Jasveen Bindra (Vikalp Women’s Group): Jasveen earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Delhi, where she wrote a thesis on religious violence and state-sponsored repression in India. She also worked on legislative research on social rights issues for an Indian Member of Parliament, and interned with the United Nations Environment Programme. Jasveen was pursuing a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution at Georgetown University when she undertook her AP fellowship. After her fellowship, she wrote: "Before embarking on this project, I wasn’t quite prepared for the challenges it would entail, nor the Huckleberry-esque adventures. In six crazy days, spanning over four crazier weeks, we learned a lot more than how to make an advocacy quilt."



Heading to Gujarat, India

03 Jun

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

In less than twenty four hours, I will be getting on a plane and traveling to the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi – Gujarat, India. As an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow, I will work with Vikalp, a human rights organization focusing on empowering marginalized communities through various mechanisms, one of which is local dispute resolution by women-led courts. These alternative courts epitomize the potential of creating contextualized models of conflict resolution- grassroots initiatives that are uniquely adapted to the local environment.

As I prepare for my fellowship, I’m trying to find the ways and means to answer various questions: How do you advocate for social change? How do you spread a message of social significance across a wider national or global space? How do you ensure that the message is created by marginalized communities themselves, and not imposed by those outside? In my field of study, I have come across many organizations doing incredible human rights work; however, they are constricted by their inability to reach a wider audience- an audience that could further generate awareness, resources, activism and support. I hope to begin bridging this gap as an Advocacy Fellow working with Vikalp.

I am excited to write about my work with Vikalp in the upcoming days, but before doing so, I hope to provide some personal context. I grew up in India, and read History at the University of Delhi. My fascination with non-violence, conflict resolution and human rights stemmed from the work of one of the most fascinating figures in modern Indian history—Mahatma Gandhi. Many Indians, myself included, are very good at articulating the problems faced by the country – the pervasive corruption, the human rights abuses ignored by the mainstream media, the staggering poverty, the inequitable education system—but not as adept at doing something about it. Gandhi’s strategies spoke to this problem; his real power was strategic, and his true strength advocacy. He advocated for the cause of Indian independence by galvanizing a populace dependent on colonial rule for over two hundred years, divided by far more than what united it, into taking ownership of their lives and their nation. I believe that Gandhi’s strategies will provide interesting reference points for advocacy and human rights in my upcoming endeavors with Vikalp.

Being from India and working in a country I am familiar with poses its own set of challenges and advantages – I realize the potent advantage of knowing the language, culture, and style of work – however, I also know that this comfort can be illusory. Every state in India is its own little country and my experience growing up in the north does not necessarily prepare me for the west. This is one of the things I love about the country – it brings to life the meaning of diversity. While textbooks can wax eloquent about India’s multiple religions, languages, and traditions; really experiencing this plurality is more sensory than cerebral. The diversity is felt in the sounds, the songs, the words, the food, the colors, the landscapes, as well as the challenges.

I am leaving with documents and spreadsheets full of objectives and best practices and outputs and outcomes – the entire gamut of Monitoring & Evaluation jargon – knowing that India has a way of overturning the best laid plans. Every now and then, however, if you pause long enough to really listen, the end results can be better than all your plans combined.

 (Written on May 26, 2013)[content-builder]{“id”:1,”version”:”1.0.4″,”nextId”:”1″,”block”:”root”,”layout”:”12″,”childs”:[{“id”:”2″,”block”:”rte”,”content”:”

\"\"<\/span><\/a><\/span><\/p>\r\n\”You must be the change you wish to see in the world.\”\u00a0-Gandhi\r\n\r\nIn less than twenty four hours, I will be getting on a plane and traveling to the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi – Gujarat, India. As an Advocacy Project Peace Fellow, I will work with Vikalp<\/a>, a human rights organization focusing on empowering marginalized communities through various mechanisms, one of which is local dispute resolution by women-led courts. These alternative courts epitomize the potential of creating contextualized models of conflict resolution- grassroots initiatives that are uniquely adapted to the local environment.\r\n\r\n\"\"<\/a>\r\n\r\nAs I prepare for my fellowship, I’m trying to find the ways and means to answer various questions: How do you advocate for social change? How do you spread a message of social significance across a wider national or global space? How do you ensure that the message is created by marginalized communities themselves, and not imposed by those outside? In my field of study, I have come across many organizations doing incredible human rights work; however, they are constricted by their inability to reach a wider audience- an audience that could further generate awareness, resources, activism and support. I hope to begin bridging this gap as an Advocacy Fellow working with Vikalp.\r\n\r\nI am excited to write about my work with Vikalp in the upcoming days, but before doing so, I hope to provide some personal context. I grew up in India, and read History at the University of Delhi. My fascination with non-violence, conflict resolution and human rights stemmed from the work of one of the most fascinating figures in modern Indian history\u2014Mahatma Gandhi. Many Indians, myself included, are very good at articulating the problems faced by the country \u2013 the pervasive corruption, the human rights abuses ignored by the mainstream media, the staggering poverty, the inequitable education system\u2014but not as adept at doing something about it. Gandhi’s strategies spoke to this problem; his real power was strategic, and his true strength advocacy. He advocated for the cause of Indian independence by galvanizing a populace dependent on colonial rule for over two hundred years, divided by far more than what united it, into taking ownership of their lives and their nation. I believe that Gandhi’s strategies will provide interesting reference points for advocacy and human rights in my upcoming endeavors with Vikalp.\r\n\r\nBeing from India and working in a country I am familiar with poses its own set of challenges and advantages \u2013 I realize the potent advantage of knowing the language, culture, and style of work – however, I also know that this comfort can be illusory. Every state in India is its own little country and my experience growing up in the north does not necessarily prepare me for the west. This is one of the things I love about the country – it brings to life the meaning of diversity. While textbooks can wax eloquent about India\u2019s multiple religions, languages, and traditions; really experiencing this plurality is more sensory than cerebral. The diversity is felt in the sounds, the songs, the words, the food, the colors, the landscapes, as well as the challenges.\r\n\r\nI am leaving with documents and spreadsheets full of objectives and best practices and outputs and outcomes – the entire gamut of Monitoring & Evaluation jargon – knowing that India has a way of overturning the best laid plans. Every now and then, however, if you pause long enough to really listen, the end results can be better than all your plans combined.\r\n\r\n\u00a0(Written on May 26, 2013)<\/em>“}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Jasveen Bindra (India)

Posted Jun 3rd, 2013

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