This Andhra village has lessons to teach
If India lives in its villages, then the model it perhaps must follow is Gangadevipalli, a hamlet in Andhra Pradesh's Warangal district where every house has the bare necessities of life, and more.
From regular power and water supply to a scientific water filtration plant, a community-owned cable TV service and concrete, well-lit roads, Gangadevipalli has been steadily gaining in prosperity thanks to a disciplined and determined community that has also managed to work in harmony towards goals set collectively.
The village, about 200 km north of state capital Hyderabad, has won several awards, including the "Nirmal Gram Puraskar", for health and hygiene.
Now, the village headman has been invited to Nepal to recount Gangadevipalli's success story.
"Our village has been hogging the limelight for all the right reasons. I have now been invited to Nepal to explain how we work so cohesively," headman K. Rajamouli told IANS.
With a population of a little over 1,300, the village has 100 percent adult literacy. The school dropout rate has been zero since 2000.
"The unity of the village and the realisation of the need for community development are at the root of the achievements of Gangadevipalli," says S.S. Reddy of Bala Vikasa Social Service Society, an NGO that has been working closely with villagers.
The village has over two dozen committees, which manage areas like health and hygiene, the provision of drinking water, cable television and literacy.
Another remarkable achievement for the village is that its married population under the age of 35 does not have more than two children.
The village now boasts 100 percent survival of new-born babies, their inoculation and immunisation, as well as regular vaccination of children below five. The supply of nutritious food to children and pregnant and lactating women, along with regular health check-ups, is also among the unique achievements of the village.
The gender ratio of women and men is almost the same. Each woman is also a member of a self-help group, making a significant contribution to the family income.
Apart from having savings of at least Rs.10,000 each, every family has a life insurance policy, prompting authorities to give the village the "Beema Gram" award.
The farmers' development panel looks into improvements in agriculture; experts explore ways of increasing productivity as well as reducing farming costs.
But sometimes, even discipline could result in loss: "While farmers all over the state rejoiced after the government announced waiver of agricultural loans for small and marginal farmers, peasants here suffered a loss of over Rs.40 lakh because we had repaid our loans on time," headman Rajamouli said.
There is also a committee to come to the help of villagers engaged in family disputes. A civil supplies body ensures that no corruption takes place in the supply of essential commodities through ration shops.
The village also enforces a complete ban on the sale of alcohol.
"Drinking may lead to communal disharmony as well as domestic abuse. Hence the sale of liquor has been banned for more than a decade now," said Kusam Ramaiah, head of the prohibition committee.
The journey to progress has not been smooth sailing, though.
"The essence of our prosperity and development is our unity, and it took years to forge that. There were so many divisions on the basis of caste, religion, political belief, etc, but we did not lose heart," says S. Kaadambani, the member of a self-help group.
As the village became famous, the residents launched a fresh scheme to garner revenue - visitors are charged Rs.1,600 for a conducted tour with proper guides to explain the progress that the village has witnessed. Government functionaries, members of other gram panchayats, media people and NGO activists from within the country and abroad are among those who have dropped by.
There are at least two visits to this model village each week.
(Anurag Dey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 29-03-2013)