Naveen Patnaik Hon'ble Chief minister , Odisha

Naveen Patnaik
Interventional Livelihood Options Empowering Rural Women




Provision of livelihoods for poor and downtrodden can help in their economic and social upliftment. Through targeted livelihood interventions governments across the globe are trying to reduce poverty and inequality by empowering people. Odisha government’s livelihoods mission has been a forerunner in financially and socially elevating thousands of poor and marginalized individuals and communities from below poverty line.

Mayurbhanj resident Subhadra Das is a prime example of OLM (Odisha Livelihoods Mission) intervention bringing a positive change in her life. The Golamundra villager from Bangiriposhi block narrated her story of struggle and resilience, and resultant empowerment before PHDMA team during a recent visit.  

The woman, who is in her 50s, resides with her son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. Going on flashback, she presented a picture of despair and distress from her past. Her husband, who died two years ago due to illness, was the sole bread earner from agricultural work in a small piece of land the family owned. Subhadra, a class-IX dropout, used to work as a house-help in different residences in the locality. Their kachcha ghar was adding to their woes as it was not disaster-resistant and needed frequent repair putting the family on further financial burden. Moreover, her husband’s treatment cost her around Rs 2 lakhs, which she had taken on loan from friends and relatives.


In search of a way out from such miserable life, she wanted to join a SHG in her village. But none of the existing ones allowed her in. “The SHGs were mostly indulging in saving money from members. They denied me membership citing I wouldn’t be able to put money regularly as I was very poor,” she expressed with visible sadness and hurt sentiment clouding her face and voice. However, she was quick to recover, and with a pinch of pride in her voice added, “I formed a SHG with few other women in 2002. We started saving money regularly. After the OLM integration, we could learn a lot about livelihood options and take easy credit for initiating our business. And this was the turning point in my life.”

She took a loan of Rs 10,000 to start her bangles and lady’s garment business. It turned out to be a sustainable livelihood option for her. She has paid back her loan over the years. For procuring the raw materials, she makes a day-long trip to Jamshedpur once in every week or fortnight. Meanwhile, she got a pucca house under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Besides, Rs 20,000 incentives was also availed under the Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana (BPGY). The resilient house gave her hope and saved her money. The pucca ghar is also electrified under BPL electrification scheme, while she has got gas connection under Ujjwala yojana. She has set up her shop in her own house. People come to her place to buy stuffs. Sometimes she takes the extra effort of home-delivering the orders.

She also has received Rs 8,000 and seeds for setting up a nutria-garden to push her family’s dietary requirements. A recipient of monetary assistance under Kalia scheme, the woman has been renting a power tiller to plough and irrigate her land from a nearby well at Rs 480 per hour. Her daughter-in-law has obtained benefits under Mamata scheme during birth of her two daughters in institutional facilities. One of her granddaughters used to get benefits from Anganwadi centre and is now studying in the government school. 


Her son works as a driver and earns around Rs 7000 per month. Subhadra makes profit of around Rs 6000 every month from her business. The nutri-garden, agriculture from family land and rice from PDS help in their sustenance throughout the year.   

With regular income from livelihoods and financial security taken care of, she is quite socially empowered. She regularly visits government offices from where she gets information regarding government schemes and benefits. She is also a member of the Gram Kalyan Samiti. “I assist other women in my locality to gain from my experience. Since my financial condition has improved, I feel an obligation towards the society and try my best to help others,” remarked she.

Quite aspirational, she wishes to expand her business by setting up a bigger shop on the roadside. She also wants to provide her son with a four-wheeler of his own so that he can drive his own car and earn. A believer of power of education, she is determined to ensure all educational facilities to her granddaughters.  

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Empowerment comes with timely efforts and right information about government schemes

Orphaned at an early age and bearing the eldest among eight siblings, Shailendri Nahak had to learn the art of bearing the responsibilities of her brothers and sisters. Adversity makes people strong and resilient. She never gave up on the face of the perpetual struggles. Self-motivated to work hard to turn the tide, she chased down various employment options. Besides, the intervention of a plethora of government schemes ensured that she never looked back.


Today, she is the president of  the local mahila mahasangha or Cluster Level Federation (CLF) in her area. She exercises her influence in her locality. She owns a house built from her own earnings over the years.

