This is a horizontal confederation of thirteen organizations (Sparks)  and eight Advisors, determined to reach out , make a difference and work to take our country to its pristine existence .


1. The Clean Team

Raj Kumar, Surjit Kumar, Rakesh Mohan

Over 80 waste collectors (semi literate or illiterate, living in shanties of Rangpuri Pahari, Mahipalpur, Kusumpur Pahari, Kishen Garh and Mehrauli) serving 4000 middle-income households and 4 local market formed their own organization- The Clean Team. They decided the logo, the colours, the uniforms and the tag line (Swatch Bharat Abhiyaan forward in an honest way). Their mission is upkeep of the colony they work in.Fifty-four of them collect door-to-door garbage (90% segregated & 10 % mixed), bio compost it, collect recyclables, sweep colony roads, mop stairs and keep the area clean. Rest 26 keep 800 offices, 200 restaurants, shops and 60 washrooms of three floored 4 local markets neat and tidy.

How you can help?

  • Adopt a team of 5 team members so they can get the minimum wages of Rs 16000/- a month.
  • Adopt a team of 10 team members so they can be given the minimum wages of Rs 16000/- a month.
  • Donate so the 80 team members get at least minimum wages of Rs 16000/- a month.
  • Donate or provide uniforms, shoes, caps, gloves, and facemasks to as many boys as possible.
  • Donate or provide as many ‘Home Composters’ as possible.
  • Volunteers to talk to residents not segregating at home.
  • Volunteer to take orientation programs.
  • Volunteer to write to Hans Foundation to get donations for all of the above.

2. ASHI Foundation

Dr.Anjila Gugnani Director
MadhuAggarwal Incharge Anna Nagar Work

ASHI is one of the oldest voluntary organisation in the country, established in 1928.It aims to 'empower women and children' from the marginalised section of society through its programs in education and health . Anna Nagar is one of the three urban slums where ASHI has non formal education centers for children and an ongoing project of 'cleaning and greening Anna Nagar'. Awareness campaigns by the students, installation of two-colored trash barrels at regular intervals worked till the installations started getting unearthed and stolen. To overcome that Bio Composters are placed in the library and students bring green garbage. During Greening operations saplings of Indigenous tree species were collected from the nursery of forest department for joint plantation by children, women, men and elderly. It was a success, till the land mafia trampled the healthy young trees with vehicles. So, for reasons beyond any one’s control even after repeated trials nothing is sustaining. Strategic thinking is required now.

How you can help?

  • Volunteer time for the development of Anna Nagar.
  • Enroll for the next ‘Green Anna Nagar’ cycle.
  • Donate garbage cans that are non plastic and non steal able.
  • Donate in kind or cash for community composters.

3. Arpan Centre for Children with Multiple Disabilities
Dr. Jayant Sastri
Dr. Rashmi Kakar

Started in 1993 this diagnostic and development centre is for children with multiple or intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, attention deficit, hyperactivity, Down syndrome & Autism to help with cognitive, motor speech stimulation, play, sensory integration, physiotherapy, vocational rehabilitation & computer literacy.This trans-disciplinary approach helps in language, educational, social & vocational development & makes these special children self-reliant. It creates awareness about prevention, early identification, interventions, testing of learning disability, aptitude& scholastic backwardness, undertakes individual and group counseling, rural development, training students in psychology, human development, community sciences & social work for capacity building and resource mobilization. Their awareness programs on ‘Greener Life’ are leaving an impact on the people of Baroda.

How you can help?

  • Becoming a resource person/trainer for their annual day program which starts or ends with a message on ‘leading a greener life’.
  • Join the team of volunteers who help in story telling and rhymes sessions.
  • Students with psychology, human development, community sciences and social work departments to contact Arpan and get educational training and course curriculum.
  • Donate for infrastructure , buses , equipment’s and more staff.

4. Bluebells International
Ms. Suman Kumar
Ms. Barnali Ganguly

Bluebells International school founded by an all rounder lady with a vision - ‘Students First’ is a platform for children - our future citizens to unfold their potentials, makes them think, imagine, empathies and create the wonderful imagery of their minds. It is a proud recipient of The Green School Award by AL Gore in 2019.As a Spark it is a leader in hand made paper recycling. Its first of its kind approach is to save the earth through handmade paper route.Its three prong approach is to make students use hand made paper, help as many as possible schools to have handmade paper making units and helping students become entrepreneurs for recycled paper by innovating constantly in making paper and its products,capacity building and marketing.

How you can help?

  • Donate paper for recycling.
  • Donate time at the recycling room for the various tasks related to paper recycling.
  • Hand made paper products innovators to share their skills and hold workshops with students and staff.
  • Become their ambassadors.

