URMUL Seemant is the eldest daughter in the Urmul family, having grown out of Urmul’s first step away from where it was born, in Bajju, a village just under a hundred kilometers west of Bikaner.
Bikaner -one of the three or four largest, driest, and most sparsely populated districts in the westernmost part of the Rajasthan desert- seems to get larger and drier and emptier, and the people seem thinner on the ground, as you travel westwards in the district, away from the city. Until you reach Bajju, that is.
When Seemant reached Bajju in 1987, Bajju was getting larger and wetter, and the people easily outnumbered the camels on the ground. This was because just around the time, the IGNP ,in its wisdom, had stutteringly begun to flow on Bajju’s doorstep. Westwards in Bikaner, as elsewhere in Rajasthan, had always im- plied vast stretches of open sandy spaces with little vegetation. Dicey for cultivation because rainfall was so scanty and erratic, better suited for use as rangeland for livestock. Hence also, habitations which were far and few, and frequent migrations.
However in the western part of Bikaner district now, when. Urmul Seemant began working there in Bajju even more than elsewhere in Rajasthan more and more people were ranging over the land. And colonizing and cultivating it.
The livestock and the scattered but substantial population of the district were beginning to find themselves squeezed in a porous but tightening noose on space. Even as the shape of space itself was being changed by roads and buses.
Not even to mention the man-made rivers and rivulets that disappeared in the sand, but increasingly began to give names and identities to previously unmarked or non-existent new spaces.
Here, near the border, both to the west where there was new settlement and towards the east where there were old settled villages, there was a huge gap between the need and availability of health services, schools, and community support programmes, that cried to be filled up.
URMUL Seemant focuses on children, organizing collectives of women and other community groups to oversee and actively participate in implementing various programmes.