India is a country of villages. A country can develop only when its villages change and develop with it. That is why the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh resolved to develop the villages of our country. The workers initiated a volley of development in the remote villages of the country and this amazed the entire world. This was presented by the RSS senior leader and member HV Sheshadri in his authored pieces. This is a translated chapter from the Hindi book – Kruti Roop Sangh Darshan written and edited by HV Sheshadri
In the recent years, social-work has taken a special curve at a rapid pace for transforming the villages’ of India One becomes simply captivated knowing the efforts made by the swayamsevaks in improving the quality of life of the villagers, considering the plethora of different circumstances and problems. The swayamsevaks have held social transformation as their most important goal. The change brought on by the project holds utmost importance for the swayamsevaks as it provides an embodiment to the revival of a lifestyle as that of a Hindu-nation. Here are some examples which show that even in remote areas, the swayamsevaks were able to bring about extraordinary results.
The Gonda Gramodaya Project, a catalyst of rural development, was started in 1978 by the Deendayal Research Institute. The project involved innovative efforts for the holistic development of Gonda district in Uttar Pradesh. Nanaji Deshmukh, a senior RSS campaigner, was its founder-president.
Gonda was the most backward district of the country for decades. Most of the people in the district were dependent on agriculture for that would primarily depend on rainwater. Therefore, the research-institute chose water resources development through tubewells as its first project. When the Institute announced its goal of constructing 20,000 tubewells in the first two years, many experts expressed doubts on whether they would be able to achieve their goal in such a short period of time. But by the end of 1980, the number of tubewells constructed in Gonda was 28,000.
The Institute didn’t dig the wells itself. Instead, it taught people how to avail government help and bank loans. The mantra of the Institute’s success was its inspiration. The swayamsevaks of the organisation motivated people with the utmost care. Gonda also has an immaculate record of the repayment of debts. Where the percentage of the national debt repayment is only 40 percent, the repayment percentage of debt in Gonda is 80.
When a novelty-loving farmer from Kharegaon used bamboo instead of metal taps for his tubewell, he tried to involve others in his experiment. Two enterprising adventurers came forward. One was from Umari Begamganj and the second from Ramnagar Jhinna. They gathered and inspected that in what state bamboo provides the best power and economy. The use of their innovative bamboo taps was so successful that now they can rarely meet their growing demands for their endless thrist for knowledge.
What the research institute achieved was very unique. It pioneered a new method of rejuvenating wheat seeds before sowing time. There are 7,410 species of wheat seeds. The seeds are treated with fertilisers in cow urine. Thus, when the seeds are treated, the yield of wheat is increased by 20-25 percent. This method of rejuvenating seeds is essentially credited to the agricultural scientist, MV Pant. But the credit for the initiative in this direction goes to the research institute itself. Because of this method, the requirement of fertiliser has dropped by 50 per cent and there is no need for pesticides. As a result -- low labour requirements, low costs, and more profit. An acre can now yield 40-50 quintals.
Due to various programmes run by the research institute, the financial condition of more than 100,000 families improved. Inaugurating the project on November 25, 1978, the then President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy predicted “The entire country will watch this development project in Gonda district with intense interest.”
Through the plantation, the demand for fuel and building wood should be fulfilled, apart from this, there would be a healthy environment created by the greenery. All this would keep things like malnutrition at bay. The research institute is moving towards this direction of planting trees in rural areas. It has encouraged villagers to plant different kinds of fruit trees. This would have them yielding ripe fruits throughout the year. Under the Gonda Project, about 3,00,000 trees are being planted annually in 2,814 villages of the district.
Rapture for Social Renaissance
Eknath Ranade, a senior advocate of the Sangh was also the Secretary-General of the Sangh for a few years. He was given the responsibility of establishing the Swami Vivekananda Shila Memorial. After the establishment of the monument, he made plans for the second phase. Thus the Vivekananda centre was born. He prepared a dedicated youth life course dedicated to different areas of social revival. He selected them and trained them and then appointed them. Currently, 110 full-time workers are running about 500 projects across the country. These projects are present Arunachal (for North east), Kashmir (for North) and Tamil Nadu (for South).
