Glimpses from 2015 JJSS buniyaadi nirmaan internship

15 Apr

Nostalgia sweeps us away as we stand on the verge of sailing afresh with this year’s interns. Some long overdue glimpses from last summer’s buniyaadi nirmaan internship:

Looking back, the entire process – the selection of local interns, their training, organizing the village-level camps, workshops in Araria, learning teamwork, and the field-trip – feels so well-synchronized! But the sailing was not always smooth. There were rough seas and lot of uncertainties 🙂 Still the conviction we had in each other and our journeys brought us home with experiences to cherish. Looking forward to an encore this summer!


नाव हमारी चली – JJSS Buniyaadi Nirmaan Internship

11 Apr

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What will you be doing this summer? How about an internship to organize children’s day camps in rural Bihar:

  • Organize ice-breakers that gets everyone laughing and excited
  • Recall, learn, and play new games that show learning can be fun
  • Find the story teller within you and enthrall kids with your stories
  • Inspire children to draw and color. For many, it will be the first time
  • Facilitate small group activities that sow the ideas of justice and equality
  • Become a cinema waala and screen meaningful films under the starlit skies
  • Team-up with youth from local villages that will be co-organizing these camps with you

In short, we are looking for a co-dreamer with a creative flair! It is an empty canvas that we have to paint together with hundreds of children and tens of youth. While the above links share our experiences from last summer, we are open to experimenting with the format and the content. So, let your ideas flow…

Who are we?

We are associated with Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan, a non-party political effort to build a just and equitable society through collective mobilization, using tools such as RTI, NREGA, and social audits to make the government respond to people’s needs.

Since the last three years, we have been working towards creating a space for buniyadi nirmaan within the JJSS. We are doing this by involving and exposing local youth and children to ideas of equality and justice from an early age through workshops and day camps (read more).

We have enough tech resources available, including chromebooks, digital still cameras, video recorders, audio recorders, battery powered projector, and a growing Hindi video library. And a fabulous team that is really interested in spending time with children and just having fun!


The internship would be based in the district town of Araria, Bihar though most of the time would be spent in its villages. That means please be prepared to stay without basic modern conveniences like toilets, electricity, tapped water etc. Please read this JJSS volunteering guide for more details.

The camps would be organized between May 7 – June 4, typically covering 4-5 villages in a week, and then a couple days break to rest and restock. Minimum commitment of two weeks as a volunteer is required, with the possibility of converting it to a longer internship that also provides a stipend.

For any other questions or information, contact Vibhore at 8809953280 or

Put your dreamer’s hat on and imagine what would make children laugh. Then come and do it this summer!

[2015 Update] Bihar Jan Sansad and Vidhan Sabha elections in Bihar

13 Dec

In May-June this year there were intense discussions on whether the JJSS would attract people only as an organisation focusing on implementation of government programmes or whether we would find new saathis who would come to be with us for the larger cause of equality and justice, for building a better world. It was this discussion that became the impetus for organising a path breaking ‘chintan shivir‘ and natak karyashala (theatre workshop), from 30th May to 4th june. About 30-35 of us came together with Shiv Bhai (from Rajasthan). In the first session Shiv Bhai posed a simple question “Why do you spend time in and with the sangathan?” For the next 8 hours we were all saying why and it was so refreshing because none of us said that we were with the sangathan because the sangathan could ensure NREGA wages or settle land disputes or rations- most of us were there because the sangathan gave us an identity, it gave a voice that we lacked, the sangathan taught us to be equals with the rest of the society and above all we got respect!

And from there we started the 5 day workshop which marked the beginning of the cycle yatras. In this workshop all of us together with Shiv Bhai’s able facilitation came up with our own play.


Meeting during cycle yatra

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Cycle Yatris during Raniganj Yatra

The post made at this time can be read in its entirety here.

The manthan followed by the Bihar NAPM conference initiated the discussion of going beyond the issue based approach, and it became our basis of intervention in the Bihar elections where the JJSS took a clear stand against divisive politics, reminding ourselves that no matter who comes to power after elections we would prepare ourselves to struggle for our cause.

The first yatras in July and August, invited people to a common district level Jan Sansad (held in Patepur, Vaishali; Mansahi, Katihar and Araria), where people raised issues of development, land,life with dignity, increasing inequality et all. Thousands came for the Jan sansad and raised very pertinent issues. This was refreshing amidst the very divisive political noise which was not throwing up the concerns of people and was concentrated on issues of identity. Post the Jan Sansads  a people’s manifesto was brought out. We then started another series of smaller village level meetings to disseminate the manifesto and ask our people to question various contestants on what they planned to do on these issues.

A detailed report on the Jan Sansad can be read here.


Jan Sansad Meeting in Araria

[2015 Update] Building alliances

13 Dec

Cross cutting solidarity: JJSS along with several other groups have been forging cross cutting alliance to raise the voice of the marginalised. “Abki Baar Hamara Adhikar” was one such initiative which brought together more than hundred groups. The JJSS was represented at the NBA’s Jeevan Adhikar Stayagrah. It has continued being part of the Pension Parishad (a campaign for universal pensions) and the Right to Food Campaign, and was a host to the “Bhojan Adhikar Yatra” which traversed Bihar.

