His wife butts in:"Whole villages were without men. Our funerals required that men washed the bodies before cremation. We found none to do that. We women did that too."
He continues, looking at a very still Bhat:"Then came BAIF and my pond. I make Rs.48,000 a year. Our children don't leave these villages anymore to graze others cattle for food. Do you know, how it aches with pleasure to see your children about the house, playing and reading."
Everyone is silent for a long while. But a new sadness rears its head in the silence.
How much has it taken to change the lives of 10,000 people, permanently? About 10 spirited leaders, under Rs.50 per head per month for 7 years. Did this money have to come from abroad? Though one is grateful to the EU, must Indians remain askance of foreign initiatives? In this internet age, is it not possible for groups to raise Rs.5 crores and badger BAIF to replicate the Dharwad model in another place? How easily the educated, well-to-do Indians leave it to the government or foreigners to do their work and spend their time discussing the ills of the state.
Dharwad proves that subsidies, credit and high technology are not necessary to bring prosperity to villages. Right information, sensitivity to nature's ways, conservation of resources and a modest recyclable capital are more than enough. These simple Indians have stared down droughts. When will educated ones stare down the indignity of seeking money and initiatives from abroad.
BAIF Institute of Rural Development
Plot No.2, 11th Cross, Kusum Nagar,
Dr Bhat [Mobile]:94484-35005