WAY TO GO! The Rotary Club of Bombay is transforming nine villages in the Palghar district of Maharashtra…focussing on five main things, namely setting up solar home lighting, street electrification, solar powering irrigation in the fields, looking at education needs, and in general improving quality of life for villagers.

THIS story has to be written by way of fast-forwarding a country which deserves better! It was Mahatma Gandhi’s advice to all who sought it — if you want to do something for the country begin with the villages. Nehru of course ignored him and so now we have vast urban slums steeped in some colonial heritage grandeur of course. The impoverished countryside continues to migrate to urban conglomerate nightgmares…anyway, this is about how today there are exemplary ways to go if you’re a citizen in love with your country.
Take the example of the members of the members of the Rotary Club of Bombay who are taking Gandhi’s advice to heart seriously – and the results are equally heart-warming. I will say this is real social work, not just talking but also doing! This story first came to me via something written up on Facebook by Rotarian of Bombay Ramesh Narayan, it needs to be shared by way of some terrific inspirational efforts of the very best kind!
Two years ago a few good people in Mumbai that was Bombay decided it was worth their while to transform the lives of the poor hapless villagers of Mokhada village. Mokhada is just three hours away from bustling Mumbai city. Say it is a part of the Bharatdesh which India forgot! And over a recent weekend the team went to review the work being done out at actually nine villages (including Mokhada) which is bring about a positive impact in the lives of about 4,500 villagers.
Ramesh (who’s an old friend of sorts) tells me it all started as an initiative of the Rotary Club of Bombay with some philanthropists willing to bankroll it. Two years down the line the villagers of their project are rejoicing for they got water flowing and also solar power in place — they have filters for safe drinking water and toilets and home lights and street lights and water enough to grow their crops in the fields. This naturally means that if the villagers can till their land all the year around they won’t be forced to migrate to Nashik and Bhiwandi in search of earning some income to live their humble lifestyles.

THIS is no token initiative. It is real transformation, . All courtesy, as Ramesh Narayan says, actually “all courtesy a few good people who can really make a real difference.” It is thanks to Preeti Mehta with her quiet determination, Fali Mehta and Shernaz Vakil for taking things forward, Pratibha Pai and her fantastic team at Chirag Foundation for the amazing work and last but not least of all Rahul Tiwrekar and his team for the on-ground support.” Of course the media has picked up this exemplary citizens who care initiative to write up in various publications as way to go…villages upwards or bottoms up if I may add my two bit praise!
Needless to say the Rotary Club of Bombay members hope to take this cause of lifting villages they can access to continue with the project. It is a continuing project which dreams of multiplying as more step in with a helping hand in cash or in kind. So that we may all have a happier, more equitable India in the shorter run for the country has waited for its aya Ram and gaya Ram governments for too long. As one admirer of this initiative quips, “This is real Satyame Jayete!”
And a last word from Rotarian Ramesh Narayan in Mumbai, who when I complimented him and his Rotarian group for promoting such primary sustainable development work — which successive governments of India failed to initiate – he quipped “I have always maintained that we must work in spite of the government!” Interestingly, if you’re interested, you may catch up with Ramesh Narayan’s book “A Different Route to Success (It Could Be Yours)” which is reportedly full of an adventurous mix of anecdotes, honest insights and a different way of looking at life vis-à-vis advertising, management and more.

NOW I am saying this and that it’s a sad fact of life that the politicians of India and Bharat have been and are only too happy to build up their own personal aggrandizing infrastructures at public cost. And so we continue to remain poor little rich country in the eyes of the first world which in turns admires and looks down on us, a country increasingly steeped in corruption, arrogance and now of course – you may add to that religious communalism, breeding new waves of uneasy hatred and familiar violence in its wake.
Still, who was that sensitive poet who sang in her poem titled “Hope,” the American poet Emily Dickinson of course, remember it: “Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul,/And sings the tune without the words,/And never stops at all……And sweetest in the gale is heard;/And sore must be the storm/That could abash the little bird/That kept so many warm….I’ve heard it in the chilliest land,/And on the strangest sea;/Yet, never, in extremity,/It asked a crumb of me.”

THIS country is currently living on hope, crumbs of hope! May this hope grow in leaps and bounds as soon as possible with the kind of bottom-up ventures I’ve recounted here. On that note of hope it’s avjo, poiteverem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yetta here for now!

— Mme Butterfly

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