Internship Experience @ Navjyoti India Foundation, Gurgaon: Help in Empowering Women in Villages

Name

Anonymous

Duration of the Internship

13th May 2015 to 5th June 2015

Application

Around the end of my 1st year, in the humid summer of April 2015, I felt low and negative as I reached no milestones. On a day like that, when my flat mate came to me with an application to Navjyoti India Foundation, I felt like someone had shown me light. I knew, then, that I had to get into this organization as an intern for the summer, and applied immediately.

I had mailed a scanned application form along with my CV to [email protected] and I had not received a response for 2 weeks at least.

Around May 5th, as I was lazing around my home watching TV shows, I received an email of acceptance from the admin, at its Rural Management & Training Institute, based in Gurgaon, to start from 11th of May.

However, the starting dates were flexible, according to our convenience. I was very excited as it was my first internship and I love the Delhi NCR.

I find it to be the New York of India. However, finding a safe accommodation was proving to be a difficult task, but, Mr. Dinesh Khatana from the Gurgaon office of Navjyoti India Foundation, had helped me with a list of PGs and their contact numbers even before we started for Delhi.

Overall, their help and support even before the internship started was assuring to me that I’d have a great couple of weeks working under their guidance.

A walk through the capital city of India

After a long train journey, I, along with my friend, reached Delhi an evening before our internship commencement.

The crowded roads, the sophisticated metro stations, alluring fashion statements, ‘jugaad‘ and everything that Delhi has and is, had made me fall in love with it for the second time, making me ignore the scorching heat.

Contrary to popular opinion, I feel Delhi is not an unsafe city.

My parents were very apprehensive, even at the thought of me living there for an entire month. But, I assure you, if you don’t try to get any attention or pop out of the crowd, you’re good to go.

Besides, the capital city of India has a lot to offer.

Great food, great people, great architecture, great fashion, great food (yes, twice. I’m a foodie!), so I guess all this greatness comes at a cost, isn’t it?

Tip: The first thing you’d want to do if you’re an out-station intern is to get a Delhi Metro card issued. You can save a lot of money, time in token queues and the best part, you can take it back as a souvenir when you’re leaving the city.

Luckily, Navjyoti India was a little flexible with holidays, so I could take a day or two off in the duration of my internship to go sightseeing, without any fuss from the management. However, beware that they count the number of days you actually worked for the organization while they’re reviewing your work before issuing certificate.

Accommodation

I lived at a PG in Sector 39, Gurgaon (You can drop a comment below if you want a contact number).

There’s a number of PGs in Sector 39, for both men and women, which will cost about Rs.8000-10,000 per month for an air-conditioned room.

There are many perks of living in this area:

1. It’s safe 24 hours a day as there’s police patrolling all the time as the Unitech Cyber Park is open 24 hours a day (except on Sundays)

2. There’s a lane full of amazing food within 50-100 meters from your PG. It offers a huge variety of stuff, north Indian to south Indian, to Indian Chinese amazing momos to the BEST COLD COFFEE I have ever had (plus the Bhaiya was friendly, so I got extra chocolate syrup).

3. It’s only about 1.5 kilometers away from the Huda City centre metro station.

4. There’s a hospital within 100 meters of Unitech Cyber park, in case of any emergencies.

5. There’s a lot of rickshaws and buses which come there because of Unitech Cyber Park employees, so there’s ample public transportation.

What more do you need for a comfortable and safe stay?

First day at work

Navjyoti India Foundation, Gurgaon is located on Jail Road, Naya Gaon in Haryana. If your father isn’t an Ambani and you don’t have much money to spend, then you’re going to have to catch shared-rickshaws to work.

I had to change three shared-rickshaws every day to and fro work.

1st: From Sector 39 to Subhash Chowk

2nd: From Subhash Chowk to Badshahpur (where you have to get off at the Jail Road turning)

3rd: If you’re lucky, you’ll get an auto here within 5 minutes of waiting, and on bad days, I’ve even taken lifts from strangers going in cars towards their farm houses on the same road, who’d often be friendly.

We had to report by 10 a.m. every morning. At 10:10, we’d assemble in a circle and offer prayers and one of us would tell a good thought for the day, which would be written on the white board at the entrance, which was an affirmation, of a sort.

There was not much work on the first day, but we had to leave only by 5:00 p.m. in the evening. We had to submit hard copies of our application form, CVs and mail of acceptance.

We were asked to fill up bio-details forms, where rules of conduct and other disclaimers were given.

Also, we were asked to read a detailed prospectus of the Navjyoti India Foundation, and the 4 functions it performed in its Rural Management division in Gurgaon.

First week

The first week of work was a cake walk. I was assigned a team of 6, and our task was to individually research the Right to Education Act, 2005 and write a summary report of the same.

