Tag Archives: farm labour

SHORT STORY: Lata Bhagvan Kare … the marathon runner


    This is a real life story of a sixty-five year old lady, Lata Bhagvan Kare, a resident of a small village in Buldhama district, in Maharashra. She was leading a simple life with her husband. They both worked as farm labour and barely made enough to make ends meet. They had a small house near the farmland where they used to live.

    The small savings that they had accumulated all throughout their lives was spent on getting their three daughters married off. Apart from their daughters they also had a son. After the daughters were settled their responsibilities were practically over. They enjoyed the simple pleasures of life and of course each other’s company. They were inseparable and understood each other comprehensively. Their relationship was a proof of the principle that you did not need luxury to be happy.

    One day after returning from the farm, her husband told her that he was not feeling well. First she tried all sorts of herbal medicines to help him, but he wouldn’t get better. The local government hospital, diagnosed him of some serious infection. They recommended he be taken to a bigger hospital that had better facilities for further tests. This bewildered Lata. They barely had enough money for the fare to reach the hospital, let alone the expensive tests prescribed by the doctors. With tearful eyes, she told her husband the news and felt helpless. But then how could she let her husband die without treatment.

    She dropped her ego and pulled together all her courage to beg her neighbours and relatives for donations to go to a bigger hospital in order to save her husband’s life. With the donations she had received they finally got to bigger hospital. This was not the sort of place that they were used to, being in. They felt very uncomfortable and out of place. Nevertheless, Lata gathered courage, to ask for a doctor. The official at the reception desk collected an initial fee. With that they had exhausted almost a major chunk of money that Lata was carrying. They were asked to wait outside the doctor’s cabin until they were called.

    When their turn came, her husband was called in. after examination, the doctor handed her a list for further tests, some medicines and the recommendation for hospitalization. With these developments Lata went into a tizzy. She had no money and nowhere to go. How do I save my husband she thought? With tears flowing down her cheeks, she and her husband slowly walked out of the hospital.

    She couldn’t have afforded the expensive hospital canteen, so they stopped by a samosa stall at the bus stand. They bought two samosas for the journey back to their village. Lata thought this could perhaps be her husband’s last meal. The samosa-wallah wrapped the samosa and handed it to her with a smile. As she ate her samosa and chutney from the newspaper wrapper, she saw the headline: ‘Baramati Marathon: Attractive Prize Money.’ Her heart missed a beat. The next moment she was preparing to run the race.

    The next day as everyone lined up at the start of the race, in their running gear, Lata Kare stood there, in her red-checked Maharashtrian-style sari. Barefoot, with tears in her eyes. She argued with the organisers, to allow her to run in the marathon, but they refused. She was sixty five. In trying to save her husband, they did not want her to die. After about an hour of begging and pleading, they finally agreed to let her run, and pinned a number on her clothes. As she began running, people turned to look at her and laughed.

    It was a sight for sore eyes. Teenagers and young adults who had been practicing for months, for this race, lined up, next to an old lady who had hitched her sari above her ankles. She had never run a race in her life, what to say of a marathon. Little did her competitors know that they were about to get schooled by someone who was old enough to be their grandmother. Lata could not think of anything else, but for the love she had for her husband. This race was a matter of life and death for her. What were a few pebbles and rocks to stop her progress?

    Lata, finally ran and ran like the wind with just one focus—the finish line. Her feet began to bleed, her sari became soaked in sweat, but she kept running and running. It would have been an achievement had she even finished the race. But she had aimed much higher. The people who witnessed this spectacle cheered her all along the way. They were touched by her reason for running.

    It would be a pointless story if she did not win. For there was no award for mere participation, yet she had done it! The organizers of the race could not believe that Lata Kare a sixty-five-year-old Maharashtrian woman from a small village, had won the race. The crowds on the streets of Baramati clapped for her and celebrated her victory. She was now the local hero, but she did not care for the attention.

    She collected her winnings, marched into the hospital and got her husband the best treatment. At the same time she even got a few bandages done on her feet. She had achieved her mission and that was to save her husband. As they say, the most powerful force in the world is love. Lata went on to win for the next two years consecutively.

Moral of the story: If you have determination and confidence nothing is impossible.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi




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I never thought simple garden tools require intricate research for gender specificity, till one day I went through the website of Green Heron Tools in the US wherein Adams and Brensinger promoters of this company feel. Systematic research to design garden tools for women is a must. ‘And, it’s about time farm and garden tools broke out of ‘one size fits all’ model where these two women farmers of the US are bridging the gender gap by designing tools specifically for women.

For, even if we all are equal, we are not equally sized or proportioned, because of the striking differences between women and men’s bodies. The tools that work efficiently in a man’s hands may not be that efficient in a women’s hand and so it could even be a health hazard. For example,

According to Green Heron Tools. A women’s body tends to have a lot less upper body strength, less of lower body strength, a lower center of gravity, proportionally shorter limbs, smaller hands and less grip strength than men’s bodies, which means that a ‘one size fits all’ shovel isn’t nearly as efficient or easy to use for a woman.


But thanks to the work of these two women farmers behind Green Heron Tools. Women now have another choice when it comes to farm and garden tools, in the form of the HERShovel, which was scientifically and specifically designed for women’s bodies. The company’s tools and other equipment are not just ergonomic, but are hergonomic, and designed to be “easiest, safest, most comfortable and most effective for women.”

