The Rashtra Sevika Samiti has completed 80 years in the service of the nation as an organization of women working for the nation.
Smt. Lakshmibai Kelkar (affectionately known as vandaneeya Mausiji) founded the Samiti on the concept that ‘We are the offspring of Mother Earth’. This maxim conveys the thought that the strength of our nation is its citizens, especially women who are the energy-spring of society. Mausiji was a visionary who understood the crucial role women play in nation building through their core position as the pivot of family life. Thus nation building pre-necessitates the revival of the mental, physical,intellectual and spiritual strengths of women. She envisioned an organization of women dedicated to strengthening Bharat in every sphere. Her resolve found the support of Dr Keshavrao Baliram Hedgewar, the founder of Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh – and the Samiti came into being on the auspicious day of Vijaydashmi in 1936 at Vardha, Maharashtra.
The little sapling Mausiji had planted is now a firmly rooted strong tree. The Samiti’s branches are spread not only all over India but overseas as well. In 2011, there were 2,130 shakhas across the nation, which have increased to 2,784 shakhas in 2016. These are spread over 2,380 towns,cities and villages in India. The Samiti has a strong presence in 22 countries across the globe.
Shakha is the core unit of the Samiti. It’s a regular one-hour get-together, involving physical, intellectual and spiritual activities. The activities are planned so as to enhance an individual’s personality holistically, with special focus on building awareness and understanding of our culture, heritage and national issues. All Sevikas (regular members of the Samiti) are motivated to contribute positively to the society and the nation. For this purpose the Samiti organizes seminars, conferences and symposiums throughout the country on issues confronting the nation. Some of these issues are Terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus, Tribal Struggles in the North-East, Naxal violence etc. The Samiti played a key role in the Indo-Pak and Sino-India conflicts and the Khalistan issue in Punjab.
The Samiti’s Karyakarini (Core Committee) meets in July every year to collectively decide the area of focus for the year.
In the past eighty years, the Samiti has also done sterling service in the social sector. There are 52 social service voluntary organizations being managed by the Samiti across the nation working for the provision of education, self-employment, health and cottage industries. Girls from marginalized and far flung areas are provided education and residential facilities for making them independent and autonomous. There are 22 such hostel facilities being run for the marginal and poor section of society. Food,boarding, education and training for employment are provided free of cost at such facilities which are also especially accessible for girls from families affected by Naxal violence and Terrorism. Apart from basic needs they are also nurtured in a family like environment in these hostels. One such facility has been set up in Tamil Nadu for girls orphaned by the Tsunami that devastated the coastal areas of India. Today they have overcome their trauma to lead a normal life. (A brief description of the Samitis Service branches is attached).
The Samiti has also responded with relief and rehabilitation projects following natural disasters. The Samiti responded during the earthquake at Latur and Gujarat, the typhoon in Odisha and the flash floods in Uttarakhand and set up relief camps working day and night for the disaster affected.
The Samiti holds medical camps providing basic nursing care in far-flung areas of states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura.
For the past eighty years, the Samiti has been working silently away from the media glare and working constantly to serve the nation and society in creative ways. The Samiti is selfless and its office bearers and Pracharikas, Sevikas work day and night to fulfill the national vision of a strong vibrant Bharat that inspired Ma. Lakshmibai Kelkar. (A brief introduction to the Samiti’s office bearers is attached)
Every year the Samiti focuses on a theme, and this year being the 80th year, the theme motto is – Walk step by step, towards the goal.
In 2015 – Taruni (youth) was the theme this year. 291 Taruni Samavesha (Youth Conferences) were conducted in which 88,343 young ladies participated across the country. Tejomaya Bharata was the underlying theme of these conferences. The presentations and group discussions had a great impact on the youth, invoking the sense of volunteering for the Society and Nation.
In 2014,focus was given to Tarun Grehini (young married women) – this group has great potential both in guiding the next generation and actively being part of organizational activity. For this, get-togethers of homemakers (Grehini Ekatrikaran) were organized locally for 2-3 hours, in which role of women in family, society and nation was discussed. Resultant effect, a young team of karyakartas (Sevikas) are now involved in Samiti work.
In 2013, our flagship theme was Kishori (adolescent girl). Around 1860 Kishori Vikas Shivirs were conducted all over Bharat, in which more than 2,00,000 (two lakh) kishoris participated.
