The development of our villages is of critical importance for the development of the country. The greatest problem with developmental works since Independence was that they were discussed and formulated at national level without people'sparticipation. This ignored core local issues and the requirements of the particular area. It also ignored awakening a sense of ownership and initiative among the people involved. As a result, these schemes were unable to achieve their objectives. To give India a new direction is the need of the hour. People'sinitiative and local issues are the key components for any successful rural development programme. Complimentarity and a social consciousness in society form the basis of a nation'ssoul (Chiti). Without looking at the needs of a society in totality, no development programme can succeed.
Keeping this into mind, Deendayal Research Institute (DRI), set up in 1968, is currently working to validate the philosophy of ?Integral Humanism? under the inspirational guidance of Shri Nanaji Deshmukh. Models for rural development such as providing services for health, hygiene, basic education, training for self-employment, etc., have been developed to achieve overall socio-economic development and reconstruction of the Indian society. The development programmes have been carried out at various centers viz. Gonda, Chitrakoot (U.P. & M.P.), Nagpur, Beed (Maharashtra).
DRI'sChitrakoot Project is an integrated and holistic model for the development of rural India, based on the principles outlined in Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya'sIntegral Humanism to create a society based on the complimentarity of the family, school and the local population. The Chitrakoot Project is a self-reliance campaign that was launched on January 26, 2002 and will cover 500 villages around Chitrakoot in two phases. The 80 villages taken up in the 1st phase were declared self-reliant on August 15, 2005, and the remaining villages will achieve self-reliance by August 15, 2010. The then President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam visited Chitrakoot and got first hand experience of success of this campaign. He appreciated this model of Deendayal Research Institute at various Forums after that.
The self-reliance campaign covers all aspects of individual, family and societal life of the villagers. The key to the campaign is the concept of Samaj Shilpi Dampati (SSD), ?graduate? couples that live within the villages itself, and are responsible for motivating and guiding a cluster of five villages. The Samaj Shilpies being a couple, are able to reach both, men and women, in their allotted areas. As this activity is based on study and research, it is essential that husband and wife are both educated, preferably graduates. It is essential that the couple have the urge to serve the rural masses without which the arduous task of living with villagers and serving them affectionately is not possible. Fortunately, Deendayal Research Institute is able to get such dedicated couples from every section of the society across the country.
Foremost among the aspects covered is income generation. This is achieved by introducing watershed and soil management techniques where necessary; new and improved farming technologies through 2.5 and 1.5 acre model farms that enable small and marginal farmers?who account for 80 per cent of the rural population?to look after the family needs and some savings; and to increase non-farm sector incomes through entrepreneur training and to form income-generating Self Help Groups (SHGs) that both stand alone, and vertically integrated.
Issues of health and hygiene are the second most important aspect of the campaign, as an unhealthy individual is incapable of working to improve his/her economic condition. The allopathic intervention, when the ratio of doctors to population is in excess of 1:10,000 and the cost of medicine is high, becomes impractical. Therefore, in the issues related to health, the Chitrakoot Project looks to Ayurveda and Naturopathy to keep villagers healthy. Locally available herbs and nutritional vegetable gardens are the key interventions used in this area, including a Dadima ka Batua, a collection of 34 Ayurvedic local herbs. Where Ayurveda is not applicable, as for example in dentistry, state-of-the-art facilities have been provided at Arogyadham. Illiteracy and social consciousness is another area covered by the campaign. A ?functional literacy campaign? developed by TCS is being conducted for the villagers by the Samaj Shilpi Dampati, through the Educational Research Centre and the four schools that operate under the project. Ram Darshan, a unique museum that highlights socially relevant aspects of Lord Rama'slife, helps villagers inculcate human values to encourage them to live in a spirit of co-operation and harmony with each other.
Deendayal Research Institute is confident that its self-reliance model, based on the universal principles of Integral Humanism, that is both replicable and sustainable, can be a model for the future of India as also for global developmental problems. Institute'sconfidence in the success of this model is reflected by the ISO 9001:2000 Certification Provided to this model by DNV of Norway for its replicability and sustainability.
(The author is General Manager in Deendayal Research Institute, New Delhi and can be contacted at [email protected], Swami Ramteerth Nagar, Jhandewal Ext., New Delhi-110 055.)