Padmashree Mr. Magraj Khangarmal Jain has been a life of commitment and passion to fight the underlying causes of the decrepit plight of the marginal and poor communities in Barmer who are denied basic entitlements of life and dignity. With a team of committed people from Barmer, under the banner of SURE, in 1990 he reaffirmed his pledge to work for the empowerment and improvement in the lives of the vulnerable and marginalized people living in the countryside of the district.
SURE’s vision is that all social and economic relationships must be non-exploitative with ‘just’ social order. The basic principle followed by SURE has been to involve the village communities in the development processes and programmes right from the beginning to the end. This ensures a commitment to transparency and accountability as well as it fosters community ownership of assets, funds and institutions.
SURE has always felt that through efforts like indigenous livestock breed conservation, disseminating indigenous & modern knowledge about sustainable agriculture, horticulture, new production technologies, organizing rural crafts and promoting folk music, new opportunities for livelihoods could be generated. Along with this creation of livelihoods, mass community awareness about health, education, rights and consistent collective action could enable the rural poor to live with happiness, pride and honour.
To begin with, SURE worked in Binjrad (70kms from Barmer), the area that was remote, inaccessible and devoid of any facilities, with almost no means of communication, no electricity, no transport. In the beginning, SURE worked with women folk of the refugees from Pakistan of the Indo-Pak war 1971. These women had exquisite skills in embroidery and patchwork. In the absence of any other options for livelihood, they had started producing for the market on a very low wage rate and caught in a vicious debt cycle. SURE tried to organize these women by organizing skill enhancement programmes, exposure visits to craft exhibitions and other NGOs.
From then on, SURE has worked persistently in the region and has been able to involve the community in improving their lifestyle. It worked on the issues of dalit and women empowerment by making them aware about their rights, improving their income through various interventions, increasing their participation in local governance, education, health and other aspects of society. SURE worked to promote appropriate technologies in agriculture, transfer of technologies, introduce indigenous developed varieties through Krishi Vigyan Kendra. To improve the natural resource management, SURE with the participation of community, developed watershed development, preservation of local plantation and herbs, transfer of technology, work on construction of water storage structures, work for drought mitigation, breed improvement and up-gradation.
SURE has played a key role in the relief efforts during the major calamities that have struck desert area. SURE has contributed not only in terms of providing immediate relief, but also has sought to address the issue of long-term drought mitigation. SURE’s contribution to combating the Malaria epidemic of 1994 was exemplary of how quickly and effectively epidemics can be tackled & thousands lives were saved who were far from hospitals and unable to buy expensive medicines. .
SURE firmly believed that any development initiatives to have a long lasting impact should primarily target persons with disabilities. SURE intervened in Barmer and Jaisalmer districts through the Community Based Rehabilitation programme for visually impaired and their economic rehabilitation, a residential school for children with disabilities. From the initial service delivery provider role that SURE started with, it now looks forward to its role as a facilitator for development processes owned and managed by people’s institution. With all this, SURE continues to work with hundreds of village level institutions for developing their own lifestyle and to vision for a just society.