Jowar Health Assurance

What is the Jowar Health Assurance Scheme?
Any health care system designed for the poor living in rural India has to be accountable, affordable for the poorest, appropriate, accessible, and equitable. In addition, to be successful it has to have proactive community-level participation from the consumer.

Maternal Health

Towards an Appropriate Maternal Health Strategy
The road to providing holistic care to the rural poor successfully is long and arduous and has many cross-roads. This narrative describes one of the first cross-roads on this journey and relates to the evolution of maternal health services starting in 1981 as part of the Jowar Health Assurance programme. The narratives drive home the reality that a vast difference exists between availability and accessibility of health services to the poor living in rural communities. The success of the initiative is borne by the fact that the last maternal mortality to occur at home or on the way to the hospital occurred in 1985.

Cluster Immunization - Children & Adults

Reducing vaccine preventable disease and mortality among children under-five years of age is crucial in any health-decision made by the villagers. This realization made Prof. Jajoo and his team to consider unique strategies of cluster (pulse) immunization over a clinic-based, individualized approach starting in the year 1982.  The absence of any vaccine preventable diseases in the adopted villages since this approach was first taken is in sharp contrast to the national statistics on childhood mortality. The pioneering nature of this initiative is evident from the fact that the state government finally adopted ‘cluster immunization’ in the year 1996, a good decade and a half after this initiative was first taken.


Open air defecation, squatting on either side of the road of the village, is an age old problem in most of rural India.  This practice causes diarrhea epidemics with avoidable mortality and morbidity, especially during the monsoon season when it is easy for the feces-contaminated water to enter the food chain. This narrative describes the experiential learning on the part of Prof Jajoo and his team as they went back againand again to the drawing board to build a new toilet model! This was however just an initial step towards solving the age-old problem of open-air defecation in rural communities around Sewagram. The resounding success of the efforts under the leadership of Prof Jajoo and his team and the abject failure of the similar government sponsored efforts in this direction shows that experiential learning and educational sharing, the twin philosophies on which the foundation of holistic rural health was laid, made the very difference in the outcomes.

Lift Irrigation

Water-scarcity in predominantly agrarian villages, which are highly dependent on rain-fed agriculture for livelihood, impacts the very basis for survival for these communities. In the end the farmers are the direct sufferers when the rains are inadequate. Prof Jajoo thought that if appropriate irrigation facility were made available, a farmer may be able to beat the odds stacked against him by nature. This narrative describes the long and ardous journey taken starting in 1990 by Prof Jajoo and his team to build small dams, water reservoirs, so as to distribute stored water via pipes to even the most distant farms in the area.

Dairy Development

  ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day…
… teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime
- Lao Tzu; 5th century BC

This narrative describes in details the efforts by Prof Jajoo and his team starting in 1983 to build upon the success of the Jowar Health Assurance scheme by implementing the Village Dairy Development programme . This quest for economic upliftment for the rural communities around Sevagram takes the reader through the journey of efforts directed to revive defunct milk co-operative society at Nagapur, linking them directly the consumers through federation called Goras Bhandars and managing wisely the spin-off of this successful programme. Nominated as the President of the Milk Cooperative it also highlights the multiple hats worn by Prof Jajoo- a physican by profession in this experiential journey towards holistic rural upliftment! To fully understand more about how a booming alternate avenue for income generation was created, with the villagers as the stakeholders, again using the model of co-operation, consensus and people leadership.

Towards Spiritual Health


1990- Realization that spiritual and cultural upliftment must precede economic growth
1990- Visit to the Swadhayay Parivar and Kruti Bhakti
1991- Concept revolving around singing of hymns and prayers started
1992- Narratives and discussion of social issues by virtuous men and women

Women's Empowerment

If by strength is meant moral power,then woman is immeasurably man’s superior
-    Mahatma Gandhi

Starting in the early 1980s, Prof Jajoo realized that economic prosperity ushered into the villages with the various programme’s was not trickling down to women folks. The question on how to empower women to be an integral part of holistic rural health experience was the beginning of this journey aimed for upliftment of women in rural communities surrounding Sevagram. This narrative details how small self-help women groups started in villages surrounding sevagram grew over time so as to provide women a voice within the workings of the villages. This amazing exercise in self- empowerment and financial betterment for women shaped is a testament to overturn the existing paradigm and dogmas in current society.

Self Reliance - Organic Farming

Today, more than ever, farmers across the globe are being subjected to the vagaries of adverse market forces over which he has no control.  In this scenario, Prof Jajoo introduced the concept of self-help in agriculture and cultivation in 2008. He felt, that embracing the gift of nature, shunning market oriented man-made practices and abstaining from materialistic living, paved the way towards qualitative change in perspective towards life. This narrative describes the steps taken in this initiative for self-help in agricultural practices…

Self Reliance - Clothing

Today’s unstable market forces and its adverse impact on rural India required a back-to-basics approach as the rural poor strive for economic self-sufficiency and sustenance. Keeping up with this philosophy, this narrative details Prof Jajoo idea to process cloth from the cotton cultivated in the village starting in1992.