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Supporting us in our mission: H T Parekh Foundation

Improving maternal, child health and nutrition outcomes in Madhya Pradesh The H T Parekh Foundation (HTPF) is the philanthropic arm of HDFC Limited. The Foundation was established in October 2012 to commemorate its Founder, Shri H T Parekh’s significant contribution towards the development sector in India. HTPF have been Antara Foundation’s (TAF) partners since September 2019, supporting our work in Chhindwara district, Madhya Pradesh. Upahar Pramanik, who oversees the health portfolio at HTPF, spoke with us about the Foundation’s work and their association with TAF. What is HTPF’s philosophy and what causes does it support? We envision an inclusive India where vulnerable communities have equal access and opportunity to survive and thrive. Stressing on the tenets of mutual trust and respect, integrity and humility around giving, we stand as long-term supporters to our partners working to enable marginalized communities in overcoming a range of social issues. The Foundation works acro
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Three women and a village

Jainetri Merchant. Spring 2018. I was one of hundreds of students sitting in a toasty-warm lecture hall, attending the final semester of an epidemiology class. We were studying a chapter on maternal disease and death. I sat in the glow of a colorful power point slide, which had graphs illustrating the variance in maternal mortality ratio globally. I typed away on my laptop, hanging on to every word the professor uttered. Do you know what a university classroom sounds like? It is the clatter of hundreds of fingers typing simultaneously on tiny plastic keys, synchronized with the hum of the projector. In midst of that constant clatter, I leaned back in my seat, thinking I understood the weight of that statistic through the pixels of my screen. In the two months of my Antara Foundation fellowship in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district, I find myself in a classroom of a different kind. Be it in the labor room of a Community Health Centre or even the lawn of an Anganwadi Centre, I have had the

New Girl in the Village: My First Week on the Field

Aditi Revankar. I moved to Chhindwara, amidst the pandemic, to begin my Fellowship. For the first two weeks, I quarantined. After that, I ventured into the field. Chourai. Sausar. Bicchua. Tamia. At the end of my first week, I had been to four different blocks on four different days with four different field officers. Most days, we had rain. Some days shine. Always Corona. Of course, we went armed with sanitizers and masks. The Antara Foundation (TAF) intervenes on the demand and supply side, I was told. They work with the frontline workers - who are the providers, as well as with the beneficiaries - who are expectant mothers and young children. A student of economics myself, I was only too pleased to be looking at work through the familiar demand-supply lens. It felt comfortable like a pair of cooling glasses that make it easier to see without squinting, in the harsh sunlight. I was thrilled at this simple enough, theoretically sound approach. However, I soon saw that the practice of

Lockdown experiences in Chhindwara

Prerna Gopal. Prerna, our Sr. program officer based in Madhya Pradesh shares what lockdown meant for her. On 24th March 2020, when the government imposed a nation-wide lockdown, I was one of the many unfortunate people who were locked away from home. Although I have been in Chhindwara for a while, my heart is always in New Delhi, with my family and friends. As I tried to make sense of the situation, I couldn’t help but wonder what this meant for all those frontline workers I meet every day. How would they face the challenges that lay ahead? Were they protected and safe? Did the people living in untrodden corners of Chhindwara understand what is happening? I usually spend seven hours a day travelling from village to village, working with frontline workers and government officials. The new normal mandated that I stay put, leaving me with only a phone to stay in touch with them. On the bright side, I had the opportunity to make use of the extra hours I now had to learn and do something di

My First 100 Days: Chronicles of a Clueless Economics Student

Cearet Sood The importance of the First 1000 Days was only a concept that I had studied in my second year of college, as a part of the Indian Economic Development module. Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality Rate were just definitions to me, meant to be reproduced in examinations. I was taught their relation to Gross Domestic Product and per capita growth. Economics, at university level in India, is taught without emotion. We learn everything as it is. As it exists, without ever questioning it. This lack of discourse, instead of demotivating me, encouraged me to find answers for myself. Post college, I studied liberal arts. There, I had to unlearn a few things which I had been taught as an economics student. Never assume things or preexistence of knowledge and never take things as they come- always question, protest, demand, rage - do whatever it takes to initiate change. If you want to be a changemaker, you have got to start from the start. By this, I mean to say that one needs

Questions I wish to answer

Prerna Gopal. As women, we are always expected to be careful of our surroundings, of who we talk to, and even how we conduct ourselves. Our path is often blocked by the constant fear of finding ourselves in situations that lead to trouble. Thus, things that come easily to the other half of society often elude our grasp, making it all the more difficult to survive in a man’s world. Being raised in a liberal family that sees no difference between men and women, makes me question the marginalization of women, every day. I came across a situation during my field visit to a sector called Manoharthana in Jhalawar, Rajasthan. An inebriated man walked into a sub-centre, that was being run by an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) and also had a few male patients present. He threatened all those who sat in the clinic and forced them to tend to his self-induced problem. Eventually, the other male patients managed to pacify this nuisance of a man and handled the situation as they felt necessary. It

Three months in: Checking in from Jhalawar

Mahadevan Nambiar As a student of public policy, the Antara Foundation held a lot of promise because of their approach of building solutions that are can be scalable and sustainable. This would mean that every intervention envisions the foundation working with the government and eventually institutionalizing the solutions it builds. Furthermore, the fellowship offered an opportunity to be on the field, something which was sorely missing from my otherwise sanitized and academic experience. Primary Health Centre, Dahikhera (Khanpur Block) For the fellowship, I am placed in the field office located in Jhalawar, Rajasthan. It was an interesting time to be in Rajasthan as the hot sun gave way to clouds full of rain. I was assigned to work on the pilot of the Rajsangam App in the Khanpur block of the district. The work itself was pretty straightforward- I was to assist with the rollout of the app, work on improving the use and adoption rates as well as monitor its progress. The ap