|Barli Development Institute for Rural Women
|Our Manager Jimmy McGilligan awarded OBE
James McGilligan (Jimmy) Manager of Barli Development Institute
for Rural Women originally from Northern Ireland has been awarded
an Order of British Empire in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday
Honours list 2008. “For his services to social causes and the use of
alternative energy in rural communities in India”, is the recognition of
his dedicated service to the rural and tribal women in central India.
Born near Garvagh, Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland UK he has
spent 20 years as Manager of Barli Development Institute for Rural
Women, Indore in the State of Madhya Pradesh the multifaceted
man has literally developed the Institute, takes care of logistics and
maintenance, infrastructure development, gardens & food production,
information technology, audio visuals, environmental education,
development & transfer of solar technologies, research and
development, rural technologies.
For the last 10 years, he has been the pioneer in central India for manufacturing the large community solar kitchens in
Madhya Pradesh with, ten meter square parabolic reflectors at the Institute, and installed then in tribal school hostels in
Jhabua, Dattigaon, Dhani and an orphanage in Indore.
More than 300 domestic parabolic cookers in use in rural and tribal communities, these are sources of livelihood in a
village Nathudhana , and in another district Jhabua, the tribal women thank him for giving a technology which is “gender
friendly” “more easy to use”, “more safe and hygienic than firewood”. For them to go to collect wood is not just
walking long distances in search of wood, it is also a struggle because of the numerous threats that they encounter along
the way. For instance, walking through isolated areas makes them vulnerable to abuse and rape. They also suffer mental
and physical harassment from forest officials, who stop them under the garb of enforcing rules and regulations relating to
trespassing. The way back home is even tougher, when these women have to carry heavy loads on their backs. This is
the time when they face the greatest threat. The maximum numbers of rapes in these areas occur during this time, when
the women stop for a while to drink water, rest or relieve themselves. Of late he has installed Solar Water heating
systems, Solar Dryers, Solar Oven, Water Distiller and briquetting etc. Jimmy’s work to promote solar cooking is
another integral part of the main goal of the Barli Development Institute - the empowerment of young women through
education and training.
Among 500 tribal communities, popularly loved and known as Jeejaji ( Brother in law) since 1988 when he married
their didi (sister)Janak Palta McGilligan who was also, a Baha’i pioneer from Chandigarh, Punjab invited by National
Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of India to establish the Institute For Rural women in Indore in, 1985 a Baha’i
inspired NGO, is the centre of their world, their home and their work, their passion and the purpose of their life. British
citizen, a land reclamation and drainage contractor, left his country in 1986 to work on reclamation of saline soils at
Rabbani School near Gwalior and to serve the rural communities in India in responce to the call from the Baha’i World
People who have seen the eco friendly Barli campus before and after his presence can only see how Jimmy has put his
mind body and soul in to this Institute in it overall development that has contributed to the empowerment of more than
4000 rural and tribal socially and economically disadvantaged young girls and women who have returned to their
community’s as social change agents.
The trainees are taught vocational skills, health, literacy and
personal and environmental development with a
systematically designed and published curriculum, are
constantly monitored updated and improved. According to
him it is very important for women to be educated and
empowered in any society being the first educators of their
children and their status should never be seen as secondary
to that of men.
Amongst many other challenges he had to rise to in India,
learning to communicate in Hindi was perhaps one of the
most essential. Jimmy has managed to learn by simply
picking up Hindi He is modest about his language skills and
jokes that he has been here for 20 years and still can’t speak
Hindi, while the joke being that he makes this claim in Hindi.
He gives credit of this honour to Barli Institute, all its
trainees and the staff with whom he works.
Photo Above; Members of Jimmy's Family celebrating
near Limavady in Northern Ireland
Posted By Janak Palta McGilligan