Almost seventy years ago, when India became a nation, the leaders of our country were completely convinced that the only way forward for our agrarian economy is through the growth of our agriculture and our villagers. The Gandhian belief that “If the villages perish, India will perish too” was entrenched in the principles of our nation and ahead we surged hoping to provide a better life to the millions of Indians living in numerous villages all over the country.
Sadly, the condition of our villages today defies this notion of our founding fathers as the rural India rots away due to lack of development and opportunity, while humongous industries scrawl up all over the urban India.
The picture may look too discouraging but all hope has not been lost. As one moves about 56 km north of the urban city of Pune, we enter one of Maharashtra’s villages, Kanhewadi. Lush green fields, cemented roads, schools and happy faces fill this small village.
Apart from agriculture, the ordinance factory, box factory, and Cadbury factory provide employment to the villagers in the area. Majority of women work along with the men in the fields. When asked how is life in their village, with a smile on her face, Sunanda replies, “It is very good. We are all happy. We have everything we need”.
Sunanda like many others has been living in the village all her life. With her husband working in the box factory and her son working in the nearby village, she feels at peace with her life.
The basic necessities of water and electricity are available in each household, with a separate drinking water machine installed in the village. At a rate of 5 rupees per 20 litres, this machine provides the villagers with their daily quota of clean drinking water. This has helped improve the life quality of the people immensely. Additionally, the government supplied water for other purposes is made available every day to the villagers; the only issue being no fixed timing for each household as the supply happens daily between 6 am to 2 pm.
Daily power cuts do trouble the people a bit, but they are still content with regular power supply available to each household in the village. The villagers very proudly explain the open-defecation free status of their village as each house has individual toilets.
Every child attends the primary school in the village till class 5, post which they have to go to a school in the nearby Induri village for higher studies. The local panchayat provides the children with bicycles for free to travel to the school so that education is affordable for each and every kid in the village. The primary school has E-learning facilities with the children learning computers very eagerly.
Apart from this, as a part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project, Volkswagen runs a mobile health clinic van which covers many villages along with Kanhewadi on a daily basis, providing basic health care and medicines in these areas.
Many more companies like Reliance, Cadbury, etc. have adopted such villages as a part of their CSR projects and are helping realize the vision of an equally developed India.
The major role of this change has been played by the Gram Panchayat, specifically Mrs. Shanta Yevale, the Sarpanch of Kanhewadi who has been actively working to make Kanhewadi an “AADARSH” village.
While there is a lack of emergency services in the village, Vishnu Prasad, a retired government employee recalls the days when there was only a mud road running throughout the village and one had to cross the river and walk to reach the nearest railway station to reach further into the city of Pune for higher education and work opportunities. Today, Vishnu’s elder son is a professor in the University of Mumbai.
Certainly, the journey doesn’t end here, but it is definitely a start worth looking forward to. The tale of developing India is just beginning, after all as the Prime Minister says, “Acche din aane wale hai”.