Melkote is a tenth century town in the state of Karnataka in southern India. In the second half of the last century, then a small temple town Melkote known for Cheluvanarayana and Yoganarsimha temples was relatively conservative in nature. It had many rural industries and it was well acknowledged for its traditional silk and cotton weaving. In this tiny sleepy town a team of young people influenced by Gandhian thoughts established Janapada Seva Trust in 1960. Sri. Surendra Koulagi and Smt. Girija Koulagi, a young couple in the team decided to dedicate themselves for the activities of the organisation and settled down in Melkote.
Here is a list of some major accomplishments over a period of half century.
Condensed course (1964-1974): The programme was to help rural poor young women who had discontinued their education for various reasons. The programme provided food and shelter for 2 years and trained them for SSLC exams. 5 batches of 20 students were conducted over a period of 10 yrs. Over 100 deserving women were benefitted from this programme.
Service to differently abled children (1963-2000): For uninterrupted 37 yrs the Karunagruha ‘the home of compassion’ served the differently abled children in general and polio victims in particular. When Karunagruha was started it was one of its kind in rural Karnataka. There were only a handful of organisations working for rural differently abled children in Karnataka. More than 300 such children were provided with food and shelter, education, and medical rehabilitation. The organisation also helped many to find a livelihood.
Printing press (1974-1992): The Trust established a printing press with an objective of training destitute women in printing technology so as to provide them a skill with which they could find an honourable livelihood. For 18 yrs the Janapada Mudranalaya the printing press imparted the skill of printing and type setting for destitute women and helped them to lead a dignified life. During their stay at the centre the women were provided food and shelter.
Pre-university college (1985-2005): This was started with an intention of fusing Gandhian ideas of education with formal pre-university education for rural youth. For post-metric most of the students from the vicinity had no access to college education and invariably ended up at home. However after a few years, the state interference and academic stagnation forced the trust to rethink on continuing with this institution and finally handed over the same to another management.
Primary school (1982-2002): Started as an informal school to provide ‘real’ education, the school was run for 20 yrs. After few years the school got trapped in the bureaucratic maze of “ state recognition and resultant regulations. It began to transform in to a formal school and that’s when the Trust decided to close the school, as it felt didn’t serve the purpose with which it was started
Edinburgh global partnership (1989-2004): EGP is a student group from the University of Edinburgh, U K. For 13 years the Trust organised a five-week programme, annually for its students. Every year 10 students from Edinburgh participated in this 5 weeks programme. The programme oriented the students about rural India, development issues, and environment. They also offered physical labour and built a few facilities at the centre for sustainable living alternatives during this period.
Summer camp for children (1995-2010): Every year during summer vacations a 20 days creativity work shop was organised for the school students of Melkote and surrounding villages. The children learnt group songs, dance, paper work, drama etc. Several renowned resource persons were part of the teaching fraternity that groomed these children. Every year over 60 students participated in this programme.