Many individuals and organisations are working for a better society and nation outside the institutional realms to bring in Swaraj, as Gandhiji may have envisaged
Following Mahatma Gandhi’s call, in 1941 many individuals and organisations started projects focused on items mentioned in the ‘Constructive Programme’. Their efforts touched the lives of millions of people during Gandhiji’s lifetime. After his tragic assassination in 1948, these activities were continued mainly by Gandhian institutions.
Many individuals and organisations outside Gandhian institutions have been silently working as per the wishes of Gandhiji and their efforts have created a picture of healthy change on a vast canvas. Some of these are working without any help from the government. Since these unsung heroes are working at the grassroots level, the people at the national level are not aware of their work and the meaningful change that they have brought to the lives of millions of people in the areas where they work.
A group of Arogya Mitras from different parts of the country at a national conference in Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Those Making Change
To name some – Dr Rajpal Singh of Johri village (Baghpat District, Uttar Pradesh) has developed 42 international, 300 national and over 3000 state-level shooters. Delhi businessman Shravan Goel has motivated scores of people born in villages and doing jobs or business in cities to reconnect to their respective villages and join developmental activities there. Wilson Bezwada of Delhi has been fighting for 30 years to eradicate manual scavenging and restoring dignified life to scavengers. Dr RS Tonk of Delhi screened about six lakh patients in rural areas by ‘taking the hospital to villages’ through free health camps in the NCR region.
Many people have proved that eradicating poverty, illiteracy, untouchability, malnutrition and stopping trafficking in human organs, etc. is possible. All that is needed is sincere, honest efforts
Dadhichi Deh Dan Samiti, since 1997, has ensured donation of 179 dead bodies and 526 pairs of eyes to various Medical Colleges of Delhi. Harshal Vibhandik has digitalised all 1,103 government schools of Dhule District in Maharashtra by mobilising 70 per cent funds from local villagers. People in Latur (Maharashtra) revived 18 km long Manjra River without any help from the Government. Sanjay Kambale in Latur (Maharashtra) has restored dignified life to over 800 rag pickers. About 500 housewives at Pen in Raigad (Maharashtra) transformed lives of about one lakh people, including 3000 tribal girls. Girish Prabhune of Pune has settled lakhs of nomads in Maharashtra. Chandrika Chauhan in Solapur (Maharashtra) changed the lives of over 15,000 women in distress and groomed about 400 first-generation women entrepreneurs. Dr Girish Kulkarni in Ahmednagar (Maharashtra) rehabilitated over 900 commercial sex workers and saved hundreds of daughters of sex workers from flesh trade. Anil Dagar in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) has cremated or buried over 24,000 unclaimed dead bodies in the last 24 years. Sudhir Goel has rehabilitated thousands of destitute in Ujjain.
Activists of Apna Sansthan in Rajasthan have saved millions of birds by installing water pots in cities and forests. People at Lapodiya village in Dudu Tehsil of Jaipur (Rajasthan) have developed a natural forest. People at Hadan Village in Bikaner District of Rajasthan have adopted bullock carts as their prime means of local transport. People at Manpura Village of Jhalawar (Rajasthan) have proved the advocates of Green Revolution wrong by getting bumper production through organic farming. Dr BM Bhardwaj of Bharatpur (Rajasthan) has cured and reconnected about 11,000 mentally sick normally seen on the roads in highly unhygienic conditions without food, medicine, clothes, shelter, etc. to their respective families.
Ashish Gautam has ensured a dignified life to thousands of lepers in Haridwar; Basanti Behan revived a forest, and a river and Vijay Jardhari preserved 600 varieties of different indigenous seeds in Uttarakhand. SOCARE Ind. in Bengaluru is transforming the lives of convicts’ kids. Mansukhbhai Suvagia of Saurashtra (Gujarat) has helped build over 3000 check dams in 300 villages through community participation. Dr PC Jain of Udaipur is dedicated to rooftop rainwater harvesting.
Organiser has extensively covered about 75 such change-makers during the last five years under the column “The Trendsetter”. There are some big names, who have achieved name and fame globally, but most are Unsung Heroes working silently without expecting recognition. Their work needs to be highlighted so that the nation gets to know them and their work; and most importantly to help others emulate them. Even if only a few people drawing inspiration from their activities start helping the needy in their vicinity, a big difference will be visible in coming days and years. Many of these trendsetters have motivated those being served to help other needy persons of their locality after becoming self-reliant. A group of tribals at Dhagewadi village (Ahmednagar, Maharashtra) surrendered their BPL ration cards to the Tehsildar informing him that their financial condition has improved and they do not need these cards now. Tribals at Baripada village (Dhule district) set a wonderful example of development without depending on government agencies. Such change in mindset is commendable.
These people have proved that eradicating poverty, illiteracy, untouchability, malnutrition and stopping trafficking in human organs, etc. is possible. All that is needed is sincere, honest efforts. Joining such initiatives will be the best tribute to Gandhiji during his 150th birth anniversary year. Happily, Government of India has decided to celebrate the 150th birth centenary for two years stressing on items mentioned in the ‘Constructive Programme’ list every month.