Yashwant Gitte, a farmer, hailing from a remote village in Parli Taluka in Beed, Maharashtra, earned a measly income of ₹17,000 per annum by cultivating Rabi and Kharif crops.
Gitte was debt-laden and found it difficult to sustain himself and his family. To get over his debts, he even doubled as a daily wage labourer in Mumbai. But, it was still not enough for him to get out of his poor financial situation.
He felt desolate with no solution in sight and returned to his village Waka. He was driven to despair and decided to die by suicide to end his misery once and for all. Such is the fate of many farmers in drought-prone areas in Maharashtra.
Despite government schemes, the farmers are not convinced to attempt new techniques of farming and often end up in the spiral of debts.
However, an erstwhile social activist and reformer, Mayank Gandhi, decided to start a non-profit foundation to work towards the development of the drought-hit and suicide-prone Marathwada region of Maharashtra in 2016.
At the core, Global Parli, the non-profit organisation believes that the economic development of the rural population is the foundation for the inclusive growth of the nation.
The core strategy of the organisation is that it has to be a people's movement for development, combined with innovative and holistic solutions for local problems.
His main vision behind establishing Global Parli was bringing rural economic transformation by changing the situation of farmers. He aimed at multiplying farmer incomes by at least ten times and wanted them to try new techniques of farming to surmount their situation.
Around the same time, Gitte heard of farmers earning a decent amount of money by cultivating fruit trees. He learnt about Global Parli and how they had been impacting farmers in the region.
Gitte had often contemplated switching to horticulture to increase his income through farming. But due to lack of knowledge and no capital insight, venturing into a new area seemed impossible for him.
After Gitte came in contact with the members of the Global Parli, he learnt various new techniques related to farming that resulted in high yields.
He availed financial assistance and crop insurance from Global Parli and took a plunge into custard apple cultivation. Today, he is a successful custard apple grower, armed with adequate knowledge, appropriate training and connections with the end customers through Global Parli. Presently, he earns around ₹3-4 lakh per acre, a 20-fold increase from what he earned before.
Enthused by his own success, he has motivated other farmers in his own village to switch to horticulture and is a guiding force for them. Gitte is one of those farmers whose life has completely changed after coming in contact with the Global Parli Foundation.
The Foundation has been working on various projects related to bringing holistic development to the drought-prone villages in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra.
One of the first projects started by Global Parli aimed at providing drinking water through tankers to the interior villages of the Marathwada region in 2016, a year marked by severe drought.
A total of 15.4 million litres of total water was supplied through tankers to 38 villages every day for two months to tackle the problem of water scarcity. This is one of the many projects started by Global Parli in that region. The other verticals on which the Foundation is working include healthcare, education, clean energy and social reforms.
Holistic Development Of Villages
The development activities conducted by the Foundation are not just restricted to farming. Firstly, the members of the Foundation interacted with the village locals to understand the problems they faced, followed by which they planned various activities that had to be done to bring change in the villages. Some of the aspects on which it has been working encompass healthcare, education, livelihood options (goat rearing, poultry, stitching etc.), malnutrition amongst children, strengthening local Panchayati institutions, reforms against the malaise of alcoholism, dowry and so on.
In a conversation with The Logical Indian, Mayank Gandhi, founder at Global Parli, said, "Any activity that impacts a large number of people can only succeed with their wholehearted participation. Therefore it was important for us to interact with the village locals before planning our initiatives. Once we got an understanding of the challenges faced by the villagers, we planned various key areas around which we would be working. Harnessing people's strength and creating a people's movement is the solution that we believe in. Villages are victims of structural failures and adopting a holistic approach is a must, when we want to bring developmental changes."
Impact Created By Working In Various Key Areas
After Global Parli started conducting various developmental activities in the villages, the locals were motivated and participated with complete enthusiasm. Women empowerment and education-related programs have made women and children equal participants in this movement for change. The wholehearted participation of the villagers and their inherent desire to lead a better life led to the successful transformation in the villages.
"One of the key areas which impacted the villagers was tackling alcoholism and banning the sale of illicit liquor. Due to the addiction to alcohol consumption, many families were disrupted. The children in such families faced problems in completing their education, and moreover, their livelihoods were adversely affected. After we provided counselling to the locals, we could clearly see the impact. As a result of working towards this concern, 15 villages are hooch-free and alternative means of livelihood were provided to alcohol shop owners. The mission of nation-building requires a multi-pronged approach, speedy replication, conducive policy-driven top-down implementation strategy and the Foundation is committed to achieving this through its planned activities," Mayank told to The Logical Indian.
Global Parli has also worked on other areas such as healthcare, education, clean energy to bring holistic transformation in villages. For instance, it has set up healthcare camps through which 2,000 people were impacted. Similarly, it distributed ration cards to ensure that families that fall under the poverty line could benefit from government schemes.
In total, it provided 1500 ration cards in a cluster of 15 villages. Apart from this, a total of 1000 clean energy installations were also done by it. These installations included solar lamps distribution, solar street lights, solar water pumps, smokeless chulhas. In this way, the vision of the Foundation lies towards bringing complete transformation in the lives of the villagers.
"The soul of India lives in its villages. Unless villages are transformed, how can India be transformed?" concluded Mayank Gandhi.