Remember we had been on a tour of some model villages in February this year? Boy! Doubt if I had a more or atleast equally inspiring trip anytime in my life. We visited three model villages – Hiware Bazaar, Ralegan Siddhi and their lesser  known sibling Baripada. Each of them went on to show what even a single man dedicated to a cause can achieve! And once he gets the support of few more hands, what you have is a miracle.

And since I have to finish writing 3 more posts before EOD,  I will dedicate one post to each of these villages 🙂

Let’s start with Hiware Bazaar, shall we?

The Sarpanch of Hiware Bazaar is Popatrao Bajugi Pawar. Popatrao Pawar had left his village as a teenager to pursue higher education in the city of Ahmadnagar. He completed his Masters’ degree in Commerce and then returned to work tirelessly for the upliftment of his village and his own people.  An  ‘Adarsh Gaon’ today, the village thrives on the principles of Self-governance and Self-reliance.

It was quite unbelievable to know that out of the 236 families in the village, only 3 of them are BPL and even they are being helped by their neighbours by sharing their own land with these families, helping them with farming etc..

That was just the beginning!  In a drought-prone region, just imagine what would have gone into making this village so rich in natural resources that there is no water shortage in any of the wells!  All people here resort to organic farming only and none of them migrate to other villages or towns or cities. They truly believe that ‘Gaon ki sampathi gaon mein hi rehana chahiye’. They don’t even sell lands to anybody outside their village.

The village is mostly composed of farmers who grow jowar, wheat, bajra and vegetables, but there are also about 55 military jawans and a few engineers and lawyers too.  Look at their thought process – they even have plans  to develop a track for the jawans to train in running!

The school in the village boasts of 100% results in 1oth, with many students scoring between 94-95%.

The graveyard is same for everyone – Caste and creed no bar!!!!!

They have awesome measures in place for the environment too – If anybody fells a tree for any valid reason, he has to plant a fixed number of saplings to make up for the same, and he has to cite the reason for felling and take an oath that he will compensate for it on a stamp paper! Phew! They even have biogas and composting initiatives in place, and there are periodic prizes for children who raise more trees. The whole village installs and worships only one clay idol of Lord Ganesha during the festival.

Such thought process has gone into every single initiative – Open grazing is not allowed in the village because the cattle end up eating the plants and trees too, and also their footsteps erode the top soil.

One of the villagers, Habib Sayyad told us that when work started in the village about 20-21 yrs ago, 90% of the villagers were drinking and there were a few murders too. The village had almost collapsed by ’89. There was no water, no education and the government posted only non-working officers there! In the ’89 elections, the youth came forward and decided that only educated persons can become the Sarpanch, and unanimously elected Popatrao Pawar for the same.  Now, the same village is visited by nearly 1000 ppl everyday, with about 32 lakhs having visited the village till now.

The number of drunkards has now reduced to 1% and when asked why they were not doing anything to curb that too, they said that change has to come from within and that it will def. happen soon!

Women have an equal role to play in the upliftment of the village too. Infact, every house in Hiware Bazaar has the name of the woman on the front wall. She is the home-maker after all they say, and so has more right over it!

They have such great ideas in place – every Gram Panchayat member has to spend atleast 2 hrs everyday for village work, in addition to whatever he is doing personally to earn a living.

Every person is supposed to submit a HIV-nil certificate before wedding. They have all facilities including clinics and veterinary clinics and medical stores, but say that people hardly fall ill.

It’s even heartening to know that this village donated a sum of 25K to the Tsunami victims.

What more can I say? I am as spellbound even today as I am writing this!

Here are a few pics from the village 🙂

The houses in the village are amazingly clean!

 Scenes from the school

Pretty classroom, rt 🙂
Even the public toilets are so clean!
Marriage hall - one for all castes!
Medical Store!

 Eco-friendly practices

Taking help from the mighty Sun!

Harnessing the wind energy!
And segregating their waste too!

 They live by these!

And the much deserved awards 🙂

Coming up next: Anna Hazare’s Ralegan Siddhi

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