5. Boond Se Sagar

Smt. Manju Devi

Kumari Manju

Pandemic produced powerful plan.
A group of women artisans from remote villages of Haryana started this spark to showcase and market their products. Most of the artisans are unlettered but with a determination to become enterpreneurs they tend to create products from the rag and some from dori. Some women work to earn, some do it as a passion.

This NGO aims to strengthen village economy, empower women, build life long relationships, create awareness on issues like COVID-19 and vaccination, menstrual cups, segregation of waste, elimination of single use plastics, host events, and convert as many women as possible into empowered citizens.

How you can help?

  • Donate Dori.
  • Donate katran (rags).
  • Donate loom.
  • Volunteer to organise workshops.
  • Volunteer to give digital education to artisans.

6. Canine Pawsitive

Bala Chandaran

One thing common in this group of compassionate people led by a renowned journalist is their love for mongrels - so deep that they call them their children. For years they have been feeding, playing and looking after the stray dogs of their area. As a Spark they have organized them selves to carry on doing what they were doing and more.They help their mongrels cope with the vagaries of nature, get them checked, treated, sterilized, exchange stories and discuss the ways of increasing their kind for the benefit of the dogs and humans alike. The posts on their website train masses about stray dog behaviour, understand their body language, increase societal compassion towards strays, making it safer for elderly and children to be around them and benefits of adopting mongrels as pets.

How you can help?

  • Form similar group in your area.
  • Record age and sex ratio, spatial distribution and health conditions of stray dogs.
  • Volunteer your time and resources for getting the animals neuter and sick treated.
  • Intervene against excessive barking, beating, stone pelting and deprival of amenities to the mongrels of your area.
  • Make dog lovers adopt strays instead of wrongly bred Huskies.
  • Train the team of waste collectors of your colony to become primary care takers of stray dogs as they must be friends already.

7. Kailash Foundation

Ms Kadambri Rana

The mission of Kailash Foundation is social change through education.Currently Kailash Foundation is extending scholarships to girl students who are identified as capable and meritorious.This scholarship money is from Vatavaran Organisation.To bridge the gap in society it has two programs for the education of girls from lower economic strata. First in which householders are guided so that they take educational responsibility of at -least one girl child of their maid. Second getting training in job related soft skills such as familiarization with communication, spoken English language,legal and financial literacy, workplace protocol, and protection from sexual exploitation, workplace harassment and bullying. Selected girls for any of these programs would have to take an undertaking of educating one more girl. To help schools get good teachers who are in high demand scholarships are given to economically deprived girls to study from primary to post graduation to teacher’s training course. To help all mothers, daughters, sisters become self reliant it sponsors basic course in Self Defence and to enhance their capabilities in helping society it sponsors training in Life Saving Interventions.It also gives scholarships for imparting entry level employability skills to young adult children of families engaged in handling waste, including collection, recycling and reusing.

How you can help?

  • Get free guidance and Start similar exercise with your own maids.
  • Identify girls in the community who fit the criteria to be considered for sponsorship.
  • Do market research to collect data on schools which need teachers and in which subjects.

8. Manjula Concerns

Manjula Jhunjhunwala
Anuja Srivastva

As a Spark Manjula Concerns stands apart, always ready to learn, innovate, change, expand and help others. Replicable models of closed loop system and innovative primary education are the two of its unique attributes. Their closed loop system starts at their farm,its wastage becomes the raw material for the paper mill and bio-degradable crockery and cutlery. Wastes from paper mill rare converted into innovative raw materials and products making it a zero waste economy. Zero waste loops saves resources thus enhancing greenery, hospitals and life in general.Three kinds of waste from the paper mills are ash, sludge & resin.From ash bricks are made, sludge becomes the bonding material. Together both are used for making houses for the needy. The third waste from the paper mills is Resin used by students learning sculpting. Manjula Concerns primary school is purpose built where children are actively involved in developmentally appropriate hands on activities.This unique, innovative education system and work going on to improve the natural and human conditions in Faisabad can be replicated by innumerable wealthy concerns of the country.

How you can help?

  • Visit Faizabad to understand the working of this Concern.
  • Spread the word.
  • Write about it.
  • Film it.

9. Masti Ki Paathshala and Maatimeet Grameen
Gautam Khendalwal

A democratic learning centre set up in village Agar, Alwar District Rajasthan by an educationist to motivate, provide support, counsel and educate.The founder explored till he found the remotest village and founded Masti ki Paathshala. The going has not been easy but his enthusiasm, cheerful personality and hard work are paying off.The villagers are with him, there is an almost continuous thread of international volunteers and Indian well-wishers.He is moving towards his goals. The informal education is for rural development, solve real life problems, generate employment and revitalize community living . The children are not only well versed with world but better off than their contemporaries in urban settings due to their earthy knowledge. Maatimeet Grameen is its livelihood wing. The women of the area with long colourful gungats have been trained in stitching and are self- sustaining. They pioneered the making of multi pocket Cora bags which are in constant demand. Residents of this village now do not migrate to cities because of the improved family income,constant support and children developing strong foundation.

