Vil­lage Repub­lic

Baghuwar vil­lage shows how col­lec­tive will can usher in real change

India Today - - STATES - By Rahul Noronha

Con­crete streets swept clean ev­ery morn­ing, un­der­ground sew­er­age, lush parks, a hun­dred per cent lit­er­acy rate (the best among MP’s 50,000 vil­lages), Baghuwar is proof of what the col­lec­tive will of a com­mu­nity can ac­com­plish.

Just 4 km from the Nars­ingh­pur-Pi­paria high­way, Baghuwar has never wit­nessed a lo­cal elec­tion bar­ring a sin­gle ex­cep­tion for the post of sarpanch in 2014. Pan­chayat mem­bers, the sarpanch, the sec­ond tier jan­pad pan­chayat member, the co­op­er­a­tive so­ci­ety pres­i­dent, they are all ap­pointed through con­sen­sus. “There’s never any dis­agree­ment,” says R.S. Naro­lia, a re­tired civil ser­vant who re­turned to live here in his an­ces­tral home.

In­cred­i­bly, the key to their suc­cess story is the vil­lagers’ re­fusal to rely on gov­ern­ment grants alone to get things done. Lo­cal res­i­dent Shrini­was Malviya tells you that fi­nan­cial sup­port from the state is most of­ten only a frac­tion of what the vil­lage ac­tu­ally spends on a project. Not happy, for in­stance, with the Rs 1.5 lakh state grant for a new com­mu­nity cen­tre, vil­lagers pooled re­sources and spent Rs 7 lakh for a build­ing more suited to their needs.

And it’s not just about funds. Baghuwar’s peo­ple also in­sist on fi­nal­is­ing the en­gi­neer­ing de­tails of most projects with­out as­sis­tance from MP’s Ru­ral En­gi­neer­ing Ser­vices. Like the check dam to re­ju­ve­nate the dy­ing Dhamni river which raised the water ta­ble from 150 feet to a much hap­pier 30 feet, hugely im­prov­ing farm oper­a­tions, and in­nu­mer­able other ven­tures in­clud­ing a new build­ing to re­place the Bri­tish­

BAGHUWAR IS NOW A MODEL PAN­CHAYAT, SERV­ING AS A TRAIN­ING CEN­TRE FOR PAN­CHAYAT MEM­BERS ACROSS MP

era school­house, bridges, cul­verts and the con­crete streets.

The self­re­liant in­tent has reached their fields too. Res­i­dents now have the ser­vices of 35 trac­tors and 75 crusher ma­chines to process the boun­ti­ful sug­ar­cane har­vest. They are also pro­gres­sively mov­ing on to or­ganic farm­ing. “We owe ev­ery­thing to the vil­lage. It is time to give back,” Naro­lia says, a sen­ti­ment ev­ery­one here echoes.

Baghuwar is now a model pan­chayat, serv­ing as a train­ing cen­tre for pan­chayat mem­bers from across the state. Also key to their story is the man­age­ment of lo­cal caste equa­tions. The tiny ham­let in­cludes Thakurs, Dalits, Kaachis (vegetable grow­ers) and Gaurs (OBC farm­ing com­mu­nity). Yet even in­ter­caste mar­riages never be­come an is­sue here.

VIKRAM SHARMA

ON OUR OWN An­gan­wadi work­ers at ideal vil­lage Baghuwar in Nars­ingh­pur district

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