Swayam festival targets 25 districts, 700,000 people, 1,000 events

Among India’s largest rural festival, Swayam Festival gets underway today in 25 districts of Uttar Pradesh via 1,000 events, seeking to empower and transform rural communities through awareness and access.


‘Swayam Festival’, being hosted by the Gaon Connection Foundation, will inform and empower rural communities through a variety of sessions that include career opportunities, agricultural tips, effective use of the Internet and even self-defense for girls through Taekwondo. The festival aims to bring 700,000 students, farmers, women and other rural stakeholders together to help discover their potential as citizens of a rapidly transforming India. The Swayam Festival has found support from Google, Paytm, Tata Trusts and Red FM.

“The primary objective of the festival is to offer hundreds of thousands of people in 25 districts firsthand information about wide ranging opportunities that they can pursue for their economic and cultural advancement,” says festival director Yamini Tripathi. “More than 650 voluntary groups, officials of Uttar Pradesh’s agriculture and animal husbandry departments as well the police have joined hands with us. We intend to establish a direct interface between the people of these districts with experts and others who are in positions of making a difference.”

From distributing free goats to people in the economically distressed area of Sonbhadra to familiarising the residents of Lucknow, Banda, Raebareli and other districts with emerging career opportunities, the festival has quite a mix of activities. Health camps, cricket matches, cleanliness campaigns, agricultural tips, including on how to secure agricultural insurance, and training in self-defense from the police are among the offerings in Sitapur, Lakhimpur and Siddharthnagar.

A key feature of Swayam Festival is the direct interface between agricultural scientists and farmers on themes such as soil testing, animal vaccination, seed distribution and other challenges that the farming community encounters regularly. The festival organisers have taken care to add to the mix of events sessions that bring rural communities into the mainstream of the information age, including sessions about the Right to Information (RTI), e-governance and how best to effectively use the Internet to lead a well-informed life.

The festival has also added a clean river campaign between Mathura and Kannauj to include the Ganga and Jamuna rivers. In keeping with the diversity of the festival’s themes, there will be sessions with the inmates of Shahjehanpur prison about stress management as well as health camps and seed distribution.

The Swayam Festival’s primary motivation is to create a sense of participation among rural communities in the dramatic transformation now taking place in urban India. The idea is to bring some of those gains to the rural heartland. The scope of the festival’s objectives has prompted major voluntary groups as well companies to throw their weight behind it. Google, one of the world’s largest corporations at the cutting edge of the information revolution, will bring a special dimension to the festival through its ‘Google Sakhi’ programme. Also lending their substance are Tata Trusts, Paytm and Red FM in recognition of the growing economic and cultural importance of rural India.

The main festival will take place at multiple locations between December 2 and 8, with the grand finale scheduled on December 14 in Lucknow where 12 special guests will be honoured for their contribution.

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