Yuva - India

‘Model Gaon’- An initiative by Dr. Heera Lal

Although Indian villages are said to be the soul of Maa Bharati, this soul has lost its purity to urbanization and westernization. However, the sanctity of villages and their worsened condition is eventually observing sunshine.

 “The true India resides in its villages.” ~ Chaudhary Charan Singh, Former Prime Minister of India.

The saying says it all about the Indian culture that resides in the villages of this land as it is said to be holding a treasure of this pious land for millennials. Although Indian villages are said to be the soul of Maa Bharati, this soul has lost its purity to urbanization and westernization. However, the purity of villages and their worsened condition is eventually observing sunshine as an all-new approach to modernize villages by its holistic development under the name of the project “Model Gaon” which has been initiated by an IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre Dr. Heera Lal.

Dr. Heera Lal’s initiative is witnessing high popularity through its progressive nature of ensuring the Indian villages’ holistic development. Dr. Lal was recently praised by the Niti Ayog Vice Chairman Mr. Rajiv Kumar for his great efforts towards brightening the villages; the soul of India.

What is ‘Model Gaon’ all about?

A successful initiative of Mr. Heera Lal in his region Banda UP unfurled its wings enormously. This Model is experimented on the ground in Banda, UP, and is certified. The Model works through a bottom-up approach which ensures the village locals’ active participation in the development of their village.

The Model is developed envisioning Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of ‘Gram Swaraj’ and PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas) of the late President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam. It is an amalgamation of people, technology, traditions, skills, and entrepreneurship spirit coming together to make sustainable development of the villages happen by helping the villages become financially viable, socially equitable, and eco-friendly. The progressive nature ensures sustainable development by transforming them into ‘Model Gaon’ (Model village).

Dr. Heera Lal’s initiative as former District Magistrate, Banda, UP has implemented an ample number of inclusive development schemes and programs like learning tours for rural entrepreneurs which fetched revolutionary results. The learning tour helps the village heads and rural entrepreneurs explore more in terms of technology, practical know-how from Changemaker’s works. It helps the village heads grow in the areas of agriculture and village management. His resolve of converting each village into Model Gaon floods when he quotes “We are constant in our resolve to change the fate and picture of the village.”

The initiative takes into account all the respective stakeholders and development works are divided among them. Alike village heads, local villagers are also imparted education and training about various government schemes administering in the period mostly in ‘Vikas Bhawan’ and ‘Mandi’ on a timely basis. The steps taken resulted in empowerment, good administration and more people connecting.

The approach even showed its magic on the personal development of the local villagers and farmers as they are imparted knowledge 360 degrees, farmer’s income, agro produce and farmers’ attitude shown a remarkable spike in the recent times.

The tried, tested and verified initiative have been put into effect by allocating it into numerous parts to ease the process of development:

Part 1

“Farming is the best industry and farmers are the entrepreneurs.” ~ Dr. Heera Lal

As most of the villages do not even know the basics of development, this part involves villagers in defining local issues in their respective villages by a means of ‘village manifesto’ which helps in setting a goal for the holistic development in the village.

 

The village manifestos involve numerous directives for the growth of villages 360 degrees. It includes the main points such as

  • Cleanliness
  • Education
  • Medical facilities
  • Electricity (through solar panels)
  • Water facilities
  • Employment opportunities
  • Communication
  • Marketing of products
  • Organic/biological products
  • Self-dependent villages
  • Uncontroversial joyful village
  • Village rules
  • Biodata profiled villages
  • Information and Broadcasting experiments
  • Farmer Producer Organization (FPO)
  • Overseas villagers contact support
  • Eradicating malnutrition
  • Afforestation
  • Development of sports/ art/ culture
  • Women empowerment
  • Talent identification and development
  • Village problems and solution
  • Implementation of central and state government’s programs in villages
  • Celebrating village foundation day

Part 2

“Model Gaon can reduce poverty and Unemployment in the villages” ~ Dr. Heera Lal

Following part 1, the aspiring Changemakers and rural communities are identified and developed socially to make the change possible in their society and the rural territory.

Part 3

It visualizes the industrialization of agriculture in villages by transforming the conventional approach into agriculture business through assisted formation and operation of farmer producer companies (FPC/FPO/Group Farming).