At the end of the first week, we were informed that we’d be grouped in pair of two and be assigned one village where we’d have to conduct a survey based on a self-made questionnaire to check the implementation of the RTE Act, 2005 in the villages.

As the other interns were non-commerce students, I made a uniform questionnaire for everyone, after taking their inputs and synthesizing them.

My friend and I were paired and were assigned a village in the Sohna region of Haryana (I cannot disclose the name of this village for legal reasons).

Also, at the end of the first week, we were taken to a village in Sohna, where we met the head of a women’s Self Help Group (SHG) organized by Navjyoti India.

As a person who hasn’t looked beyond a metropolitan city, the sight of village and the narration of experiences from the woman in the village made me realize what male chauvinistic societies most of India comprises.

However, I was impressed at the achievements Navjyoti had made by empowering women in villages, making them independent and was lucky to be part of it.

Second week

In the second week, we began our surveys at our respective villages. To my dismay, our village was so remotely located, no rickshaw-wala or buses went to the village. After waiting for at least an hour on the road that lead to the village, we asked for a lift from two men who were going to the same village.

I was very paranoid, as all the scenes from the movie NH10 flashed in my head. However, they seemed friendly, in spite of the dirty underwear that lay near the foot of the back seat.

One of the most thrilling, as well as scary experiences while travelling to and fro the village was when we took a ride from a guy driving a Scorpio; 5 minutes after getting into the car, I saw a 7 mm caliber alongside a roll of Rs.500 notes in the arm rest storage box.

I got off the car and thanked him and walked really fast towards an auto towards the office.

If I get into much detail, this internship experience report will not be much different from the 47 page report submitted at the end of my internship.

So, I’ll be brief about my visit to the village:

1. The village population was very friendly and welcoming. Every household we surveyed, offered us water, sherbet, tea/coffee, lunch, and even desi hookah (which is very horrible, by the way)!

2. The women were dominated by the men. I remember this particular woman, who was alone in her house when we went to survey her. When we asked her about her suggestions for improvement of the children’s education, she checked time and again whether we worked for the government.

When we assured her enough that we weren’t employees of the government, she told us that the government employees come to take surveys, but they never do anything.

I was baffled to see how uncomfortable they are with the government employees, who are the starting points of change in the villages.

She constantly asked us to maintain her anonymity, as if her name was pointed out, the ‘buzurg‘ of the village would go against her; that her views only matter till her household’s gates, beyond that, she’s just another anonymous woman.

3. “Government doesn’t do anything, we’ve lost hopes”, as they spoke about the school. In this village, there’s one school (primary and secondary) with a total of six classes and two teachers (appointed as charity by DLF), who are being paid Rs.2000.

4. In a conversation with the Sarpanch of the village, we mentioned about the intoxication in the village. He said, “Iss gaon mein do illegal theke hai aur ek sarkari theka, ek bhi dawakhana nahi hai. Aap chahte kya hai logon se?” (This village has two illegal bars and one government wine shop; and no pharmacy/hospital. What do you expect from the people?).

In another conversation, he proudly flaunted pictures of a marriage in his camera phone and pointed out to the 2 kilos of gold and Rs.4,00,000 a groom was sitting with, and pointed out it was the dowry in one of the marriages in the village.

5. There’s wide existence of child marriage, drug and substance abuse, dowry harassment, water contamination and wastage, high levels of unemployment and illiteracy, etc.

Third week

During the third week, we had to make a report, based on the survey and submit it to the management. We were given the liberty of sitting at our PGs and making this report.

At the end of the third week, we submitted and presented out findings to our boss, Ms. Chandni Bedi, and formally ended our internship at Navjyoti India.

Best things

1. I got to meet Kiran Bedi twice.

2. Held women’s SHG elections on a holiday, but it was the most well-spent holiday during the duration of my internship.

3. Got to interact with a lot of women from various backgrounds and stories. It was a very educational experience.

4. Hit ground reality about implementation of laws in India.

5. Capital city of India, as I’ve already mentioned.

Bad things

1. They delay your certificate process by months!

2. The commute to and fro work was tiring.

3. A door-to-door survey without help in the midst of a scorching summer in Haryana made us lose our cool more than once.

4. More than once, we questioned our safety, but we were assured by the guide we had in our respective villages.

5. We had to move furniture and do other things due to shortage of labor, as it was an NGO.

Stipend

None, but sharing experiences with so many persons from different backgrounds was a treat to my mind, which any stipend could not have covered.

Biggest lessons

Coming from a metropolitan city from a well-off family, I had started to value the little things in life, after I saw many households being deprived of it.

I felt like I had given back to society, what it gave to me.

This entry has been submitted for the LexisNexis-Lawctopus Internship Experience Writing Competition 2015-2016. iPleaders is the learning partner for this competition.

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