How you can help?

  • Please forward to all their requirement of a full time job to lead the education program .the person need to be good with art, craft, design etc., have basic knowledge of computers, English and Hindi (written and spoken), patient with children and have the ability to lead a team. Salary –Rs 15k-30k per month plus food and accommodation. Perks- fresh air, stress free life , a warm community, the pride of doing something meaningful.Location –village agar, block thanagazi, district Alwar, Rajasthan.Send CV to Gautam and call him at 9829342882.
  • Visit the place.
  • Popularize their products.

10.Stand N Stride and Nurani Aquaponics
Amod Poddar
+91-9873924929 , +91-8178165112

Stand N Stride is an NGO in India formed by a group of socially enthusiastic and sensitive people from every walk of life who understand their social responsibility. Stand n Stride is committed to help to all who are not getting equal opportunity to explore their potential due to social and financial discrimination. Our works mainly concentrated in the fields of Holistic education of children and strengthening our youth to expand their wings at their will. We believe these are the areas of greatest need and deserve to be the foci of our attention.

How you can help?

  • By helping us with the basic stationeries like blackboard, mats, chair, notebook, etc.
  • By Helping us in routine expenses like paying rent for study centers and paying teachers.
  • By voulunteering as teachers.

About Nurani Aquaponics

Aquaponics uses the best of all the growing techniques, utilizing the waste of one element to benefit another mimicking a natural ecosystem. Aquaponics refers to any system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Kerala state in India has taken a lead in aquaponics. While a village like Kotchi produces greens and fish in its aquaponics, Nurani Aquaponics in a remote village of Kerala is to produce flowers specially temple flowers through this system. This first of its kind venture, a replicable model is adding a new perspective to this beautiful quite village housing prosperous Nambudiri Brahmins and a well organized with a well meaning local body. Nurani has many temples visited by residents every day with fresh flowers, but Nurani is not growing flowers. Truckloads of flowers come every day to this village. This model Aquaponics will harvest flowers in abundance thus eliminating environmental and monetary costs of transportation. Nurani Aquaponics welcomed by the local body to such an extent that its now a community project.

How you can help?

  • Volunteer your time to request Hans Foundation to fund Nurani Aquaponics.
  • Volunteer your time to spread the word about it.
  • If you reside in that area or wish to work there then volunteer your time for getting free training in Aquaponics and then become an entrepreneur.
  • If you are a trained Aquaponics Expert then apply for a job at Nurani Aquaponics.

11. People Theatres Group

Twitter account : Niloyroy
Niloy Roy

This group of nomads harnesses social change & education through performing arts. It reaches out with songs, stories, street theatre and plays. It evokes responses and gets acclaimed critically. The solo performance of the Founder & Director brought to light the plight of a lonely man who was a puppet maker.Along with bringing to light a dying art. Another production - Disappearing Sparrows hits at the deteriorating environment conditions. People’s Theatre Group has performed over hundred street plays on clean green surroundings. It has a global campaign to engage organisations , individuals and committees , who organise Durga Puja in an environmentally responsive and ecologically affable celebrations thus only use biodegradable materials for idols & pandals and camps at immersion grounds for non- polluting immersions.

How you can help?

  • Volunteer; get free street theatre training on clean and green surroundings and a chance to perform.
  • Volunteer your time to spread the word about it.

12. Primate Procession & Society for Nature Education

Dr. Ekwal Imam

Primate Procession educates creates awareness among school children and communities through Nature walks visit to Wet Lands, Biodiversity Parks, Zoos, Farmer’s Markets and more. It helps students do research on free ranging monkeys by training them in ’ Tools of Observation, Data Collection and Analysis’ during workshops.For postgraduate students it undertakes field trips. It assists member Primatologists to present their work in conferences.It undertakes educating communities on living with monkeys. Monkeys are protected under the Wildlife Act of India. Except Government authorities no one can trap them but Rhesus are all over. This organization helps people understand behaviour and negate negativity between the two species. With wide experience in studying their behaviour in rural, urban, dry, and canal settings the team is apt at helping all. Primate Procession helps in rehabilitation of rhesus moneky and designing of monkey friendly sanctury.Also, It guides in the use of traditional method of monkey trapping if needed instead of using chemical technique. It provides scientific ways of treating man - monkey conflict and helps masses except monkeys as part of our valueable bio diversity line and harmony with them.

How you can help?

  • Donate for travel, boarding and lodging for the deserving economically poor for any of their activities.
  • Donate for postgraduate student’s field trips.
  • Donate for member Scientists to present papers in Primatological Conferences.
  • Volunteer to make films.
  • Write to ‘Science Sustainable’ and get donations for natural fencing of Bamboo or low cost Solar fence for monkey sanctuary.

