Talaash understanding inequality and social justice

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For the last seven years, Sambhaavana has been organising a two- to six-week participatory, reflective and perspective-building programme on ‘Rethinking Development’ called Nayi Dishayein. Building on the work we have done through these workshops and the feedback from our participants, we felt it was time to incorporate these learnings and spend more time with ideas, issues, and perspectives related to social justice and equality struggles. We intend to develop various ideas that came up in the course of the last decade during Nayi Dishayein and devise newer ways of engaging with each other over a longer period of time. 

At a personal level, we want to be more hopeful in the present times, and build solidarity and links with each other. This requires not days but months of our time and energy. With more time, we hope to be able to arrive at the limits of our thinking, assumptions, and interpretations, and to engage in more open, exploratory, and creative ways to address the issues at hand. In the light of these realizations and requirements; in the quest for new longings; and to aspire for new dreams, shared dreams, enduring dreams, Sambhaavnaa Institute is launching its 10-week programme: talaash.

Objectives of the Programme: This programme aims to interweave theory and practice, focusing on building a varied and dynamic understanding of some of the pertinent issues facing our society today. Through this programme we will together go on a journey:

  1. To understand the roots and forms of structural inequalities, systemic oppression and discrimination. 
  2. To understand the complex relations between institutions such as family, society, state, corporates, media and educational institutions.
  3. To provide a critical lens to identify forms of injustice inherent in our daily lives and practices, including caste, class, gender, religion, sexuality, age, and dis/ability. 
  4. To analyse and understand the impact of extractivist economy and growth-oriented economic system on climate and ecology.  
  5. To open up space for reflection, identification and reorientation of one’s notions about social justice.  
  6. To discuss various forms of people’s resistance and provide a space to learn from the lived experiences of activists and struggles of social movements in the country.   
  7. To collectively think through forms of social action and ways to implement them in (personal and social) political lives.   

Programme Structure and Topics

The programme would be divided into three parts:

  1. Orientation (online): Selected participants are expected to attend a week-long online orientation programme (online meetings, reading exercises and assignments) with the Sambhaavnaa team.
  2. Internship: Participants (individually or in pairs of 2) will spend 6 weeks working with social movements/research organisations/campaign groups assigned by the Sambhaavnaa team based on their interests, skill sets and location preferences. Due to the difficulty of travel restrictions given the pandemic crisis and financial constraints, the participants will be put in touch with organizations mostly based out of their place of residence unless otherwise preferred. 
  3. On Campus: Upon completion of the internship, the participants will spend a month on the Sambhaavnaa campus, in Palampur, as we will explore and understand issues  through a combination of different pedagogical techniques as mentioned below.  The time spent together will also include common activities like working together in the fields, cooking and helping in the kitchens, bonfires, games.

(We will share a detailed plan about the organisations to intern, reading material and on-field requirements with the shortlisted  applicants.)

Pedagogical techniques

The themes of the programme will be explored using interactive lectures, group work and group discussions, book-reading sessions, writing, film screening, theatre, songs of resistance, field trips, self-reflection, and sharing of lived experiences by activists. 

Who can apply?

If you are in the age group of 22-30 years and are seeking an engagement with the above-mentioned issues, or you are just figuring out how to frame the questions you would want to ask and inquire for yourself in the long-term or trying to understand the interconnections between different issues that you see around, then fill in the application form and please join us for an intensive collective churning. 

Only 20 seats. Apply at the earliest!

Resource Persons:  We have a wide range of speakers and trainers from various fields, including social and political activism, research, theatre, academia, and people’s movements, Kavita Krishnan, Nityanand Jayaraman,  Bhanwar MeghwanshiVijayan MJKavita KrishnanJanaki Srinivasan, Aswathy Senan, Dhiren BorisaPraveen Singh, Mridu Kamal, Manshi Asher and more

Language: Primarily English, occasional Hindi.

Contribution for the Programme: Do not let money be an impediment to your desire to apply. We expect the participants to contribute an amount of Rs. 18,000/– towards workshop expenses. Need-based partial waivers are available; we have a limited number of partial waivers, preference will be given for scholarship and subsidies to applicants from marginalised communities, please apply only if you really need it. Please do remember that there may be others who need it more than you.  Organizations and individuals can also sponsor an applicant  (partly or fully), so that lack of money does not get in the way of learning opportunities.

The fees include only the expenses incurred during the campus component of the programme at the Sambhaavnaa Institute: boarding, lodging, and all the materials used in the workshop.

The participants are expected to bear the cost of travel and food expenses during the course of the field-based internship. A certificate of experience will be given to the participant upon completion of the internship. The internship is primarily for the participant to engage with groups that work on the issues which will be discussed during the course of our programme.  (No financial support is available from Sambhaavnaa Institute for this component.)


April 15- May 31: Orientation + Internship

June 1-30, 2021: Classes at Sambhaavnaa

LAST DATE TO APPLY: 15th March. 2021

Venue: Sambhaavnaa Institute, VPO – Kandbari, Tehsil – Palampur, District – Kangra, PIN 176061, Himachal Pradesh.

Contact: For more information please Whatsapp or call Shashank – 889 422 7954 or email: [email protected]

Getting to Sambhaavnaa – Please visit: Getting here

How to apply? 

Please complete one from amongst the three FIELD EXERCISES detailed below, and then fill the application form. The field exercise is compulsory for your application to be considered.  There are 2 methods to submit your exercise.  You can choose either of these.

The selection process will be a rigorous one with close scrutiny of your application form and a round of interview of shortlisted candidates. By applying for the course, you would commit to your participation for the duration of the programme. If you get selected for the programme, kindly do not make a last-minute cancellation, unless there are some unforeseen circumstances.

Method 1:  You can make a brief video, looking into the camera, articulating your experiences, specifically as per the requirements of the exercise.  The video has to be at least 3 minutes long. You can share this video on WhatsApp with Mohammad on 86 79 32 56 26.

Method 2:  Write in about 500 words,  please note that we will not be assessing the exercise on the basis of language, grammar or efficacy of presentation. We are interested in your reflections, interpretations, and analysis of social realities’.

Field exercises to be done before filling up the form:

Exercise 1: Locate one person in your neighbourhood who is an ‘unorganised sector’ worker, and speak with them about his/her life, the nature of his/her work, wages, family, who else earns in their family, the living conditions of their family, and so on. Find out about his/her background in terms of caste, region, class and other socio-cultural markers. Share with us your reflection on their life and working conditions, and if and/or how it could be changed for the better in your opinion?


Exercise 2: Follow the garbage trail from your place of residence to the final place that it rests. Locate one person in the life-cycle who manages your garbage, and speak to them about the nature of their work, their wages, their family and who else earns in their family, the living conditions of their family and so on. Provide a description of the garbage trail and any insights you obtained from it. Share about the garbage worker as well as your reflections on his/her life and working conditions, and if and/or how it could be changed for the better?


Exercise 3: The last year has seen a lot of vocal articulations against various policies or developments in all parts of the country. If you have been part of any such group or know of groups that have worked in such issues from your area, visit their office/meet one of the volunteers/key leaders. Spend half a day with them and discuss the campaign, the issue that led to it, their strategies, challenges and outcomes in detail. Prepare a note detailing all of these with your personal reflections about the same. Do mention the name and contact details of the person you will be interviewing. 


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