Around 60% of the rural population in India lives in primitive conditions. Most of them have no access to electricity, necessary education and health services. Modern technology has not touched these people even after 60 years of independence. Rural poverty causes large scale migration to cities which further lead to serious urban problems. This is the picture of present scenario but the picture has another side too. Yes, the answer is Ralegan Siddhi.
“The World Bank Group has concluded that the village of Ralegan Siddhi was transformed from a highly degraded village ecosystem in a semi-arid region of extreme poverty to one of the richest in the country. The Ralegan Siddhi example, now 25 years old, by demonstrating that it is possible to rebuild natural capital in partnership with the local economy, is a model for the rest of the country”
The man behind the change
Anna Hazare, by heart a Gandhian has changed the extremely degraded village of population around 2500 into liveable paradise for the poor villagers. Previously this village was extremely degraded and unsustainable. It was characterized by poor farming practices which led to low productivity of land. People had few jobs and were engaged into illegal distilling of alcohol. There were large scale migrations, ill health and alcohol driven violence especially against women.
Today you can see the improved view of Ralegan Siddhi. Increased agricultural productivity shows the importance of sustainable agriculture. Thanks to the scientific farming practices suggested by Anna to revolutionize the previous situation. Hunger drives anything in a man’s mind and Anna fulfilled it first. Now the village is self sufficient in food grains and other necessary agricultural produce. Now people can easily spend their time after daily routine in community services. There is a sense of community and sharing among all the people. Ralegan has shows the world how the whole system can stand on its own legs from scrap. It not only demonstrates what village people can do when they take control of their own development but also shows their concern to the environment by evolving sustainable practices.
Anna’s biggest support to the People’s participation
Governments have a lot of schemes in village development through improved agricultural practices, watershed development, use of renewable energy etc. But all these novel things remains on paper only as the cost involved, required manpower and true intention of local representative along with government officials lacks in the implementation. Anna considered all these factors and turned them into positive side by community involvement in all government or self supported developmental projects. He recognized the importance of rainwater harvesting, watershed development and renewable energy. (Read more about water scarcity and India)
The people of Ralegan Siddhi took their turn and maximized their involvement in community projects by investing thousands of hours in developmental activity. Common interest triggered human muscle power into prosperity of the village and now it has become a best example of watershed management in the country.
Anna always says, “The dream of India as a strong nation will not be realized without self-reliant, self-sufficient villages, this can be achieved only though social commitment & involvement of the common man.”
We at GreenCleanGuide have decided to make Anna’s model a source of inspiration to us and guide us in our futures endeavours at spreading environmental awareness and promote sustainable practices. Would you like to join us?
Shailesh is post graduate in Environment Management from Forest Research Institute (FRI) University, Dehradun, India. Presently he is working in the areas of Environmental and Renewable Energy Advisory Services. He has started GreenCleanGuide.com during his college days.