Rasulpur is a small village situated at a distance of 125 kms from Dehradun to the south of the Rajaji National Park (Uttaranchal). The village comprises of about 1000-1200 people and the majority of the population living in the village belongs to the scheduled caste category. What is startling is the fact that despite the ongoing process of development in the state as well as the country the village remains totally remote with lack of basic amenities of life.
The village is apparently in a dire economic state with acute poverty and miserable health conditions. The mode of transport is bullock carts that are just not slow but also tedious and time consuming.
Construction of a road to the village is under process but it seems that the coming monsoons would pose a major hindrance to the completion of the project. The nearest town to the village is at a distance of about 15 kms.
A major flaw in the development strategy being followed in India has been the virtual neglect of education and health care. This village is no exception. The village school has two teachers imparting education to about 100-150 students besides the fact that the condition of the class rooms isn’t worth mentioning. There aren’t any chairs or tables for the students.
There is widespread unemployment and all these together form a vicious circle of poverty and abysmally low standard of living.
I worked with a Doon based N.G.O: the Friends of the Doon Society that has adopted this village and is working towards improving the socio-economic conditions of the people of Rasulpur.
The f.o.d.s is supported by the elephant family mutual fund and SRTT confederation of Indian industries (C.I.I.) and the sterlite group of industries are also coming forward to offer their assistance.
The main objectives of the f.o.d.s have been >
• To provide gainful employment opportunities for the youth of the village by providing vocational training in various fields so that they can be productively employed.
• Improving the social and economic condition of the village by taking up issues such as education, health care and infrastructure. Under this objective, improving the quality of cattle and the milk extracted is also being taken care of.
I got a chance to participate in a vet nary camp that was organized by the f.o.d.s in the village on the 24th of May 2008, where the cattle of the village were vaccinated in order to immunize them against F.M.D. This is viral disease popularly known as the foot and mouth disease which causes blisters and renders the cattle unproductive. It could also lead to the death of calves. It is a contagious disease hence immunization is essential.
The exercise was carried out by Dr. Neeraj Singhal of the Uttaranchal Livestock Development Board We visited every single household.
The attitude of the households was positive to some extent nevertheless there were some that showed reluctance and aversion to the vaccination of their cattle. The number of animals that were vaccinated was approximately 100 while de-worming of the cattle was also simultaneously carried out as the doctor provided the required medicines to the cattle owners.
The people of the village even though largely illiterate do show some promise if given the right direction and motivation. We do not expect overnight changes but we can’t rule out the possibility of a phenomenal change that might be under process. Besides the hard work and the impressive initiative taken by the f.o.d.s, government’s recognition and appreciation of the effort can do wonders.
As we move further on a trajectory that would make our country prosperous, we must not forget that there is the other side to this shining India which still remains in the shadows of poverty and distress. It is this ‘bharat’ that we need to liberate from the shackles of misery only then can we expect our country to progress in the right sense of the term.