|FAQs for Prospective Interns, Researchers and Volunteers|
Q: What are the differences among interns, researchers, and volunteers?
Interns come to Navdanya to fulfill a specific job. They spend a minimum of 3 months working in our New Delhi office and/or at Bija Vidyapeeth outside of Dehradun. Interns apply to Navdanya by filling out an application form.
Volunteers live and work at Bija Vidyapeeth in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, participating in daily farm work and learning informally from Navdanya farm staff. Person who will be staying more than 2 weeks will be considered as a volunteer. Person staying for less than 2 weeks will be considered as a visitor. Volunteers apply to Navdanya by filling out an application form.
Q: What does Bija Vidyapeeth mean?
Bija Vidyapeeth is Sanskrit for “Seed Learning Centre” with “bija” meaning literally “seed” as well as “origin” or “source.” The Bija Vidyapeeth seal also says “vasudhaiv kutumbakam” in Sanskrit. This means “one world family.”
Q: I'm coming to India from abroad; what do I need to do before arriving and what should I bring?
Vaccinations and Medicines: Contact your local travel clinic for information on vaccinations and medicines that should be brought to India.
Visas: Different visas are required for people from different countries and also depend on what kind of travel/research/volunteerism you intend to carry out during your time in India. Please see the Indian Consulate website for your home country for details.
Money: Visa and Mastercard are accepted by most ATMs. You may also bring your home country's currency to be exchanged once you arrive. Travellers' checks are accepted by most banks but the conversion process may take some time. Check with your bank for more details.
Clothing: Don't bring too much. Clothing for farming (minus anything sleeveless) is appropriate for the farm. For stints in villages and/or cities, picking up a few Indian outfits or, for women, just a lightweight shawl called a dupata would be good. For women, the only things you should leave at home are tank tops, shorts, and short skirts.
Hygene Products: If you use only organic body care products bring these with you. You will not find their equivalents in India. That said, the same commercial products available abroad may be purchased in India. There is also the option of using unprocessed natural products such as raw oils, ayurvedic soaps, and medicinal herbs to meet your needs. Feminine hygene products are available but you may wish to bring familiar products from home.
Q: What do I do when I first arrive in India?
At Indira Gandhi International Airport, there is a prepaid taxi stand just outside the arrivals waiting area. A prepaid taxi is the most affordable way to get to your guest house. Some hotels arrange transportation for their guests. This may also be an option.
Guest houses are found all over the city, but a neighborhood called Pahar Ganj has the most affordable ones. Beware, however, that Pahar Ganj is very crowded and full of conmen. Exercise caution about who you talk to there, especially if it is your first time in India. A more expensive but hassle-free option is the New Delhi YMCA. We recommend that you consulate a guide book and book your room online before arrival.
Q: How do I get to Bija Vidyapeeth?
Please see the "Arriving in India" section of the Earth University (Bija Vidyapeeth) Intern, Volunteer, and Course Participant Guide
Q: How do I get to Navdanya’s office in New Delhi?
Navdanya’s main office is located on the south side of New Delhi at A-60 Hauz Khas, a few blocks from Hauz Khas Market. Because the street address system in Hauz Khas is convoluted and confusing, we suggest that you go to Navdanya’s shop in Hauz Khas Market (which is quite visible) and ask the manager to point you in the direction of the office.
FAQ’s for Interns in New Delhi and at Bija Vidypeeth
Q: Who should apply for an internship with Navdanya?
Navdanya accepts internship applications from anyone over the age of 18 who would like to spend a minimum of 3 months working in our New Delhi offices and/or at Bija Vidyapeeth. Strong candidates are flexible, self-directed, and capable of carrying out multiple projects at the same time. Previous experience in relevant fields is also a must. Internships are unpaid so applicants should be able to support themselves during their entire stay in India.
Q: When should interns apply?
Internship applications are accepted on a rolling basis however there are three starting dates for interns. They are February, June, and October. Please do not apply for an internship more than one year before the date you intend to arrive. Please see the Internship page to download an application.
Q: What is the atmosphere of the New Delhi office?
The office is a relaxed environment where people are usually hard at work. The staff welcomes interns from abroad and after time treats them like family. There is no dress code so interns may wear what is comfortable according to the season. During the hottest months (May through September) the office is air conditioned. Wireless internet is available. The office work hours are 9:30am to 5:00pm Monday through Saturday. Delhi interns usually work 9:30am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday, however local university students who are in class during the day may arrange alternative work schedules in consultation with Navdanya staff.
Q: Where do Delhi interns live?
Navdanya’s office is in the Hauz Khas neighborhood of South Delhi. Nearby neighborhoods include Hauz Khas Village, Panchsheel, UDAY Park, Green Park, Malvia Nagar, Defense Colony, and Lajpat Nagar. Private rooms and/or shared flats are readily available though may be difficult to secure from abroad. Interns will therefore most likely have to arrange housing upon arrival in Delhi.
Navdanya previously had a guest house near its Delhi office. Unfortunately this is no longer the case.
Q: What is the cost of living in Delhi?
Depending on personal preference and whether or not you choose to live alone you can expect to pay from Rs 5000 (100 USD) to Rs 18,000 (350 USD) per month for rent. Transport to the office in Hauz Khas via bus is about Rs 10 per ride while auto rickshaws cost anywhere from 30 to Rs 50 per ride.
Prices for food vary greatly. Food from roadside stands and family-owned restaurants is quite cheap (Rs 20 to 50 per meal) while international cuisine can be much more expensive (Rs 100 to 500 per meal). Fresh fruits and vegetables are found in every neighborhood and are very affordable though typically not organic. You may also subscribe to Navdanya’s delivery service which brings a week’s worth of local organic vegetables to your door each Friday for Rs 200 to 500 per week.