Shailendri, who hails from Kanisi Hata village under Rangeilunda block in Ganjam district, had to drop out from school after standard-IV. Searching for gainful employment to take care of her siblings, she started learning sewing. As it was not enough to feed and provide education to her kins, she opted for a better paying job in a grease manufacturing company.

Her struggle didn’t end at the regular grinds in the industrial work. She used to make leaf-plates at home after her daily job. Her first brush with leaf-plate making earned her handsome profit, which encouraged her to spend more time in her own venture after her unskilled labour.

“I was making leaf-plates. After I joined SHG in my village, I goaded other members to start this profitable livelihood activity. Then, I decided to quit my job and fully concentrate in plate making business and take the SHG work forward,” recalled the woman.

Her mastery over the art and commerce of bio-degradable plate making and support from the SHG gave her the confidence to be independent and initiate her own business. She left the job in the company after 8-9 years. Now, her daily routine includes finishing all the household chores during day time and sitting on making plates till late in the night.

It's after becoming president of the mahasangha in 2017, she acquired a lot of information regarding government schemes and benefits while interacting with grassroot functionaries.

She availed Project DESHI (Development and Empowerment of SHGs through Hen Infrastructure) under the convergence of Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and Veterinary department. This project aims at backing women poultry farmers by ensuring a regular monthly income. While the poultry shed was sanctioned through NREGS, OLM and veterinary department provided 50 hens of different commercial breeds such as Kadaknath, and Banraj.

Empowered with information about government schemes, she even ventured into fishery. “I had no prior knowledge of fish farming. Though I got some technical support from officials, YouTube became my best guide in this matter. Seeing the videos of several successful fish farmers, I got a lot of technical knowhow,” said Shailendri, excitedly.   

In her own acknowledgement, she couldn’t dream of setting out on various ventures, hadn’t she availed benefits in the form of loans, technical knowledge and other tangible supports. She was availing timely credit from her group. The SHG had procured loans from bank. She also availed a bank loan of Rs 50,000 for her farming. A support of Rs 10,000 under Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) scheme to set up Mo Upakari Bagicha, where she grows varieties of vegetables such as Banana, Papaya, Aloe vera, Brinjal, and flowers for self-consumption. The Mo Upkari Bagicha, that came up in 2020, though is a late addition to her growing efforts to strengthen her financial condition. Her SHG has got covid assistance package of Rs 15,000 as loan from Mission Shakti during the pandemic.

While Shailendri remained unmarried by dedicating herself to raise her siblings, the young ones have grown up and settled in their life. She also receives Rs 500 under Madhu Babu Pension Yojana (MBPY). She makes good profit from pisciculture. Kanisi hata is a regular market for her products. She saves around 7-8 thousand rupees every month.

As she is now focused on her various business activities and leads so many women in her area, she aspires to expand her ventures and make more profit in the days to come.  


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Sambari Sabar: The story of resilience


She lost her husband 18 years ago. She raised her three children singlehandedly working as a wage labourer. She couldn’t afford their education due to abject poverty. To add to her woes, Cyclone Titli damaged her kutcha house permanently.

But none of these could break her spirit, deter her from moving forward, or put a brake on her aspirations. Thanks to the continuous support from the state government in the form of various welfare and well-being schemes, she not only got assured food and shelter security but also could uplift her economic and social status.

This is the story of redemption of Sambari Sabar, a widow residing in S Kurlunda village of Tarangada gram panchayat under Gumma block in Gajapati district. Already leaving in penury, the sudden demise of her husband was a bolt from the blue for this tribal woman.


The MGNREGS work provided her some sort of earning to sustain her family of four members. However, it was not enough for the household to invest in children’s education. Besides, the lack of housing security due to her mud-thatched dwelling that regularly needed repair and was prone to natural calamities, prevented her from taking up any other livelihood activities. Her already dilapidated house was completely damaged in cyclone Titli in 2018.

However, the PDS rice provided her family with necessary food security. She started getting pension under MBPY for widow in 2012-13, which she could invest in procuring household items. To support her in her struggle, the state government provided the woman with 1.5 acres of land under Forest Rights Act (FRA) in 2012. She doesn’t have to bother about land ownership. More importantly, she gets assistance from the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) for land levelling, and farming activities.


