Smart Cities and self-sufficient villages may apparently look contradictory to each other. We need to realise that to make our cities smarter, the unabated migration from rural parts has to stop. Restoring the self-sufficiency, simplicity and solidarity at the village level is essential for the purpose. At the same time people who are already settled in urban centres need to contribute to their native places so that they develop their own resources. The Gram Sangam and Mera Gaon-Mera Teerth are two sides of the same coin through which smart cities and village sufficiency can go hand in hand.
First of its kind: Three-day Gram Sangam for Comprehensive Village Development in Bengaluru
A unique and first of its kind Gram Sangam was held at the premises of Prashanti Kuteeram in the outskirts of Bengaluru from June 12 to 14. At the three-day conclave, which aimed at comprehensive village development, the participants pledged to make their villages self-reliant, giving priority to youth and women empowerment, and also to eradicate social ailments like alcoholism, untouchability, etc. They also took pledged to dedicate themselves for the upliftment of their respective villages. The Sangam was organised by the Gram Vikas Vibhag of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Karnataka Dakshin Prant.
RSS Akhil Bharatiya Vyavastha Pramukh Shri Mangesh Bhende inaugurated the conclave on June 12. In his inaugural speech he said: “Bharat had a very good system of democracy since ancient times. We had judiciary system in the villages. We had women judges at the village courts. Impartial justice was delivered. Rural system was intertwined with mutual confidence and trust within the villagers, hence was known for peace and harmony.” He further said, “We are not today measuring the society by economic strength. However, literature quotes that we had very rich kingdoms in the ancient times. King Mahapadmanand had huge wealth during his time. Each individual was contributing so greatly for the wealth of the society.”
|Special Features of the Sangam
He said there are also examples of individuals who have contributed hugely to the upliftment of their villages. Anna Hazare has set a good example through his contributions to the overall development of Ralegan Siddi in Maharashtra. The development of the village that we say is not just economy oriented. There are socio-economic problems in the society. We need to focus on eradicating such problems too. To bring such a social transformation, each village should focus on Samajik Shiksha (social literacy), Samajik Samskar (behaviour with others), Samajik Samarasata (social harmony) and Samajik Suraksha (social security). Hence we have to try our best individually or as a team for comprehensive betterment of the village, Shri Mangesh Bhende added.
“Unfortunately, villages are getting deserted, becoming old age homes. Migration of youth from the villages is a serious problem. All these happened due to wrong path we took for rural empowerment since Independence. The then Prime Minister Pt Nehru’s theories and principles on development were coated with western mindset. To remain Bharat as Bharat each individual should contribute for the society. Each villager should be proud and should have respect for his village. If there is a problem in the village, all should try correct there itself,” said Shri Bhende.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, noted social worker and founder of the Vivekananda Youth Movement, Dr Balasubramanian said, “Since Independence most of the governments spent huge amount of money for rural development. But comprehensive rural development has not happened. It is due to the wrong policies and incorrect approach for rural development. Bharat should remain Bharat. No need to equate or to become Singapore, as few of our politicians say. We need to introspect our rural development priorities,” he added.
“One of my American students once said this is the time for America to copy India and Indian models. India economically led the world for 16 centuries since AD. India gave importance not just for economy. Our priority was human resource and human capital,” he said adding that need of the hour is to make each individual socially aware. “Focus on Human Capital and Social Capital is essential. Economic valuation of the society is not necessary. Ideals and teachings from great persons like Vivekananda ideals will help in such a development, by creating men with a social thinking. Each Indian should dedicate one year for the social cause, for upliftment of his own village,” stressed Dr Balasubramanian.
Dr Nagaratna of S-VYASA University, Akhil Bharatiya Gram Vikas Pramukh Dr Dinesh, Kshetra Sanghachalak Shri V Nagaraj, Prant Sanghachalak Shri M Venkataram, Pranth Karyavah Shri N Tippeswamy also shared the dais at the inaugural session.
First change yourself, then change the
RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah Bauddhik Pramukh Shri Mukunda CR while speaking at the concluding session said, “Each village should be self-reliant. Rural development is not merely done by outsiders or the govt agencies. The villagers should take self-initiative to imbue works focusing on upliftment of their village,” he said.
A video elaborating the concept of Gram Vikas was screened at the inaugural session. Later, in smaller groups, detailed discussions were held on the same concept. On nearly 18 various topics, essentials to make a village self-reliant, were discussed. The topics include organic farming, water conservation, cattle conservation, environmental conservation, self-help groups, Kalika Kendra (Informal learning centres), Balagokulam, Matri Mandali, Kishori Vikas (special focus on women empowerment especially adolescent girls), social harmony, social security, Mane Maddu (growing medicinal plants at houses), Seva Sahakari Groups (Cooperative societies), Dharmik Kendras socio-religious activities centred at the village temple), Arogya Jagriti (health awareness), etc.
A senior organic farmer urged the participants to grow and promote organic farming and to completely stop the usage of chemical fertilisers. “Please, stop poisoning the mother earth,” he urged. All participants received the appeal and promised that they won’t poison the mother earth, indicating the promotion of organic farming in their villages.
RSS Kshetra Sanghachalak Shri V Nagaraj, Sah Prant Sanghachalak Dr P Vaman Shenoy and Prant Karyavah Shri N Tippeswam were also present on the dais along with Akhil Bharatiya Gram Vikas Pramukh Dr Dinesh and Shri Mukunda CR at the valedictory session. Kshetra Karyavah Shri Dusi Ramakrishna Rao, Kshetra Pracharak Shri Shyam Kumar, Kshetra Sampark Pramukh Shri TS Venkatesh, Kshetra Sewa Pramukh Shri Gopal Chettiyar, and other senior functionaries including Dr Prabhakar Bhat, Sridhar Sagar, Prof Sreedhar Swamy, Shri Pattabhiram, Shri Chandrashekar Bhandari, Prant Pracharak Shri Sudhir, Gram Vikas Pramukh Shri Gururaj were also present on the occasion.
–Rajesh Padmar in Bengaluru