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Sarvodaya Movement: Developing a Macro Perspective From Grassroots Collective Actions

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Prasad, Archana
Conference: Governing Shared Resources: Connecting Local Experience to Global Challenges, the Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Commons
Location: Cheltenham, England
Conf. Date: July 14-18, 2008
Date: 2008
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1141
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): social networks
collective action
Abstract: "The present study is intended to throw light on the various subtle aspects of the Sarvodaya programme for social transformation in rural India and assess the actual revolutionary potential of the movement. It aims at exploring the extent to which Sarvodaya movement has succeeded in fulfilling its objectives for establishing a new social order based on 'collective actions' and 'moral values' that tend to minimize inequities in the system. This requires a detailed study of the welfare activities done by the various gramsabhas for the benefit of commons, and the landless. This investigation also focusses on the processes which might lead to the emergence of a collective conscience among the rural peasantry. An inquiry into the functioning of various institutions and voluntary organizations striving to contribute to the collective welfare while highlighting the actual strength of their membership and the frequency of participation, enables us to measure the extent of 'social mobilization' and 'collective unity' in different villages. The rural communities, in the course of the implementation of Sarvodaya programme, might be characterized by a more effective polity based on political awakening of the electorate and 'secularization' of the attitude of traditional leaders. Therefore, a detailed investigation has been made into the changing pattern of leadership in the villages for assessing its capability to provide 'linkage' between various strata of the rural community. We have tried to trace shifting trends in the social position of traditionally dominant caste groups which might, under the influence of Sarvodaya, yield to relatively backward castes, thereby encouraging their free and effective participation in the decision making. Finally, as Sarvodaya programme of work is aimed at generating certain institutional in-built mechanisms for co-ordinating all the strata of the rural community in an effective network of functional interdependence, the study involves a careful analysis of those newly generated institutional frameworks and value-systems which might account for the manner in which conflict avoidance and tension management is ensured. This is particularly significant in view of Sarvodya's objective of avoiding recourse to police and courts for the solution of disputes. "Two arguments were put forward in support of the Association for Sarva Seva Farms (ASSEFA), a Sarvodaya organization of repute. First, the structure of ASSEFA was not fettered by various administrative and financial procedures, rules and regulations, etc, and, therefore, the programmes launched by them run in a flexiable manner. Second, it was more conversant with the prevailing conditions of the area and modes as well as attitudes of the people, therefore, it is easier to enlist the co-operation of the commons in the areas. The author, however, draws attention towards the role of ASSEFA engaged in a variety of social work in Khaira Block of Jamui District, Bihar (India) in support of these arguments. However, the author further observes that the two basic questions facing the ASSEFA these days are the social challenges it is confronted with, and its own stability and governance."

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