Thursday, September 18, 2008

Unique Sangh experiment in rural Development

Unique Sangh experiment in rural Development By Pramod Kumar in Mohad

With 98 per cent rate of literacy, majority of the villagers speak Samskrit.

* There are 53 kinds of small and cottage industries in the village of 450 families with a population of 2500.
* Every inch of the agriculture land is irrigated.
* Majority of the farmers have said firm no to the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides and adopted organic farming.
* No family uses wood for preparing food; almost every house has a bio-gas plant.
* Awareness about protecting the environment is so wide-spread that every girl of the village ties rakhi to trees on Rakshabandhan day and resolves to protect them.
* Every house has a tulsi plant and flower garden in the premises.
* Every building has a sign of Om/Swastik and other ethical messages on the walls.
* Every house has a toilet.
* The village is free from theft, violence and all kinds of addictions including paan, biri, cigarette, gutkha, liquor, etc.
* No dispute of the village is pending in any court or police station.
* Every family has Sangh swayamsevaks.

Having gone through these highlights, you must be wondering whether it is a fairy tale. But don’t be mistaken. It is absolute truth and the village is Mohad, where people are well aware of their duties and rights. This is manifest in the escalating literacy rate, concisousness about protecting the environment and all-pervasive religious atmosphere in the village.

Mohad falls under Narsinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh. About 20 years ago this village was also like any other village of the country. But now it has gone through a sea change. Credit to bring about this incredible change goes to Sangh swayamsevaks of this village.

The man behind this revolution is 75-year-old Shri Surendra Singh Chauhan, who, however, does not claim the credit personally and transfers it to his fellow villagers. “I am just a catalyst; the entire development work has been done by our villagers,” said Shri Chauhan who is affectionately called Bhaiyaji. He made it clear that he does not wish to make the village a town. “The village will remain a village but the technology available in towns will be brought to the village also,” he added.

Mohad is about 100 km from Jabalpur and falls under Kareli tehsil. It is just 5 km from Kareli town. After reaching the village border, one can realise the uniqueness of the village. As one enters the village, a Hanuman temple is standing tall to bless everyone. When I entered the village in the morning of September 1, the thing that impressed me the most was greetings of Jai Shri Ram and Namo Namah even by the kids of three-four years to me, who did not know me at all. On every step the village and the villagers inspire the outsiders. Their every activity carries a message.

Gaon ki pratibha gaon mein, gaon ka paisa gaon mein and gaon ka paani gaon mein (talent, water and money of the village should remain in the village) is the formula on which the village has been developed by swayamsevaks. The village has highly qualified people including Ph.Ds, LL.Bs, engineers, etc. Shri Bhaiyaji is himself MA in English literature. His son Shri Sangram Singh is MA Economics and the second son Shri Vikram Singh is BA LL.B. And all are doing farming in the village. The village has two Ph.Ds, dozens of post-graduates, over 20 graduates, 30 teachers, two journalists, four engineers, three doctors, one Superintendent of Police, two retired and three serving army officers.

Shri Beni Prasad is MA LL.B and is doing farming. He has done a wonderful work in organic farming. He stopped using chemical fertilizers and pesticides and turned most of his farming to organic. There are 38 tractors in the village and at least two farming symposia are held every year in which agriculture scientists are invited to guide the farmers. The government officers of different departments are called in the village to discuss the problems of farmers on regular basis.

Besides other animals the village has over 3000 cows and 154 bio-gas plants. The pressure of bio-gas is more than the LPG. It is also less sensitive than the LPG. “Bio-gas plant has changed our life beyond our imagination. Now there is no tension of purchasing LPG cylinder or cutting the woods from the forests. It is also very cheap. It solved all our energy and power problems,” said seventh pass Smt. Pratibha Chauhan in Samskrit. She pointed out that the cow dung produces more bio-gas than any other animals’ dung in the plant. The villagers have adopted Deenbandhu model of bio-gas plant, which requires less space and less cost. All plants are built underground and the space over them is used mostly for animals. According to Shri Bhaiyaji one plant of 2, 3, 4 and 6 cubic metres costs around Rs 10,000, 12,000, 14,000 and Rs 16,000 respectively. This model has proved very successful. That is why following requests from other villages the artisans of this village go to different states to build similar plants. Now the work is on in the village over the experiments of running diesel engines with bio-gas and storing it in cylinders too. Bio-gas plants have proved to be a milestone in protecting the environment and forests. Tying rakhi on trees by girls has also been taken up as a step to protect them.

