Big Medicine Charitable Trust (BMCT) is a Devasthan-recognized public benefit NGO based in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Incorporated on November 3rd 2009, BMTC evolved out of work started under the Greening India Project of Big Medicine, Maine USA. Its founder trustee, board trustees, and director are all women.
BMCT's mission is to build upon the best of Udaipur's rich cultural legacies and environmental blessings in collaboration with local/global visionaries to create a 21st century model for sustainable heritage cities.
We believe that sustainable cities acting locally and networking regionally and internationally can create ecologically sound, socially just, aesthetically rich and thriving community models that help fulfill universal human dreams and lead the world closer to a global culture of peace and non-violence.
Big Medicine Charitable Trust views its work through a democracy, ecology and human rights lens. A sustainable human society is necessarily informed by the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person and the collective conservation of the ecosystems on which all human life and well being depends.
The first three years: Our initial step towards our vision was to network with local educators, school principals, the Udaipur School Board, and the National Center for Education Research & Training/ Environmental Education Division to present an all-day seminar on green education plans for schools.
We then coordinated with several local NGO's to host Udaipur's first Green Festival for Educators. Our purpose was to raise educator's awareness of the environmental resources and experts available locally and inform them of similar work underway globally. The all-day festival hosted information booths, workshops, video shows, discussion groups and seminars. BMTC also brought to the event messages addressed to the festival from Bill McKibben of 350.org, Fran Korten, editor YES! magazine, Jerome Ringo, President of the APOLLO ALLIANCE, Sean S. Miller, Director of Education, Earth Day Network and Craig S. Altemose Co-Coordinator, Massachusetts Power Shift.
Working with organic farmers, seed savers and community activists from Australia, and Udaipur's College/Hospital for Ayurvedic Medicine, BMTC hosted John Brisbin's "Ethical Feast" to rekindle interest in the health and ecological value of the traditional vegetarian, Ayurvedic diet.
We next hosted the first ever environmental education booth at Shilpgram Utsav, India's flagship festival of crafts and performance arts. With the kind cooperation of Udaipur's Mayor and the West Zone Cultural Centre, BMTC planned and executed the festival's first waste segregation and disposal project. BMTC also assisted Udaipur NGO, Pahal, in their work to mobilize Udaipurites to create a bicycle friendly town. All of our efforts have received widespread positive press coverage; and in further affirmation of our work, numerous senior Udaipur artists have conjoined to donate proceeds from the sales of their work to our efforts in the town.
As an integral part of our vision, we also host well-attended, inspirational social and cultural events on our premises. Some of our past events include recitals by Udaipur's foremost Sufi singers, classical musicians, gypsy and folk dancers, and poets; a lecture demonstration on classical Indian and Japanese music by Japan based American musicologist, Tim Hoffman; a conversation with Argentinean film director Pepe Ozan and Indian diaspora expert and videographer Suresh Pillai following the showing of Pepe's award winning film 'Jaisalmer Ayo,' on the gypsies of Rajasthan and Suresh's films on Indians long settled in Bulgaria and the Caribbean states; a lecture slide show by American engineer and builder Mark Phillips on earthquake resistant straw bale houses; and a workshop in collaboration with sister NGO Shikshanter on how to make efficacious Ayurvedic herbal remedies.
Projects in development: Continuing to cultivate our mission, BMTC's chief goal for 2011-2012 is to set up the Shakti Academy of Dance, Circus Arts & Energy Healing, a combined education, research and performance facility that combines interdisciplinary artistic and health training with a special focus on at-risk youth. It will be the first complex of its kind in India and be designed as a replicable model for other heritage cities as well.
We are also working with colleagues in India this year to publish a Hindi translation of Dr. David Korten's seminal book, Agenda for a New Economy.
BMCT since 2012 – BMCT’s Book Translation Project - initiated by BMCT director Premilla Dixit-Nag - In 2013 Grant Shilpi India, a publishing house in New Delhi published ‘Ek Nai Arthvyavastha Ki Karyasuchi,’ the Hindi translation of ‘Agenda for a New Economy’ authored by Dr. David Korten & translated by Prof. Ramakant Agnihotri and his esteemed team members. Prof Agnihotri undertook the translation of Agenda for a New Economy in 2011. The translation took two and a half years of dedicated work. Under Prof. Agnihotri’s expert guidance Dr. Anushabad translated the book and Shri Pushpraj Singh of Vidya Bhavan edited it. W.David Kubiak, organized the agreements between the American and Indian Publishing houses namely Berrit Kohler and Grant Shilpi and launched the Hindi version of the book at an international convention at the Janardhan Rai Vidyapeeth, Udaipur.
