One of the CWC officers asked, “What are the places we have to visit?” The answer given by volunteer from Hiware Bazar stunned me for a minute. “You can’t see the unity of our village in any of the buildings. We have transformed these barren lands through mere unity. If you want to see any lifeless structures, please visit the tourist places.”
It was typical gaming scenario when I entered the model village. Trees on side of roads, a well-built primary healthcare center, a veterinary clinic, primary as well as secondary school and concrete roads connecting all these was memorizing me the scenario of PC games in which you have to build a town. Cherry upon this sweet cake was the Gram-Sansad building. It was truly full-filing the purpose of increasing the public participation in the democracy, by attractive infrastructure and facilities satisfying the needs of common villager.
What made Hiware Bazar a model village can also make any village, town or nation a model for all. It’s independent of Geo-political or social boundaries. Someone might argue that money or schemes would bring in the so called ‘development’. Of course, it will be an important factor but money or schemes would not completely assure development. Otherwise, all corporate honchos or political leaders who can arrange money and schemes respectively would have developed their villages into model villages. Unfortunately we have only a few of them.
In discussions with representatives from other villages, a volunteer said, “We both have same schemes. We also get same funding as you, but the approach towards it is different. When you get single rupee from government, you think how much subsidy or how much of it will we get. On the other hand, we start with what problems do we have and how the value of a single rupee can be maximized to solve these problems for whole village. We spend every single penny only after rigorous discussion in Gram Sansad. This increases the effective value of that one rupee.” Point to be noted here is the planning procedure. Problem based expenditure has helped this village in improving the overall life standards.
According to the volunteer, “if we approach development as enforced through different schemes on someone, people will feel alienated. It will be difficult to gain confidence of the villagers and every decision will be seen under suspicion. Contrary to it, we approach development as a tool to solve problems of villagers.”
Another interesting fact that shows unity is that this village has not experienced the Gram-panchayat elections for last 25 years! According to the volunteer, “we don’t say that we are happy because we don’t have elections nor you are unhappy because you have elections. We just manage to keep away the side-effect of elections by doing this. At the same time, we try to maximize our voting for other elections without involving our Sarpanch or any of the post holders in campaigning. Gram-Sabha appeals for the vote and not for the vote to specific candidate. Sarpanch is decided by discussion and so are other Panchayat members. This gives confidence to Panchayat for decision making.”
Finally, I experienced the sequential effects of improvement in water supply. It has started a chain of development. The village has effectively trapped flowing water through small hills, which used to get wasted earlier. Soil as well as water has been conserved due to large number of trenches across the slopes. To realize the effect, we went to 150-200 feet above normal village level and got water in first stroke of hand-pump. This work was done through public participation, another indicator of unity. The man behind this change – the ex-Sarpanch – said, “We could not have managed to do this without the support from people. So, we have to keep public informed about Panchayat’s expenditure and keep them involved in development programs.”
Finally, I concluded my visit with a satisfied heart and full enthusiasm to create another model village.
Aditya Deshmukh is a student at BITS Pilani and a campus ambassador for Vision India Foundation. Soon, he will join a Member of Parliament to build a model village in Madhya Pradesh.