In the hustle-bustle of city life, it is very hard to pay attention toward someone in need. But despite all daily struggles, there are some people who turn out as heroes.
Ashwani Parashar, a 22-year-old MBBS student from Dholpur, Rajasthan, has initiated a campaign called #SaveRajghat to bring hope in the lives of people residing in a remote village named Rajghat.
The vibrant young boy who belongs to a middle-class family believes that doing good to society means doing good to yourself. “I could not express my utter happiness when I come to know that there is someone smiling due to my little efforts,” said Parashar.
Ashwani’s first visit to Rajghat
Ashwani first visited Rajghat two years ago during Diwali to distribute gifts to the underprivileged. At that time, he was working as a volunteer under a social initiative titled ‘Sarthak Diwali’. The village is located at a distance of 5 km from his hometown Dholpur; he was shocked to see its critical state. People had no access to essential amenities such as clean drinking water, roads, medical facilities, and electricity.
The village falls under the basin of the famous River Chambal, and it is located on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The river is the only source of water in the village (except a handpump with 1600 TDS) but it is extremely polluted with an added risk of crocodiles. There have been many unfortunate incidents of men and children who lost their lives after being dragged by crocodiles. Not only this, the river is filled with carcasses of human and animal bodies which are visible to naked eyes. ”As there is no other source of water, the villagers end up risking their lives. Since no one wants to live here due to the apathetic conditions of around 350 villagers, only two marriages were held in the last ten years,” he added.
When it comes to schooling, the village has a government school with one room where education is imparted starting from 1st to 5th standard. Ashwani said it seems that there are fewer teachers in our country as this school in the village has only one teacher. Moreover, the room also serves as a kitchen for an Anganwadi worker who prepares meals for children and a space for daily office chores.
While talking to The Logical Indian, Parashar said, “When I stepped into this village, I had no idea of social media and crowdfunding. However, necessity teaches you everything, so I also learned it.”
Further, the children are malnourished, and villagers who have phones have to walk 2 km away to charge it.
After noticing the condition of the village and its residents, he knew that there is a need to make some noise in the ears of government authorities. He started creating social pressure to make the implemented schemes work on the ground level. With the help of his friends, he began a campaign on social media #SaveRajghat, and while digging up information about the village, he found that it comes under Dhaulpur’s Nagar Parishad due to which the villagers were unable to avail the benefits of the programmes implemented for panchayats.
“Social welfare schemes are made for underprivileged. Of what use are these schemes if they are unable to provide benefits to the neediest one?” Ashwani stressed.
He further approached the district authorities, PWD department, the Nagar Parishad to improve the situation of the village. He kept writing letters to the officials till it bore fruitful results. He even wrote letters to the Prime Minister of India and Chief Minister of the State. Due to his strong will, the District Collector’s office himself came forward to participate. Since then, various officials have visited the village. “Students across India are helping me now, and even people from foreign countries like Kuwait and Canada have extended their support. I only ask people to help me with the latest technologies and tools. Moreover, so far, I have not taken a single penny from anyone,” Prashar says proudly.
The team started planting solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) panels in the houses of the village that convert the solar energy into electricity. They also implanted water filtration units in the village without any government assistance. However, the government has recently constructed eight community toilets in the village, notably after two years of constant struggle.
Now, Prashar is planning to construct roads and helping children in getting better access to education as the lone school offers training only till class 5.
“Trust me, it was not an easy journey. Only people who stood by me throughout know the real pain and challenges since it was not easy for a common man to challenge the corrupt system. However, yes, I was determined with only one selfish reason – to provide basic amenities to village people,” he said.
Filing of PIL in Rajasthan court
Prashar said that the village covered in darkness not only depicted the failure of the State Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s home district, but it also violated the villagers’ right to have dignified life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
With this plea, I have filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Rajasthan High Court, which has issued notices to various officials, including the chief secretary.
Change in the attitude of the villagers
Parashar was amazed to see a transition in the lives of the villagers. The villagers who accepted the fact that there is nothing to look forward now have hope with this young man’s initiative. Villagers treat him like his son and brother, and some even say he is a messiah (God) to them. Many have left smoking and drinking and are participating in the campaign as volunteers.
Even elders seek his advice on their matters. He says, “An 85-year-old Ramrati amma grabs me whenever I visit her.”
Message to TLI community members
My heartily request to the readers to help me in promoting the #SaveRajghat campaign in whatever possible way. Money is not required, your voice is. As a fellow citizen, strive to give your best like voluntary free education and healthcare services.