent it all on alcohol. Ultimately, the main sufferers were children and women. Finally, we decided to step out our homes and fight the drug menace. Now, men don’t even dare to sit under a tree to play cards and idle away their time, like they did earlier,” says Asha Devi, leader of the Green Gang.
 
The group initially had 10 members since its inception in December 2015. Now it works with 30 women who want to bring a change in their village. Interestingly, these women have been identified as ‘Police Mitra’ (a volunteering force) by the Uttar Pradesh police. As a result they now keep a check on all kinds of crimes and also see that no rights of men, women and children are violated in the village. “Getting the badge of Police Mitra has further empowered our movement,” Asha Devi says feeling happy with the police backing. 
 
Besides advocating a drug free environment, these women have now involved themselves in encouraging cleanliness, developing infrastructure and promotion of health and healthcare schemes in the village. 
 
“We go door-to-door and inform women about various health schemes and benefits available for them,” says Asha Devi while volunteering at a polio booth in her village. 
 
However, all was not well in the Khushiyari village eight months before. The women who are now part of the Green Gang were even afraid to come out of their houses, a few months back. Like thousands of women dwelling in rural areas of the country, the life of even these women was confined to their households. They could not read and write and were not aware of their rights.
 
But what changed their position? “The credit for the massive change in our life goes to the students who have been working tirelessly for the development of our village,” Asha says.
 
In August 2015, few students from the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth (MGKV) and other universities and colleges from Varanasi voluntarily adopted Khushiyari village, which was another nondescript village in the region. 
 
Ravi Mishra, a post graduate from BHU, who heads the group of 287 students, says, “Development of any village depends on how it treats its women. So we started encouraging women to come out of their confine and get informal education. Initially we taught nine women. Slowly, other women started getting inspired from them and came to attend our classes. At present, 90 women are learning alphabets, calculation and basic general knowledge.”
 
Once the women started learning about their rights and became aware of development in other villages, they decided to speak against domestic abuse and drug addiction prevalent in their village and thus Green Gang was formed, Mishra says. 
 
The students have also started Hope Welfare Trust under which they carry out all the development works with their own pocket money. “We don’t take any fund from anywhere,” says Mishra.
 
The village comes under Bandepur gram panchayat which is 10 km from the Varanasi main city. Most of the villages under this gram panchayat are devoid of facilities like health, education and basic infrastructure.
 
swati@governancenow.com

(The column appears in the May 16-31, 2016 issue of Governance Now)

Comments

 

Other News

India’s fastest prototype Train 18 not fully made in India

The much talked-about Train 18 of the Indian Railways, which recently breached 180 kmph speed limit in the trials, has 20 percent of its components being imported from foreign countries. Although the train is seen as the finest example of technical prowess of the Indian Railways’ coaching f

A portal for ports and ships

Riding on the Digital India wave, the directorate general of shipping is contemplating to unveil a dedicated shipping portal to bring transparency, curb corruption by unscrupulous agents involved in maritime industry and speed up the process of granting approvals.   The DG sh

Yogi Adityanath and the law of karma

Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, a BJP poster made news for showing Yogi Adityanath riding a tiger and other parties’ leaders riding a donkey each. Yogi’s fondness for tigers is well known, but in hindsight, the chief minister seems to be riding a metaphorical tiger – and do

CAG report reveals why trains run late in India

Ever wonder why your train gets delayed every time? Well, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found an answer. As per a CAG report only 101 out of 163 platforms of 15 major stations of the Indian Railways can accommodate trains with 24 or more coaches. The creepy infrastructure and delays in comp

Quantum urbanism in action: To protect earth, rethink waste

How can Quantum Urbanism help us rethink waste? It is as much a question as it is an open invitation to explore our relationship with waste and how deeply wedded that relationship is to systems thinking and everything else that comes bundled with it.    Simply put, Quant

If Mumbai is not to be Slumbai...

To solve the problem of urban slums in the city of Mumbai, substantial amendments were made to the Development Control Regulations (DCRs) for Greater Mumbai, 1991. In 1997 a separate Annexure was notified under DCR 33 (10) to deal exclusively with slum redevelopment schemes.    

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter