Urmul Trust

Lunkaransar, Sri Ganganagar Road,
Dist. Bikaner 334603(Rajasthan)
Phone 01528-22104: Fax 01528-22388

In the Urmul family, Lunkaransar has a special place. It is the fount where it all began happening, the rootstock from which the family of organizations grew and spread.
Pioneer, flagship, and standard bearer, Lunkaransar has had many identities. It has now emerged as the quintessential Setu or bridge that spans the meanderings of perceptions, policies, and practices which evolved within the entire Urmul experience.
A bridge that gave continuity and benchmarks, and from which one could look out on both sides: learning and doing, a bridge that spanned a dozen summers moreover.
From modest beginnings as a mobile health and immunization program that initially rode piggy-back into clusters of villages around Lunkaransar on milk collection routes in the second half of the 1980s, Urmul Trust had, by the early 1990s, -before it underwent reorganization and decentralization, and other vicissitudes- already passed a few milestones and done a few other things:

> Defined its workspace autonomously in the couple of dozen villages it worked in, and set its targets on specific things to achieve in the area within a short time;
> Had put in place health research and service delivery systems, including mobile, outpatient, hospital, and referral services which efficiently catered to a strongly felt need; plus training, camps, campaigns, and some documentation;
> Had created and greened a vibrant campus in Lunkaransar, which offered several facilities and services such as a hospital/ dispensary, a campus school, lodging and boarding for large numbers of people when needed, and various other attractions: craft outlet, nursery for plants, puppetry, music and theatre, and a popular public space for fairs, festivals, and learning fests;
>Innovative programs in schools and education;
>Demonstrated flexibility and creativity in responding to emergent situations such as droughts, epidemics, or disasters, and, in the process learned to grapple with issues pertaining to the management of natural resources, and the provision of food, water, and fodder security. Whether waterworks or fodder banks and farms, community assets grew transparently, and for all to see;
> Made a major investment in capacity building by nurturing group organizations for men and women in the villages and clusters, who met regularly and ran their own self-help economic programs involving credit and other support;
> Organized a Nahar Yatra and published a report on it; facilitated the participation of over a thousand farmers in a public debate on the Dunkel Draft;

Since moving this side of pioneering to the present, Set has been indigenized. It is a bridge built on this side now only of indigenous human material. The yeast may have come from somewhere else, but the ferment is here. And from this ferment, other ferments have risen, and are spreading.

SETU Programmes & Activities:
> Health
> Monthly immunization route in 40 villages
> T.B. control program covered 100 patients with short-term chemotherapy
> 128 eye operations in two camps
> Ongoing training for traditional birth attendants (dai / swasthya sathi)
> Education
> Programmes covering over 6000 children in 120 schools including 6 marushalas, overseen by over 450 active members of shiksha samitis in 56 villages/chaks;
> 2 six-month balika shivirs for 274 adolescent girls
> Group organizations
> 31 women's sangathan's, with 520 members and total savings of Rs. 126,840;
> 13 men's sangathan's, with 305 members and total savings of Rs. 103,615
> Livelihood security
> Grain and fodder banks
> Seed loans disbursed through sangathan's
> Communication
> 117 performances in 21 villages by Sanchar (Communication) team

URMUL Seemant
Bajju, Block Kolayat, Dist. Bikaner 334305:
Phone: 01535-33034

URMUL Seemant is the eldest daughter in the Urmul family, having grown out of Urmul's first step away from where it was born, in Bajju, a village just under a hundred kilometers west of Bikaner.

Bikaner -one of the three or four largest, driest, and most sparsely populated districts in the westernmost part of the Rajasthan desert- seems to get larger and drier and emptier, and the people seem thinner on the ground, as you travel westwards in the district, away from the city.

