Australian born Jyoti and Mukat Singh set up the International Task Force for the Rural Poor [INTAF] twenty years ago after seeing that the most well-intentioned policies of various governments to uplift the rural poor have either failed or proved ineffective.
INTAF works to achieve international recognition the plight of the rural poor which include the most exploited, oppressed and ignored people of the world – tribals, untouchables, the landless, marginal and small farmers.
From the United Kingdom, Jyoti organises Volunteers for Rural India [VRI] which gives people the opportunity to visit development projects and learn about the culture of rural India.
The scheme involves a three-week stay at VRI’s partner project at Amarpurkashi, a village in Uttar Pradesh northern India. A brief film about the project can be seen on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd0hl9mDpeQ
Many visitors find that this three-week stay gives them confidence to travel independently and they go home with a much more rounded view of India. Others want to get more involved; they go on to visit other projects linked to the scheme, or remain at Amarpurkashi doing voluntary work there.
Jyoti and Mukat’s philosophy is basically in tune with that of the Centre for Holistic Studies and some years ago there was a ‘cross-over’. At an INTAF gathering a CHSUK member met Fiona Charlton-Hill, who was staying at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Fiona was studying problems associated with a ‘social forestry’ project in Karnataka and was pressured by her tutor, who had been contacted by the British government’s Organisation for Overseas Development [ODA], to move to another location and topic. However she had already made the arrangements and compromised by changing the focus to the role of women.
She was introduced to the Centre and stayed for some time in Bandra as a guest of Winin Pereira
In 1996 her dissertation was published and she graduated. Her notes follow.