"Shikshanachi gaadi chalali..."

CSS Yatra- Kamshet and Dehu Road- 1st March 2008

The Mumbai Pune expressway has almost created one continuous urban stretch between these major cities of Maharashtra. And yet there are significant numbers of people, communities, settlements who are ignored/ forgotten/ overlooked or just simply rendered non-existent by the state and by those who are part of this urban image.
Communities in Kamshet and Dehu Road made themselves heard on 1st March along with CRY partner Sadhana. They walked the talked and talked the walk- for a Common School System, for the rights of ‘civilians’ living in areas that fall under ‘Cantonment’ laws and for the right to a life with dignity for all people.
At Kamshet, the mantle of the Yatra was handed over from the Mumbai BHA team to the Western Maharashtra BHA team.
At a gathering of women and children of the Kamshet community, project holders spoke of the need for people to come together to work towards an education that is free and of equal quality for all. An entertaining 10 minute street play "Shikshanachi gaadi chalali…” (‘Here goes the Education Train!’) was performed by the Salah duo of ­­­­­­­­­Sunil and Vishal.

The play pointed out the current disparities between the quality of education dispensed to the masses and reserved for the classes.
Significantly, in Kamshet, several women and children joined the Yatra as it wove its way around the station area- these were not part of any project, but it seemed as if the call for “Sabko Shiksha Sabko Kaam, Maang raha hai Desh Tamaam” resonated with them.

The Yatra at Dehu Road was marked by two characteristics: the self-motivation of the women of the community who had gathered in large numbers and were waiting for the Yatra; and the composition of those who participated in the yatra and the meeting- a mix of religious faiths; and several children who had rehearsed slogans and lezim drills for the occasion.

The focus in this community all the way was on the Common School System. The meeting hall was packed with people from the community. Two speeches by students Sayali and Vicky underlined the need for the community to work together and demand the Right to Education. Both Walmik Bhau and Eknath Bhau made speeches at the meeting which were applauded heartily.
Several people who participated in the Yatra left behind chores, perhaps even daily wage work, to call for their rights. What is encouraging is that everywhere, people are making the connection between quality education for all and equality in daily life. They have perceived the link, and they have made their choice. How many of us have done either?

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