This 22-year-old is doing more than any Indian today to save the people of Rajghat, a village that India has almost forgotten about. Ashwani Parashar is currently pursuing his MBBS from SMS Medical college in Jaipur, Rajasthan. But what he does with his life is so much more than that.
Rajghat, is a small village on the banks of Chambal in Dhaulpur, which even after 70 years of Independence, was covered in darkness and despair. When Parashar first visited Rajghat, a village only at a few kilometres’ distance from his hometown of Dholpur in Rajasthan, he was dumbstruck by its state. Be it access to clean drinking water, electricity or proper roads; the village lacked even the most basic amenities.
He says, “Ironically, the villagers living in the vicinity of the river had no access to clean drinking water. They drank highly polluted water directly from the Chambal river. The act of accessing the dirty, polluted river water was fraught with risks of being attacked by gharials, or encountering human corpses that sometimes come floating in by the river bank. In this scenario, the bachelors in Rajghat were unable to find brides and only two men had got married in the last 20 years. Because there was no electricity, the very few villagers who had mobile phones walked two kilometres to even charge their phones.”
After seeing the state of the village, Parashar realised that he needed to do something for the villagers. He decided to shake up the authorities and create social pressure to make it a more habitable place. As he, along with some of his friends, inquired and dug up information, he found out that on paper, the village comes under the Nagar Parishad of Dhaulpur. Being part of the Nagar Parishad made it impossible for the village to avail the benefits of the schemes designed for panchayats.
During his initial struggle to better the lives of villagers, Parashar wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, and many other concerned officials about the issue. He even received replies from concerned departments but to no avail. The village still only had a primary school, and the nearest hospital was two miles away.
Ashwani felt that the lack of basic infrastructure not only depicted the State Government’s failure in Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s home district, but it also amounted to violation of the villagers’ fundamental right to a dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution. With this plea, he moved a public interest litigation in the Rajasthan High Court, which issued notices to the Chief Secretary and others.
His efforts are now yielding fruits. The 22-year-old has now made solar energy accessible to the entire village and has also installed 25 water filters with the help of crowdfunding. The villagers are now drinking safe water, and the children can be found studying under the solar lights even at 8 pm. Eight community toilets have also been constructed in the village. The villagers treat Parashar as their son who is still trying to put all his efforts to bring some solid change on the ground.
When asked how he manages to fight with the corrupt system on his own he merely points out that the blessing of 350 villagers is support enough for him to keep fight for justice.