“I cultivate paddy in this land. Currently, I yield around 20 basta of the crop from my field for self-consumption. The land ownership gives me hope and an assurance that I’ll not fall back to poverty,” said Sambari.

The job card under MGNREGS assured her 150 days of work and a guaranteed sum for the working days. She is also a member of the Bikash Mahila Sangha, an SHG in her village from where her siblings had got help for fish farming.

As she got a safe shelter in the form of Biju Puccca Ghar Yojana (BPGY-Titli) in 2018-19, she never looked back. The pucca ghar doesn’t need frequent repair. The climate resilient house assured her safety and security, which has translated into her focusing more on livelihood activities and generating wealth. Thanks to her pucca house, she is now getting electricity, which was not possible earlier. A handpump in front of her house assures her clean drinking water.


 With the government interventions and her own resilience, she has not only transformed her financial condition but also has become assertive in social participation. A regular attendee of the gram sabha meetings, she has been elected as a ward member recently evidencing her growing social status in her village. Her economic growth has manifested through ownership of tangible assets that include a piece of land, a pucca house and a handpump.  

As her children are grown up and settled away, she aspires to expand her area of income. “I nurture the goal of setting up my kirana store through which I can augment my earnings. I don’t want to depend on anyone in my old age,” cited the woman.  

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Education ensures meaningful employment, empowers women.


No one in Kandhamal, a tribal dominated district in Odisha, knows the importance of education better than Bhagyabati Kanhar. 

She might have studied till standard-XII, but this was enough to change her fortune. Her educational qualification might not excite everyone, but it ensured a paradigm shift in the economic condition of her family.  

Bhagyabati, who hails from Budadani village under Judipaju gram panchayat in Phulbani block, currently, works as a Customer Support Point (CSP) for State Bank of India (SBI).

It was in 2017, when she was approached by the Community Resource Person (CRP) of Maa Tarini Self-Help Group (SHG) to join as the CSP in the local branch of SBI.


Bhagyabati had been a member of the SHG since 2013. As she had passed intermediate, and was more educated than other members, she was an automatic choice for this job that needed dealing with customers.   

She said that before she took up the CSP job, her family was financially distressed. Her husband was a farmer. The entire family was dependent in his meagre income from agriculture and labour works.

“Particularly during 2013 and 2017, we had a troubled time due to low income and some forced expenditures. Even though I was part of the SHG, it was not doing anything substantial to make profits. At this juncture, the job became a turning point in my life. I earn somewhere between INR 3000 and 6000 per month, which is a regular and assured income for us,” narrated Bhagyabati about the watershed moment in her life.


The prestigious job led her embark on a transformational journey. She invested some of her income in her husband’s agriculture and horticulture activities in the 2-3 acres of the land the family owned. The profits from farming led the husband repeat the pattern.

Along with growing paddy, they also invest in vegetable farming such as green peas, beans, brinjal, radish and more. Their agricultural harvests get a competitive market at Phulbani and yield the family around INR 20,000 annually.

Convergence of government schemes have provided her a cushion to launch herself forward in the path of prosperity and further aspiration.

She has got a house under BPGY/PMAY along with electricity and water supply connection. The family of six members also avail gas connection under Ujjwala scheme. The 30 kg PDS rice is a security for them against hunger. It prompts her family to concentrate on better nourishment. She has availed INR 3000 twice under MAMATA scheme for institutional delivery of her two children and gets free vaccination and medicines. Her mother-in-law draws widow pension of INR 500 under MBPY scheme of state government.


The SHG, she has been a part for last 10 years, has been sporadic in its activities. Earlier, the members were unsuccessfully into papad making. The veterinary department has provided the group with 25 Banaraj chicken, 25 broiler chicks and 8 goats, which they are rearing now for commercial purpose. Besides, they aspire to start a nursery of their own.

Bhagyabati’s employment has ensured her social and economic empowerment. Her knowledge about various government schemes has translated into smooth availing of benefits.

“Now, I want to provide better education to my children and start an eatery business taking loan from the SHG. I want to move forward both socially and economically,” signed off the young woman.

