My Stay At A Village Made Me Realise The Meaning Of Development

On 9th October, we began with our journey—the one for which I had been so eagerly waiting; a journey to immerse in a district of India. For me, it was Ahmedabad. I was excited to live in a village, interact with folks, understand the nuances of the district, and so much more. I was all set to keep my senses open, use all the tools that I had been taught over the last few months—the list was endless and the plan was perfect, except that I didn’t know how it was about to unfold for me. 

The vast stretches of farmlands, lush green fields, vibrant villages, women clad in colourful chanya-cholis, men with thick mustaches, children playing happily in open spaces were just a few pieces of the puzzle; the big picture told a very different story, one that I took some time to process, one that has left me with several unanswered questions.

Image provided by the author.

The definition of ‘Development’ has always been very clear for me. While interacting with the folks of Chepirog, an urban slum, my partner asked the women what development means to them. The answer was simple: “Kuch nei chahiye…agar ho sake toh sarak banwa do…apne paas sukoon hei…kafi he (We don’t need anything. If possible, we’d like a road here. We are at peace here, and that is enough)”. I looked around to take another look. 

There were these small one-room houses, stuck next to each other. The rooms inside were not well lit. The bed was right beside the cooking stove, and there was no washroom. This was the same for all the houses we visited in that area. The women got really excited when we visited one of the houses. They wanted us to visit all of theirs too. And in each of these houses, we were offered chai and nashta (tea and snacks)

Image provided by the author.

We both were humbled by the warmth we were greeted with. How often do we let in strangers and show them around our houses? And here were these folks, sharing with us the stories about their lives, showing us around their mohalla (neighbourhood), and offering us ghar ka khana (home-made food) after they learnt that we are staying at hostels, away from our homes. Also, they are the very same people who are denied their rightful ration. Why? No one really had an answer to that. 

Then what is the sukoon (peace) that they were all talking about? To that, they had another simple answer – they all live happily with each other, taking care of each other, and celebrating all the festivals together. They were happy that theirs was the only area that remained unaffected during the riots. They had found their sukoon in scarcity and security.

Image provided by the author.

This story is from ‘Realising India’ rural immersion program, which is a part of the PGP-DL program at Indian School of Development Management. It has been authored by Shreyasi Bannerjee, who is a student of the third cohort, Class of 2020. 

Similar Posts

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below