With an abundance of natural beauty and charm, rural India is home to 65% of the nation’s population. Its luscious green fields, clean air, organically grown produce, fresh milk, simplicity, spirituality, and cooperation among peoples and bright sparkling stars against clear blue skies evoke memories of opportunity and boundless freedom. But as India’s bustling urban centers fight to join the ranks of global metropolitan megacities, the basic developmental needs of its villages are being neglected, with many of them still lacking essential affordable social services and infrastructure (e.g. education, healthcare, clean water etc.). Unfortunately, the charm of countryside living is slowly fading away. Recently a shift noticed as peoples suffering and suffocation in the city and the fear of the pandemic has prompted migrants to try to rebuild their lives in their villages.
The growing wealth gap between the rich and poor is no secret, and the disparity is most prominent when comparing the general standard of living between those in the city and in the village. But individuals who have achieved social mobility can help facilitate rural development and empower people with the skills and knowledge needed to sustainably bridge this gap. As a compassionate and caring human beings, this is our responsibility, and an opportunity to remain close to our roots, setting a positive example for future generations, practicing seva (giving) and fulfilling our lives.
The Shrimad Bhagavad Gita highlights austerity (tapa), charity (dana), sacrifice (yagna) and service (seva) as the foundations of any well-functioning society. In the spirit of this teaching, I would like to encourage likeminded individuals who are willing to dedicate some of their time, resources and skills towards a shared vision of a progressive rural India. This would entail improving conditions for the most impoverished groups and supporting the vulnerable populations. This would result to achieve a balance childhood development, seniors and women living with dignity, and youths are motivated. I pledge to direct my efforts toward these activities and preserving the heritage in Fatehpura, Jalaun, UP, my childhood home. The strength and happiness of a community is a direct reflection of those who help build it, so I encourage every willing and able person, to contribute.
The hope is that these initiatives will inspire and support to explore and evolve to their potentials and encourage a shift in attitude, from one of scarcity and fear to that of abundant love: (i) develop the strength to serve others, (ii) more compassion to treat others with dignity and respect, and (iii) have the courage to lead a life of strong character.
Here is a outline of projects/initiatives (reconnection with their roots so that they can contribute to the development) which can be undertaken (in person or virtual) to serve our mission and how we can measure our success by reviewing progress annually from the baseline information (database):
|Activities / Development Projects||Measurement/Purpose|
|Mentorship and coaching for children/youth to help them achieve their full potential and live a meaningful life (in existing or in a new setup). Organize projects that model completion of tasks and both engage and empower participations from various age group at various levels||Skill & knowledge acquisition (growth); goal setting, pursuit (imagination), balance in life and successful career.|
|Establish a local library and programs for cooperative skill/knowledge sharing. Share the literatures from other institutions and NGOs.||Literacy & skill development. Emerge hunger for knowledge|
|Construct reasonable lodging facilities for higher education in cities.||Encourage higher education|
|Provide education on the celebrations (national, social, spiritual); use and misuse of technology (cell phone, internet, computer, media etc.).||Empowerment, balance in life and meaningful modernization|
|Guest speaker series – Forces, Teachers, Engineers, Doctors, Administrators, Railway and other private & public employees/retirees||Facilitate vision, goal setting and encourage achievements|
|Career/ Education Counselling – Advice on resume development, interviews and career planning within India and abroad. Assistance in college/universities, VISA, Passport, Aadhar Card applications etc.||Empower and help people to become satisfied & happy contributing citizens|
|Health and Wellness|
|Provide basic health care access by coordinating regular visits by health care providers. Encouraging use of ayurvedic medicines, home remedies and living a balance and healthy life style (no drug abuse).||Improved health, honour for healthcare givers and increase the life expectancy|
|Develop field and sports facilities and encourage participations for a healthy and a balanced lifestyle and to ensure nobody sleep hungry.||Better health, wellness, and happiness and less illness|
|Wealth / Financial Wellness|
|Financial support (fund) for those with the greatest need, to help cover costs associated with: (i) education, (ii) sickness, (iii) weddings, (iv) after-death rituals, loan repayment, and (v) food and shelter||Collective sense of security, charity (giving), acceptance and cohesiveness in society|
|Awareness of Government Schemes (list) and implementation, E.g.: (i) Insurances: life, animal and crop (ii) Personal bank accounts & savings (iii) Natural energy source (e.g. solar, wind, biofuel etc.), (iv) Issues of water conservations, water pollution, waste disposal (v) Loan acquisition and repayment options (vi) Citizen rights and responsibilities, (vii) Navodaya school, (viii) Agriculture & Politics etc.||Improvement in financial independence, environmental health and more positive engagement in civic amenities and make use of the available service to empower the self|
|Promote immigrations & development in India by overseas Indians.||Pravasi Bhartiya activities|
|Microloan to encourage co-operatives (farm equipment, utility shops), entrepreneurship (women & youths) and local industrial growth.||Improvement in income & opportunities to employment|
|Spiritual Enrichment and Wellness|
|Temple maintenance and regular (nitya, niyamit and Prabhat pheri) religious & spiritual programs e.g. Ramayan, Bhagavat, Keertan, Gita.||Oneness, social, spiritual and community engagement|
|Managing cow/animal shelters to help promote value based living.|
|Facilitate spiritual journeys (yatras) to Religious places (e.g. Mathura, Vrindavan, Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Varanasi, Hardwar, Prayagraj etc.).||Broaden the perspectives and drive to meaningful life.|
|Workshops and counseling for: leading a meaningful life, parenting, spirituality, science, logic, culture & heritage, and respectful dealings with all, regardless of age, caste, gender or profession.||Decrease in conflicts and increase in moral values with helping hands (safety, dignity)|
|Social and Environmental Engagement and Wellness|
|Liaise with government agencies and counsel individuals to resolution of their day to day issues and conflicts.||Growth, saving, development and resolution of conflicts|
|Provide lessons on the importance of environmental preservation, tree plantation, water (pond) and resource optimization/conservations||Greener village, reduction of waste|
|Explore local heritage sites and developing spiritual, cultural and site specific heritage documents (potential tourism in the area).||Cultivating the value of Heritage, Culture and Diversity|