THE SOCIAL PROBLEM
As the founders Ashish and Kamayani were transitioning to live and serve the needs they saw in India, they found that the economy was suffering and that people they associated with, sought to work to revive the rural economy and fight abject poverty. After conducting a survey, they realized that people were largely demanding employment through the NREGA act, which guaranteed them employment or financial support in a situation where work was not available. The thought was that by increasing household income, people would be able to purchase books, spend money on education, food, and other expenses, which would improve their livelihoods and the local economy. Unfortunately, people did not know how to demand the work they were entitled to, and the entitlements from the act were largely going unfulfilled. There were massive challenges that needed to be solved in the implementation of the Act.
Thus, a common objective became clear: an intention to hold the government accountable to the benefits entitled to the rural poor written by law in the interest of the public good. This was the mandate with which Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) was born.
ABOUT THE INITIATIVE
Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) is a registered trade union of unorganised sector workers in North Bihar. As JJSS finds out, it is an uphill task for people to even submit a job application under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) at Araria in Bihar, where they have been working for a few years now. Many other entitlements provided by the state do not reach people and cause millions to live under abject poverty. JJSS mobilizes the rural poor to demand better services from the government and to get the existing entitlements as laid down by the various legislations. JJSS aims to bring about a larger change in the lives of rural poor by means of “sangharsh” (struggle) and “nirman” (constructive activities).
JJSS does not take institutional funds. It runs on individual donations from friends, supporters, and well wishers. Over the course of its existence, there have been tremendous obstacles along the way, but JJSS has been able to challenge existing power structures to bring either
employment or unemployment benefits through NREGA to many poor and marginalized individuals across a few blocks in Araria, Bihar. By educating people on how to apply for work and empowering them to demand their entitlements, JJSS has helped unite thousands of individuals in the region. People have used the money earned from work provided in the NREGA scheme for many reasons, from leasing land for agriculture to improving household food consumption. JJSS also has taken up may cases which demand justice to religious minorities, dalits, and PVTGs
VKF has brought in a donor to provide for the salary of one of the Karyakartas (Field Functionaries) of the JJSS and also helped towards meeting out of pocket expenses of a few volunteers. We has also facilitated the updation and maintenance of their website.
Website : http://www.jjabihar.org/