I came to India to learn about how the country, culture and currency of my birth are changing the rest of the world. I came to India to discover how a country three thousand years in the making could be loosing its traditional heritage to modern market forces and factory-made goods. I came to India to immerse myself in the ever evolving world of Indian arts and crafts and examine their makers’ statuses. When I applied for my Fulbright grant, now almost two years ago, I had in mind a project full of hope, of homegrown resistance to westernization; full of promise for a better life for the rural artisan with the increase of technology through rural development programs. Instead I found a few brave organizations that are working relentlessly against the odds to provide both increased income and/or cultural preservation. Among the most well known of these organizations is Seva Mandir and its craft/income generation program, Sadhna. So after spending half a year doing research on various Indian folk crafts and craft development programs in the bustling city of New Delhi, I set out for the much smaller and less hectic city of Udaipur, located in Southern Rajasthan. I was to spend the next two weeks working as a volunteer for Sadhna and discovering what goes on behind the scenes at a typical development NGO.
What Seva Mandir and Sadhna Really Do
Dr. Mohan Singh Mehta began Seva Mandir in 1966 in an attempt to raise awareness about the “particu...