Mr. Lal also clears the air by quoting “The project was conceptualized by Munish Gangwar, retired chief general manager of NABARD. We started the project in January this year, and already 1500 village manifestos, outlining how the locals would like to develop their village and what facilities they would like to have there have been made. We are approaching newly elected Pradhan, farmer producer organizations, and Nehru Yuva Kendra members and asking them to join the efforts.” in an interview given to the ToI.

What are FPOs/ FPCs?

A Farmer Producer Organization is a group of farmers who are engaged in agricultural production work and have the same concept in carrying out business activities. Farmers from one village or several villages can also form this group together and can apply for registration as a Farmer Producer Company.

How farmers can become wealthy and what are its benefits?

·       Farmers learn good bargaining power by which they get an opportunity to buy or sell their produce at good prices.

·       Farmers’ produce is aggregated for better marketing opportunities.

·       To increase the value of produce, techniques like sorting, grading, packing, and primary processing can be used.

·       Use of resources like a greenhouse, agriculture mechanization, cold storage, agriculture processing, etc. in pre-harvest and post-harvest.

·       Farmers can expand their business activities by commencing charity stores, custom centres, etc.

The modern bottom-up approach identified by the visionary Dr. Heera Lal and his team for holistically developing villages to make its reach worldwide, in few villages of Uttar Pradesh at the moment but pan India much sooner is commendable.

On talking to Goa Chronicle, IAS Dr. Heera Lal, Founding Visionary, and Mr. Saurabh Lal, CEO, of project Model Gaon, cleared the air about the issues on the outer line of the project:

1.       UP has grown enormously in the past 4 years, how do you look at Yogi Adityanath government’s efforts in this? Are villages facilitated with an understandable amount of help economically and socially?

“The rural landscape of Uttar Pradesh is vast and diverse and hence challenges will also remain. But the pace at which villages are developing, basic infrastructure is improving, opportunities are reaching villages is all very encouraging to see. Even things like willingness to get vaccinated etc. are on the uptrend now. Government policies are villager-friendly and the benefits are reaching the villagers.”

2.    As an additional director, National Health Mission, how do you plan to groom villages and small districts pan India?

“Health is one of the most important aspects for any community to prosper. Hence a focused approach is deployed on constant improvement in health facilities. As Model Gaon, we are focusing on ‘prevention is better than cure. We are promoting a healthy lifestyle by which people don’t fall ill in the first place and hence become a part of a healthy community. Mental health is also very important. Hence, surrounding oneself with good company, reducing stress through Yoga, and other positive lifestyle changes are few important things that we are trying to spread awareness on in villages for a happier and healthier community.”

3.    Until now how many villages have been developed as Model Gaon or are under the process?

“There are two gram panchayats which have already started to develop as model villages in the districts of Etah and Gorakhpur. We are also screening 56 more gram panchayats to include them in the project while we continue to engage villagers across 12 states of India.”

4.   What plans does Model Gaon have for women in villages? And how can it employ them?

“Women are at the heart of our model of village development and we have created a special focus group for women where we continually research issues pertaining to women which need to be addressed and engage them with relevant experts for knowledge and experience sharing. We are also working towards developing entrepreneurial opportunities for them and approaching them via the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) which organizes the poor into Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which in the future will make them financially independent and socially respected.”

5.    How do you see the role of NGOs in Nation-building?

“Nation-building is a collective responsibility, be it an institution or individual. Especially with non-profits who work in the midst of communities, they play an extremely important role. They have the power to mobilize people towards a cause. Through people’s participation, they can start a movement that helps communities reach their end goals of development and welfare. And as we strengthen our communities and villages, the nation will march towards greatness!”

6.  What Model Gaon is doing to see e-farmer and e-agriculture?

“We are contacting CSC and VLE located in villages. They are helping us to convert into e-village and to bring startups into the village.”

7.   Who assists you in running this in an organized way?

“ICICI foundation is supporting us in all ways. Model Gaon is thankful to the foundation.”

During the challenging times of COVID-19, workers from across the nation went back to their hometowns as they felt safe with the family and the environment they grew up in. This clearly signals all of us to bring villages into focus to improve as Gaon-Government-Governance will paint India with the best colors.

As it is well said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, Model Gaon is one such step towards gaining that ancient purity of the land. One step has eventually brought many others in the same direction as it continues to do so.

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author

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