“Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it” - John d .Rockefeller jr
We, the faculty at NSS College, Pandalam have always believed that the services we extend to the needy must not be received with bowed heads and humbled arms. Instead, they should be taken with happiness and dignity. It is with this motto in mind that we devised “Vidhyanidhi” a program to empower our students who come from less fortunate backgrounds.”Vidhyanidhi” is an exclusive scheme for the medical aid, emergency needs and merit recognition of students in our college. The students are the main contributors and the pooled sum is utilized for various purposes. The scheme is operated by the students of Commerce Department under the supervision of a Chief Coordinator. There is also a student coordinator selected from amongst the PG students.
Charity services are done in every college in India, but what sets “Vidhyanidhi” a cut above the rest is the fact that the beneficiaries themselves are the benefactors. All the funds distributed to the needy students come from a source of money pooled from the students themselves. In this way, the students don’t feel that they are receiving aid from their more fortunate friends. Instead, they take it as a token of their worth.
“Vidhyanidhi” was the brainchild of Dr.G. Madhukumar, former principal of our college. The fund is collectively raised from teachers and students. Every year, eight university exams take place in the college. A sum of thirty rupees is levied from each student for every exam. So, it turns out that each and every student ends up paying sixty rupees per year to write their exams. It turns out that after three years of under graduate program, a student gives one eighty rupees for the fund. For post graduate students, it translates as one twenty rupees. For a college that boasts of mighty student strength, the little exam charges pooled together form an enormous sum. This is the monetary source of Vidhyanidhi. Along with this, the faculty members also contribute a lump sum amount to the fund on a yearly basis. From the money thus collected, “Vidhyanidhi” hosts a diverse range of financial help lines to the students of our college.
Students who are from economically weaker sections can avail money for their uniforms through this program. Meritorious students whose parents struggle to make ends meet are awarded an yearly scholarship of three thousand rupees (till they complete their courses) to motivate them in their academic vocations. These scholarships are awarded in an annual meeting organized by “Vidhyanidhi”. The awardees are felicitated in a grand function in this meeting. Vidhyanidhi provides money to economically backward students to buy their books and other paraphernalia. “Vidhyanidhi” takes care of the complete medical expenses of students who meet with accidents in the college. Students and their immediate family members who need expensive medical treatment are given financial assistance by “Vidhyanidhi”. Vidhyanidhi provides hostel fees to needful students who find themselves unable to cope with their surroundings and students who have a long distance to commute but cannot afford hostel accommodation. These are just token pieces of what Vidhyanidhi does. Its reach is enormous and varied, exploring into and extending a helping hand to the needy facets of students’ lives.
Every year, “Vidhyanidhi holds an annual meeting in the college. The activities done by “Vidhyanidhi” are properly recorded and presented in this annual meeting. It is during this meeting that the annual income expenditure statement is read out by the PG student coordinator. Meritorious students who bag the scholarships are felicitated in this function.
Throughout its operations, “Vidhyanidhi” has been hailed as a fruitful project by both the faculty and students. Students love it because of the fact that it enriches and empowers them to be part of a cause that is otherwise too unreal to materialize in their young adult world of movies and passions. The scale and enormity of the assistance they give to their friends fills their minds with unbridled joy. When asked once how they viewed the whole enterprise, their reply was that it was after the onset of such a project that they had a positive attitude to the word “charity”. They felt that “Vidhyanidhi” imparted dignity to both the donating and the receiving hands. The knowledge that they are contributing their hard earned money for societal causes fills their minds with joy. On the other hand, the students who receive the aid feel that it is a rightful due to them, not some pennies thrown in an act of kindness. Students once told the teachers in charge that it was programs like “Vidhyanidhi” that inspire them to do better at their academic platforms. Recognition of their merit always inspires them to perform better. Moreover, it is due to the implementation of such programs like “Vidhyanidhi” that the students felt that college life was much more than taking down lecture notes in crammed classrooms. “Vidhyanidhi” made students feel that they are being a part of this ever changing and demanding world, answering its calls of emergency with care and surety. They felt empowered being a part of a program that brought about discernible changes in their immediate surroundings. It is heartening to see such a warm response for a program which had a humble beginning and which now has transformed itself into a major societal venture.