13. VEER (Vistas of Education & Empowering Resource)

Ms Jyoti Koul
Arun Kundu

Vistas of Educational and Empowering Resources(VEER) is a confluence of many valuable superlatives. Designating support, solidarity and Sharing to the communities that have not only witnessed but endured the brutalities of terrorism like Kashmiri Pandits that faced ethnic cleansing in their own homeland. Veer dedicates itself to support such societies to rebuilt and re-grow themselves. The first and foremost initiative in this direction is to sustain and disseminate a truthful narrative about their sacrifices and sustainability.

Your Participation

One can help Veer by the way of volunteering services simply by letting people connect with us and vice-versa. Feedback is extremely important, we would appreciate if people could guide us in building a strong network and identify areas where Veer can associate in order to improve lives. Donations would certainly help to keep the wheels turning.

Copyright © All rights reserved | Vatavaran Rhizome


    Dr. Sita Bhambri

डॉ. सीता बिम्ब्राॅ : पद्मश्री वीरेंद्र प्रभाकर स्मृति सम्मान प्राप्त करते हुए। यह कार्यक्रम कांस्टिट्यूशनल क्लब आॅफ इंडिया, दिल्ली में 4 जनवरी 2021 को हुआ। चित्र कला संगम (साहित्य, संगीत-नृत्य और विविध कलाओं को समर्पित, स्वयं सेवी, सांस्कृतिक संस्था) यह कार्यक्रम पद्मश्री वीरेंद्र प्रभाकर जी(प्रख्यात फोटो पत्रकार) की पुण्य स्मृति में किया गया। डॉ. सीता बिम्ब्राॅ जी को साहित्य-कला-समाज सेवा के क्षेत्र में सक्रिय व विशिष्ट योगदान के लिए सम्मानित किया गया। डॉ. हरिसिंह पाल, श्री विजय मोहन शर्मा , श्री अशोक जैन एवं श्री रवि जैन ने डॉ. सीता बिम्ब्राॅ जी को सम्मानित किया।


     Jai Kasturba

Photo Courtesy : Harijan Sewak Sangh
77 years ago on 22nd February Mahatma Gandhi’s wife completed her journey on earth. Harijan Sewa Saagh at Kingsway Camp Delhi organized a memorial event. While some people were offering flower petals on her portrait Dr. Sita Bhambri said that Baa was against that ritual. I also learnt that she was not a modest wife, as I had believed earlier. She had a mind of her own. Sometimes she was critical of Gandhi. However she followed the path shown by him diligently, not because he was her husband but because she was convinced of the path shown by him to the nation. Kasturba managed the upkeep of the Ashram including the welfare of its inhabitants and visitors. I got to see the quarter in the Ashram where Gandhi and Kasturba stayed from 1030 to 1940 as and when they were in Delhi. A very modest house. It was colonial, double story with an open veranda with symmetrical architecture, multi paned windows, plastered yellow with greenery around. One time Gandhi asked Kasturba if she would also call him Mahatma like every one else? She looked at him for some time, smiled and walked away.

Dr. Iqbal Malik

(Vatavaran Rhizome)

     Story of Determination
    Vipin Dagore

An exemplary who has carved his own path of success with the power to imagine and the willpower to stay determined.

Sixteen years back Vipin joined Vatavaran NGO as an office boy . Soon his sincerity towards his work, sharp mind and his sponge-like ability to grasp became apparent. Knowing his potential, Vatavaran NGO invested to raise his work abilities . First,he was enrolled in an English speaking course and then in computer learning. As he continuously improved his abilities he was promoted. He was the Project officer when Vatavaran NGO was being transitioned to Vatavaran Rhizome.

Vipin spent the next ten years of his life in creating wealth but he never forgot what he had learnt and now he has returned to the Vatavaran Rhizome family. He would be happy to help people associated with Vatavaran Rhizome both in creating wealth, starting something new, managing it and making it self sustaining .

Written By :
Mahima Bobin

(Volunteer at Vatavaran Rhizome)

