March 3rd, 2017
Swaraj Mumkin Hai- A documentary on Baghuvar village of Narsinghpur district in Madhya Pradesh by Maya Vishwakarma. A live model of development implementing the idea of Self-Governance or Swaraj.
What is Swaraj?
It is a form of governance built by individuals and community in consent. Swaraj disagrees with the hierarchical governance and calls for decentralisation of any such political formula.
This movie shows how the villages can be transformed into self-sustained villages with a proper administrative system which is transparent and working towards a common goal by bringing all stakeholders under one roof.
It is not just a documentary but an eye opener for our own constituencies and a benchmark. It places a great basis for comparison and forces us to indulge into development which has been lacking so far.
The Documentary is narrated by Maya Vishwakarma, an activist, researcher, politician who is also a founder of Sukarma foundation and volunteers for Aam Aadmi Party.
The Logical Indian spoke to her to get to know what inspired her to work on this documentary and why Baghuvar. She was working in the US and visited India in 2014 where she met with S N Subba Rao. He told her about the village of Baghuvar being awarded President’s award. She was surprised to know this village was very close to her native town. And that is when she decided to go learn about this model village and bring their story to the world through her documentary.
This Republic Day, she screened her documentary which took her 2 years to complete, at Los Angeles. As expected, the documentary was highly appreciated. It has been so influential and inspirational that people who have watched it are willing to start organic farming. People are now keen to not miss an opportunity to visit Baghuvar.
She has also written a book called “Baghuvar – Swaraj mumkin hai”, available both in Hindi and English. Maya says that the main soul of the success of Baghuvar is “Team Work”. Surendra Singh, who initiated this 35-year long project began it alone, and then people followed. One of the key factors to the success was the dedication to create an ideal village free from cruelty or violation. All this hard work by the people and also Maya in bringing their story to the world has paid off. Other villages, like Dungreja in Kota, Rajasthan is already on its way to becoming the second ideal village.
An Example For The Society
A population of around 1750 living in 400 houses came together to develop their own village and have succeeded in leaving behind other villages in doing so. Every decision here is taken after discussion with every individual. A sheer example of togetherness and unity.
The village is an example and a slap on the face of the authorities who time and again claim to work for the betterment of the people, but sadly only on papers.
How does the system work?
The base link to democracy here is the Gram Panchayat whose mission says, “Unity in Diversity”.
It is not just a slogan or a line but the reason behind the remarkable prosperity of the village.
Where we see Public representatives chosen by elections, here in Baghuvar, the Sarpanch is chosen by group discussion and mutual consent. This is the reason why there haven’t been panchayat elections till date. This transparent administrative system has ensured there are no misunderstandings. The politics are honest and consensual.
The importance of Gram Panchayat plays its cards here. A Gram Panchayat Bhawan was built in Baghuvar in the year 1962 and people treat this relic as a temple as this is where the blueprint for the development and expansion of the village is prepared.
How have they made a successful sustainable model?
People Welfare – Texts providing knowledge about the different schemes for rural areas and rural development by the government and general knowledge are found everywhere in the village. They also have a Cooperative Committee which ensures that any government scheme, be it Antyodaya scheme or issuance of BPL cards is carried out properly. And that people don’t have any complaints regarding an improper or late functioning of government distribution system.
Under the Right to Education Act, every child is entitled to education and Baghuvar village fulfils this idea too. Every household sends the kids to school. People don’t discriminate in the education of a boy and a girl as they believe that educating a girl is like educating a whole family. Mr Dwaraka Prasad Dubey was responsible for this change. With the help of other villagers, he collected the required finances to improve the school building in the village and encourage students to come to the school. They also ensured they offered mid-day meals in a timely manner. All his efforts have clearly paid off, as one can see that the children who attended the school in the village have not dropped out. Many are now serving in top government positions. His son is in the Indian Air-Force.
Cleanliness is also a top priority here. Every household here has toilets. The roads are cleaned by the workers. A noteworthy point is that they don’t have an open defecation system in the village. They have built a proper drainage system to avoid diseases from spreading. The unusable water from all the connected underground outlets is collected into a well and from there the water is assimilated into other bigger water bodies through the ground, ensuring recycling of water. Rainwater is collected in a lake outside the village for other everyday uses. The water table, which was earlier at 150 ft (45 m) has now risen to 15 ft (4.5 m).
The establishment of numerous gobar gas plants has made Baghuvar the village with the highest number of gobar gas plants. This gas is used for cooking and illuminating homes. There are 25 pits constructed for the collection of gobar or cow dung. An annual auction is carried out for selling the manure thus created and the money is utilised for the upliftment of the village.
The farming techniques here utilise organic manure and not chemical fertilisers and the credit for this goes to R S Naroliya who returned to Baghuvar after retiring from the post of Deputy Director from the Department of Agriculture. He educated people regarding organic farming and started a farm to make organic manure.
Apart from this, there is a collective effort to plant trees and see cumulative growth. Every single villager is committed to afforestation.
These are some of the activities which have earned Baghuvar it’s many awards.
Through all these activities, no external help was solicited from any engineer for any construction project in the village. The villagers used their education and experience to complete the projects. Their determination to work towards the betterment of the community is evident in everything they do. For example, when the government allotted only Rs 2 lakh for the construction of Harijan Bhawan, the villagers collected an extra Rs 5 lakh to help complete the construction.
They have built a community free from casteism and social and religious networks, with high green cover, using organic farming techniques, implements right to education, does water conservation, proper functioning of cooperative committees, 24×7 medical aid are some of the values they are espousing to build a society that thinks together, works together and is independent in itself.
The Logical Indian appreciates the efforts made by the residents of Baghuvar and hopes that it will never stop encouraging other villages to transform for their own good.
this documentary film project funded by global contributors all round the globe including U.K., USA Dubai and Holland And movie written and directed by Pankaj Shukla