URMUL Khejadi is firmly of the middle. When, during 1992-93, five years down the line from its inception and first few hesitant steps, Urmul Trust decided to decentralize, it did so by growing an offshoot in Jayal in the middle of Nagaur district, which is itself in the middle of western Rajasthan.
Being in the habit of being in the middle so to speak, Nagaur had been in the middle of the main trade and conquest routes between Delhi and the rich hinterland of Malwa and Gujarat, and had in the middle ages witnessed many a battle in the unfolding of history.
Here in the middle of the Rajasthan desert, there is a pleasing profusion of Khejadi trees. And it was here that Urmul Khejadi, the first eponymous transplanted sapling from the Urmul nursery, took root in the middle period of Urmul’s dozen year history, decentralized into the middle of the middle, so to speak
Like the tree after which it was named it was of the soil, and like the tree it sought to grow to enrich the soil and provide as many benefits. It had to survive the transition from nursery to plantation. But unlike the tree it could not afford to remain rooted to one spot, but had to become a footloose barefoot doctor of the desert’s maladies, if it wanted to grow as a catalyst for mobilization and change for the better.
UK took off from a fortuitous but deep involvement in the mitigation of distress of some of the large numbers of people from the villages in this area who have to seasonally emigrate for work and survival, in 1993.
Before long it became involved in wider issues of labour welfare and organization, and has grown as a platform for understanding the condition of migrant labour, and a facilitator for collective action by people in the area which would both empower and enrich them.
UK’s enterprise is to transform passive, fragmented, unorganized, and exploited labour into collective entrepreneurs who can act together to augment their own common property resources. To become a how to pull yourselves up with your own bootstraps kit, growing and proliferating outwards from the middle.