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How the Gandhi children helped the women of Amethi
April 19, 2005 13:11 IST
Last Updated: April 19, 2005 16:05 IST
What did Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra carry with them when they visited Pakistan to attend a cricket match last year?
Designer candles, hair clips made of bamboos, earthernware items and pickles made by the women of their "extended family" in Amethi which they have been nurturing since long.
About four years ago, the young Priyanka motivated the women from the area to hone their skills and take up trade that would give them not just some occupation in their free time but also make them self-sufficient. Under the aegis of the Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojna, a self-help group took shape in about 1200 villages across Amethi and included over 16,000 women.
Priyanka and her mother Sonia Gandhi arranged for trainers, experts and marketing persons to help the women earn a decent income by using things available locally, Pavitra Mutto, project director and coordinator of the Pariyojna, told PTI.
"The idea was to make them self-sufficient at a time when their member of Parliament, because of being in the Opposition, could not help in bringing any major scheme for the area's development," she said.
The experiment has started yielding results with the women, about a dozen in each of the 1200 villages, earning about Rs 800 to Rs 1200 per month.
Among other things, the women's groups produce pickles, spices, embroidered clothes and grow vegetables which are also available in their showroom in Gauriganj. Showrooms are on the anvil in Lucknow and Delhi too for which Priyanka's help is being sought, Mutto said, adding that the Pariyojana's work is being regularly monitored by all the three members of the Gandhi family.
On election days, the groups get special orders to supply flags and other campaign material which help them earn an additional income, Mutto said. Financial help has also come from the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development.
Besides, these women have a credit system among themselves which today has a hefty bank balance of Rs 44 lakhs. The project has also provided a platform to the children of the area to showcase their drawing and painting talent, with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation printing pictures made by them on its greeting cards last year.
"Drawings made by the children are printed along with their names and villages and they also earn a royalty," Mutto said.
After the success in Amethi, Priyanka and Rahul are now likely to take it to neighbouring Rae Bareli, their mother's Lok Sabha constituency. Sonia Gandhi has been seen enquiring from the women there if too they would like to form self-help groups to improve their living standards, Mutto said.