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Dhansingh Majhi: From kernel eater to agripreneur


30 years ago, when the undivided KBK districts were reeling under acute poverty and starvation with people desperately consuming mango kernels and wild plant roots to survive, a teenaged Dhansingh Majhi had never thought of finding a way out of the labyrinth of poverty and deprivation. His family had to set out daily for gathering wild plant roots for two square meals. They had no shelter security as the small mud-thatched hut was prone to natural disasters. Even the family members had to depend on single cloths for days on.

But today, at the age of 47, Dhansingh, who hails from Dhinglamunda village under Sinapali block in Nuapada district, has not only managed to overcome adversities and march towards prosperity but also has become aspirational just like today’s Odisha. From struggling to arrange roti, kapda and makan (food, cloth and shelter), he is, now, aspiring to own an SUV and expand his agricultural activities. For the remarkable change in his economic and social status, credit must go to the persistent government interventions and his own attitude of welcoming positive developments in his life.  


The watershed moment came for him when he got INR 13,000 for a dug-well from Horticulture Department in 1993 for farming, which was followed by an  NGO-sponsored exposure visit to Maharashtra. The acquired knowledge along with assistance from government prompted him to invest his time and efforts in commercial farming of vegetables and fruits. Besides, during the non-farming days, he worked as a wage labourer under MGNREGS. These initial interventions coupled with his own efforts helped him significantly change his fortune.   

He then took advantage of many other government schemes to ensure that he never falls back into the grasp of poverty. Since his land was not arable, he got an assistance of INR 50,000 for land development. He got INR 1,30,000 for a pucca house under rural housing scheme along with INR 20,000 incentives for completing construction within the stipulated period. He has availed INR 1,30,000 for a cowshed. The fisheries department has provided him INR 2,50,000 for a multipurpose pond spread over one acres of land along with fish seeds for pisciculture. A nutrition garden from Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM) ensures his family has nutritious diet. The Horticulture department has provided 22 mango saplings. He even avails 20 kg PDS rice. He has also got assistance under KALIA scheme. BPL gas and electricity connection helps him avail sustainable energy for self-consumption. His 70-year-old mother is availing old-age pension while his sons have got cycles from government. His wife is also a member of the local SHG. 


Availing these government schemes and facilities has helped him immensely in leading towards prosperity. He doesn’t shy away from elaborating about the impact and outcomes of these welfare schemes on him. 

“As I indulge in organic paddy cultivation, it yields me INR 70,000 annually, organic onion farming gives me INR 49-50,000 and vegetables fetch me INR 45,000 every year. From the multipurpose pond, I earn INR 30,000 annually from fishing. I have kept several cows and I use their milk to extract ghee which I sell for INR 36,000. Similarly the deshi poultry farming provides me INR 50,000 every year. The mango trees have also been fetching me INR 12-15,000 per annum. Besides, the NREGS works also pay around INR 30,000 for my family,” detailed Dhansingh.

The empowerment he has attained in terms of his economic condition is manifested through ownership of assets such as a pucca house, 4.5 acres of non-irrigable land, own bike, smartphones, oil pumps and water pumps along with gas connection and fans and other gadgets at home. The family is focusing on children’s education as the elder one is studying in Plus-III arts and pursuing PGDCA simultaneously. 


Dhansingh has also been rewarded by the district collector for his excellent work in MGNREGS. Once a struggling youngster who couldn’t provide two-square meals to his family, is now an icon for people in the area. He shares his experience and expertise with others. He even believes in giving back to the society. When it comes to community decision making, he is very active in gram sabha.

Buoyed by the positive results of government interventions and his own rise to prosperity, he has become more aspirational. He wants to expand his agriculture, add goat farming and fishery unit to his existing farming infrastructure. He also wants to provide all support to his son who wants to join army and if failed, he would help him open a business where the son can utilise his computer training. Also owning a four-wheeler especially, a SUV is his dream.

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Single Mother and Matron: A Mother Figure to Many SC/ST School Girls

Being a single parent to a girl child and having wide experience of working with several civil society organisations help 50-year-old Geetanjali Pradhan understand her role and perform her duties better, as a matron of a girls’ hostel for SC and ST students. 