The Vivekananda Centre believes that the multifaceted activities of the village-development programme run by them will be successful only when they make the locals, especially the youth, the participants. All 75 kindergartens of 75 villages of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts were built by the donations of the villagers or had money allocated to them by the panchayats. In one village, where the poorest villagers could not afford to donate, one of them even sold off his house and started living in a handmade hut himself.
Four to five youth camps are organised every month. The objective is that their energies should be channelized in creatively developing their villages. They make roads, ponds, and damns. This creative labour is supplemented by adequate mental stimulation as well.
The 24 villages in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka are successfully running the Sangh’s branches, and have been selected for multifaceted transformations in their villages. Here are some places where the processes of social transformation are catching up.
The financially backward families have been identified in Nitte village of Karakal Taluk. Free education was arranged for them and the textbooks have been made available for free. Providing basic facilities such as medical assistance, organising health camps and distributing grain free of cost to the poor people of the village - These functions are a regular part of their efforts and continue throughout the year. In these villages, a medical vehicle operates 24 x 7, which provides medical assistance at the doorstep. Fruit trees were distributed to 24 poor families , with the help of the Horticulture Department. The Women’s Industry Board has already trained dozens of women for various crafts and sewing activities.
Arrangements have also been made to provide them with the necessary means to do their business so that they can become self-reliant.
Punacha: ideal self-sufficient village
The Punacha village, which was considered to be backward has transformed extraordinarily in the last 15 years due to the well-organized efforts of swayamsevaks from RSS. Earlier, agricultural labourers rarely sent their children to school. Social distinctions and backwardness were rife everywhere. Rarely a sport or cultural program was organized in the village. Now, there are three ‘shishu vihars’ in Punacha and the high school there is now considered to be the most advanced school in the district. There is a cooperative committee in Punakha, which is considered to be an ideal example for all the states. This committee provides financial support to the work of agriculture. There is also a branch of ‘Milk Producers Union’ which has been established recently. Karvesh is a remote village of Karakal taluk. It is built on the Western Ghats. Established in the year 1990, under the auspices of ‘Yuva Jan Vedike’, there is regular labour service in local schools, village temples, and on water source sources of agriculture.
‘Labour Service’ is a regular work-business in the ‘Kamaraj’ village of Suliya Taluk through which the villagers improve roads, widen the school’s playgrounds, restore the post office, and grow coconuts in the school premises. Functions such as planting are done. The coconut trees planted in this way give a good yield, which proves that coconut trees are well cared for.
Quality of life
Vikas Bharti located in Vishnupur in Ranchi district of Jharkhand has a unique story. A group of dedicated youths are guiding it. They have received training in social work from the RSS and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and are now highly qualified engineers and scientists with appropriate educational qualification. The speciality of the project is that it uses scientific and technical knowledge for the overall development of forest dwellers. In some ways, Vikas Bharti is making rapid progress, as refined substances are prepared from available raw materials;
‘Gyan Prabodhini’ is running a project of integrated village development in all the villages of Shivanganga and Gunjawani river basins of Pune district. The academy is also giving primary importance to health. It runs three courses for village-level health workers. It has also set-up health camps from time to time to create awareness about the personal and collective cleanliness in the villagers. Special emphasis is given on eradication of leprosy and tuberculosis. Leprosy sufferers have been reduced. The work being done in villages now has more strength from receiving the support of a 100-bed hospital located in Pune. This hospital is the result of education-experimentation of knowledge-management. In Pune, the pre-students of the talented Bal Vidyalaya have taken up the responsibility of managing this hospital to present the ideal form of ethics and rational medicine.
