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Monday, Oct 18, 2021
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Fruits Of Collective Dreaming

Floating on cycles, daredevis of this Chhattisgarh district storm many stony male bastions

Fruits Of Collective Dreaming
Jitender Gupta
Fruits Of Collective Dreaming
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Give a woman an inch and she takes a mile. Or in the case of Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district, a milestone. The illiterate, impoverished and politically untutored women of this remote backwater have emerged as thekedars (contractors) in their own right, supplying the PWD with milestones and road-building materials. They are, in fact, the first women’s collective to be registered as contractors with the PWD.

What started as just another micro-credit scheme has developed into a whole new way of life for the women of Rajnandgaon. Once freed from the clutches of the sahukar (money-lender), the women figured it was time to do away with the thekedar as well. Labouring for Rs 35 a day in stone quarries while local strongmen walked away with the profits didn’t, after a point, make any sense.

So when district collector Dinesh Shrivastava tentatively suggested that they take over the contracts for the stone quarries, they jumped at the offer. So successful was the initial three-month lease that the women expanded their operations to other quarries. Now, more...

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