Women and child development is a crucial area where Government of India has invested and continues to invest heavily though results at the ground level is barely perceptible. One of the major reasons for this lackluster development is lack of commitment on the part of the employees who are on the pay roll of the government to the cause, with the result there are cases of gross abuse of the system and the activity is present only on paper in most of the rural places in the country. Compare this with the program of an NGO in Gujarat, initiated and supported by the redoubtable Amul cooperative of Anand that covers almost two million people and is a beacon of hope for half a million villages across the country. The enthusiasm of women and rural workers who operate the program is infectious and the country would have been much better of if thousands of NGOs working in different parts of the country had taken a leaf out of the this program in Gujarat state. Here is a tribute to the trio of Tribhuvandas Patel, Dr Kurien and Mr Dalaya, all not present now to see their vision come true, who were the founding fathers of India's much acclaimed white revolution for their vision and humane approach to the problems of rural India.
"The premises of the Tribhuvandas Foundation (TF), a charitable organisation in Anand, Gujarat, are a hive of activity. In an open hall, surrounded by greenery, women are taking yoga and meditation classes to recover from post-natal issues. Mothers have come to pick up their infants after the morning session at the crèche. Expecting mothers are being checked and counseled by doctors. The foundation is an Amul initiative that provides healthcare to women and children in the villages of Kheda and Anand districts. "The most unique aspect of this programme is that it trains women to be self-reliant in dealing with healthcare issues in their villages," says Dr Viren Doshi, CEO of TF.There are two theories on how the foundation started. One version is that a moving statement made by a woman sowed its seeds; she wished she was born a cow because only then she would get the medical facilities provided by the dairy cooperative. "This inspired Tribhuvandas Patel to start TF. He was supported by Dr Kurien and HM Dalaya, who are considered with Patel the three pillars of the Amul revolution. Another version is that when Dr Rajendra Prasad visited the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union ltd, well-known for fueling the white revolution, he is said to have remarked with amazement on seeing the mobile dispensary that he was amazed to see such facilities for livestock which are not available elsewhere for human beings. No matter, whichever version is true, today it touches the life of 16 to 19 lakh people in Gujarat, mainly women," Dr Doshi says. When Patel retired from the chairmanship Of KDCMPU, he was presented with a purse of six hundred thousand rupees, by the members of the village cooperatives—one rupee per member being the contribution. He used this fund with what he received as part of The Ramon Magsaysay Award, to start the Tribhuvandas Foundation for women and children. TF was registered as a public charitable trust in 1975 and started activities in 1980, with grants from National Dairy Development Board, Amul and UNICEF, and later from the Overseas Development Administration. It is now a Community health organisation, working mainly on reproductive and child health. "When TF started work, it was difficult to find qualified human resources in the dairy cooperative's area of operation. TF adopted the model of training women volunteers from the community to provide basic healthcare in the villages. Thus, it is a need-based program for villages run by the villagers themselves," explains Dr Doshi. The programme is dependent on three sets of people: the mobile medical core team of professional nurses and midwives backed by doctors, village health workers, who are trained for providing basic medical help, and village infant workers. The workers are trained to offer primary health care and health education door-to-door, in groups and at the Dairy Co-operative Societies Centres".
Some how India, as a country never realized the power of women and their immense talent and what the Tribhuvandas Foundation(TF) has done is to recognize this simple truth enabling them to empower the rural women to manage their own affairs with guidance, training and supportive efforts. It is conceded that Amul had the necessary infrastructure of health care for millions of milch animals belonging to the rural families and what it did was to augment the infrastructure with medical and paramedical personnel specialized in human development. Still what one can see to day in those villages where TP is operating presents a picture of self reliance which Mahatma Gandhi had envisioned for the country. If cooperative sector can do this why not the private industry which has the resources and wherewithal to replicate Amul's rural development initiative? Industry bodies like FCCI, CII, ASSOCHAM and others must reconsider their policies on social front and follow the Amul route of rural development for creating a prosperous India by investing a portion of their corporate profits.