When Seemant reached Bajju in 1987, Bajju was getting larger and wetter, and the people easily outnumbered the camels on the ground. This was because just around the time, the IGN, in its wisdom, had stutteringly begun to flow on Bajju's doorstep.
Westwards in Bikaner, as elsewhere in Rajasthan, had always implied vast stretches of open sandy spaces with little vegetation. Dicey for cultivation because rainfall was so scanty and erratic, better suited for use as rangeland for livestock. Hence also, habitations were far and few, and frequent migrations.
However in the western part of the Bikaner district now, when Urmul Seemant began working there in Bajju -even more than elsewhere in Rajasthan- more and more people were ranging over the land. And colonizing and cultivating it.
The livestock and the scattered but substantial population of the district were beginning to find themselves squeezed in a porous but tightening noose on space. Even as the shape of space itself was being changed by roads and buses.
Not even to mention the man-made rivers and rivulets that disappeared in the sand, but increasingly began to give names and identities to previously unmarked or non-existent new spaces like RD 931. 25 RDy. & etc. and brought new market forces and malarial epidemics to these spaces new and old, in their wake. Urmul Seemant thus grew in a far-out place in every sense of the term. Far enough out a work environment to be close to the limit, the Seema, hence Seemant.
Here, near the border, both to the west where there was a new settlement and towards the east where there were old settled villages, there was a huge gap between the need and availability of health services, schools, and community support programs, that cried to be filled up.
URMUL Seemant focussed on children, organizing collectives of women and other community groups to oversee and actively participate in implementing various programs.
Current Urmul Seemant programs include:

> 122 Anganwadis

> Education:
>> 11205 children in 140 Shikshakarmi Schools
>> Lok Jumbish in 229 villages
>> SAMBAL educational training and resource center
>> 4 Balika Shivirs for 376 adolescent girls.

> Health;
>> 40 patients under TB treatment.
>> 50 cataract operations at Dasuri eye camp.
>> Child Sponsorship Programme: 22 villages in Haddan sector.
>> Income Genration Programme; 136 Women engaged in 7 villages.
>> Khala (Field channel) Covering: 9200 Square feet of covered
>> water courses for 48 farmers.

URMUL Marusthali Bunkar Vikas Samiti
4, Adarsh Nagar, Phalodi, Dist. Jodhpur342301
Phone: 02925-22272
Such a weave of weavers that we don't need to weave any cobwebs of words. What we do weave may now be found in far-off places earning its measure and paying the way for our own efforts in health and rural development our own way; or you can of course always see what we weave in Kaseeda, our window in Pokharan. We weave, therefore we are

URMUL Khejadi
Malion ki Dhani, Jayal Dist. Nagore - 341023
Phone: 01583-73321

URMUL Khejadi is firmly in the middle. When, during 1992-93, five years down the line from its inception and first few hesitant steps, Urmul Trust decided to decentralize, it did so by growing an offshoot in Jayal in the middle of Nagaur district, which is itself in the middle of western Rajasthan.
Being in the habit of being in the middle so to speak, Nagaur had been in the middle of the main trade and conquest routes between Delhi and the rich hinterland of Malwa and Gujarat and had in the middle ages witnessed many a battle in the unfolding of history.
Here in the middle of the Rajasthan desert, there is a pleasing profusion of Khejdi trees. And it was here that Urmul Khejadi, the first eponymous transplanted sapling from the Urmul nursery, took root in the middle period of Urmul's dozen-year history, decentralized into the middle of the middle, so to speakLike the tree after which it was named it was of the soil, and like the tree, it sought to grow to enrich the soil and provide as many benefits.
Like the tree, it had to survive the transition from nursery to the plantation. But unlike the tree, it could not afford to remain rooted to one spot but had to become a footloose barefoot doctor of the desert's maladies if it wanted to grow as a catalyst for mobilization and change for the better.The UK took off from a fortuitous but deep involvement in the mitigation of distress of some of the large numbers of people from the villages in this area who have to seasonally emigrate for work and survival, in 1993. (See box on Bonded labour in the canal)
Before long it became involved in wider issues of labour welfare and organization and has grown as a platform for understanding the condition of migrant labour, and a facilitator for collective action by people in the area which would both empower and enrich them.
UK's enterprise is to transform passive, fragmented, unorganised and exploited labour into collective entrepreneurs who can act together to augment their own common property resources. To become a how-to-pull-yourselves-up-with-your-own-bootstraps kit, growing and proliferating outwards from the middle.

In this role of midwife/middleman, the following programmes of the UK deserve mention:
Group organizations especially labour cooperatives:> 17 sangathans in 7 villages with 124 women and 136 men members
> 4 training, 2 awareness camps, and 7 exposure visits;
> Mazdoor manch in 9 villages, and mazdoor sammelans in 10 villages Construction projects for collective upgradation of common property water resources in Chavli village.
> Grain bank, seed loans, and kund construction for greater food and water security
> 1 balwari and 2 non-formal education centres for about 100 children, and sponsoring 14 adolescent girls for two shivirs
> 6 bal melas involving about 200 children
> 1 eye camp where 31 cataract operations were performed.

