The thought for today's blog came from special presentation of YUSUF MEHERALI CENTER in 9.30 Sahyadri News in Marathi. Occasion was golden jubillee of the center. Idea is not to present case of the center, which too well known by its own work, but to muse on the thought prsented by Mr. Madan Marathe on behalf of the center.
India is a nation of villeges in the eyes of Mahtama Gnadhi. Strong villeges will make strong India was the simple logic. The empowerment of villeges is backbone of the work of the center. It would be aprrpriate to evaluate what is the reality vis a vis the dream.
The number of villeges is going down after being included in Metropolitan areas by Government notification. Those on the periphery have almost lost their rural character.Many of the villegers are agitating to be excluded from the notification. Therefore it cannot be said urbanisation is welcome all over. The ugly face of urbanisation is another subject and not to be discussed here. Idea is to eaxamine the changing face of villeges. Empowerment of villeges is not their inclusion in cities but making them stronger where they are.
Today itself your blogger had opportunity to visit a fair on the occasion of Mahashivratri in villege MADH and interact with resedents . This villege is part of murbad Tahsil but located almost on the junction of three Tahsils of Thane Revenue district in Maharashtra State, namely Murbad, Klayan and Shahpur. Not located even on Major District Road. A villege of few hundred houses and less than 5000 population. Therefore can be taken as a representative case.
Let us examine the status of development here in last 60 years. It has asphalted road right upto the Ganga Gurjeshwar Mahadev temple which is located on the bank of KALU river. Some villagers from other bank of the river were accessing tample by fery boats. It was learnt that State has budgeted some funds for erection of cross over bridge and renovation of the temple. The main shrine of the temple is submerged in water due to erection of a dam on the river. The villege does not have a post office so let us not talk of other facilities. Farming, brick baking, diary are the only employment opportunities available. Most of the Menfolk go out for service since the farm income is not good enough to sustain family. Still the villege could manage the fair. Most of the houses were pucca built and painted for the occasion. The villagers were well dresseed with not very old fashioned clothes and speaking urbanised Marathi Language. The self confidence in the talk was evident and at times even overconfident. On negative side is absense of drainage system, means of regular transport etc.
What needs to be done ? At least Yusuf Meherali center is clear about it. !) Self sustained economy by development of cottage industry and finding market for the produce. 2) Easy connectivity with rest of the world. 3) Women empowerment by formation self help groups which in turn can take care of cottage industries and even marketing. 4) Effective awareness programmes and organising group pressure to protect interset of the Villages from internal and external threats.
Of this self help group of women is real parameter of develoment. Educated and committed womenfolk is going to be back bone of further growth. We hear stories of women ensuring licquorless villeges. Many more such stories are possible.