RSS swayamsevaks have developed 136 model villages across the country. They have also resolved to develop at least one similar village in every district of the country. This rural development work of the Sangh is going on under the direction of Shri Surendra Singh Chauhan, who has himself done wonderful work in his own village Mohad. Born on August 7, 1933 in Mohad village Shri Chauhan did MA in English literature from BHU and also worked with Nanaji Deshmukh in Chitrakoot. Pramod Kumar spoke to him in Mohad on various issues related to rural development. Excerpts:
From where did you get the inspiration of rural development?
As Prant Sewa Pramukh of Mahakaushal I attended a seven-day meeting of Sewa Pramukhs at Ralegan Sindi, the village of Shri Anna Hazare. He developed his village in a wonderful way. In that meeting I thought if Anna Hazare could do this, why can'tI? In 1994, I was called by Nanaji Deshmukh in Chitrakoot where he appointed me as a university adviser. That was an honourary post of pro-vice chancellor. I worked there for three-and-half years. In fact, I learnt the concept of rural development from Nanaji. He is my sole inspiration. Whatever he taught me and whatever I learnt from him I applied in my village.
What is the RSS concept of rural development?
Rural development is a new word. Actually speaking, village has been a self-sufficient unit of administration in our country. Village was a family where inter-complimentarity was seen. Every house was a place for Hindu culture, teachings and good samskars. Everybody was aware of protecting ecology?living with nature everybody was healthy. That is why we say Vishwam grame pratishthitam. Our ancient villages were all comprehensive. We wish to reconstruct that old life in present atmosphere. Nanaji calls it yuganukul gramin punarrachana. Whatever inventions science has made for the happiness of humankind should be made available in villages but keeping in mind that all the activities of village development should have their moorings rooted in Hindu culture. Agriculture, health, education, self-sufficiency, protection of social life and samarasata (equality and fraternity) are the principles on which our groundwork is dependent.
Other people, including the government, are also doing rural development work. How is our concept different from them?
The emphasis of government is only on materialistic development. It can give good roads, light arrangements, water, educational institutions, but our concept is quite different from this. Development alone cannot make a man happy. The metaphysical life and social harmony are equally important as the physical development. The internal and external life of the village should also be taken care while developing it.
Do you support taking help from the government?
Yes, there is no harm in it. But village development cannot be done only by money, unless the mentality of the people is for development. They must feel that it is our own village and we have to develop it. Only then can we have concrete rural development. If we need health centre, road, school, etc. the village alone cannot provide full monetory help for the work, government help is needed for it. Besides the government help, we must also have our own resources.
How did you start the work in Mohad?
Basically three things are necessary for rural development. First is temple. It is the centre of spiritual chetana and plays a key role in instilling good samskars into villagers. Second is educational institution. When a child goes to school and gets proper samskars there, then those samskars are inculcated into their families also. Third is the Sangh shakha. If the shakha is influential then the dedicated workers, who have love for their villages, are developed. This love basically makes them to work honestly and constantly. An ordinary person cannot work for more than one or two years. He gets disappointed with growing problems. Only the person, who remains committed to attain the objective, can get success. I started the work on these three foundations.
What difficulties did you face in the beginning?
Frankly speaking, I did not face any major difficulty because we got the shakha workers in the village right from 1947. Every house has at least one swayamsevak in our village. They do not tend to put any hindrance in the developmental work. Naturally there are forces in all the villages that enjoy in creating troubles in good works. But we keep such people in front while doing the work and also give them full credit of the work. It makes them satisfied. That is why there was no election in our village Panchayat for 40 years. The major difficulty we faced was finance. There were also problems in taking money from the Block. But we never paid even a single penny as bribe to anybody for getting the funds. Utilisation of money has been hundred per cent. Everybody believes in the character of the sarpanch. Pramanikata has been the foundation of developmental activities in our village. Every obstacle was taken as a challenge. I am not a leader. But I made other persons leader. The most important thing is love for the people. If you have genuine love for the people, then people also love you.
How many villages have been developed as ideal village by swayamsevaks all over the country?
First I tell you that swayamsevaks are only a catalyst. We never say that swayamsevaks have developed this village. Swayamsevaks are part of the village. They are villagers first, then they are swayamsevaks. They inspire people to get the work done. We need four things to get the work done in a village. First, there should be one or two persons in the village who have clear conception of rural development work. Second, they must have a team of workers and the team should have faith in the persons who are guiding them. Third, programmes to be done within five years according to priority. Let the villagers assemble together and take the decision. This is the secret of our working. Transparency of character is must.
We have divided villages in three categories. One is Kiran Gram, where the people have started thinking about rural development. The number of such villages are more than 4000. Second is Uday Gram, where the developmental works like coaching centres, cutting-tailoring centres, library, etc. have begun. The number of such villages are 661. Third is Prabhat Gram, where the picture of the villages have totally changed and positive change is visible everywhere. The number of such villages is 136 villages. Mohad is also one of the Prabhat Grams. We know that the work is done by swayamsevaks but we never claim that we have done it.
Any major planning for the future?
Yes, we have decided to develop at least one model village in every district of the country. We have also planned to promote cow-based activities.