Till 15 years back, the people from dalit communities and Vanvasis were not allowed to have even drinking water from the public handpumps and wells. But now the picture has changed. All people belonging to any community can have water from any handpump or well freely. The village Panchayat has ensured at least one handpump at every 100-meter distance. The social harmony has improved to the extent that all villagers jointly perform bhajan-keertan in temples and have meals together. Those people who were earlier deprived of performing aarti during the Durga Pooja and Ganesh festivals now happily do it along with other villagers. Kanyapujan is also held in the village to bridge the gap between the upper and lower classes during Navratras.

Adarsh Hindu Ghar competition is held in the village every year. A few years back, this award was won by a Jatav family of Shri Devkaran Jatav. RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri K.S. Sudarshan and the late BJP leader Saheb Singh Verma jointly visited the village to present the award to this family on 11-4-2000. Writing Om or the sign of Swastik outside every house and having a tulsi plant in the premises is part of the 21-point programme under this competition, which is followed by all.

The village has four schools including one Saraswati Shishu Mandir. Every child of the village goes to school and those who are below three years of age go to balwadis. All the schools begin with Saraswati Vandana and Vande Mataram. Interesting part of it is that even the Muslim students sing Saraswati Vandana and Vande Mataram without hesitation. They also sing Samskrit shlokas along with other students. Every house has the Ramayana and the Gita and the family members read them regularly. But the family members of one Jumman reads the Quran.

Special attention is paid to improve handwriting of the students. Apart from personal efforts on the part of Shri Bhaiyaji who still writes very beautifully, Shri Nana Labhe, a handwriting expert, is invited from Nagpur to teach the techniques of improving handwriting. So far, he has visited the village nine times since 1996.

Mohad has set a noteworthy example on Samskrit propagation. The first Samskrit Sambhashan Varga was held on January 15, 1996 and so far six such Vargas have been organised by the Samskrit Bharati. More than 800 persons including children have learnt Samskrit in these Vargas. There are more than 100 minor children, who can introduce themselves fully in Samskrit. A woman, Smt. Pramila Devi, even topped the All India Kovid Exam of Samskrit, conducted by Samskrit Bharati in 2004, with 84 per cent marks.

Under Udyan Utsava school children are taken to village nursery twice a year and are taught about grafting. According to Shri Bhagvendra Patel, suprintendent of the nursery, the nursery has more than two lakh saplings of rare species. Special experiments of grafting are undertaken here. It has a variety of mango trees, which produces four kinds of mangos—dashahari, chausa, langada and Amrapali at a time.

A few years back the village had six patients of leprosy and 13 of infectious diseases. But now all have been fully cured. The initiative was taken by the swayamsevaks. Though, there is no health centre in the village, there are two arogya rakshaks who cater to the primary health needs. Two camps of Patanjali Yoga training have also been organised in the village to teach proper yoga techniques.

The Sangh work in the village began in 1947 and was on even during the Emergency. Today, every house of the village has at least one swayamsevak. Three swayamsevaks are third year trained and seven have done first year OTC and over 20 have done Prathamik Varga. Today, there is one evening shakha, which has over 30 swayamsevaks including four Muslim swayamsevaks—Habib Khan, Rashid Khan, Jumman and Rais Khan. “Basically the shakha develops the genuine workers who are required for such development. The qualities and facilities that we wish to have for our own family should be available to all villagers, and this is our basic thinking,” added Shri Bhaiyaji.

Before leaving the village on September 2, Bhaiyaji introduced me to Major (retd.) Prabhat Singh Chauhan who has settled in the village after taking VRS. He did wonderful work on vermiculture. “Vermi is basically bhoomiputra and is the best friend of farmers. It is called intestine of the soil. But the chemical fertilizers and pesticides have killed it. It could become a major profession in the villages if taken up properly and seriously,” he said. He has promoted the use of rainwater in batteries instead of distilled water in the village. “This is the benefit of bringing the talent back to the village,” Shri Bhaiyaji explained.

Every person of the village appears energetic and enthusiastic. Nobody throws garbage in streets and every family cleanses the street outside their houses. Bhaiyaji is highly regarded in the village and he visits all the houses and is treated as if he is part of them. The swayamsevaks of Mohad also inspired the people of Baghuwar, an adjoining village, which is also being developed on the lines of Mohad. It has also shown good results. Seeing the inspiring and highly informative quotations on the walls of every house and building in the village the local Collector Shri Manish Singh had commented that the students preparing for UPSC exams must visit this village at least once. And after that two batches of such students have visited the village.

At the time when villagers are migrating to cities, Mohad sets an example as to how to develop villages and how the facilities available in urban areas can be made available in villages.

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