The JJSS is a constituent of the National Alliance of People’s Movement. JJSS team was part of the NAPM’s bi-annual convention in 2014, which marked twenty years of NAPM’s existence. Ashish and Kamayani were elected to be part of the National Conveners team of NAPM. More recently JJSS played a pivotal role in organising the NAPM Bihar state convention.

Two JJSS representatives were also part of the NAPM Manthan Shivir held in Hyderabad from 17th to 19th October.

[2015 Update] May Day 2015

13 Dec

May Day is a very special day for us as we celebrate and honour the various struggles of workers world over. On this day we remember our past struggles and honour the contribution of workers in shaping the world. Every year we celebrate May Day in the form of a travelling festival (Mela). A photo album can be viewed here.

This year May Day was hosted by our Raniganj saathis at Raniganj High School, Raniganj.  Vaishali unit celebrated the May day in Raghopur Narsanda Panchayat.  This year we also held our general body meeting and elections with the May Day celebrations.

May Day saw a huge turnout of about ten thousand people.  We had members from Katihar, Saharsa,Purnea and Araria attending the mela and participating in the elections.

May day as usual had a stall for “Auzar” (tools) which our workers most commonly use like hoe (kudal),  basket, tagari…. . One educational stall was put up by Pratham for children. There was a stall to sell clothes and various small stalls for eateries.

People stayed till late afternoon and enjoyed the play “Ganga ho ya Gangai “ performed by Prerna Kala Manch, Varanasi.

Elections were held later in the day. Ranjit Paswan, a long time committed worker of the JJSS and Join Seceratry was elected as General Secretary . He replaced Kamayani Swami who was the General Secretary for four years (2011-2015). A fifteen member working committee was also elected unanimously by the members.

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The unsung Heroes: Every year during May Day meals of khichri are provided to all interested at a subsidised contribution…. Ranjay and Abhishek as part of the cooking team


The new Sanchalan Samiti being voted in …

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A large turn out at the May Day 2015


Visitors engage at the Pratham Stall



[2015 Update] Buniyadi nirmaan

13 Dec

Women’s workshop and Women’s Day: The women’s workshops have created a new space for women in the sangathan! We met the first time in December, 2014, then again on women’s day 8th march, then again in June and the last time we met in November was some sort of closure. As women involved with the sangathan, we had our set of discontents which some of us were raising. We said how we found ourselves in a minority when it came to leadership positions, how often our opinion was not asked for or summarily rejected, how we formed the majority of attendees at a public meeting but were rarely given an opportunity to address the public and so the sangathan tried to change its ways so some of us found that we were asked for our opinion in meetings, given the mike to address a public meeting and here was the real disappointment, barring one or maybe two women, the rest of us just had nothing to say! We felt shy and restless and put on a spot when we were given the centre stage. And that marked the quest to sit with a group of women and hopefully with a saathi from outside the sangathan to facilitate. When Kanika (a young woman worker of the NAPM) signed up for a women’s workshop, we got together for two days, our first women’s workshop. To read more about it click here.

And here in these workshops we collectivized our joys, our sorrows, our preference and society’s preference for a male child, the violence meted out to us. We played, we sang, we laughed, and you may believe it or not but we sometimes cried. Now remembering the sessions on patriarchy- it’s origins and how it plays out, body mapping, masculine and feminine characteristics and their linkage to biology and socialisation, menstrual cycle and menstrual hygiene, women’s health, forms of violence, various forms of discrimination in society, we feel we have covered so much ground. I feel more equal more human and that’s why when my opinion is asked in a meeting I talk, I know my voice is as valuable as a man’s. Previously we did not believe this because at every step our society points out the male superiority and as women we are as much victims of this thought of ‘male superiority’ as any man. Today we say our name, we introduce ourselves, when we are meted with violence we raise our voice, we don’t hold ourselves responsible for violence meted out to us and we try to be equal participants in our sangathan.

[Update 2015] Strengthening the Sangathan : Building democracy within

13 Dec

In its quest to be democratic and understand the larger picture of the work we do, the sangathan has regular meetings, workshops et al. As part of this commitment the JJSS working committee and executive committee meet on every Ambedkar Jayanti (14th April). This year Rahul Bannerjee of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangathan, visited our sangathan. He connected our local struggles to the exploitative structure of World Bank, IMF and WTO, emphasising the need to engage with the karyapalika (executive), nyaypalika (judiciary) and vidhanpalika (legislature). He also got a commitment from the executive committee that we will have a board at the centre and use it for further trainings. We have kept the commitment so far!

The JJSS elected its new working committee and General Secretary at its General Body Meeting on 1st May, 2015 which was attended by around ten thousand people. Ranjit Paswan was elected the General Secretary. He replaced Kamayani Swami. A new fifteen member working committee was also elected.

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The new General Secretary saathi Ranjit Paswan, addressing the gathering.