We, the faculty have oftentimes asked amongst us the impact and relevance of “Vidhyanidhi” and we have never failed ourselves in answering this question. The satisfaction and joy we, teachers derive from “Vidhyanidhi” is boundless. “Vidhyanidhi” opened before us a real slice of the real world, a world beyond grade sheets and scholarly textbooks. Truly the program was an eye opener for both teachers and students and only one of its kinds.
The fund for vidhyanidhi programme is contributed by both teachers and students on monthly basis. One student from each student is selected on the basis of merit and attendance. One instalment of Rs 3000 each was distributed to students. It was decided to give two instalments in the next year and extend the benefit to emergency cases too.
The programme gave the opportunity to economically weak meretorial students to achieve their academic goals. Students suffering from critical diseases were given financial support. The programme also helped to develop humanitarian attitude among students by providing them the opportunity to engage in charitable activities.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”. -Aristotle
In Kerala, one of the most challenging concerns of the present era is that of the pesticide-contaminated vegetables and other food items. Though it does not fall into ambit of general education sector, it is sure that various academic institutions have a prominent role to perform in providing pesticide-free and organic vegetables to the society. It is here that we came across the significance of Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).Zero Budget Natural Farming initiated by Palekar is a set of farming methods, basically a grass root peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India for the purposes of saving the farmers from the debt traps through low budget implementation strategy and public health management . It attained wide success in southern India as it promises to end a reliance on loans and drastically cut production costs ending the debt cycle for desperate farmers, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it was first evolved. “Zero Budget Farming” as the name suggests the word ‘budget’ refers to credit and expenses, thus the phrase 'Zero Budget' means without using any credit, and without spending any money on purchased inputs. 'Natural farming' means farming with Nature and without chemicals. The Soil Fertility and Quality is maintained through the application of Jivamrutham ;a cattle based manure.
Though the Department of Geography of N.S.S. College, Pandalam took up this initiative and launched the programme under the title Experimental Farming in association with the College Nature Club. Consequently, the students of other departments also joined the venture by making it a more potent and effective one.
For the whole process, we used only organic fertilizers. Goat dung manure were used instead of cattle-based manure as nitrogen source; chicken manure, ash, cow-dung, fish-powder and leaves of Gliricidia sepium (“Sheemakkonna”) and Simarouba glauca (“Lakshmi Taru”) were mixed and kept for one and a half months making it feasible for farming purposes.
The land now possesses more than 300 banana plants, 200 coconut trees, more than 100 varieties of plants and fruit trees. Rainwater pits and other effective rainwater harvesting methods have been employed for providing necessary water for these farming activities. This farming activity has brought a sea change in the mindset of the students. It has also provided a platform for a healthy teacher-student inter-relationship and joint work culture thereby making this institution an epitome among its peers in terms of Experiential Learning.
Evidence of success
The college was able to create a new farming culture through ‘Experimental Farming’ and could transfer the idea to students, faculty and the general public. The concept was received by the society with much enthusiasm, as they understood its possibilities. Through this, the college could show the society that this eco-friendly system of farming is essential for humanity and at the same time, a profitable venture too. The whole process was conceived as part of the students’ education system and we could discover that, through farming activities, the students were also able to get boundless mental pleasure. The aim to offer a platform for “Zero Budget Natural Farming “was realised through this experiential learning Connecting Geography as an academic discipline and farming as a creative learning activity capacitated the students to understand the value of the subject through the experiential learning. The yield from the farm was distributed to the student’s canteen as well as to the local Kudumbha Sree Units.
U N I T Y A N D D I S C I P L I N E
N O T M E B U T Y O U
Pandalam, Pathanamthitta District - 689501, Kerala, India
Telephone: 04734 - 252221(Office), Fax No:04734 - 252240, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org