Umed Mal Lodha Environment Award 2014

Seva Mandir has constituted a trust in the memory of late Shri Umed Mal Lodha who strengthened Wasteland Development work at Seva Mandir from 1986 till his demise in 1999.  The Trust came into existence in 1999 and got registered in 2005.

 

GENESIS OF UM LODHA MEMORIAL TRUST

The Trust has been formed to remember and recognize the contributions made by Shri Lodha in the field of Natural Resource Development.  The Trust aims to acknowledge the commitment and initiative of local communities, village men and women actively involved in the conservation of village pastures and forest lands.  This year the award function was organized on 12th February and Chief Guest of this event was Prabha Parameswaran-Managing Director, Colgate-Palmolive.

 

A1

 

Three awards are given for the following kinds of efforts:

i) Award worth Rs.10,000/- to a village, for its work on development/management of common natural resources.

ii) Award to a Forest Protection Committee worth Rs.10, 000/- for working towards removal of encroachments from forestland and putting it under sustainable management.

iii) Award for village leaders worth Rs.1000/- each who have successfully motivated work on natural resource management and people’s empowerment.

 

THE ISSUE

The Awards aim to recognize the efforts being made by local people to empower themselves.  In Seva Mandir’s area of engagement, issues of livelihoods, poverty and dis-empowerment are inextricably connected to the natural resource base.  Therefore, work centered on natural resource up-gradation assumes significance that goes beyond the productivity and distribution of natural resources.

All these issues are connected to the management of natural resources, in particular to accessing common lands. Around 70% of the land in the area belongs to the State, and getting legal access to these lands is difficult, but not so if done informally and illegally.  Both the State, and civil society have come to converge if not collude to manage lands in this fashion, causing severe distortions and dis-empowerment in doing so.  Seva Mandir is trying to change this patronage-based approach to development.

The Umed Mal Lodha Memorial Trust through the awards instituted by it is trying to support this effort.  The cash awards and public felicitation offered to village groups are a means to spread lessons of these initiatives around and motivating communities across numerous villages.

 

A2

 

Seva Mandir like many other institutions has experienced how difficult it is to achieve equality and democratic agendas.  This society was created to motivate ordinary people to do serious development work, especially to appreciate village people who work to achieve democratic and egalitarian goals.

The roles envisaged for this society are:

a) To encourage research and understand on how citizens can transform social structures and make our society more democratic and egalitarian.

b) To disseminate the learnings from grass-root initiatives in society to policy makers and academia.

c) To promote leadership that departs from  conventional notions of power and is able to generate authority based on democratic functioning and knowledge.

d) The awards are conferred every year on 12th February (on the death anniversary of late Shri Umed Mal Lodha) at a ceremony held in Udaipur. The ceremony is accompanied by a memorial lecture by a person of eminence. Every year more than 200 rural folks active in the field of development at the grass roots assemble to commemorate the ceremony.

e) So far, the trust has encouraged eleven village level institutions, five Forest protection committees and twenty-two village leaders for their outstanding contribution towards care and conservation of local environment.

So far, the trust has conferred awards to 66 village leaders, 20 village groups and 17 Forest Protection Committees. Both Seva Mandir and Umed Mal Lodha Memorial Trust intend to carry forward this effort to further encouraging the grass root level leaders and institutions for caring and conserving their micro-environment through the awards. We also see a value in documenting the exemplary struggle and commitment displayed by the institutions and village leaders in this sphere.

Here is the Award List -2014!