A unique example to be emulated by village people living in urban areas for their village development. What is needed is just a shift in mindset—instead of spending money on aimless tourism, treat your village as your pilgrimage centre and engage yourself in developmental activities there. Then see the miraculous results.
THE poor condition of our villages is known to all. The urban-centric policies have pushed them into the pathetic condition where nobody wants to live. But the pertinent question is can we survive without villages? Will blaming the government for all the ills resolve the problems, especially when the governments have turned a deaf ear?
About ten years back keeping in mind these questions Shri Shravan Goel, a businessman of Delhi, took an initiative for village development. He turned to his ancestral village (Jalmana under Karnal district of Haryana from where his parents had migrated decades back) and started some developmental activities. His minor initiative has now changed the picture of the village. Once a backward village of Haryana, Jalmana is now a developed village in many respects. Shri Goel did not stop here only. He then turned to his mother’s village Mandavi in Sangrur district of Punjab and started similar developmental activities there also. He then spoke to some of his close friends who basically belong to villages and now settled in Delhi. As a result, a similar work has begun in Himachal Pradesh and Odisha and soon is going to begin in Uttar Pradesh.
Shri Goel is undertaking all the activities through the Ganga Sewa Sanstha, which he formed after his grandfather’s name. “Organisation is just a medium of expanding the work. I want this work should become a people’s initiative and there should be no need of any organisation,” he added.
He says it is beyond his capacity to stop migration from rural areas to urban cities. But he can definitely motivate the village people to contribute in development of their respective villages. “The good thing is that majority of the people who have migrated from villages have still maintained links with their villages. They take their children to their respective villages so that they remain connected with the cultural and traditional roots of their ancestors. I feel if these people are motivated to pay some attention to their villages, there could be a revolutionary change in the villages. This is a fact that development cannot be ensured in villages only through government agencies. The villagers settled in cities can do a miracle in this regard. After all they have a responsibility to the place, which has been connected with their ancestors since generations. Before preaching it, I have shown results in my own village,” he said talking to Organiser.
When asked what inspired him for it, he said, “At a meeting organised in RSS Delhi office in 1994 the then Kshetra Sanghachalak Shri Jitendravir Gupt said getting salvation is the ultimate objective of every Hindu and everybody does something for it. Some perform puja, some visit pilgrimage places, meet saints, while some give donations. Since, Shri Gupt said, we all are swayamsevaks our thinking should be according to the Sangh ideals. If we want to get salvation, it should be through the service of needy. He also said majority of the people start doing sewa at the age when they need sewa from other people. If we have to serve others after 60 years of age, preparations for it should begin before the 50. In that meeting Shri Gupt specifically focused on five points. One, determine the age in advance when one wishes to involve in service activities. Two, mentally prepare the spouse also so that after the determined age both can serve together. Third, do regular exercise to stay physically fit till the age when one has to start service activities. Four, study good quality literature so that one should be mentally prepared. Five, save money for future needs so that we do not become a liability on the society or the organisation.”
Those words of Shri Gupt changed the objective of Shri Shravan Goel’s life. He determined the priorities of his life accordingly. “Though, I have been active in service activities in Delhi since 1994, I started the work in my village in 1999. In the beginning, I started a cutting tailoring centre for women at my ancestral house. The centre was inaugurated by the then Kshetra Karyavah Shri Ramesh Prakash. Then I thought of starting a school. I donated two acres of land for it. The foundation stone of the school was laid by Shri Jitendravir Gupt himself. After the foundation stone ceremony, he asked me why I started the school in the village. I innocently said “it is my own village”. He then said “your effort will definitely prove fruitful”. I did not understand the meaning of those words then, but later realised that Shri Jitendravirji basically blessed me. The work definitely gets success when one is emotionally associated with it. After that we started many projects in the village. It has definitely helped many families of the village to march ahead,” Shri Goel said.
The initiative has been named as “My Village, My Pilgrimage Centre”. He says this word was basically used by Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Swami Avadheshananda Giri during the birth centenary year of Shri Guruji in 2006. He says there is a need to take-up this work on large scale. A similar initiative by one person in each village can change the picture of the entire country.
“I have seen many urban people spending huge amount of money on picnic or aimless tourism. What is needed is that some part of this money should be diverted to village development activities. We came to cities to earn money. But after earning money how can we forget our own villages. What we need is to recognise our village as our pilgrimage centre and engage ourselves in the developmental activities there. It is like lighting a candle in a dark room. We need to light just one candle—start contributing in the development of your own village. This is need of the hour. It not only helps the villagers, but will also be a contribution in nation building,” Shri Goel says.
This initiative of Shri Shravan Goel can be an eye-opener for millions of village people living in urban areas. If they start contributing in village development, this can do a miracle.