Gift
Of
    Life
 

 Amla Ruia has brought life-giving water to parched villagers through her water harvesting projects.

She has converted a herbal garden in Mumbai into a beautiful space where nature trails for school children can be conducted and activities of social relevance can be facilitated. This is admired by environmental architects.
 

Her endeavour teaches children to care for Mother Earth and create such gardens when they come of age.


When a mission

                         becomes a passion
 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 
 





Amla Ruia – ‘
Born of a reasonably well to do family of UP in 1946, my upbringing took place in a highly literary and spiritual environment.  Our life in UP was very simple and disciplined.  At the same time there was plenty of exposure to very affluent living and hence there was no undue attraction towards wealth because it had been lived and experienced at a very close range.’

Thanks to that background she ploughed herself in social work at the first opportunity she got.

Amla says, “I believe that the two foremost issues in our country are water and education, hence, the Trust has taken up both these sectors seriously. It has set up highly replicable model schools from pre-primary to higher secondary in Ramgarh, Rajasthan imparting the finest education at minimum cost.

From 2000 to 2005 they built 200 Drinking Water Kunds (ancestral type) in which a total of one crore liters of pure natural drinking water from the rains is collected year after year in the remotest areas where no municipal water is available. Here the villagers contributed 25% of the total cost. Thus, they have proved to be sustainable. 

To encourage mass scale Water harvesting by the villagers the trust organized ‘The Aakar Jal Puraskar’ of Rs. 1,00,000 which was given annually to the village that did the best water harvesting in Maharashtra from 2003 to 2006.

The Good News Regarding Check Dams – 2018

From 2006 to 2018 we have completed 317 check dams. The outcome is quite outstanding -- Direct benefit that means greatly enhanced life, well above poverty-line to 1,98,000 people in 182 villages. Indirect benefit to 2,85,000 people in 210 village. Total number of villages 392 and total number of people 4,82,900 people.

A total of 11 crores of sponsors money and 4.7 crores of villager’s contribution has been spent on this project up to now. The villagers are earning a net income of Rs. 500 crores year after year now that the project has matured. This will continue for generations to come will a little bit of up keep by the villagers themselves.  

Thus, the Trust has been really successful in the field of Water Harvesting as its constructions have withstood the test of time and the villagers who had initially contributed 30 – 40% towards the construction, have started maintaining their structures which have taken them to a new level of prosperity and self sufficiency.

The following are a few of the benefits of the check dams –

  • Farmers start taking three crops annually.

  • Cultivable land increases year after year.

  • Animal husbandry adds bountifully to the income.

  • Migrant labor returns to the villages thus giving rise to reverse exodus from urban areas.

  • Women are greatly relieved of the drudgery of providing water for the household.

  • Female offspring can now attend school.

  • Health and hygiene improve by leaps and bounds because of the availability of water.

  • General prosperity and wellbeing return to the land and its people.

  • Environment is restored.

 

10.    Check dams are an answer to floods and drought. Bihar is prone to floods and so if sufficient number of check dams are built the floods will not happen

Seeing the fabulous returns of the check dams, Aakar Charitable Trust genuinely wants to popularize the concept of water harvesting, first, in India and then in the whole world because, as Ruia puts it, “This is the answer to numerous problems facing humanity in the present day.”

They have decided to scale up their project 3 times. The annual goal is to construct 90 check dams per year which is really very ambitious because it means completing one check dam every four days!!! They are however dependent on in flow of 6/7 crores of funds from like minded philanthropists.

In The Field Of Education

 In the words of Amla Ruia--

‘’For primary education, I have joined hands with an NGO called Grammangal. They have developed a Teacher’s Training Program, which competes favorably with the very best Models practiced anywhere in the world. They have evolved 800 Teaching Aids, which help to develop every faculty of the child.

  1. We have helped Grammangal in the construction of their hostel for teachers taking training and workshops with them.
     

  2. Built a Preprimary and primary School in Ramgarh, Sikar Dist. Rajasthan. This is to become a center for revamping the Primary Education of Northern India.
     

  3. We had an ancestral girls’ school from class 6 to class 12 running in Ramgarh, Shekhawati. We are now actively involved with it, revamping the education methodology along the lines of modern constructive education. Thus, at extremely minimum fees structure we are imparting very high-quality education to the girl students of Ramgarh. 
     

  4.  In the heart of Mumbai, we have created a sanctuary of lush green called Shantivan. This is an herbal garden with many medicinal plants and some covered spaces to conduct workshops, Spiritual discourses, Cultural and educational programmers. There was a big area which was a dump heap of garbage collected over decades. This unutilized piece of land has now become an Amphitheater, to seat 1500 people and an open-air stage with 4 water falls perennially flowing through the garden. All of this was accomplished in record time of 2 months from April 10th to June 10th, 2003.

Thousands of school children are taking Nature trails through this  garden. A wealth of information about water and Environmental issues and herbal plants is being imparted to them personally by me and my friend Smt. Rima Shet.

In 2015 the Sri Aurobindo Society has taken over the running of the    garden and with the active support of Aakar Charitable Trust have       once again revamped it and taken it to a new height of excellence.

  1. Value based Audio Cassettes, a series of 10 Value-based Audio cassettes have been developed by me for school children from class 1 to 5. These are complete with a short prayer, a 1-minute meditation and stories and activities to make it lively and interesting for the children. A similar series of 18 CDs have also been developed for class 6 to class 10. In these series called “Safalta aur Sarlta” we have also put together 4 CDs with all the 80 odd poems for the 80 values covered their in.

  2. For Sri Aurobindo Society, Mumbai branch, a beautifully choreographed program called “India must be reborn” was put up in Jan. 2008 with the theme of patriotism and Sanatan dharm. In this program, apart from directing it, all the lyrics were composed by me.

Again, for Sri Aurobindo Society, Mumbai branch, another item called ‘The Cosmic Embrace” was presented on 17th Jan. 2009 at Nehru Centre, Worli. In this program I had played an active role in direction, script writing, making the sound tracks and the lyrics. It combined three items viz. 

  • SAVITRI (text inspired by Shri Aurobindo’s Savitri and rendered on    Malkham.

  • Raman Maharshi (Done in Shadow acting and Bharat natyam).

  • NACHIKETA (In dance drama with Bharat natyam).

 

An important side-feature of this performance was the creation of 3 beautiful sound tracks on which the school children could perform in their cultural programs thus imbibing a wealth of spiritual which is otherwise not part of our education system.

  1.  In 2015 we created a dance drama on an extract from SAKET written by the renowned poet Pandit Maithili Sharan Gupta for the Rotary Club of Bombay Queen City.
     

  2.  Under the guidance of Pujya Guru Dev Shri Shri Ravi Sankar Ji , 5 well known Shastras have been translated from Sanskrit to Hindi poetry and set to music so that people could imbibe  the noble  spiritual texts along with aesthetic appeal. The following are the names –

 Ashtavakra Geeta
 Narad Bhakti Sutra
 Shiv Sutra
 Patanjali Yoga Sutra
 Ishavasya Upanishad

At present the prime focus of Aakar charitable Trust is water harvesting by constructing check dams. We feel it is the need of the hour and sincerely appeal to all like-minded citizens to open their hearts and help us lift up our under privileged rural brethren to a new level of prosperity, dignity and economic self- sufficiency which is the birth-right of every individual in this country.’’

 

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