National workshop of Ganga Sewa Sanstha
October 2, 2013 was a red letter day in the life of Shri Hari Ram Gupta, a leading businessman of Delhi. He returned to his ancestral village, Bilochpura under Jhajhar district of Haryana, after almost 60 years—to repay the debt he owed to his village. Motivated by the concept of ‘My Village My Pilgrimage Centre’ he started a cutting-tailoring centre in his village for making women self-reliant. Three generations of Gupta’s visited the village together and many could see their ancestral village first time in four decades. The credit for generating the spirit of returning to village and contributing to its development goes to Ganga Sewa Sanstha of Delhi, which is dedicated to engaging urban people with rural background to contribute in the development of their respective villages.
The impact of this initiative was seen in Delhi on October 6 during the first national workshop of the Sanstha. About 150 people engaged in this initiative, both promoters and the beneficiaries, attended the workshop. Not only the people with high economic status, but also the ordinary middle-class people are joining this initiative. Smt Usha Saini of Delhi joined the movement in July this year by starting a similar project in her parental villages, Patni, under Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. It is a unique step taken by Smt Saini. After wedding, the girls normally have just a formal attachment with their paternal village, but Smt Saini broke the tradition and started a cutting-tailoring centre in her parental village in order to help her village women become self-reliant. One more interesting part of her initiative is that a physically challenged youth of the village is looking after the entire project.
Equally, Shri Adwait Gadnaik, internationally known sculpturist has started a similar project in his ancestral village Neulapoi, near Bhubaneswar, in Odisha. The list has many other big names like Shri Anil Gupta who is a leading Chartered Accountant in Delhi and started a project in Sujanpur Tehra village under Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh.
The concept of ‘My Village My Pilgrimage Centre’ was basically conceived and implemented by Delhi based Shri Shravan Goel (the first Trendsetter carried by Organiser in issue dated April 28, 2013) under the banner of Ganga Sewa Sanstha is gaining ground. He first started a project in his village Jalmana under Karnal district of Haryana and then encouraged others to adopt it. Now, Ganga Sewa Sanstha has 13 projects in six states—Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh and five more projects are to be started soon.
The theme of the workshop ‘We Make You Learn, We Make You Earn’ was practically seen being materialised when many success stories were narrated by the participants. Impressed with the theme of ‘My Village, My Pilgrimage Centre’ the key speaker at the workshop Shri Satiram, famous as Boby Tikki Wala and also a leading motivator, announced to start a similar project in his village near Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. Similarly, Shri Gurumurthy, who had come all the way from Chennai for the workshop, announced to start the project soon in his ancestral village in Tamil Nadu.
So far, the Ganga Sewa Sanstha has helped over 4700 village women and youth to become self-reliant. Many of them are earning handsome amount every month. Several girls from economically deprived families not only helped their families financially but also earned sufficient amount to meet the expenses of their weddings. The computer training centres being run in Delhi, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are attracting both the children and older people. “We are just a catalyst, the work is being done by the villagers only. We hope to create a chain of such projects across the country in the days to come,” said Shri Rajendra Prasad Garg, president of Ganga Sewa Sanstha.