The woman, who lost her husband 15 years ago, has been working as a matron in the Government SSD Girls’ High School, Rairakhol, operated by the ST and SC Development Department of Government of Odisha for last six years. She takes care of 100 boarders who come from different parts of Sambalpur as well as neighbouring areas.  

For the last 15 years, she has been working relentlessly to raise her daughter singlehandedly. Since she had married in another caste, her in-laws never supported her even after her husband’s untimely demise. It’s her own family that stood behind her as a support system. Her daughter spent her childhood with her maternal relatives in Rairakhol, where she completed her school and college education. Currently, she is pursuing B.Ed. and staying with her mother inside the hostel campus. 

While Geetanjali was pursuing her under-graduation, her father had deserted the family for his spiritual journey leaving her mother and three siblings in the lurch. Being the eldest among the siblings, she had to take care of them all. Soon after completion of her graduation, Geetanjali started working as a teacher in a private school to support her family. 

She then started working in an NGO where she met her husband. She supported her siblings complete their education and settle in their life. She kept on working with various NGOs in different parts of the state mostly in the southern districts. 

“It was tough time for me when my husband died of brain malaria. I had to continue my NGO work for sustenance of my daughter. Several friends and coworkers suggested me to remarry, but fearing that my daughter would be neglected, I dropped any such thoughts. Besides, the nature of my work didn’t allow me to keep her with me. So, I had to leave her with my mother” said Geetanjali.

When she got to know about this matron job which is closer to her home, she immediately applied for it. For last six years, even though she has been staying in the hostel campus, she was relieved that the school was not far from her village where her own family members and daughter stayed. After her mother’s death two years ago, she brought her daughter to stay with her and facilitated her preparation for her banking examination. She wants her 21-year-old daughter to either get a job in banking sector or become a teacher after completing her B.Ed. 

Talking about her role as a matron, she explains how she takes care of them like their own mother. “I am mother of a girl child and I know how to take care of them. I treat them like my daughter. Since they are mostly tribal girls who have come from rural areas, I try to educate them about various aspects of cleanliness and hygiene. I also give them the confidence they need to put their trust on me,” cited the matron. 

She feels that she is happy with her work since her duty station is near home. She appeals the authorities to look into some infrastructural issues affecting the girls staying in the hostel.  

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Social work background encourages this OLM coordinator

An educational background in rural development and tribal studies along with field experience in social work assist Debendra Panda, a block level coordinator (BLC) for Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM) in understanding the intricacies of grassroot implementation of various livelihood schemes of Odisha government.

He has been working in Borigumma block of Koraput district, his native place, for last seven years, and enjoying every bit of his professional career, which he has consciously chosen.

Since he has been educating rural people about various livelihood schemes and showing them ways of augmenting their income along with helping them come out of poverty, he feels empowered and satisfied.

With a Master’s Degree in political science and M.Phil. in Rural Development with focus on tribal studies from Central University of Odisha, the BLC could have opted for high-paying jobs. Instead, after his education, he preferred spending time working with various NGOs and got involved in monitoring and implementation of different livelihood schemes under Mission Shakti and OLM.

Belonging to a well-to-do family where his father was a government employee with a patch of inherited land in his village, Debendra didn’t want to go away from his village. He rather wanted to serve his people and work in his own field in his free times. At 42, he lives with his parents, two brothers, wife and two children at his native place. He sometimes, helps his father in farming.

In 2015, he joined as a block level coordinator for OLM and got posted in his own block. “While working for NGOs, I had to work for Mission Shakti and OLM and create awareness among poor and rural people. But joining the government gave me opportunity to directly implement the schemes and serve more people,” said Debendra who has understood the importance of being self-dependent from an early age of 16.

Since starting his job as a BLC, he has been focusing on creating awareness about livelihood schemes among rural women and guiding them to avail the benefits. “I convince them and show the ways of becoming financially independent. Besides, there are various schemes for different collectives, who also get the benefits of these schemes,” he added.

Debendra believes that his stint with NGOs where he was working with poor and deprived people in the hinterlands, helped him understand the complexities of poverty. The field experiences gained during that phase aids him in implementing the OLM schemes. Since various livelihood schemes are associated with different government departments, he tries to keep coordination with these departments and chalk out ways for smooth implementation of these projects.