Near Veterinary Hospital,
Mukam Road, Nokha, Dist. Bikaner - 330803
Phone: 01531-20595

In the early years of Urmul Trust's work around Lunkaransar, especially in view of the drought of 1987, considerable expertise and experience had had to be acquired in managing construction related projects. These consisted mainly of buildings and water works, where labourers were engaged in large numbers as a necessary relief measure. The valuable experience had come of meeting the challenge of involving labour not merely as passive recipients of doles, wages, and sympathy within particular building or construction projects, but as avtive partners in the developmental process itself. As part of the process of decentralization within Urmul, it was this hard earned expertise and experience which moved from Lunkaransar to Nokha, to become Urmul Jyoti. Urmul Jyoti would, like one lamp lit from an-other, try to flicker in another corner of the dark, and seek to dispel it as far as it could, in its new corner. Since its inception, Urmul Jyoti has steadfastly worked to bring about greater participation in development. It collects and disseminates information about various existing development schemes -often arranging meetings between the people and responsible officers of government line departments- and encourages people to avail of such schemes more, to ensure that official developmental schemes on which public money is spent, are not underutilized by default. Urmul Jyoti has succeeded in organizing people in about 45 villages of Nokha Tehsil to stand up and ask for their rights, and for their fair share of development. This is accomplished, where necessary, by mass action to force transparency in government procedures. How many places can boast of having ensured, peacefully and effectively, that petty bribes totalling hundreds of thousands of rupees which had been more or less routinely collected, and paid to low or middle level public servants, were actually returned, quietly but surely, to the people who had been made to pay? Besides shedding its light in Nokha to show how people can empower themselves by arming themselves with information, and the ability to act collectively in availing of benefits under public developmental schemes, Urmul Jyoti has also been active in: Education programmes: 35 schools in 29 villages, overseen by 1630 members of community prerak dals: 10 training programmes for traditional birth attendants; Nutrition programme for children under 5; and eye camp where 88 cataract operations were performed; Drinking water programme: drilling of 12 wells, 10 tubewells, and 3 community wells; Tree plantation programme in which 15000 saplings planted, with 60% survival rate; Jagruk Nagrik Manch for dissemination of information and to act as a pressure group, for amicable resolution of conflicts.

Moyal Colony, Kohinoor Dharm Kanta,
Sujangarh, Dist. Churu - 331507

Among the workers who branched out of Urmul Trust after its decentralization around 1993, to found small organizations of their own, were some of the finest, most tested, and most dedicated women workers ever to have worked with Urmul.
Marushakti is one of these Urmul offshoots which has built upon the rich experience of working with women in rural Rajasthan that it grew out of, to establish a distinctive track record of its own in Sujangarh since 1993, of organizing women into a shakti or force in that part of the marubhoomi.
Marushakti began by organizing women who are affected by seasonal migration, from just over half a dozen villages in the area.Aware of the time and effort that is required to be invested in building up women's groups that can function autonomously as collectives, and demonstrate staying power, Marushakti has refrained from spreading itself too thin on the ground. Instead, in its chosen area of operations extending over eight villages or so, it has concentrated on consolidation and continuity. The resulting organizations - of a couple of hundred women and a hundred or so men, all told- are arguably the most robust even in the entire Urmul family area.
Marushakti has shown that it is possible for a few hundred people, especially women, to continue to meet regularly at least once every month.
For a period of more than five years now, without any outside supervision or incentive, merely put aside a small sum of money in a collective savings scheme of theirs, and be able to feel their strength growing.
By setting aside only 10 or 15 rupees a month, and by sitting together to work out how it may be used, they can legitimately feel proud of their ownership of nearly one hundred and forty thousand rupees. The voice that is acquired in determining how their joint wealth may best be used, comes as an added bonus.So does the realization that in togetherness we can not only stand erect, but also grow, both in strength and understanding.Is it any wonder that when Marushakti opens a school, eye camp or children's fair, unsolicited donations from the village communities come pouring in, in both cash and kind?
Among other activities of Marushakti are micro-planning, public works for water storage, how-to-do-it training programmes, for grain banks, savings group formation, credit and common efforts for water conservation that may be taken up in the area by other village communities as well.
8 village savings groups with 191 women and 118 men members, and total savings of over Rs. One hundred and ninety thousand.Education programmes aimed primarily at adolescent girls.Food, fodder, and water security programmes involving seed loans,a grain bank, and the construction of kunds, for water storage.An eye camp, where 56 cataract operations were successfully performed training for sangathan members.

