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Shramadana Without Dana

Sharama is a Sanskrit word for labor
Dana is to donate or to give

“Bhai (brother), why take trouble and bring your students and friends here?” Said Min Bahadur. “Just give us 50,000 rupees and we will perform the work that of 100,00 rupees,” he added.

Min Bahadur lives in Bulaki Chaur where we have been visiting for several months now to organize. The village on the hills that surround Kathmandu valley is inaccessible by transportation. The only trail that reaches to the village needed some work, especially at the point where the village begins.

Last week on our visit, we proposed that we fix the trail through shramadana (gift of labor). Villagers agreed, with some hesitation. Several days earlier they had asked whether Sarvodaya Nepal will provide khaja (snacks or food) for the work? We were non-committal but were planning that we would just go to village and beg for a handful of rice or whatever they would offer so we could cook on the spot.

We had also proposed that we would bring several students from Jyotidaya School and some of our friends. So, we can work together.

We had hoped that our action would motivate villagers to come together.

Shramadana isn’t a new word in Nepalese villages, nor is it novel any more.

All development funding either through non-government organizations or government comes with requirement of “community participation.” This basically means that the idea of shramadana is associated with “major funding”. People believe that shramadana is done if some outsiders provide say 75% of funding, rest is a requirement.

Here, we are telling that we have no money. Only thing we offer is our own labor. It sounds both counterintuitive and ‘unbelievable.’ I wonder if villagers think whether we were pocketing tons of money from ‘foreigners’ and using villagers for shramadana for reports.

People are more suspicious of ‘others’ either outsiders or insiders. The one who talks about shramadana must definitely be hiding some funds, they think.

In some ways it’s sad to see thousands of years of wisdom and practice been reduced to ‘volunteer contribution of labor’ to development projects. Practices that brought communities together for years has now been part of development paradigm that leaves community suspicious of each other and reduces a concept of sharing into exchange of labor for funds.

Through Sarvodaya Nepal, we hope to at least bring a sense of ownership of the age old ideas into community themselves.

For now, Shramadana has been postponed for 10 days. Perhaps, fixing of a trail will revive the core of shramadana.

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मधेस अान्दोलन मुद्दा: - के जनसंख्या मात्रको अाधारमा प्रतिनिधित्व ठिक हो?

मधेश अान्दोलनमा सहभागि अान्दोलनरत दल, समर्थक विचार निर्माताहरु, सहभागिहरुले नयंा संविधान  मधेस विरोधि भयो भनेर उ्ठाइएका विभिन्न मुद्दा मध्ये नयां संविधानमा जनसंख्याको अाधारमा प्रतिनिधित्व भएन भन्ने पनि छ। अधिवक्ता दिपेन्द्र झा ले लेख्नु भएका विभिन्न लेख र फेसबुक पोस्टहरु मा, "धारा ८४(१)(क)प्रतिनिधिसभाको प्रत्यक्ष तर्फ रहेका १६५ सिटको लागि जनसंख्याको आधारमा निर्वाचन क्षेत्र कायम गर्ने प्रावधान राख्नु पर्छ । हाल भूगोल र जनसंख्याको आधारमा राखिएको छ । बरु कर्णाली, मनाङ जस्ता भौगोलिक विकटता भएको क्षेत्रको लागि विशेष प्रावधान राख्न सकिन्छ ।‍ " यो मुद्दा प्रमुख रुपमा उ्ठाईको देखिन्छ । 

सामान्यतया प्रजातान्त्रिक व्यवस्थाहरुमा, जनसंख्या नै प्रतिनिधित्वको मुल अाधार हो । एक व्यक्ति, एक भोट र त्यसैको अाधारमा हुने प्रतिनिधित्वको व्यवस्था । यसअर्थमा मधेसबाट उ्ठाईको मुद्दा ठिक लागे पनि, नेपाल जस्तो भौगोलिक  जटिलता र दुर्गमता भएको जिल्ला भएको देशको लागि एकांकि ढंगले सोच्नु कत्तिको सार्थक छ?  नेपालको परिवेशमा जनसंख्यलाई मात्र हैन, भुगोललाई पनि प्रतिनिधित्वको हुनु पर्ने अाधार देखि्न्छ । 


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