Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ujjiva?
Ujjiva is the name of a social-responsibility program. It is the brainchild of khetisheti.org and is a open-source, open-to-all immersion-based workflow model for re-vivifying India’s poor farmers through collective efforts of its citizens. Ujjiva means to re-vivify or re-generate.
How does it work?
The idea of Ujjiva can be summarized as ‘guild-plan-commit-repeat’.
That is too brief to understand. Could you elaborate?
A ‘guild’ is a collection of citizens who wish to take action primarily through sustained monthly financial contributions. If a poor farmer is a financial orphan, members of a guild are like parents who adopt the orphan. They make a plan to help the farmer get back on his/her feet, thereby preventing at least one suicide out of the thousands that have been occuring every year. As the word suggests, ‘plan’ phase is all about formulating a plan of action/roadmap in order to help a farmer. Plans vary according to resources of guild and farmer. Experts opinion is sought while planning. Once the plan is in place, guild members agree upon what is known as a commit. A ‘commit’ is a short-form for ‘period of commitment’. Commits are suggested to span a minimum of 6 months. There is no cap on maximum length of commit. At the end of a commit, guild members can choose if they wish to disband or repeat. Hence, guild-plan-commit-repeat.
How much are guild members expected to contribute? Are there any tax benefits?
We suggest any amount between INR 500/- and INR 2000/- per month. Like with all adult things, we request you to be the best judge regarding these matters and consult with your accountant before forming/joining a guild. In the first and running Ujjiva project, we have tied up with Aranya, Hyd. Your contributions to this project are deductible under 80G for Income Tax purposes.
Who will handle the money?
Each Ujjiva project is unique. Depending on the situation, a guild member, a member of the farmer’s family, a chartered accountant, lawyer, etc. can handle the money. The advisable recourse is to coordinate with local government programs or NGOs who are already involved in similar work. A little bit of brainstorming by the guild members can answer this question easily. In the first and running Ujjiva project, we have tied up with Aranya, NGO based out of Hyd. They handle the money and contributions to this project are deductible under 80G for Income Tax purposes.
How would my money be used?
The idea of Ujjiva is to revivify poor Indian farmers who are at or below poverty line. The ‘plan’ phase should cover this aspect of money usage. Typically, money is used in everyday farm operations and purchase of seed, etc. Some small joys such as new clothes for their families for important festivals, chocolates for children,etc. could also be included. Again, each Ujjiva project is unique and hence, the best answer can be given by the guild members themselves.
What is the reason for a 6-month commit? What if I drop-out in the middle?
Farming in India is broadly divided into Kharif and Rabi seasons. Each of these seasons is 6 months long. The entire life cycle of seed to harvest occurs in these 6 months. So, the minimum time required to help a farmer is at least one season, i.e. 6 months. You are free to drop-out whenever you please, but kindly remember that you might be pushing a poor farmer into more troubles by doing so. Ujjiva is a no-fuss no-muss model and does not lock you in to a commercial contract. The main factor here is mutual trust.
Is this another crowd-funding campaign?
No, it is not.
Why not? You are suggesting that I should donate money.
Ujjiva is an immersion based model. The idea is for you to immerse yourself as much as possible, into the lifestyle of a farmer. The monthly contributions are only a medium of responsibility. At the end of the commit the farmer receives help, but you will also have something to take away with you – a sense of community and bonding with fellow guild members and the farmer you’re helping, knowledge, a basket of vegetables or a sack of grains. It all depends on your level of immersion and rapport with your guild and the farmer (and their extended social circle).
Do I have to be associated with your website or organization? Can’t I do this on my own?
WE URGE YOU TO ADOPT THIS MODEL, ADAPT IT TO YOUR NEEDS AND HELP THE FARMERS IN YOUR LOCAL AREA. Good deeds need no labels! We at khetisheti.org do encourage you provide us any information you wish to share, so we can put it up on the internet for others to see and draw inspiration from. Since this is an open-source free-for-all model, there are no compulsions and rules.
Enough words. I want to see one project in action. How many Ujjiva projects are currently underway?
One! The first project was taken up with the help of Aranya Agricultural Alternatives near Zaheerabad, Telangana. Details of the project can be found here, with options to join the current guild. You can also receive information and guidance for forming your own Ujjiva project in your local area.
Can I volunteer instead of donating money?
We suggest doing both. Unfortunately, cultural and economic conditions in villages usually do not encourage people from the outside doing physical work on their farms. That said, occasional volunteer days can be arranged on a farm. Long(er) term volunteering can be taken up and discussed on a case-to-case basis. If you have any more questions, please contact us.