Beyond Money
Bonds That Stick

A unique Indo-German  effort to spread hockey in a sleepy town.

If you want to see what sports can do to the socialisation process, you must visit Garh Himmatsingh in Rajasthan. Situated in what was once a small, feudal, princely state, where women still hide behind veils, the hockey stick has broken all traditional mores. You have to see the body language of girls and boys from all communities and castes—exuding self-confidence—to believe the power of sports. You would never believe that they are first-generation learners or from the dalit or minority community.

Garh Himmatsingh is a nearly 600-year old, dilapidated fort off the Jaipur-Agra highway. The nearest railhead, Mandawar, is some 10km away. Andrea Thumshirn would bring German tourists who wanted to experience a different India even as they did the popular Golden Triangle—Delhi-Agra-Jaipur. They would be taken to the near-ruins of some of these forts in and around Mandawar, spending nights at Garh Himmatsingh enjoying the rural hospitality and folk culture that Rajasthan is famous for. Chandu Naruka from the family of the erstwhile rulers of this thikana, and Dilip Chauhan (whose mother was a Naruka), Andrea’s partner in the travel business, would often discuss their dreams of uplifting the village from the quagmire of poverty, ignorance and tradition. That touched a chord in Andrea and she offered to live there and teach the village children.

Their ‘entry-point activity’ to establish credentials with the community was unique. Having been a hockey-player, she said: ‘why don’t I teach them what I am good at?’ So, they started in a small, informal way, some time in 2009, teaching the kids to play hockey and running a kind of open school for children who wanted to learn English. The Narukas renovated the fort’s tower as a restaurant serving ethnic food for tourists. The fort’s forecourt was cleared up for use as a hockey field. Being from the travel business, Andrea cannot resist saying: “This is the most ingenious timeshare arrangement we could come up with—a hockey field during the day and a cattle shed by night!”

It was this fortuitous coming together of two families engaged in travel & tourism—an Indian and a German one—that led to the setting up of Bua Sa Foundation in India and its counterpart Hockey Village India Foundation in Germany, in 2010. Bua sa in Marwari means aunt— father’s sister. I assumed that it must be in the memory of a late aunt of the Narukas or Chauhans. Andrea smiles and says “No, I am their rakhi-sister. Since the family has adopted me as their daughter, children call me bua sa. The Foundation was named after me.” Dilip jokingly says: “This development initiative on our part has resulted in business losses! Because my partner is teaching hockey and running a school here, instead of sending me tourists!”

In just three years, 70 children have been trained in hockey. Andrea raised the funding not only for hockey-sticks and uniforms but also managed the donation of a synthetic turf from Germany, with the Union sports ministry’s approval. The turf is being laid now. With justifiable pride, Andrea says, “these children can compete anywhere in the world. They have the stamina and drive, having played in such adverse conditions. What they lack is education and nutrition. We aim to provide these through the school we have started.
Already some 250 children have registered and funding for their scholarships obtained.”
They also have a tie-up with the Delhi-based NGO Hockey Citizen Group which trains 500 schoolchildren in five Indian cities and holds ‘Hockey Dhamal Series’ of matches in Delhi, annually. Andrea says, “We are looking for volunteers who can stay for a minimum of one month in our village to teach English language and provide hockey training.” In return, she promises “a feeling of satisfaction as these children are quick learners!” You know this is true, as you see an eight-year-old boy fixing Andrea’s laptop to an inverter, to play music to which the schoolchildren dance!

They are collecting donations for hockey-sticks; each costs €5. Currently, donations are routed through the German foundation directly to the village panchayat, since Bua Sa Foundation is awaiting exemption under Section 80G.

Hockey Village India
Bua Sa Foundation
Garh Himmatsingh Fort
Mahua-Mandawar Road
District Dausa 321609, Rajasthan
Tel: +91-8290929002
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.hockeyvillageindia.com

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How unpaid interns aren’t protected against sexual harassment

It's not just about a paycheck. US Federal laws protecting workers against discrimination and sexual harassment often don't apply to unpaid interns

In 1994, Bridget O’Connor began an internship at Rockland Psychiatric Center, where one of the doctors allegedly began to refer to her as Miss Sexual Harassment, told her that she should participate in an orgy, and suggested that she remove her clothing before meeting with him. Other women in the office made similar claims.
 

Yet when O’Connor filed a lawsuit, her sexual harassment claims were dismissed because she was an unpaid intern. A federal appeals court affirmed the decision to throw out the claim.
 

Unpaid interns miss out on wages and employment benefits, but they can also find themselves in “legal limbo” when it comes to civil rights, according to law professor and intern labor rights advocate David Yamada. The O’Connor decision (the leading ruling on the matter, according to Yamada) held that because they don’t get a paycheck, unpaid interns are not “employees” under the Civil Rights Act -- and thus, they’re not protected.
 

Federal policies echo court rulings. The laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including the Civil Rights Act, don’t cover interns unless they receive “significant remuneration,” according to commission spokesperson Joseph Olivares.
 

“At least with respect to the federal law that we enforce, an unpaid intern would not be legally protected by our laws prohibiting sexual harassment,” Olivares said in an email to ProPublica.
 

It’s unclear how many interns are sexually harassed at work. The commission doesn’t keep those statistics, according to Olivares. And as the Chicago Tribune detailed in 2011, interns often don’t know where to turn when faced with harassment or can fear retaliation from bosses they look to for future jobs or recommendations.
 

“You can understand perhaps why there haven’t been more cases,” said Yamada. “If you’re a young student, and have been trying to get a career off the ground, the bind that puts someone in is significant, because there’s retaliation.”
 

Olivares noted that while federal laws don’t protect unpaid interns, company policies and state or local laws could sometimes broaden workplace protections.
 

In June, Oregon passed a law expanding discrimination and harassment protections to interns, whether they are paid or not. According to Charlie Burr, spokespersonfor the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, Oregon is the first state to pass such protections.
 

“Those principles of protecting people in the workplace have been in place for a long time, but they’ve never applied to interns,” said Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian. “It really left them with few options.”
 

Oregon’s law protects interns from sexual harassment and discrimination based on race, religion, gender, disability, and sexual orientation and covers wrongful termination tied to discrimination — but it doesn’t create an employment relationship or impact wages, an issue the state was careful to avoid, according to Avakian.
 

The idea for the law came from Carole Delogu, a former unpaid intern in the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries, after she read an article in the Public Interest Law Journal on the workplace protections not afforded to interns.
 

“I was in disbelief,” Delogu said, of her reaction to the loophole. “Interns are in a fragile place, they want to get their foot in the door, so they don’t complain.”
 

So Delogu brought her concerns to the Labor bureau, and helped draft a proposal to close the gap in protections. Under the new law, Delogu hopes “more people will be able to stand up for their rights.”
 

D.C. has made similar strides to protect interns. Council member Mary Cheh lobbied successfully to extend the D.C. Human Rights Act protections against sexual harassment to interns after hearing the story of one intern’s sexual harassment claims against her employer, a massage and body therapy center in Friendship Heights. The intern’s case was dismissed because she was unpaid.
 

Yet as Maurice Pianko, attorney and founder of Intern Justice, points out: if for-profit employers paid their interns when they should (and usually they should be paid), protection from discrimination and sexual harassment would automatically apply.

“It’s a surprise to me to see that there are still companies not paying their employees,” Pianko said. “If any general counsel wants to find out the law they can, and honestly I don’t know what they’re thinking.”

 


Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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