The Rashtra sevika Samiti is fully committed to the thoughts of its founder Ma. Lakshmibai Kelkar who opined that women are the strength of a nation. A woman is the focal point of the family and a combination of soft and creative skills that drives the country on the path to progress.The Samiti considers the family the basic unit of society fully recognizing that the Indian family is being seen today as an ideal for the world to emulate.
Some major Trusts & Voluntary Organizations affiliated with the Rashtra Sevika Samiti
Rashtra Sevika Samiti runs many organizations that work to strengthen the nation in the fields of education, health, skills training and empowerment.
These organizations primarily focus on the marginalized and tribal areas of the country, specifically so that the youth and children of these areascan join the mainstreamdevelopment process.
Many hostel facilities have been established in cities for the girl child affected by naxalite violence and terrorism. Here they are given free facilities for education, lodging and nutrition. Many girls have utilized these facilities and taken the path of higher education for self-sustenance.
Here is a brief sketch of these organizations:
Devi Ahilyabai Smarak Samiti, Nagpur: This is a hostel for tribal girls from north-eastern India. Here there is provision for a pre-nursery school, Homeopathic and Ayurvedic medicine and a depot for swadeshi goods.
Sangamitra Seva Pratishthan, Nagpur
Sri Shaktipeeth, Nagpur
Bharatiya Stri Jeevan Vikas Parishad, Thane
Grehni Vidhal, Mahim
Ujwal Mandal, Kalyan
(In the Mahim and Kalyan centres, tribal girls are provided free nursing training. Many tribal girls have been trained here and have found jobs in hospitals or have used their skills to help their villages in free health care. Orphan girls from naxal-affected areas in Chattisgarh are also provided hostel facilities with free boarding and education.)
Tejasvini Seva Pratishthan, Bilaspur: This is a facility for girls of leprosy-affected parents. The Samiti has shown them a ray of hope and also provided free medical facilities for their parents.
Yashaswini Kanya Chhatrawas, Raipur: This is a hostel for girls from families affected by naxal violence. Here these children, who have lost their parents to the conflict, are slowly picking up the threads of their life.
Shishu Gyan Mandir, Jabalpur (MP): Here on the payment of nominal fees, children are given quality education from Class 1 to 10.
Lakshmibai Kelkar Smarak Samiti hostel, Kolkata – providing free education to girls – is one of projects undertaken by the Samiti in Bengal.
In the North East, for the past 12 years, tribal girls are being given free education in hostels at Haflong, Gusaingaon, Guwahati, Tezpur and Silchar. One example is the Saraswati Seva Samiti hostelat Chekercham in Silchar, whichprovides facilities to girls affected by violence committed by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Here they are given training in self-defense and are made independent.
Vishwambara Seva Nyas, Faridabad (Haryana): Here the Samiti is providing education to girls who cannot go to school due to poverty. These children work during the day and study in the evening from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. under the guidance of senior citizens who give them education and cultural values.
Jeejamata Sewa Nyas, Karnal, and Bal Sanskar Kendra, Rohtak
Saraswati Sindhu Nyas, Jalandhar: Here girls from Ladakh are given free education
Mata Gujri Charitable Trust, Patiala: Girls from backward areas of Himachal Pradesh, North-East and Bihar are provided education, lodging and food.
Aditi Sewa Pratishthan, Jammu: Girls from the state whose families have been affected by terror are given free lodging and food and educated in Vidya Bharti schools.
Sri Shakti Pratishthan, Karnavati, Gujarat: Here girls are provided skills training in stitching and tailoring. There is also provision for educating pregnant women about garbh-sanskar. Free buttermilk is given out during season of intense heat.
Samarth Seva Nyas, Jaipur: This is a skills development centre for tailoring, medical services and cultural values. This centre also provides free education and mid-day meal to children of snake charmers.
Sukripa Trust, Bengaluru, Sharda Girls Hostel: Girls from families from marginalized sections are given free residential and education facilities here.
Manger Mangalam, Chennai, Tejasvi Kanya Chhatravas: The Tsunami had devastated thousands of families. Countless children had been orphaned. The Samiti extended a helping hand to these children and has been running centres where they are provided free boarding, education and food.