“I can assure that around 60 percent poor and deprived people in Borigumma block have been availing livelihood schemes through me. It gives me immense happiness when I see people get loans and successfully repay through intended livelihood activities. They even come for more loans, which shows their willingness to beat poverty and move towards prosperity,” signed off the BLC.


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Keeping Puri town clean during Rath Yatra is my priority

For a person born and brought up in Puri town, the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings is treated as a familial ritual. If the person is officially deployed for conducting any job, he relates his work as a service to the lords.

The 31-year-old Bibhu Prasad Das, who works as an assistant sanitary inspector (ASI) for Puri Municipality, believes that his service during the Rath Yatra that is crucial to keeping the pilgrim town clean and hygienic, is his way of serving the holy trinity. To add to his belief and happiness, he has been assigned duty within the security cordon of the chariots this year.

“In the ongoing Rath Yatra, my duty is keeping the Rath cordon clean. It’s so close to the chariots and lords. Unless the mighty lords want, I couldn’t have got such an assignment where I can do my duty and through it, I can serve the lord of the universe,” said a happy-sounding Das over phone to PHDMA.

This is not for the first time Das is performing his duty during Rath Yatra. In his own admission, he has been working as an assistant sanitary inspector for last 8 years in Puri, and has been conducting sanitation works in as many Rath Yatras.  

With a post graduate degree in Odia and an additional Bachelor’s degree in Education (B.Ed.), he could have pursued a career in teaching or gone for any other job suitable for his educational qualification. But he believes that it’s the love of the town and devotion for the lords that diverted him to this job, where he can stay home and serve his own people and the deities. While his father is a retired employee of the Puri municipality, his elder brother is also a sanitary officer of the local administration. Das stays with his parents, elder brother and a sister in the holy town.

“I always wanted to be a teacher. I joined as a malaria supervisor in Puri municipality. The post last became assistant sanitary inspector. After joining this job, I have been so much into my work that I have not got time to prepare for any other employment or for shifting into teaching line. However, if I get an opportunity in the future, I will definitely give it a try,” expressed the ASI.

The toughest time in his career was during Covid crisis. As a sanitary staff, he had a lot of assignment from keeping city clean to sanitise various section of the town and maintain appropriate hygiene during the pandemic. Besides, they had to make arrangements for migrants returning home.

“My father contacted Covid, and we had a tough time taking care of him. The disease was so deadly that we couldn’t touch him or come near him. Thanks to the lords, he survived the disease. My family was very much supportive of me despite knowing that my work involved going out always to serve people,” recalled Das adding that the state government’s proactive steps saved a lot of lives during that time.

He observed that the awareness level of people towards sanitation has gone up in recent times. Puri being a tourism town with numerous tourists coming here year long, it’s officers like him, who leave no stones unturned in keeping the city clean and its image cleaner. Like the town aspiring for bigger things in future, Das also has numerous aspirations for himself. He has a wish of working in a western Odisha town especially in Sambalpur to learn about the culture of this part of the state.


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Road to prosperity through government interventions


Rayagada resident Shanti Sikaka’s transformational journey from a daily wage labourer to having stable income from various livelihood activities speaks volumes about what government interventions can ensure for poor and deprived individuals.

The Sikaka family from Dhobagudi village under Kundabali gram panchayat in Muniguda block of Rayagada district were struggling in every aspect of their life few years ago due to grave poverty and lack of income generating options. Shanti and her husband were either working as wage-labourers or were migrating in search of work. It was difficult for them to fulfil basic needs of the family members that include their four children. The education of the children was also badly affected due to prolonged poverty. Shanti even had to depend on local money-lenders who were leaving no stones unturned in harassing the family. To add to their woes, she had to expend a hefty amount of INR 60,000 on the medical treatment of her father-in-law, for which she had to sell off her jewellery and take a loan from the money lender at a high rate of interest.


“It seemed as if there was no end to this financial struggle for my family. We were fade off the financial insecurity which never let us have a happy life,” recalled Shanti, adding, “Things started to change for good after I joined the SHG in the village and my husband decided to start cultivation in our 2-acres of land. There was a bore-well set up in the village for the villagers. We used the lift irrigation facility and the borewell to irrigate our land. This encouraged us to diversify farming by cultivating varieties of vegetables and paddy. After family consumption, we started selling off the rest in the nearby market.”