         Billu - The Watch Dog

My Billu would not talk. But he was a great listener. He would respond to each word with his eyes. His waving ears were an assurance that he was with you all through. If no one ever heard you, Billu would, with great enthusiasm. Billu was a rare combination of a son and a soldier. He was lovable and obedient and he was always on the guard. Billu’s mother was a wanderer -a stray one, yet she became a recluse in the last few years of her life. She would often follow my father from a bakery where she used to be stationed all day. Popularly known as Haseena, this short trip from bakery to the gate was among her major movements during the day. Every day while my father left for his office and returned home in the evening, Haseena was like a dutiful wife walking just two paces behind him. In return, she was fed nicely and looked after well. In spite of all that affection, Haseena never entered the main gate of the house. She was very selective in her choice as far as her affection was concerned. And she showered all her affection on my father. I have heard that dogs have good sense judgment. In her judgment, she was correct as none of us was too fond of dogs. We would not care much except for my mother who was extremely humane at heart. One day Haseena died leaving behind three little puppies. All three puppies tried their best to wake up their mother. But, she did not wake up. So they latched on to her in the hope that she would feed them sooner or later. But nothing could reduce their hunger. In the night, someone removed her body leaving the puppies in the lurch. A few days later, daddy came to know that Haseena lay dead somewhere. And her puppies became what she was—wanderers. When daddy looked for the puppies, he found them distraught—barely able to walk. This was a huge pain for these beauties to bear. Daddy arranged for their milk and shelter. But, nothing could ease their pain and discomfort. They behaved like adult men and women who could not eat or sleep in times of trouble. How could it be tackled? The puppies grew restless day by day. Then daddy did something. He got the body located and arranged for her burial in the presence of her puppies. Since it was just the beginning of winter, Haseena’s body had not decomposed even after few days. They watched the whole episode wagging their tiny tails and continuously smelling her body. The puppies grew restless when the first snowfall hit their bodies. It started snowing while her grave was being dug. It must have been a very strange experience for these puppies. As daddy moved from there, these puppies followed him without any hesitation. At home, a small shelter was prepared for all three, complete with care and comfort, in the courtyard. Interestingly, they returned to normalcy once they were inside the shelter. Next morning, it was still misty outside and visibility was almost zero. My daddy left for our ancestral temple nearby. Once he was through with his prayers he came out. He found his shoes missing. He switched on his torch. To his astonishment, one of the puppies was very authoritatively sitting on one and holding the other shoe in his mouth. Once the torch focused on him, he moved aside offering the shoe to daddy. Next he followed daddy back home and very happily parked himself on the cushy doormat outside his room. Curiosity made daddy come in and out of the room to check if it was still there. Yes, he lay there all curled up with an occasional movement of his tiny tail. It was only 5 am and daddy fed him a sumptuous breakfast. Daddy was amazed with the kind of love he was getting from this little creature. He ordered that door of his room to be left open till the time this puppy was around. Hours passed by but this puppy would not move an inch. Daddy got ready for his office. As he was about to leave, this little puppy stood up and started scampering around him as if he would not let him go. This was strange, but he would not budge. Suddenly, daddy realized that he had not worn his tie. So he wore an elegant tie and proceeded to leave. But, surprisingly the puppy did not cause any further hindrances. He walked behind daddy covering exactly the same distance that his mother used to do. He stopped near the bakery. Then he came back and slept on the doormat. In the evening, the puppy left for the bakery and waited there till he saw daddy. Like his mother, he followed my daddy back home. Late in the evening, daddy looked at him as he lay on the oval shaped doormat all curled up. Daddy sat back in his room and penned a poem. This is how Billu was born! Billu was brown with black patches. His eyes were like those of lions and starry . He grew up into a big dog. Soon, he was daddy’s constant companion. Wherever daddy went, he would follow. He grew emotional. He developed understanding like humans. The entire family grew fond of him. Billu protected and pleased everyone. He was a new member of the family. He would want to play with them in snow. Snow fighting was his cherished sport. He would guard the house and would always be found standing on the right side of the entrance to the house. Main gate became a scary path for most of the visitors. He would easily identify miscreants. He became a terror for unwanted elements. Nobody would dare to come near the gate. He became very popular in the entire locality. Billu was a powerful protector for each and every family member. Even the neighborhood felt safer due to his presence. Billu was raised with love and without any expectation. Perhaps, this is what fuelled his passion to serve his master with so much of dedication. Billu had the ability to nab culprits. It was his natural instinct, he was not trained to do that. This quality became a curse for mischief mongers. He was being targeted by many but managed to save himself time and again. Billu grew into a brave soldier, discharging his duty against all odds. Then one fateful evening, somebody fed him a needle in a fresh bun. When his master arrived, he could barely recognize the sound of his steps and could smell his fragrance. He rose and tried to limp behind him but he couldn’t. Daddy was shocked and did everything to save him but it was too late. He breathed with ease one last time at the gate and never responded to anyone or anything again.

Jyoti Koul

(VEER : Spark of Rhizome)

     Some Facts about
    our feathered friends

Photo Courtesy : Barnali Ganguly
These days every bird is nesting. so if you see the nest, please do not go near it at all and don't look at it directly. If you wish to observe it, please do it subtly. Remember predators like crows and hawks are watching your movement and when you enter their territory they get more cautious. Do not let them know you've found a nest

Mohit Aggarwal

(Asian Adventures India)