After years of farming and talking with other women farmers, and sharing their frustrations about the tools they used. Ann Adams and Liz Brensinger saw an opportunity to bridge the gender tool gap by developing a line of tools and equipment that would work better for women, because they were designed with women’s bodies in mind. The two applied for, and received, a series of grants (Small Business Innovation Research grants) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop their ideas, and as part of the process, they arranged to videotape women farmers as they shoveled, which revealed that women tended to use tools very differently than men did. Everything, from the angle that women put the shovel into the ground to the amount of energy expended while shoveling was analyzed, and the result of the research was the development of the HERShovel, which weighed less, was angled differently, had a large D-shaped handle, and required less energy to use. According to an interview at Modern Farmer, this new tool was the first ever shovel to be ergonomically designed for women.

For two years, the partners and their researchers pulled shovels off the shelf at places like Lowe’s and an online survey and a female focus group told Adams and Brensinger what they didn’t like about the tools they used as it was too heavy, too long and awkward. Thereafter working with Agricultural Engineers and a specialist in ergonomics at Pennsylvania State University, they designed and tested various prototypes. The HERS shovel/spade hybrid that resulted features an angled blade because “women don’t use a shovel the way men do,” says Adams. “Men power down straight. Most women can’t so that. Women put the shovel blade into the soil at an angle and take small bites.”

Once they had a prototype, it was time to test the theory that a properly designed shovel is less tiring to use. Subjects donned oxygen sensors to measure the energy expended using the HERS shovel prototype versus others, and started digging. The proof was in: HERS required less effort.

HERS weighs less than 4 ½ pounds and comes in three shaft lengths. Its foot is larger than the normal. The hollow, D shaped handle is tilted for leverage and textured to reduce slippage. Every part of the shovel is sourced and made in the US. If HERS is a success, the pair will develop more long-handled tools.

Adams and Brensinger didn’t start Green Heron Tools to get rich, but to fulfill a vocation: to make women’s lives easier and better, and to bring more women back to the land. “It’s a public health issue.’ Adam says. “If women can garden without pain or risk of injury, they can garden longer. I want to be able to garden for the rest of my life,’ she says. Millions of women hope they will be able to, as well.

One hopes in India we too will develop such implements for better women’s productivity.






By Kamlesh Tripathi


The prime mission of (RSS) Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or National Volunteer Organization” or National Patriotic Organization is to revitalise Indian value system based on universalism, peace and prosperity to all under the divinity of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Holding a world view that the world is just one big family, so propounded by ancient thinkers and carried forward by many others of present day and age. But some contemporary leaders also link it to be the Hindu renaissance. But before getting into this never ending debate let us more objectively and tangibly see how RSS can help the poor Indian work force out of the current quagmire. In fact it would not be out of context to highlight certain issues where RSS can contribute immensely in the present scenario of India.


RSS is an organization that works through its ‘Shahkhas.’ (Shakha-Hindi for “branch”) Most of the organisational work of the RSS is done through the coordination of these shakhas or branches. These shakhas are run for an hour a day in many public places. In 2004 as many as 60,000 shakhas were there throughout India. But the number of these Shakhas had fallen by over 10,000 since the fall of BJP led government in 2004 but has again swelled to 40,000 in 2014 after BJPs returned to power in Delhi.


These shakhas regularly conduct activities for its volunteers that include; physical fitness, yoga; exercises and also games. It also performs diverse activities emphasizing civic sense, social service, community living and patriotism. And, in the very recent, our Prime Minister has flagged of two important issues out of their kitty. He has spoken about the importance of Yoga in the US and has also launched the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ carving out from of the ‘civic sense’ of RSS.

RSS volunteers are also trained in first aid and in rescue and rehabilitation works. And, last but not the least physical fitness and security drills. Where, they are regular performers and also teach the art of self defense on a regular basis. An art much required in present times.


But that apart, there is something more RSS can do very effectively. What comes to my mind is a comprehensive physical training for our poor work force in the rural and urban areas. Since the physicality of a human body is well understood by RSS volunteers, having been in the business of physical fitness for so long, so who else would know this trait better than them. In fact, I would rate RSS as one of the premier organisations for doing this job, clubbed with skill building and providing work-aids or designing new ones to make the jobs of our poor brethren more humane. So, in a more detailed manner RSS can thus delve in the following issues:

  • Train labourers how to carry maximum load on their back without damaging the backbone, muscles or even their skull.
  • What precautions to take, while working in open fields, as human body is subjected to nagging and devastating pollution all over. Here I would also like to mention about the traffic police that works endlessly on polluted roads, and also the factory labour.
  • RSS is also a knowledge reservoir and can help in the development of small implements that can help poor labourers to exert less, at the same time not bring down their output. Something, like a wheel barrow.
  • Develop Small working aids that can help women in giving equal output as men. One can take the cue from MNREGA where women are paid less basis their output.
  • And if pregnant women have to work what precautions they need to take, and what are the safer jobs which they can perform.
  • Security drills for our hapless working community, especially working ladies.
  • They can even hasten the project of 100% literacy. Which is currently at a level of 75%.

On a more realistic note the girth of this mammoth exercise is going to be stupendous and will touch the heart and mind of every Indian irrespective of caste, creed and religion. For it will be for the Indians in the bottom of the pyramid. Quite, appropriately, for the needy and therefore sterling, noble and even centre of right and left. Surely RSS can make an alternate beginning and see its tinge brighten even further.