The third episode in this series of first-hand accounts from the alumni of PRAVAH’s SMILE In-turn-ship program showcases the times of Amrita Bose spent as being a part of the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
In the summer of 2000, Amrita, along with friend and college-mate, Nupur set out to bend the rules at home, kicking up a storm in the domestic space. It took a lot of convincing and persuading before the girls were allowed to leave home for an equally
stormy movement unfolding in the heart of the country, the Narmada Bachao Andolan.
A few ‘minor goof-ups’ in the initial phase of her journey failed to deter Amrita and Nupur, who managed to reach Dhargaon, their first destination in the Nimad region of Madhya Pradesh where they were welcomed with open arms by their host family.
From attending a Mahila Sammelan on the very day of their arrival to being off on a boat ride across the river Narmada to attend yet another Sammelan, albeit of a different nature than the earlier one, the volunteers were entrusted with the job of conducting an extensive survey across five villages, the figures from which would be used to build up a case to challenge the authorities whom the Andolan was up against. During the survey, Amrita admits,
“Although the sweltering heat would often bother us but at the end of the day after the work there was a great satisfaction.”
A particularly interesting episode that Amrita candidly reminiscises about in her memoirs from the in-turn-ship journey relates to a Krishi Sammelan where she was asked to give shape to her thoughts and feelings as a participant of the movement. For this SMILE-er,
“…even being a tiny part of the movement meant a lot to us, although we were still learning and everyday was a new experience. We not only did some field work but also did a lot of official work which helped familiarize us as to how an organization (or rather movement in this case) works the legalities involved.”
At the turn of the millennium, a young Amrita had set out to experience the joy of being part of a flow that touched the lives of thousands across our nation. As the Andolan still continues, even after almost a decade and a half of the occurrences of that summer, we wonder if Amrita has kept her promise to herself, that of cherishing those memories throughout her life and her intent to ”go on my own in my own way”.
Registrations for the Summer SMILE In-turn-ship are ongoing. Come, join us on this passage from ‘Me’ to ‘We’, come, SMILE with us!
 SMILE (Students Mobilization Initiative for Learning through Exposure), is a national program which was started by the Indo Global Social Service Society (IGCSS). Pravah facilitates SMILE journeys for youth across India as a way to engage young people to create their own 5th Space and become learners from life.