BMCT Udaipur Shakti Works Project - We began formally shepherding ‘Udaipur Shakti Works’ project in January 2012, with the launch of its international performing art and culture exchange and World Dance Education workshops in Udaipur, in partnership with Vanaver Caravan (VC) a New York, USA based world dance & music ensemble.
The Udaipur Shakti Works concept of engaging the entire human body in the human learning process and encouraging a healthy cross-cultural exchange between local, national and international communities is in alignment with BMCT’s hands-on education guidelines.
In 2012 four VC teacher/performance artists taught world dance and modern choreography techniques at three Udaipur schools, namely Mahila Mandal Tribal Girls Secondary School, St Mary’s Secondary School and St Paul’s Secondary School. In return the VC teachers studied, Kalbeliya dance from Sayari Sapera and the late Rekha Sapera plus yoga, Rajasthani and Gujarati cooking and Ayurvedic massage therapy.
In January 2014 BMCT through the Udaipur Shakti Works project once again hosted the Vanaver Caravan dance and music instructors giving workshops in two local schools, St Mathews Senior Secondary School (primary section) & Upli Badi Tribal Primary & Middle Government School. BMCT also organized VC world dance classes for women with the assistance of Madhu Sareen and Purvi Bhargav; children and young adult classes with choreographer/dancer Bharat Verma’s Heartbeators dance company: and martial art classes for women and young adults with Raj Kumar Menaria’s Karate school. The VC also conducted workshops at ngo, Shikshanter’s Swaraj university & a performance at Shikshanter’s Saturday night Halchal Café. The VC teachers took Kalbeliya and Teratali dance & music workshops with two folk dance groups present at West Zone Culture Center’s Shilpgram facilities. BMCT organized two group performances one at Rotary Club, Udaipur and the other at WZCC’s Shilpgram in door auditorium, of all those who had studied world dance with the Vanaver Caravan teachers. The two village folk dance troupes that conducted workshops for the VC teachers also performed at the BMCT Shilpgram world dance event.
In January 2014, BMCT and VC formally agreed to call their Udaipur Shakti Works Project exchanges as ‘Shakti Caravan.’ Hitherto we will refer all BMCT/VC exchanges under the Udaipur Shakti Works project as Shakti Caravan.
In July 2014 as a part of the ongoing Shakti Caravan exchange VC invited Bharat Verma of Heartbeators dance institute and the institute’s senior assistant teacher, Kishan Lal Gameti to teach, study & perform at their Summerdance on Tour program. Bharat and Kishan are teaching Rajasthani folk Y Bollywood dances.
In February 2014 the press coverage and popularity of the Shakti Caravan project gave rise to Udaipur Shakti Work project's second stream of activity the ‘Udaipur Shakti Sundays’ (9th February 2014).
BMCT's Initiation of the Shakti Sunday Events - A stimulating dialogue between Udaipur Collector Shri. Asutosh Pednekar, W. David Kubiak, Programme Development Director Udaipur Shakti Works Project and Premilla Hobbs (Premilla Dixit Nag), director BMCT, variously on tradition, culture and pro-active citizenry birthed Udaipur Shakti Sundays.
Our responsibility lay in creating a festival worthy of an ancient heritage city, with all her beauty and dark realities, as she emerges on her 21st century stage. The Shakti Sunday festival/event is just that.
Shakti Sundays brings culture and social activism together.NGO and individuals doing social work are given the stage to share the work they do with the public. Local issues surrounding ecology, clean lakes, green neighborhoods, education, gender, safety, democracy and citizen responsibility, are central to the sharing and public discussions.
The event hosts the ‘Udaipur Has Talent’ contest from which our steering committee picks the winners for repeat performances. This contest draws all age groups, precocious toddlers, school kids, college students, professionals and retirees.
For the main segment of the show we draw from the various small and big performing art institutes of Udaipur. Our audience has been regaled with classical, folk, popular and contemporary songs and dances, skits, mime, martial art & hatha yoga demos, figure skating, fire dance, and even magic and card tricks. We also promote and highlight traditions in decline, such as the intricate percussive art of the Chang players. Chang is a percussion instrument played during Holi, the spring festival of colors.
