Mahatma Gandhi once said that the future of India is in their villages. With about 70% of the Indian population still resident in their villages, their words seem more relevant than before. That is why it is so stimulating and moving that the winds of change sweep the Indian countryside.
While several issues (such as lack of health services, illiteracy and environmental degradation) continue to affect much of rural India, several villages across the country have demonstrated what a community can do when they join for a better morning . Such a village is Baghuwar in Narsinghpur district in Madhya Pradesh.
Located 15 km from Narsinghpur, the small village of Baghuwar has been an exemplary example in all fields, from health and hygiene to education and waste management.
Seven years before the launch of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Baghuwar reached total health sanitation to become an Open-Defecation-Free(ODF) village in 2007. Together with a bathroom in each home, the village of about 2500 people also has a toilets complex to be used during the functions of community. Cleaning is a priority in the village, Baghuwar’s concrete streets are swept daily by residents.
The village also features a well-functioning underground sewage system and more than 55 biogas plants that produce cast iron fuels to cook and lighten. The cow fertilizer used for the production of biogas is collected in 25 wells that have been built throughout the village. Organize an annual auction for the sale of this cow germ and the generated income is used to elevate the village.
Another distinctive feature of Baghuwar is its 100% literacy rate, and every village can read and write. The village adheres strictly to the principle that every child has the right to education. To ensure the application of this principle, the villagers combine their finances to improve the school building. They have ensured that half-day nutritional meals have been provided in a timely manner to encourage students to complete their training.
Realizing the importance of sport in the overall development of children, the villagers have also built a mini sports stadium, an indoor hall and a swimming pool next to the Dhamni River. All of these efforts paid with the village school of Baghuwar with a 0% abandonment rate. Many former students have also moved to senior positions in both government and private companies.
Baghuwar residents also pay close attention to water management and environmental conservation. Water that can not be used by connected underground connections is collected in a well and recycled before being assimilated into large bodies of water. To this end, several ponds and small tanks have been built throughout the village.
This initiative has also led to an efficient collection of rainwater. The results can be observed in improving the microclimate of the village, as well as increasing the water table (at a depth of 150 feet, the water table now has a 15-foot ratio). Thanks to its unique form of water conservation, Baghuwar has enough water to survive droughts for years!
In addition to this, Baghuwar has built lush gardens and well-equipped hospitals for the care of its inhabitants. Farmers Village do not use chemical fertilizers and produce their organic fertilizer (driven by R. S. Narolia, former deputy director of the Department of Agriculture, who returned to their ancestral home in the village after retirement).
Famous for its molasses (a dark, sticky and sweet syrup made as a by-product of refining sugar cane), the inhabitants have acquired 75 sugar cane machines, 35 tractors and 25 threshing machines to effectively minimize waste and transform the abundant harvest.
Incredibly, Baghuwar has never witnessed a local election, except for one exception to Sarpanch’s place in 2014. All Gram Panchayat members and cooperative societies are nominated by consensus. Decisions are taken collectively and issues are discussed and resolved open to the participation of all community meetings.
The most refreshing thing is Baghuwar’s refusal to depend solely on public subsidies to get things done. State financial assistance for development projects is often only a fraction of what the villagers really spend on it. For example, when the village obtained a $ 1.5 state-of-the-art scholarship to build a community center, residents contributed an additional $ 7 lakh to building a center more suited to their needs.
And it’s not just about finance. Villagers do not stop them from doing their job to make possible development projects. In another case, when Baghuwar needed a road to connect it to the road, the city youths built a 3-km road to the city. Impressed by the self-sufficient intent of the village, the government has helped transform the mud-cement road.
Residents of Baghuwar voluntarily make small repairs that arise from time to time. They are also actively involved in defining the details of most projects, from quality controls in PDS (Public Distribution System) stores to the replacement of colonial bridges.
In addition to their incredible dedication to civic duty, what makes Baghuwar an ideal city is its progressive social ideals. Marriages among the castles of the village are solemn with the collective blessings of the community of the people. A cooperative committee ensures that the benefits of government programs reach marginalized and poor, while complaints are addressed promptly.
Administered by both the government and the central government for making positive changes, Baghuwar’s self-reliance model, community ownership and participatory decision-making are now being used to form village communities in Madhya Pradesh. However, despite all the awards and prizes, Baghuwar residents rarely seek media attention for their work. For them, it is simply a way to return to their precious people and preserve their rich heritage.
Curiously, in 2016, Indian American Maya Vishwakarma won the award for Best Creative Producer at the Globe Film Festival in San Francisco for his wonderful documentary on Baghuwar, Swaraj Mumkin Hai.