As discussants, we had Shri Dipankar Shri Gyan, J.A.S, Director, Gandhi Smriti, and Darshan Samiti, New Delhi; Dr. Gandhi P C Kaza, Chairman, Truth Labs, Hyderabad; Mudita Vidrohi, Researcher, Documentation Consultant and Translator, Ahmedabad; Dr. Sanjay Singh, Secretary, Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan, Uttar Pradesh; Waterman of Bundelkhand; State Coordinator, Uttar Pradesh, Association for Democratic Reforms; Dr. Suresh Garg, Founder, Gandhi Sumiran Manch, Vidisha; Formerly with the Department of Health, Madhya Pradesh; Corona-Free Villages Mission; Doctor and Veteran Gandhian; Vipin Gupta, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, National Express; all of who gave valuable insights on the topic of interest and made the lecture enriching with perspicacity.
He began the talk by elucidating how had we dealt with the pandemic in tandem with the gram swarajya model of governance laid down by Gandhi, we would not have exacerbated the situation as is today. Gandhi almost predicted the current pattern in the modern society in Hind Swaraj (1908) in which he put forward main goals, and discredited modernity’s civilizational status as “a disease”.
A 1999-batch Indian Forest Service officer Siddharth Tripathi, who for the past four and a half years has served as Commissioner, MGNREGA, in Jharkhand has transformed the face of two villages in his area of service. These initiatives were undertaken with little public spending except for the odd implementation of MGNREGA for development works or livelihood generation schemes for poultry farming or fisheries.
Within four odd years, average incomes in the village have risen nearly five times, and residents have found opportunities in a variety of works including dairy, poultry, and goat farming. This is the true gift of “SHRAMDAAN” envisioned by Gandhi during his lifetime, he himself came forward as a volunteer and practiced what he preached.
Out of India’s 6.5 lakh villages, there are hardly anywhere gram sabhas are held honestly and regularly. To alleviate this and generate discourse, “LOK SHIKSHAN” is required. This could prove beneficial in chasing away the ills of communal disharmony and create a true sense of unity and brotherhood amongst the masses. Villages are really the microcosm of India and that is where change stems from.
Acknowledgment: Priyanshi Arora is a research intern at IMPRI.
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