The ‘Ayurveda Box’ has been provided under a special health project since 1990. In this box, there are some simple Ayurvedic medicines that are beneficial in common illnesses.This box will be with any worker or teacher of the village who wants to do this work with the spirit of service.
After completing his education in Pune, swayamsevak Madhukar Rao Deval returned to his village Mahaisal in Sangli district of Maharashtra to take care of his ancestral property. He was very disheartened to see the poverty of the Harijans. Deval inspired the Dalits in his village to establish Vitthal Agricultural Cooperative Committee. Through the committee, they gave them loans, gave them back their property, taught them ways of saving agricultural production and helped them in building their own homes. 125 Dalit families have already paid all their debts and the average annual income of each family is about Rs 11,000. There has also been a clear change in social life. The distinction between ‘touchable’ and ‘untouchable’ has ended. The Dalits now roam free in the village and they are living in the society with a sense of equality. Swayamsevaks in the district and elsewhere have followed this model.
Forest protection and forestry
Swayamsevaks have started ‘Sewa-Sagar’ project in Sagar tahsil of Shimoga district of Karnataka. This has given rise to many such movements of social transmigration. There are several types of activities going on in dozens of villages of Tehsil, such as Yoga and Sanskrit-Promoting-Centre, Sanskar-Kendra, Health Centre, Vanvasi-Kalyan-Kendra, Maternal Circles, Bal-Gokul etc. have been opened.
Villagers have given immense support to the programmes of forest-shielding and plantation. Until a few decades ago, the tehsil which was famous for very dense forests has now become mostly tree-free. Due to tampering with the environment of these tropical forests, the trees supporting the lives of millions of depending on forest have been broken for centuries due to their daily needs. Wood industries, hydropower projects and mining have had a lot of fierce clashes with them.
In 1983, the participants of an adult education centre led by swayamsevaks carried out resistance campaign in Jiglemamna. Soon it spread to surrounding villages. Initially, this team successfully resisted tree cutting in 90 acres of forest. The result is front.
Its creative side is the ‘plant millions of trees’. Every village under its flag is encouraged for ‘village-forest’. This expansion of the villagers has been rekindled by this. New practices have been introduced to create environment-related consciousness, as these are given in the form of awards as well as on auspicious occasions and those achieving success in various fields. Due to all these efforts, a flood of millions of new trees has come to Tehsil.
The ‘Gram-Gaurav’ programme is actually a unique project. It was conceived in central Bihar and its implementation is being done successfully. So far, the experience in 58 places of 18 districts is really very instructive. In essence, this programme is centred on creating a sense of pride for the remarkable achievements of its village. It has had an amazing effect. This is where the feeling of social harmony is felt all around.
It also gave rise to the desire to improve their villages. The entire program is characterized by its ‘villagers, in relation to the villagers and in the style of operation’ for the villagers. The committee formed for this purpose determines a convenient day and invites the neighbouring villages and the local villagers living outside the village, and the specific or well-respected person of the state level in the area is as the ‘Chief Guest’
After that, the person of the village who has studied the achievements of the village narrates the same. The prominent people of the village in, education, social service, handicraft, politics, trade, sports, pahlavani (wrestling), music, etc. highlights their specific contributions in different fields.
The head of the family is highly respected. All such persons are called on the platform by name and they are honoured by the Chief Guest. The people who have passed, their family members are called on stage and honoured on their behalf. Special attention is given to ensure the active role of girls throughout the programme. The list of enthusiasts is created in the middle of the programme and next year’s Gram-Prashashan Samiti is formed from this. The idea behind this is that they carry forward the message of this program by regularly organized and social and religious events. These events are done for the purpose of cultivating a sense of mutual unity and brotherhood.
Transplantation by Vedic Agriculture Sanjivan Agricultural Research Establishment (Sanjivan Agro Research Foundation) and Agricultural Production Family are mutually associated, but separate efforts in the direction of integrated and all-round development. It is located in ‘Jamban’ in Sagar Taluk of Shimoga district of Karnataka. The organisation wants to make research work for socio-economic reform in rural farms and village dwellings. Its goal is to provide training to young people in such a way that they can provide successful, knowledgeable and constructive leadership for these goals committed. On the other hand, it is an attempt to create a strong organisational structure that is formed by collaborative village level entrepreneurs.
