While inheriting a history that can be traced back to the Hindu epic of Mahabharata when it was ruled by Mayurdhwaj or King Venu, a great devotee of lord Krishna and a loyal friend of Arjun, Pilibhit derives its name from a local village where people build yellow-coloured mud walls around their dwelling units to protect themselves from wild animals. Ruled by the Muslim rulers and then the Marathas, Pilibhit has its share in the Independence struggle with the hanging of 21 locals by the British in January 1909. Even after six decades of Independence, almost a half of Pilibhit’s population is yet to be liberated from the bondage of poverty.
Located at sub-Himalayan Plateau belt on the boundary of Nepal and the originating point of Gomti river, Pilibhit is among the backward districts of India. Almost 40 per cent of the population is illiterate and nearly half of the masses are below the poverty line. Connectivity to Pilibhit is very poor. Roads are in a dilapidated condition and the city is connected only with a meter-gauge train. In a list of 423 towns and cities in India, Pilibhit is ranked third from the bottom in terms of hygiene and sanitation, according to a government report. Financial awareness among the common people is very low.
In this backdrop, Skoch Group chose Pilibhit for the Samavesh programme as its motto is to reach out to the people who need it the most. SKOCH team organised the programme quite successfully despite several difficulties–be it traveling in three wheelers in the dark chilly night or working from early morning till late night without a break and proper food.
“This is what makes us different. We work at the grassroots and try to reach out to the people who need us the most,” said Skoch Group Chairman, Sameer Kochhar.
A team visited and identified women from the far-flung villages who were encouraged for participation. It was quite a challenge to convince the women to come out of their home as they are always engaged in some household work and often not allowed to step out of the house. Proving some of the preconceived notions wrong women turned up in unexpectedly large number and participated actively in the programme.
(Gyanendra Keshri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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