Shakti Sunday has a steering committee of Udaipur citizens (Lokesh Paliwal, Ashok Jain Manthan, Eklingnath Paliwal, B.L. Kabra, W.David Kubiak, Premilla Dixit Nag and Rita Dixit-Kubiak). The committee organizes all the Shakti Sunday events. The other collaborating agencies are the Collector’s office, NLCP and UIT.
Initially the Shakti Sunday event ran every Sunday but we later changed it to every other Sunday till its last event on July 6th 2014 before the monsoon break. The city has since changed its rules re use of the venues and the project is still on hold.
BMCT Future Projects Under the Greening India Campaign - We hopes to introduce the following projects in 2015 under its ‘Greening India’ campaign.
1) A student empowerment project called ‘Design for Change’ initiated at Ahmedabad Riverside School.
We are exploring schools and educators who would welcome this dynamic program into their education agenda.
2) ‘Organic Udaipur’ is a many faceted project that will promote organic farming, market outlets for organic produce, value added organic products and entrepreneurship in start up green businesses.
Since 2014 BMCT has been in conversation with: the Directorate of Research & Organic farming at the Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture & Technology, Department of Management Training Pacific University, co-ops and NGOs dedicated to organic farming/farming such as Banyan Roots, Seva Mandir, Udyognini, Udaipur Collector, Asutosh Pednekar, retired experts from the agriculture college, the Forest department & interested Udaipur citizens. Through the Organic Udaipur project BMCT hopes to contribute towards a cleaner, greener Udaipur & a healthy life style for its citizens.
3) Kyoto/Udaipur Creative Economy Exchanges - BMCT's original principals and partners share decades of history promoting closer grassroots educational, artistic and environmental ties between Udaipur and Kyoto, Japan. In 2015 we plan to take that history to a new level by nurturing cooperative relationships and green development-focused projects between the leading universities in both cities. Both Kyoto University and Doshisha University have alreadty committed to sending exploratory missions and Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Sir Padampat Singhania University and Indian Institure of Management-Udaipur have all expressed great interest in collaborating.
3) BMCT director’s Human Rights initiative - This is an awareness initiative regarding human rights and social justice.
TRUSTEES, STAFF AND PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT
Rita Dixit Kubiak is an Indian national who has lived in Japan and the US for over thirty years forming lasting networks between individuals and organizations involved in cross cultural exchanges, eco-tourism, natural health practices, and women's issues in her two adopted countries and her native India. She also teaches yoga, practices shiatsu and writes on health and the environment for US and Japanese journals.
Dr. Kusum Meghwal is a dynamic Udaipur leader involved in various local philanthropies. A noted public speaker and prolific writer, her numerous novels, essays, short stories, radio broadcasts, and film work reach tens of thousands. Known for her work in behalf of Dalits and Budddhist causes, she also edits and publishes Asmita, a quarterly magazine on Indian women’s natural and constitutional rights.
Dr. Kiran Murdia is a professor of art at the University of Udaipur, College of Art. In addition to hanging in prestigious galleries and collections across India, her work has been presented at international exhibitions in Japan, Germany, Kuwait and Italy. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
Premilla Dixit Nag has worked for women's rights, peace, environmental and social justice causes in the US and India over 30 years. She has produced conferences, media projects and radio programs; researched and written on the global history and evolution of organic farming and indigenous medicine. Premilla also writes, directs and acts for theatre companies and is a recognized performance poet.
Udaipur Shakti Works Program Developer
W. David Kubiak – Founder director of US based NGO Big Medicine, free-lance journalist, and social & cultural events manager is the conceptualizer for Udaipur Shakti Works currently a project of BMCT, Udaipur.
Narain Meghwal– BMCT office assistance.
Sunil Gang – BMCT accountant since 2012. Director of Vikas Computer, Hiran Magri, Udaipur.
BMCT Auditing Firm
B.L Pagaria and Co. Chartered Accountants, B-4 Bapu Bazar, Udaipur (Raj) 313001. Sri Anand Pagaria provides auditing/advisory services to leading Udaipur NGOs and businesses and oversees BMCT's audits.
India: 1 Sajjangarh Road, Udaipur, Rajasthan 313001 Tel: 0294-243-4721