Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram
|Area served||Health care, education, basic amenities, tribal sports and preserving tribal culture|
|Focus(es)||Tribal and indigenous communities of India|
|Motto||Nagaravāsi Grāmavāsi Vanavāsi We Are All Bhāratavāsi|
The Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram is an Indian social welfare organization based in Jashpur in the Chhattisgarh district of India. It focuses on indigenous tribes in remote areas of India, and has branches all over India. These branches focus on agriculture, healthcare, child education, sports and culture in their respective regions.
The Ashram was founded in 1952 by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) swayamsevak, Ramakant Keshav Deshpande, with the help of the Madhya Pradesh state government and the RSS. Based in Jashpur (214 km from Raigarh), it established schools in Raigarh and Surguja districts, areas with large tribal populations. R K Deshpande worked from 1948 to 1957 with the state's Department of Tribal Welfare.
The Ashram grew rapidly after the emergency was lifted, so much so that in 1977, it acquired National status (expressed in its new name Bhāratiya Vanavāsi Kalyān Āshram). From 1978 to 1983, the number of its full-time volunteers rose from 44 to 264 (56 of whom were tribals). In Jashpur, a hospital was established. Schools, hotels and centers for apprenticeship in manual trades were also established in 40 villages. The programs are located in 312 districts throughout the country and are supervised by more than a thousand full-time workers. While most districts have primary schools, many other places have residential schools, hostels, libraries and health centers. Important annual events include medical camps, traditional sports, and the celebration of tribal festivals. Bala sahab born in Amarawati Maharastra.
Mode of operation
The tribal communities in India suffer from lack of education and proper health care facilities. As a result, many carry out disruptive activities. Vanavasi Ashram helps the communities to protect their interests and assists them to solve their own problems.
The Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram helps with the formation of people's self-help groups. It also encourages small gatherings in post offices, provides training for scientific cultivation of cash crops, distributes seeds and seedlings and helps arrange local resources for irrigation. It also helps widows and the elderly get their pensions. The Ashram increases people's awareness by organizing occasional symposiums on current issues like 'Impact of Globalization and Liberalization on Tribal Life' and publishing books and periodicals dealing with socio-cultural aspects of day-to-day tribal life.
The Ashram, by providing the basic amenities like health care, employment, and education, helps to prevent the tribes from joining hands with disruptive forces that hamper their development. Their efforts are also directed at conflict resolution between the different tribes which can, at times, indulge in clashes among themselves over petty issues. The Ashram has been promoting the concept that all the tribal groups belong to India and hence are one.
The Ashram has a network of single teacher schools across the tribal areas where there are no government schools, based on Swami Vivekananda's saying, "If the mountain does not come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. If the poor cannot come to education, education must reach them at the plough, in the factory, everywhere." Many tribal people are now serving in higher government posts at the central and state level. Almost 90% of Hindi teachers in Nagaland state are products of Kalyan Ashram hostels, as well as our one medical officer serving in the central government in Delhi. Many of our former students are selected for state police services and they are serving the nation with excellent commitment.
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram has hundreds of sports facilities and centres across the tribal areas of the countries that promote tribal sports, especially archery. The students from various schools and hostels run by the organization have won laurels in archery at national and international levels.
Limba Ram, belonging to the tribal community of Rajasthan in Northern India and a product of the Ashram, has won many medals and has represented India in the Olympic games. Many other students from different schools of Ashram across India have won medals at state and the national levels in games conducted by the Sports Authority of India. Ashram has various centers across the country where basic infrastructure is provided to train them in archery and help them preserve the tribal games. Kavita Raut, winner of commonwealth and Asian games athlete, also a product of Vishva Hindu Parishad Nasik is taking training from SAI Bangalore for better performance for the forecoming Olympic games.
The Vanavāsis (Tribals) were called Aboriginals and made victims of divide and rule policy of the British. They were declared to be animists with no religion worth the name. The tribal regions were scaled off as "Protected Areas" to all except Christian missionaries. Now, the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram has begun working in those areas in a spirit of service, equal brotherhood and love. Sanskar Kendras (Devanagari: संस्कार केंद्र) for women and children, schools, hostels, reading rooms, free dispensaries, and village and cottage industries have been started in increasing numbers in all the provinces.
The Ashram helps the tribals protect their rich cultures. It organizes performances of traditional folk lore and dances like `Kolatam', `Chakka Bhajana' and `Dhimsa' dance. Among the several events, the important ones include medical camps, traditional sports, and celebration of tribal and major Hindu festivals (like Raksha Bandhan, Hanuman Jayanti, Ram Navami, Govardhan Puja, Indal Pooja and Krishna Janmashtami).
- Govinda Chandra Rath, Tribal development in India, 2006,
- Jaffrelot, Christophe (1996). The Hindu nationalist movement and Indian politics: 1925 to the 1990. London: C Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd. pp. 322–323. ISBN 1-85065-301-1.
- Aiming high: Vanavasi Kalyana Ashram is helping tribal groups achieve self-reliance, The Hindu, Saturday, Feb 25, 2006
- Official Website
- From drought to lush forest
- Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram to form women committees in all Vanvasi districts