From commercial scale cabbage cultivation, they earn around INR 30,000 per season. The Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) had provided them a poultry shed and 22 chicks. The family earns INR 500- 800 from selling each grown-up bird. Besides the husband and wife also work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guaranty Scheme (MGNREGS). They had earned INR 20,000, from REGS work last year.


“We also are also availing benefits from several welfare schemes of the government. We get 30 kg rice under the Public Distribution System (PDS). We also are beneficiaries of state government’s KALIA Scheme and PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme of the central government. An assistance of INR 8000 from Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM) to set up a nutrition garden under the Mo Upkari Bagicha scheme has also been helping my family avail nutritious food,” narrated the woman about the government schemes helping them. They live in a house that was built by her father-in-law under Indira Awas Yojana availing Rs 70,000, several years ago.

Out of her four children, eldest daughter studies in Plus-II in a nearby college, while her second daughter is staying in a residential college and receives free education. One of her sons is studying in Standard-X while the other is in Class-VI. The children have also availed cycles under the Odisha Bicycle Scheme for School student.


Shanti had procured easy credits from the SHG for education of her children in various phases, which have been successfully paid off.  She is an active participant of gram sabha where she also partakes in community decision making. With the change in her financial tatus, she feels confident and empowered.

 Shanti wants to upgrade her farming knowledge and augment her income by availing more assistance from government. She prioritises education for her children and wants them to fulfil their dreams. Her two daughters want to become doctor and police officer while one of the sons wish to be a teacher in future.

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Sanitation Inspector believes keeping Puri town clean is his service to Lords


The huge inflow of pilgrims and tourists to the most sought after spiritual and tourism destination of Odisha, Puri, compels the local authorities to keep the town clean. Sanitary officials like Ganesh Prasad Singh, who has been working here for last several years, leave no stones unturned in maintaining the cleanliness throughout the year along with during the annual Ratha Yatra, when the footfall rises thousandfold.  

For 47-year-old Singh, who’s a resident of this historical place, working as a Sanitary Inspector (SI) for Puri municipality, gives him a different route to render his service and show his devotion to Lord Jagannath. Though he has been into service for last 23 years, his posting at Puri town started in 2015, the year, the Nabakalebar of the lords was held.   

“That year, it was predicted a large number of people would visit Puri due to the Nabakalebar event that comes in every 12-18 years. When I joined my duty, I was ecstatic and excited to serve a huge crowd and the lords. Our team did really good job during that rare event,” said Singh, who got the job at an early age just after finishing his Plus-II.

He started as a multipurpose health worker in 1999 after his father, who was working as a technician in the government hospital for tuberculosis patients, took voluntary retirement. He applied for the vacant post and got the job. He was posted at Kanas block. But after the super cyclone in that year, he was deputed to Paradeep. Despite having a hectic job, he managed to complete his graduation in science through distance learning.

Over the last 23 years, he had been serving at various hospitals in puri district, before assigned the duty of a sanitary inspector for Puri municipality in 2015. Even during his initial days as an SI while accompanying the team of priests in search of daaru or wood for the deities, he had to be hospitalized while battling extreme exhaustion. But it didn’t deter him from focusing on his duty as he joined the team halfway.

Singh also narrated the fine works done by him and his team during the cyclone Fani in 2019 that devastated Puri town and the Covid crisis. “The aftermath of cyclone Fani was so disheartening. Piles of garbage were scattered all across the town. We had to patiently handle the situation and clean up the city. Similarly, during Covid crisis, since I was the sanitary inspector, it was on me to arrange everything for positive patients and for the migrant labourers coming from outside the state. I took up the challenge and successfully managed the covid shelters,” shared the SI.

Biggest challenge for him is convincing powerful people and unruly hotels in the town to follow rules and keep their surrounding clean.

For this municipality official, staying with his family that includes his mother, wife and college-going son, gives him the strength to work dedicatedly. His ageing mother’s deteriorating health condition though sometimes makes him worried.

Since he has worked in his current position for more than 7 years, he is aware that he may get transferred to any other place. However, he has around 13 years to serve and he is willing to work in any role.