Mittal Patel

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2013

Citation

This profile was prepared when Mittal Patel was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
By extending political franchise to a critical mass of tribes, Mittal draws the attention of the public authorities to their needs and creates a negotiating platform to advocate for their social, economic and political rights. Building on this, she facilitates access to land and funds for housing to bring permanency to their nomadic lifestyle. Mittal also facilitates their entry into educational systems and opens opportunities for livelihoods that leverage their skills. In each instance, she embeds them within existing public or private systems to ensure civic participation. Mittal also employs an array of creative strategies using religious leaders, among others, as mavens to ensure their social integration. A strong belief in the need to create political leadership among communities to ensure that they can advocate for their own rights, she does capacity building with them in order to participate in local elections as Panchayat members, ward councilors, and so on.

Mittal’s work has allowed 40 tribes, living in a 1,000 different settlements in Gujarat, to access their rights and entitlements from the government, to integrate their children into the public school system, to find economically viable professions, and to be elected to local government. Mittal is advocating for legislations and policy changes for DNTs to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, to nationally scale her model of empowerment.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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