In rural Maharashtra, away from all the recent madness, is a village. Like any of the other gadzillion villages that dot India's countryside? No. Unlike anything that dots rural India! This village is a shining example of development through local partnership, something that India is advised to emulate but hasn't unfrotunately been able to do yet. The village is called Ralegan Siddhi.
I quote from Wikipedia on Ralegan Siddhi:
The World Bank Group has concluded that the village of Ralegan Siddi 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 Siddi 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
It is considered a model of environmental
conservation. Since 1975, led by Anna Hazare, the village has carried out
programs like treeplanting, terracing to reduce soil erosion and digging canals
to retain rainwater. For energy, the village uses solar power, biogas (some
generated from the communal toilet) and a windmill. The village's biggest
accomplishment is in non-conventional energy. For example, all the village
streets are lit by solar lights. Each light has a separate solar panel.
How did this happen? How did a debt, famine, disease & alcohol ridden village of 1500 people in 1973 start figuring on the prosperity & model village map of the world?
It happened primarily because of one man. Not that the villagers didn't contribute, but they had an able leader to show them the way. They are the first to acknowledge Anna Hazare's leadership. Read here about the unending list of achievements that he has helped them bring about.
His link tempers my rant to some degree, but I still want to tell the masses who use the word "Development" without understanding it's full meaning, use it even as an excuse for ignoring genocide!
This is real development! This isn't conspicuous industrial, urban development. It impacts the livelihood, life quality & even habits of what is said to be India's heart... it's villages! Better per capita income, reduced disease, no debt, no alcoholism. THAT'S ALL ROUND DEVELOPMENT! And this is what we should be celebrating! Ralegan Siddhi & Anna Hazare!! Continued development for 33 years!!! Read more here & here.
And I'd like to end with a few questions. One for all of us to ponder over: If our leaders were so gung-ho about development, wouldn't they have made Hazare a national hero by now? Wouldn't they have organised the state machinery (or their many branches, take your pick) to replicate his model by now?
And the others for our mainstream media: Why are you sitting content on your ample backsides, allowing people like thebetterindia & us to do your job for you? You seem to talk about development, about socialism, about new-age thought... why don't you focus on more stories like this? Why don't you influence public & Govt. opinion in this direction? If you won't, do we really need you?