| Development as Unleashing Potential Efforts : the Bhagavatula Charitable Trust (BCT) of Yellamanchili in Andhra Pradesh (1995) |
|Section 2 BCT - its organisation and functioning|
a. Generating employment opportunities locally
BCT area of operation is characterised by intense demographic pressure on land and high worker participation that of women too which is an index of poverty. Low land productivity, low intensity of cropping and considerable unemployment during Rabi season can be noticed. Thanks to the efforts of BCT, which was instrumental in getting five branches of nationalised banks opened up in the area, access of small and marginal farmers to institutional credit is better when compared with other villages. "But mounting overdues are blocking further flow of credit from institutions and people do rely on money lenders for credit at high rates of interest and usually by tying up produce or land or labour on exploitative terms," cautions the results of a survey.
Integrated agro-social forestry projects of BCT and promotion of allied activities and salt-making and fish farming created employment and self-employment opportunities for many villagers. BCT employs mostly local people in all its work and only when people with requisite qualification are not available locally, it tries to recruit them from other areas.
Realising that money is very dear to the people it is working with, it adopted a salary structure, which can not be considered very attractive. But, for the local people, the offer of work and remuneration on a regular basis itself is very attractive. BCT finds it easy to find replacements whenever people with low skills leave for a better opportunity as there is a reserve of people with such skills.
b. Attracting people at the other end of work life
BCT finds it difficult to attract a post graduate to work as a Community Organiser; if able to attract, BCT finds it even more difficult to retain them. When it comes to people like qualified doctors, it is all the more problematic.
BCT tries a novel method of attracting people who are at the other end of their work life. BCT finds that many of them have made their mark in life, are relatively unencumbered with family responsibilities, not oriented to any further career building and much devoted to work with undivided attention to contribute their bit when attracted. Almost all the present Coordinators are thus attracted to the work of BCT and they lend a very strong support to its activities and credibility. BCT very consciously pursues this strategy to its great advantage.
However, this sometimes leads to discontinuity at fairly senior level, jeopardising its activities for a while. But the very same process ensures bringing into the organisation expertise, skills and knowledge backed by commitment to contribution which rejuvenates the organisation. In the constant flux of people coming and going, BCT has the constant presence of Dr Rao, coordinating and chanellising their contributions towards achievement of the objectives of the organisation till recently as Secretary and at present as President.
It may not be far from truth to say that the relationship established between beneficiary groups in the village and BCT as an organisation are largely between Dr Rao and them. With the kind of structure of Mahila Mandals that is emerging now, it is likely that they will soon have a distinct identity of their own as more or less permanent organisations commanding significant resources of their own mobilised from their members in the form of regular savings tied to long term purposes.
"It is important for BCT to have a matching, stable and steady core team dealing with community organisation within itself to interact with and guide the development of Mahila Mandals. In the absence of which it is very difficult to sustain concerted and coherent effort for achieving results. Too frequent changes in the persons dealing with this work can be treated as a major problem facing BCT," reflects Shri Ramana Murthy, who joined BCT after retirement and presently works as Coordinator, Community Organisation and also serves as Coordinator(Finance).
c. Switching over to contract service system
Recently, BCT changed over to a contract system of employment and it has accordingly changed its staff service rules. Under the changed system, all BCT employees are on a three year contract with an annual evaluation and are offered benefits like gratuity and provident fund along with a contracted amount of monthly honorarium with entitlement of three days leave per month with pay. All the new recruits will be on a probation for six months at the end of which they enter into a three year contract on mutually agreed terms and conditions. Project based staff like NFE instructors, etc., are also on similar contract for the period of the project.
"This change was brought in to facilitate a more realistic assessment of the envisaged duration of association and suits well, both the older generation and younger generation, though, may be for different reasons. We are happy with the results and there is a marked change in the work environment because expectations have become more explicit and clear," explains Shri B Venkateswara Rao who joined recently as BCT Chief Coordinator. He was formerly in Ford Motors of USA for several years.
Shri Kameswara Rao, who also joined after retirement serves as Coordinator, Non Formal Education. In all, about more than 150 persons are directly employed by BCT and except those who are working in Community Organisation, Personnel and Administration and Maintenance Cell, rest are all related to projects under taken by BCT. Indirect employment opportunities because of BCT are many.