Vasundhara Gramothan Samiti
Ganga Nagar Road, Lunkaransar,
Dist. Bikaner-334603

The yarn of Vasundhara has been spun into, and braided with the tale of how Urmul Trust grew as an institution, and eventually as a family of organizations, since its earliest days.
Urmul's earliest agenda of localized rural health research and development services survived unchanged only for a short while, before the big drought of 1987, the first since Urmul's inception, changed everything. Survival and livelihood issues forced their way in, at the very top of the list of priorities. Soon it became apparent that however urgent famine relief works were in the short run, there was a need to create more avenues to make regular and sustained employment available over a longer period of time in the villages surrounding Lunkaransar.

Vasundhara grew out of Urmul's earliest efforts at putting together income generation and craft development programmes, by finding markets for locally available materials and skills. Of the latter, one stood out. More wool grew in Bikaner than in most other places, and most people had always spun it. As a cottage industry, spinning took off. But stocks of spun woolen yarn started growing alarmingly too, before too long. That brought about a collaboration arrangement with weavers from Phalodi, who, before they went away to form their own highly successful organization, the UMBVS, taught workers from among the neediest in the villages around Lunkaransar, the skills, and dexterities of weaving. But Vasundhara had to braid together other skills too, besides spinning and weaving, to grow. Dyeing and professional design inputs were added, and before long, considerable exposure to, and experience in, craft exhibitions and marketing had taught its workers to tune into the demands, whims, and fancies of urban markets.

Product designs and ranges began to change and grow. Vasundhara fabrics, garments, and furniture have come to acquire a distinct look and image over the years. Vasundhara has come a long way. But there is still a long road ahead, with its own curves and pitfalls. Due to a fast-growing agricultural economy in the region following the availability of canal water, staff turnover is high, and continuity suffers.
For managing an operation that must integrate a large number of skills -from group organization and training to spinning, dyeing, weaving, design, production, buying and selling in the market, to bookkeeping and planning- successfully, and continuously, a certain continuity is essential. Squeezed as it is, between maintaining continuity of production in the face of rapid staff turnover and remaining responsive to market needs and thus commercially viable at the same time, Vasundhara's growth chart has had its ups and downs. However, it is learning to survive. Can an organization that was born as a response to the challenge of survival and livelihood in a harsh world, afford not to?