It can be said that the aim of the ‘agricultural experimentation family’ movement is indigenous; Self-help and public initiatives (in conformity with bioecology) promote agriculture, revitalise local health-traditions, and make agriculture youth’s development-oriented and empowering families, by providing them constructive, non-political, impartial and development-oriented leadership.
The research scholar of Sanjivan Agricultural Research Establishment has already started documenting the national agronomic system and techniques as the main basis of the alternative development plan. Similarly, the health research scholar has started documenting local health traditions. The number of programme started so far for the purpose of achieving these goals is above 300. About 25,000 farmers are participating in different periods and other types of programmes. Nearly 2000 farmers have started making biomass again. So far, in as many as 13 districts, scientists and researchers in the field of agriculture have been actively involved in the project. Some of the important contributions made by the project are as follows: compost method, liquid manure, compost wall, worm-cleavage enhancer wall, plant-protective vegetative derivative, go-based farming system, pyramids in agriculture. As a basis of the activities of the workshop, a laboratory has also been developed at Shimoga District Center.
So far, experts and researchers in this field from New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, the US, and Japan have come to see the multi-purpose projects running on 15 acres of land in Jambanna village.
Dr Hedgewar Memorial Service Project has been started under Dr Balasaheb Lele Memorial Committee of Sawantbadi. The objective of this is to eliminate the need to provide a source of income to the youth and to make them self-reliant.
All this started from the establishment of a hostel named ‘Tembe Swami Vidyarthi Vidhit Gharat’ for 50 poor boys in rural areas. The objective was to provide them with such an education that they eventually settle in their respective areas. In its food processing training centre, 8-10 trainees per year learn the method and skill of preparation of mush, squash, juice, marmalade etc with fruits like mangoes, berries, pineapple, jackfruit etc. These are preserved and sold in the market. Of the 40 persons who were trained till 1991-95, 10 have opened their own small units. Similarly, 40 women have received training in making chocolate from mango, cashew, jackfruit, milk etc.
In place of two tonnes of paddy per hectare, a pilot project for a better crop of 6-tonne paddy and training of raw materials is underway, machinery and marketing system and the removal of technical problems shows just how much this institution has accomplished.
Under this kind of project for the forested youth, groups of 4-7 families were encouraged to be organized in each district of Raigad, Nashik and Dhule in the form of a village group in each district. Based on their co-operation, appropriate guidance and assistance were provided to grow and sell leaf goblet, eggplant, tomatoes and chillies etc. They were also provided portable pumps with seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.
In their first attempt, a yield of 5 times on the land earns Rs. 5000 per family. These families also did not delay the re-payment of seeds etc. The amount of cash which was generated by increasing the quantity in excess of its domestic consumption was done to meet the daily needs of cloth, utensils etc. As the modern practices grew, they were taught to cultivate mangoes, cashews, coconut, lemon, cocoa etc and neem, eucalyptus, bamboo etc., on their land.
Under the Integrated Rice Agrochemical Programme (Integrated Rice Agro Technics), new species are grown for protection of paddy from diseases and pests, and row plantation is done for green manure. With this, the farmers have been able to grow four tonnes per hectare of paddy. All the paddy-growing districts of the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Dadra Nagar Haveli are covered under the aforesaid villages and WCAs. The number of farmers participating in the programme was only 20 in 1993, it increase to 400 in 1997. Using a fund from the famine-prone area programme of Maharashtra in 1995, a new concept of development of hydro-gradient has been started. Due to the increase in availability of water, forest land has started growing crops like cash crops, oilseeds, fodder etc. This has increased their income from Rs 2000 to Rs 20,000 / per year.
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