Xavier Vending Zone

At 2, Xavier vending zone, Xavier square, one can see a small barber shop flanked by green iron structures from three sides, measuring 8*8 square feet area and a wide opening facing the main road towards Patia. The anatomy of the shop gives space to two big mirrors, two wooden chairs, a table fan, a CFL, a radio set and a shelf containing all the vital components of a barber’s shop viz. Shaving cream, scissors etc. and a bench just outside the shop with an Oriya local daily kept over it for the waiting customers. Mr. Deepak Barik – the smiling 31 year old, splattering tobacco droplets from his mouth, welcoming his customers all the day from 7 a.m. till 9.00 p.m. for a hair-cut, body massage etc., would not give you the slightest of the indication about his tight-roped life walk. If this stage of his life is to be compared with that of an adolescent 14 year old boy at a small village in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa long time back, the current situation definitely gives a hopeful picture. He moved out of his village at a tender age with a hope to change his life but destiny had a different opinion. With huge uncertainty of the availability of job, he decided to make his “home”-the tree, his point of occupation. His traditional knowledge came to his rescue.

It is said that with bigger horizons comes bigger challenges. He grew as his income grew, and simultaneously grew his worries as he had frequent encounters with some difficult customers like the local goons, the officials and staffs from the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) .The insecurity was not ready to detach itself from his life. He often had to shut down his shop for hours which might continue for as long as a week due to raids by BMC officials or “taxes” levied by some “forces”. Secondly, many people would also not visit his shop due to its location and deprivation of basic, hygienic resources. Income was under extreme pressure and his life once again was engrossed with worries pertaining to making both ends meet. In the absence of any medium, doing business with self-esteem was becoming almost impossible. However, Mr. Barik was keenly observing an activity among other vendors of Xavier Square-who were equally insecure about the future of their ventures due to similar reasons. Many vendors were invited inside the Xavier Institute of Management for meeting with “Sirs” for some group making. Reluctant yet curious, Mr. Barik joined other vendors in the initiative, where he came to know about the process of organizing all the vendors into a Cooperative. However vendors were having their own concerns and fear like their shops being evicted or equipment or inventories being confiscated. Scenario was not very optimistic as the livelihood of 39 vendors like Mr. Barik was at stake.

Once vendors were organized, an application was made to then BMC Commissioner, Ms. Aparajita Sarangi about creating one dedicated vending zone. The request was duly approved. Help came from expected and unexpected quarters with Corporater of the Area, Mr. Premanand Jena providing documentary support to the vendors who were lacking documents to avail credit facility from Bank.

Orissa Cooperative Bank, Kalinga Hospital branch issued loan to 22 vendors under the Orissa Govt scheme of Self- Employment called SWAROZGARO. Mr. D.V. Ramana, faculty, XIMB became Guarantor for the vendors and a sum of Rs. 2,52,501 was deposited as fixed deposit in the Bank as the Xavier Guarantee Fund, contributed by faculties and staff of XIMB. Previously unexpected benefits have been observed due to the development of the area, with revenues coming from the commercial hoardings over the shops. The area which was previously dark and an unutilized patch of land, is now a bubbling business hub although of a different sort. 39 Deepaks have found a new life in the shape of the XVZ which is mere a cluster of small, identical structures offering things of basic necessities, for a passerby, but it is everything for those people who are waiting inside to serve you. Their smile reflects the level of security that they can sense now. Hope smiling through their faces is large enough to motivate others to come in support of many who really need attention from the society as they are always ready to offer their services in return. Days are no more same in Xavier Square and in 39 families!