Gaavaniyar Folk ArtistGavaniar Thar Folk Artists Committee – is the name of our institution, absolutely independent, it is not especially related to a particular group or caste of people. The name is such because for a long, the artists of this institution have been earning a good living through music. The name has come by, keeping in mind, the proficiency.In the sand of Thar, lives a vibrant tradition of folk art in the form of rhythms, melodies, colours, puppets and passion of the artists who have enchanted the desert for thousands of years. These performers not just entertained but also documented through them- the tales, memories, hue and a Thar way of life, an idea that forms the crucial part of the collective cultural understanding of the Thar society.In the 80s, sudden socio-cultural changes, including the new media forced this clan of artists into a gross challenge like never before. The mandate was clear, these artists had to take a call. It used to be ‘perform and earn the livelihood’ but suddenly it changed to ‘either perform or earn the livelihood’.Some decided to migrate to cities, continue as manual labour and get unplugged from where they came from. While those who stayed back couldn’t help themselves sliding into the hands of poverty and insecurity.In the early 90s, Urmul Trust, a social organisation working in the Thar desert, recognized the need for a forum where these folk artists could come together and explore possible solutions. Thus Gaavaniyar was born.Artists from various parts of Thar joined the group and with some skill enhancement, training and exposure to new possibilities- we were ready to seek sustainable solutions to the problems on our own. Ever since the Gavaniyaar has been committed to working with the marginalized communities of folk musicians in the Thar of Rajasthan.Gaavaniyar helps artists earn a livelihood through their art; in turn, improving the quality of life and restoring lost dignity and the community status. Most important of all is a fresh motivation to pass on this legacy to their children.Restoring dignity and life...Gaavaniyar, so far, has successfully created a prototype of income generation using traditional forms of folk expression and eliminating costly middlemen. We are regularly trying to develop greater artistic, marketing, management and production skills to reach new audiences and expand the possibilities for our craft. Diverse approaches and collaborative support would expand the Gaavaniyar platform for hundreds of more artists, in turn, inspiring a change at various levels of markets and patrons.Gaavaniyar works at two levels simultaneously by giving services to social organizations for their campaigning activities on one hand and doing commercial performances at various destinations in the country, on the other. This ranges fromGaavaniyar works at two Sanford Women's rights, to Folk music, Drama, Puppetry, Sufi, and Folk Dance.their campaigning activities on one hand and doing commercial performances at variousSome of the newer initiatives include music albums for commercial distribution,and destinations in the country, on the other. This ranges from social issues including - Education,Health, Environment, Sufi, Folk Dance. Some of the newer development of new talented artists.development of a new range of Paper Maché products.Children's and Women's rights, to Folk music, Drama, Puppetry, Sufi, and Folk Dance.their campaigning activities on one hand and doing commercial performances at variousSome of the newer initiatives include music albums for commercial distribution,and destinations in the country, on the other. This ranges from social issues including - Education,Health, Environment, Sufi, Folk Dance. Some of the newer development of new talented artists.development of a new range of Paper Maché products.Children's and Women's rights, Folk music, Drama, puppetry, Sufi, and Folk Dance.Some of the newer initiatives include music albums for commercial distribution and the development of a new range of Paper Mache products.Gaavaniyar would now like to embark on a systematic effort to locate and groom young artists from the traditional performing communities and open up more livelihood opportunities for theminitiatives include music albums for commercial distribution,range of Paper Maché products and fellowships to youngopen up more livelihood opportunities for them.change on a broad scale. For almost two decades and so on.While Gaavaniyar is firmly rooted in the folk tradition of Rajasthan, it is constantly evolving with effects far-reaching. Deeply committed to individual artists, Gaavaniyar works to preserve a vibrant heritage while seeking innovative solutions to current challenges. It is enabling a growing number of artists to pursue a dignified livelihood while keeping their art alive.Gavaniar Thar Folk Artists Committee, Bikaner had been actively employed with the Urmul Trust on works related to dissemination from 2002 till 25th September 2006. Having seen their decentralization as they progressed, the Urmul Trust, later helped the Gaavaniar Thar Folk register as a separate committee and handed it over to the artists on 26 September 2006. Today, the artists are operating the committee themselves, which has in the past 6 years, helped in the development of varied sectors through good work in awareness and dissemination. This institution leads in promoting the progress of missing traditional public folk and folk artists. The real sea of the Rajasthani Folk arts lies in the desert of Western Rajasthan, among the sea of sand are echoes of the illustrative arts, fol colours and the flowing harmonies of the music and poems, which make life in the Thar, delectable, lovable and inspiring even in the most unfavourable conditions -

Napasar Weaving set-up

Desert Resource Centre (DRC) is a participatory initiative to explore and advance the knowledge systems embedded in desert culture, ecology and economy, and aggregate the learnings to resolve multiple land, life and living issues therein.DRC has arisen out of a need for a knowledge interface and action platform for policy advocacy and administering strategies for needs of desert communities – one that enables the wider world to delve into the fantastic wisdom and possibilities of deserts, both hot and cold.On one hand, we help experts locate key information that could help address and resolve desert-related issues, and on the other, we help desert communities recognise their strengths, build their capacities and harness both

Urmul's Newest Weaving Center: Rajasar Hathkarga Vikas SamitiEstablished in October 2022 and registered under the Society Act, Rajasar Hathkarga Vikas Samiti is a hub for talented artists who specialize in traditional weaving techniques. With a focus on natural dyeing, this organization is dedicated to preserving the rich cultural heritage of Urmul and promoting sustainable livelihoods in the community.At present, the center is home to 13 male and 7 female artists, who received training and support from Rangasutra. They are currently working in partnership with Ikea, producing high-quality cushion covers, Dari fabrics, and jackets using Desi wool.Whether you're looking for a unique piece of home décor or a handmade jacket, the artists at Rajasar Hathkarga Vikas Samiti are dedicated to creating products of the highest quality. Support this thriving community of artists and shop their one-of-a-kind creations today."

Marugandha Craft Milk and Agri-food Limited is a forward-thinking organization that endeavours to boost community development and highlight the unique offerings of our sister organization, URMUL. We Aim to establish a thriving and self-sustaining ecosystem within the community and beyond, providing numerous chances for improving the quality of life and constructing a more robust model of sustainable livelihoods.