Writing this from a village called Malikipuram, East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, located 2kms from Mori which is India’s first smart village. I am surrounded with a long unexplored path hooked with rural India. This did not happen as a part of the plan yet it feels like everything that ever happened to me was for today. So many reasons for not relocating could not shake my urge to finally leave the city that embarked me to set free. Amongst memories woven by Hyderabad, Bhopal, San Fransisco and Rajahmundry I was inclined to take the interior route down south , by the river and on the edge of where that river meets the sea.
I imagined flashes of this dream a few years back while I was understanding the real meaning of impact. Being here isn’t feeling new but takes me back somewhere constantly, where I saw the parts this world from elsewhere. People who can unlock their happiness to me and people whom I can share my life with. Moving to a village with a population of 7000 people brought me closer to that dream of empowerment.
Education has given me a platform to imagine and question. Life came in various patterns asking me if I was sure. Near ones baffled to some extent added with slight amount of my self bafflement about moving from a metro city to a three tier village. Unrest inside settled only as the time passed by, meeting new people who came in form of assurance, availability of high quality basic resources increasing my quality of life, livelihoods hidden under sceneries, food that reminds of my grandmother and generosity covered by real problems in rural India.
The beauty of a village is that it can withstand pain and still be able to give. A village understands who is true just by a look in the eye. It is not possible to manipulate a village dweller because there is a strong relationship that binds people with each other and their customs and traditions coming from hundreds of years. A village is home to collection of skills, farming , and traditions. There is more to learn than change from our villages in today’s context.
As a part of my project I began researching the local products and endangered skills. I learnt the urgency hovering on fading arts of our country that remained as livelihood to thousands for decades. My visit turned into a decision that changed my life forever. Here I am, representing rural India to the rest of the world. I feel surprised by it’s beauty and suffering co existing. This opens me up to an opportunity for belonging here. More power to rural India.
Written By Sahithi Divi ( social entrepreneur , influencer ) and Suren Thiparthi ( orthopaedic surgeon / consultant , social entrepreneur )
Today is the day of research on health metrics along with my partner Dr. Suren who is an orthopaedic surgoen | consultant in Rajahmundry town. While on the steep journeys of different people and ancient skills attached to the current rush of shaking economies, we made a small health survey in a village located in interior delta region of east godavari district. Innovation for rural pockets below the general transport facilities requires a detailed understanding of cultural norms alongside the geo – tropical data.
In a district where 55% of the population resides under the below poverty line , where the government is able to provide health cards to only less than 15 % of them. Healthcare penetration is a continuously improving segment yet with no hope of containment due to the alarmingly increasing need of doctors at the submerged level of the pyramid. There are millions of people who displace with changing seasons jolting for a day’s meal who is not even aware of the guide to find treatment.
Every place , according to its topography and local markets define the nature of chronic hazards caused over the absence of inclusivity, educating of the patient about lifestyle changes and prolonged habits. We asked the village dwellers about the nearest hospital available for them in emergency ? they stated a name which is 25 mins of ghat road away, which is a primary healthcare centre, where there is no 24/7 service support system, where the tele communication is bad , where the street lamps and immediate help / first aid is extremely difficult to reach. This might be the most normal situation in a country of 134 crore people but this is the situation of the farmer who is working 12 months of the year sending us the vegetables we pick from super markets, fisherman who is risking his life to the ocean and tides for livelihood, those women who are making less than a dollar ( <70 INR) a day sewing brooms and bags battling with needle pricked lives and this goes on.
Research about the current population performance with just a handful of people opened us to rethinking the direction of innovation in healthcare at the bottom of the pyramid.
Challenges / Opportunities
More than half the population is below the poverty line
More than 50 + % need of government scheme penetration ( data collection )
Migrant tribes are vulnerable
Absence affordable private healthcare to poor harms the economic development of a family leading to a fallout
New markets for affordable merchandise for rural lifestyle / health improvements
Scope of women / child awareness related initiatives
Digital technologies operational for rural India
Economic activities supported by the ancillaries of the healthcare system
Healthcare obstructed by absence of connectivity in interior rural densely spread clusters.
Untouched population leaves a scope for diagnostic survey
Absence of regulated followup for existing patients
Solution is nothing but finding the right problem to solve. On this journey we will continue to update our thoughts on rural healthcare challenges and scope of innovation from our lens to provide a perspective to the existing players in position to make a difference from their respective positions to welcome innovation and collaboration understand the problems better in order to reach the ones in gravity of unreachability. While we are here , we all are given the power to act, although we hail from ultimately diverse conditions and notably unique lives ; we can make an effort to give and grow.
Pootharekulu were first made in a small village of east godavari district of Andhra Pradesh estimated almost three centuries ago. Currently 400 families depend on this traditional sweet making / selling as a livelihood. This is made mostly by women and marketed by the men of the home. Poothareku has a cultural importance in the custom rituals, ceremonies and festivals. There is a high demand for overseas sale of Poothrekulu as well.
Driving accross the canopies of large maiden trees lead by banana fields altered with papaya plants and while on the right , the canal outlined with coconut trees shadows a welcoming and a beautiful village vibe. You will be able to see collections of packed Pootharekulu being sold on one side of the road. It brings internal joy to stop by one of their homes where they set up this stall for selling the sweet and just talk to them. The whole experience of closely watching this beautiful art and how it actually converts into wide market scope.
Rural innovation must not disrupt what is coming from centuries. While I understand the demand for pootharekulu , what are the challenges/ Opportunities I forsee for this tradition ?
Only 400 families are making pootharekulu
Although this art is not limited to caste yet there is a large scope of lack of inheritance of skill
Irreplaceable by technology , might bring quality issues when needed in large quantities
Packaging innovation required
Lack of action plan for increasing the number of skilled people
Sustainable marketing and scaling
Scope of online teaching
You may email me at email@example.com if you wish to know more.
I walked into the ancient hallway through the gates of a home that was nestled amidst the history seeking to speak about the famously named prophet of modern Andhra Pradesh born in Rajahmundry – Rao Bahadur Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu (16 April 1848 – 27 May 1919). The man who published an exclusive women’s journal to raise awareness against social evil practices against girl/women through his literature.
During the phase of my life where I am still being questioned for working in the area of gender equality, the visit to this historical home reassured me to hold on to the dream of setting people free. He lost his father at a very young age while his uncle held the responsibility of his education. After his matriculation he began his first job as a teacher in a village called Koringa. He got married at the age of 15 while his bride was still 9 at that time.
As he was a scholar in literature , he used words as his weapons to revolt against the suppressing customs around women. He is a literary activist who was the first person to have the Telugu novel published. Through his writings to various leaders one can gauge the energy he consumed from the unfair practices hailing in the Telugu society then. I was astonished by his unparalleled conviction for women education which also further became a prior reason for his established of school.
Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu , published an exclusive magazine for women criticising the loop holes and evil practices against women in the society like early marriage, education for women, widow remarriage, Kanyasulakam which mean bride with a price and he also opposed marriage of old men with young girls. Viveka Vardhini was a journal for women education in 1887 and Satihita bodhini a monthly magazine for women were the ideas which laid foundation for a progression in relevance to even the 21st century.
To be a part of the beginning laid by him and for continuing to empower women , the visit to his ancestral home that displays his writings and an installation of the widow remarriage made a very deep impact on my conviction by adding the most bright pages of history in benefit of girls/ women to my life.