     Report of first Meet
    Vatavaran Rhizome

Agar is a village in Rajasthan situated at a distance of 26 kilometres from Sariska Tiger Reserve. The name of this little known place will raise no eyebrows until you delve deeper… This village is characterised by clean and fresh air, simple lifestyles and homes which serve as economic units. These homes are either connected to the farms, or to the export-oriented markets[1] (mediated by middlemen). The people greet you warmly as you step out casually into the streets. You are served with the warmth of the people who invite you to their daughter's weddings. They serve you uncountable cups of tea/milk/buttermilk, welcome you into their homes, offer you whatever you like of theirs. And despite their vast expanse of valuable indigenous knowledge, they remain humble. The night sky shines brighter here, and it has an observation centre close by for observation.
In many ways, this village is a marvel. It has built dams and embankments, schools for both girls and boys, washrooms inside homes, and provisions for both electricity and water pipelines. Some may even argue that it is no longer a village, because of the stage of development it has reached. But it is truly off the beaten path, away from the city's evils. These dams and embankments have been built by a large amount of collective social work of the villagers themselves, with little government help. Being a characteristically arid region, the preservation of water is essential for the water to last for the rest of the year. It rains for only two-three months annually and sometimes lesser. These structures help in improving the groundwater table, so that water can later be drawn out through wells and bore wells. In the absence of these structures, the rainwater would have simply run off the surface and not retained for future usage. The objective of survival is what made the residents of Agar conscious of the need for water-preservation.
The barren hills have been turned green by the efforts of the people. Masti ki Pathshala contributes to this effort with the help of its school children who make seed bombs[3] and throw them from the top of the hill in all directions. Importance is given to the variety of seed sown, concerning the temperature, soil type, climate and benefits of the seed variety. Involving school-going children in this project sensitises the youth to the needs of the environment and brings them closer to nature.
It was in this remarkable village that Vatavaran Rhizome held its first meeting of all its Sparks. All the Sparks which were present introduced themselves and the different avenues of social upliftment in which each one engages. The approach to life which was adopted was holistic. The stars of the sky become your blanket while your back rests upon the cot. There was a collective effort in all the essential tasks- filling up water, cooking food, washing utensils and others. The harmony among all those attending the meet was astounding.
Masti ki Pathshala's interactions with the children are in a very innovative and engaging manner. The school is a centre focussed on imparting practical education based on alternative learning. The entire process is so unusual for the children that they yearn to come to Masti ki Pathshala even after school hours. They all have their own ways of engaging with materials around them, and no one dictates what is (or, is not) to be done. With the help of personalised learning for the children, the broader aim of this organisation is to prevent rural to urban migration. This will be achieved by creating avenues within the village itself, so the people will not have to migrate to the cities for opportunities of work. In this respect, the organisation also aims to provide vocational training to the children in their own fields of interest.
There are struggles in the village, as economic opportunities are still scarce. Women skilled in weaving carpets are unable to reap the full benefits of this labour-intensive work, as the middlemen take away a large part of the profits. A peek into the intensity of hard work: one square inch of the carpet takes two hours to weave. And as someone put it, just watching the process humbles you, and it testifies to values of patience, perseverance and hard work.
The other struggles are related to aspects of social and gender equality which seem to a long way ahead. Even when women earn and contribute to their family's incomes, they are deprived of an equal share of dignity. It is indeed heartening to see girls going to schools. But saddening to know that many of them are either engaged or married, and higher education is still rare among females. Menstrual hygiene and related issues are topics on which knowledge is scarcely imparted. Due to these and many other reasons Agar has a long way ahead for itself, towards sustainable development in not just economic but also social spheres. Masti ki Pathshala has begun work for the development of this region.
The path is rough, but the end will be rewarding.

Written By :
Mahima Bobin

(Volunteer at Vatavaran Rhizome)

Be Aware of Holi Colors !


Almost all colors available during Holi are concoctions of chemicals thus toxic, allergic and carcinogenic. Any one can come up with natural and attractive soft, and good for skin colors. All that is needed is a visit to a forest,a garden and a kitchen to collect leaves, seeds, bark of trees, flowers, fruits and peels.

The 6 steps to make your own colors are:
  • Dry the color source in shade.
  • Powder the dried material coarsely.
  • Soak the powder in water for 30 minutes.
  • Boil this water for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Cool it, filter it and keep it till you want to use it.
  • Dry the residue in shade. Powder it finely and this becomes the dry holi color, ready to be used.

Chemical Holi Colors

If however you still prefer the colors from the market then please remember that all three categories –Pastes, Dry powders and Wet colors have health hazards. The most dangerous however are the pastes.Silver, Gold, Metallic, Green, Blue and Black pastes available in the market are all extremely dangerous. The cost varies from rupees 5 to rupees 50per tin containing 100 grams of the mixed paste.
The colorants are also available in small pouches which can be mixed in any type of oil or water depending upon weather it has to be used as a paste or wet color by the user. Cost of these pouches is from rupees 2 to rupees 10.
When you smear someone ared in pink, you actually daubed someone with Rhodamine B, if the color is violet or blue it actually is Methyl Violet, green is Malachite Green and yellow is Auramine. All these are prohibited under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
The two components of Dry Powders are Base and the Colourant. Depending upon the quality of Holi Powder the base can be Asbestos Talc, Chalk or Cornstarch. All will adversely affect us.

