NSS (National Service Scheme) IIT-Delhi, aided by the Delhi Police, has been involved in teaching a group of adult illiterate women since last year in the rural settlement of Bhatti Mines, Chhatarpur, on the outskirts of New Delhi.
Mostly daily wage labourers, the population is largely illiterate and there exists widespread resentment due to lack of employment opportunities in the region. Coupled with other problems, the village is constantly in a state of despair, which has led to repeated cases of domestic violence and even unfortunate cases of suicides committed mostly by the women of the community. This state of affairs hampered the efforts of NSS for the upliftment of this community.
So, on the evening of 14th May, 2013, a team of students from IIT Delhi, accompanied by Prof. Rajesh Prasad, organised a nukkad natak for the entire Bhatti Mines community, titled “Todh Do Yeh Deewarein” (Break these restrictions). The play was prepared by Dance and Dramatics Club, IIT Delhi bagged by the NSS team members and was directed by Yashaswi Chawla and Tarun Veer Singh. An eager gathering of children and adults, men and women alike, flocked to see the play. The play depicted the restrictions imposed on young daughters of the community, like child marriage, and doing household chores rather than going to schools for proper education. It also touched upon the heinous practice of domestic violence, which is widespread in this patriarchal community. Also, the women are largely unaware of the government regulations which lead them to being underpaid for providing labour. With the long-term objective of changing the deep-rooted mindset of these people, and make them able enough to find good employment opportunities, NSS IIT Delhi has decided to re-strengthen its effort through a comprehensive and inclusive education model. This project encompasses not only scholarly education, but vocational training and awareness about government schemes benefitting the community.
Spurred by the energetic performance of the students, a multitude of men and women pledged to get involved in this initiative. Sunil Kumar, a local resident deeply moved by the play, said that “IIT ke bachon ne aaj humein sochne ko majboor kar diya hai ki agar samaaj ko sudharna hai, toh shuruwaat ghar kee auraton se hee hogi.”(The students of IIT have made us realise that upliftment of the community will begin only with the upliftment of the women).