In the context of Indian society one would often see communities engaging in collective work for infrastructural development of their own place. Collective work for development is one of the ways to meet the need of infrastructural development of a community. Shramdaan is broadly related to the concept of collective work for infrastructural development at the community level. Since ages the concept of shramdaan or giving of workforce for good cause is widely practiced in various communities. Usually the concept of shramdaan is associated with construction of religious institute or for other religious and cultural causes. But when it comes to other development work at the community; practices of shramdaan is very rare. Practice of shramdaan is widely related to religious activity probably for the fondness towards religion or for faith in God. When people get involve with their own development work they take the ownership and that’s how the work becomes sustainable. Utilizing the concept of shramdaan or voluntary workforce; a community can achieve its own development agenda.
When a community set forth to work on their own community development agenda, they become such stronger unit that without external support the community can solve its own issues by utilizing their available resources. Though expectation from government or other third party for solving the issues of a community is common phenomena but sometimes one community set example of their own by identifying their issues, working towards their own solution.
Jajimukh is a flood affected area located in Jorhat District of Assam and the community of the area had set an example by achieving their own development agenda back in 2015. Being a flood affected area Jajimukh is very poor in roadway connectivity. To witness incomplete and broken road, broken bamboo-wood bridge is a common sight in the area. The link road which is connecting the area with NH 37 is in very poor condition and there was need for a bridge connecting more than 12 villages which become disconnected during flood & rainy season. After continuous plea to the authority there was no positive response for action. While realising the fact that they have their own capability to solve the problem; the community started organizing themselves. The community of Jajimukh decided to take action for building the bridge collectively. The diverse community in terms of different caste, class and religion came together with solidarity and they started working towards achieving their own development agenda. They mobilized required human resource from amongst themselves whether it is skilled labour force or unskilled labour force. The very concept of shramdaan emerged from within and was implemented with the participation of the community through construction of the bridge. The community mobilized required physical resources like wood, timber from within the community. Some villagers even donated money. Women were constantly supporting the work by supplying tea, lunch to the workers. It took 44 days to complete the 64 feet long bridge and it was inaugurated in the month of October, 2015.
The community still recall the days of working for the construction of the bridge and how they all participated in the work to achieve their own need. That’s how they took the ownership on their own development agenda and brought into live the concept of community philanthropy.
Words by : Rituparna Neog (Program Associate – FST)