Chemical and their health hazards
Colors Chemicals Effects
Black Engine oil + Lead Oxide Renal failure
Green Engine oil +Copper Sulphate Eye allergy, puffiness and temporary blindness
Silver Engine oil + Aluminium bromide Carcinogenic
Blue Engine oil + Perssian Blue Contract dermatitis
Red Engine oil + Mercury Sulphite Highly Toxic Skin cancer
In addition pure coal tar, discarded diesel oil and greese are also used as Holi rubs. To clear the skin of all these rubs keriosine oil is the most commonly used remover.

Re-kindle the Original Holi Spirit

A festival intended to commemorate the conventional historic triumph of good over evil has been transmutated over time, assisted by a strong element of mass-ignorance, ironically, to what seems to be the reciprocated dominance of evil (in the form of chaotically aggressive unruliness) over good (a happy, colorful yet peaceful celebration). The unobtrusive, incurrence, eye pleasing natural colors have been replaced by a multitude of toxic, carcinogenic-hazardous, eye-irritating (even to the point of blindness) chemical ‘colors’.

Make your own colors

Dry colors have two components. Base and Colorant. The natural bases can be made from the following:
Grounded Orange peels, Lemon Peels, Sandal Wood, Rose Water.
Natural colors can even be made at home without much toil and effort. Given below is a list of natural colors (along with their sources) and natural bases. We can thus make our own natural colors by mixing these colors with the bases.

Natural products and their Colors :
1. Saffron - Brilliant yellow
2. Turmeric - Yellow & Orange Brown
3. Henna - Orange Red
4. Manjistha - Rust Red
5. Katha - Brown
6. Beet Root - Magenta
7. Indigo - Rich Blue
8. Chlorophyll - Green

Here are the colors for people who do not understand science:
1. Mix a spoon of powdered haldi in a cup of flour (atta/besan/maida), talcum powder for yellow color, which is also great for your skin. Haldi powder can also be mixed in water to make a wet color.
2. Use henna/mehandi powder, separately or mixed with flour (as above).
3. Chopped pieces of Beet root soaked in water for a few hours give a wonderful magenta color.
4. Put tea or coffee in warm water. Let it cool and use.
5. Put flowers of Semul/ Tesu or Palas/ Dhak (tree which are common in India and bloom during March) in water and boil. Leave overnight to obtain a saffron color.
6. Mix lime (chuna which is put in leaves) with haldi powder to get a deep red color.
The above are just a few ways to make natural colors. Ask your parents and grandparents for more! Experiment with different seasonal flowers (like marigold, harshingar), fruits & vegetables (grapes, spinach, rind of pomegranate), leaves (eucalyptus) and explore the fascinating word of natural colors.

Vatavaran demands

A cottage industry be setup, generating harmless natural colors to replace the current toxin laden and thus aid an attempt to resurrect yet another rigor-mortified festival. The introduction of natural colors should be supplemented by a complete ban on the current colors in market, heavy in concentrations of Sudan Red, Metanil Yellow, Melachile Green and Salts of metals like lead, chromium, mercury, etc.

Gulal Aspiration: A Festival Hazard!

Bajaj Monika, MD Kumar Viredra,
MD Malik Iqbal, Ph.D. Arora Praveeen, MD Dubey N K,
From: The Department of Pediatrics, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital,
Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi And
Vatavaran (NGO- Working on socio-environmental Issues)


The inhalation of noxious chemical substances and heavy metals is a known cause of chemical pneumonitis and acute as well as chronic lung injury. Occupational exposure is more often a cause for the same. However, significant exposure to chemical may occur due to accidental inhalation during domestic activities, hobbies, and festivals (1,2). We report here a case of accidental “gulal” aspiration during Holi festival.