Q: Will I be able to visit Bija Vidyapeeth and participate in courses there during my internship in New Delhi?
Yes. We encourage Delhi interns to visit the farm and attend all courses that occur during their time with Navdanya. Interns attend courses for free.
Q: What kinds of projects do Bija Vidyapeeth interns do?
Interns at Bija Vidyapeeth should visit the Delhi office before heading to the farm. There, they may be assigned long-term projects such as editing manuscripts, photo documentation, book research, etc. Once at the farm, interns participate in the same daily work as volunteers (see below) but also carry out long-term projects. At times, the Delhi office may request that interns at Bija Vidyapeeth come to Delhi to help with a project.
Q: How much does it cost an intern to stay at Bija Vidyapeeth?
Internships with Navdanya are unpaid. Interns must cover their room and board, but are welcome to attend all courses at the farm for free. Previous interns have funded their time in India through grants from their home countries and institutions. For room and board rates please see http://www.navdanya.org/earth-university/accomodation.
Q: Should interns bring a laptop with them to India?
Yes, if they intend to work on research, education, or writing projects. Unfortunately, there is only one extra computer for interns in the New Delhi office and none at Bija Vidyapeeth.
Q: I am completing my internship for university credit. Who will fill out my university forms and/or serve as my supervisor?
FAQ’s for Volunteers at Bija Vidyapeeth Farm
Q: Are volunteers required to have previous farming experience?
No previous farming experience is necessary but willingness to learn is a must.
Q: What kind of work will I be expected to do on the farm?
Work varies according to the season, but often includes planting, weeding, harvesting, seed saving, etc. Volunteers are welcome to focus their time and energy on the tasks that interest them the most. Long-term volunteers (those staying for more than one month) may be asked to assist farm staff during courses in return for attending the course for free.
Q: What is daily life like at Bija Vidyapeeth?
Most people getup between 5:30 and 7:00, do yoga, drink chai, and eat breakfast. From around 9:00 until 13:00 volunteers work with farm staff as well as on independent projects. Lunch is followed by relaxation or some more work depending on the season. Dinner is at 19:00. Most people go to bed early, however there is the option to watch a film, read books in the library, or take a walk.
The community at the farm is made up of the farm staff as well as long-term and short-term volunteers from all over India and the world. Bija Vidyapeeth is a place where farmers, activists, students, healers, scientists, etc. come together to learn and enjoy. Much of the farm staff comes from Garhwal, the mountainous region to the north of Dehradun. On weekends they often play Garhwali folk music and invite volunteers to join in.
Q: What kind of food is served at the farm?
All meals are vegetarian and consist primarily of seasonally-available organic fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes grown on the farm. Food is served three times a day. Chai (milk tea) is consumed several times a day in India and the farm is no exception. Vegans may have a hard time in India since milk, yogurt, and ghee (clarified butter) are present at almost every meal. The chefs at the farm do, however, try to accommodate everyone’s needs.
Q: Is the water safe?
The drinking water at the farm is safe and clean as it comes from a deep well and is boiled before consumption.
Q: What are the accommodations at Bija Vidyapeeth?
Volunteers stay in dormitories or double rooms. In addition to beds, each room has a desk, a chair or bench, and bookshelves. Blankets and sheets are provided. Bathrooms are shared. Hot water is available during the winter (November – February). Please see http://www.navdanya.org/earth-university for more information on staying at Bija Vidyapeeth.
Q: May I volunteer at the farm if I am unable to do physical labor?
Certainly. You will never be required to do work you are not comfortable with (for example carrying heavy loads if you have a back problem). There are many tasks and opportunities for learning that do not require physical labor.
Q: Is there cell phone service at the farm?
Yes. Vodafone, Airtel, and other common services are quite reliable there.
Q: Does the farm have internet service?
Yes, it has wireless. There is one computer which is available after office hours or in case of urgency. There is also an internet café about a kilometer from the farm that volunteers could walk to from time to time.
Q: Do volunteers get days off?
Volunteers are welcome to take time off to rest or explore Dehradun and the surrounding areas, but are requested to inform farm staff a day in advance.
Q: What languages are used at Bija Vidyapeeth?
English, Hindi, and Garhwali are the most commonly used languages. The farm staff is happy to help volunteers with their Hindi or Garhwali.
FAQ’s for Researchers
Q: What kinds of research can Navdanya support?
Self-directed social science research that requires no supervision is possible at Bija Vidyapeeth.
Unfortunately, our science experts are simply too busy to oversee or supervise any research projects involving field tests or lab work.
Q: What kinds of resources are available to social science researchers staying at Bija Vidyapeeth?
Bija Vidyapeeth has a number of resources that students and researchers may find useful. The permanent staff includes experienced women seed keepers, national community organizers, and many dedicated organic farmers. They are happy to work with researchers.
The farm is a place where members of Navdanya’s national network of seed keepers and organic farmers periodically come together for training and idea sharing (see http://www.navdanya.org/earth-university). Courses at Bija Vidyapeeth provide researchers the opportunity to make connections with farmers, activists, and scientists from all over India. In addition, researchers who would like to conduct interviews, are welcome to arrange field visits to the many projects around India in consultation with Navdanya staff.
Q: Will a Navdanya staff member be able to act as my translator during visits to project sites?
No. Researchers must hire their own translators as the Navdanya staff is already quite busy.
Q: Will I be able to interview Dr. Vandana Shiva for my research?
Q: Who should I contact for more information about conducting research at Navdanya/Bija Vidyapeeth?