Case Report

A previously well, six year old boy, presented with sudden onset of cough and respiratory distress following accidental aspiration of “gulal” during Holi festival. He was treated for one day at a nearby private hospital, before being referred to Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital, New Delhi.
On arrival, patient was conscious but excessively irritable and had marked respiratory distress. His heart rate was 140 beats per minute, respiratory rate 96 breaths per minute, with marked intercostals and subcostal recession, but there was no cyanosis. Blood pressure was 100/70 mm Hg. On auscultation of chest, air entry was markedly diminished with bilateral ronchi. Clinical examination of other system was unremarkable.
Investigations revealed hemoglobin – 13 gm/dl, TCL-24000cells/Cmm with 66% polymorphs, blood urea-59 mg/dl, serum creatinine – 0.5 mg/dl, serum Na+ - mEq/L, serum K+ -5.36 mEq/L. Chest X-ray revealed bilateral patchy pneumonitis especially involving right middle and lower zones. Arterial bloods gas analysis revealed pH- 7.365, pO2 58.2 pCO2 –49.6, HCO3-20.4, O2 saturation –88.7%.
Patient was treated symptomatically with humidified oxygen, intravenous fluids, and salbutamol and ipratropium bromide nebulisations. He was stared on I/V hydrocortisone (10 mg/Kg/day), crystalline penicillin (2 lac IL/Kg/day) and chloromycetin (100 mg/Kg/day) in divided doses. Due to clinical suspicion of supper-added infection, antibiotics were changed to I/V cerftriazone (100 mg/Kg/day) and netilmycin (7.5 mg/Kg/day) on day three. Special attention was given to chest physiotherapy, and 3% saline nebulisation was given to encourage expectoration and removal of aspirated substance from the repiratory tract.
On day four the patient developed subcutaneous emphysema over chest and neck. Repeat chest X-ray showed bilateral extensive pneumonitis and mediastinal emphysema (Figure-1). Patient however did not require any surgical intervention for the same.
Patient subsequently maintained arterial gas (pH-7.51, pO2-70.5, pCO2-36.4, HCO3-25.6, O2 saturation-94.4%)and improve steadily. He was discharged after two week of therapy. After stabilization of his respiratory distress, spirometric assessment of pulmonary function (PFT) revealed severe restricted pattern (FVC- 0.54L, 45.95% of predicted value; FEV1 0.54L, 52.5% of predicted; FEF25-75%-0.68L/sec, 52.32% of predicted). At one month follow up patient was asynptomatic, chest X-ray had normalized, spirometry revealed however continued to show a restrictive pattern, thought less in severity (FVC- 0.89L, FEV1- 0.89L, FEF25-75%- 1.21L/sec). Six month later spirometry revealed normalization of pulmonary function (FVC- 1.16L, FEV1- 1.04L, FEF25-75%- 1.45L/sec).


The dangers associated with aspiration of foreign material into the airway have been chronicled in medical literature for over 350 years and airways foreign bodies continue to be a problem frequently encounted by pediatric practitioners. Foreign body aspiration is most frequent in the 1-5 years age group, with 85% cases occurring in children less than three years of age.
Item frequently found in the environment of a child, such as nuts, shells, candies, grapes, pears, jewelry, small toys etc. are the ones that pose a risk for entering and occluding the airway. Aspiration of powder like substances expect for talcum powder and soot in burn injury, are less frequently encountered in children.
Gulal, a seemingly innocuous powder substance has been traditionally used, to smear over face during the festival of Holi, since ancient time. Environmental experts and doctors are only to aware of the hazards of these innocent looking colors, namely triggering of skin allergies, impairment of vision, precipitation of asthmatic attacks etc. this is for the first time, that we encountered a child with massive aspiration and restrictive pulmonary disease due to gulal.
In our case, the gulal could not be procured and no attempt had been made at bronchoscopic aspiration and of the material aspirated, in view of the extreme sickness of child and delay in arrival to our hospital after the incident. Chemical nature of the same is therefore difficult child to comment upon. However, one may hypothesize, that lung injury is caused both by the physical i.e. powdery, nature of the substance as well as heavy metals, chemicals and hydrocarbons that go into the preparation of these colors.
Powder like consistency of the gulal, result in it being drawn into distal airways almost instantly like in the case of any other powder and this probably causes acute respiratory distress, obstruction, atelecatesis, hyperinflation, and air-leak. With the help of a non-government organization (Vatavaran), chemical analysis of different sample of used during Holi was done. Summery of that is shown in table-1. It seems possible that the material aspirated by this child, had traces of lead and mercury. Review of literature revealed case report of mercury inhalation injury, which presented in similar manner with respiratory distress, Air-leak and restrictive lung disease (3).
We managed our patient symptomatically. Systematic steroids have been used but without definite role to reduce inflammatory process and fibrosis in chemical pneumonitis (4). They have of late proven to be of benefit in patients with mercury induced acute lung injury (4). In our patient, they may have benefited by reducing airways inflammation as well bronchospasm.
Air-lack can occur in cases of chemical pneumonitis especially those resulting from hydrocarbons aspiration or mercury vapor inhalation (5). Conservative management is advocated for the same, and patients usually improve, as was witnessed in our case too.

Act Now!

Act Now-Replicate the Models

  • Convert public squalors to green settlements.
  • Make multiple imapired as the vehicle of change.
  • Help students become entrepreneurs.
  • Bridge the gap-each family teach one girl child.
  • Create people's movement for a clean -green life through theatre.
  • Help mitigate rural migration to cities.
  • Start Aquaponics for self sustenance.
  • Understand animals, take them seriously and care for them scientifically.
  • Close the loop whereever and whichever you can.
  • Work to heal and regenerate the nature.