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“These *&^$#@@# politicians… all they care about is their power… no one gives two hoots for our development…. Our lives”

These were the words that greeted the assessment team in the village Malkaranja in Osmanabad district. The speaker . .. an old man of around 75… the reasons are clear…

  • This was a village which had a dairy collecting 2200 litres of milk each day… It had fat testers, degree testers…. Today the collection has dropped to 150 litres.
  • This village has a school that has been declared the best in the district. It has good building, good teachers, children who can actually read, write and do sums and 4 latest computers…these are gathering dust because of lack of power supply during school hours.
  • The village farms are well irrigated… there are a lot of bore wells [more than 300 bore wells gone down up to 650 feet] that have been taken by the farmers…
  • Fortunately, this year, there was more than sufficient rainfall, but due to lack of power supply… farmers can not irrigate crops.

All of these are of no use! The reason…. The village has no power supply for over 18 hours each day! The villagers are told that the state is facing a severe power shortage… load shedding is essential… they have to bite the bullet and live in the dark…. However, people are not convinced.. they are not able to understand… you see only a few kms away a sugar factory works day and night (converted to day by the lighting) without fail on state supplied power… how is that possible they say… poor fools… they don’t understand that in our country all animals are equal but some are more equal than others… they perhaps do not know that the factory in question is owned, on a co-operative basis, by a powerful peoples leader.

The children in the school, in classes 5-7 came up with an interesting definition of drought. They felt a drought was when there was no electrical power, there was no food to eat and no work… this is not being made up… this was actually the definition the children gave of their conception of drought.

It is not as if all is hunky-dory in this village. It has its own share of mismanagement. How would one otherwise account for 300 bore wells in one village with a population of 2,000! Farmers know that where they would strike water at 250 feet, just 5-7 years ago, they have to now reach down to 650 feet.. they know that the water source they are tapping is not replenishable but like a farmer told us……… “we are more interested in surviving today… tomorrow may take care of itself… or it may not… we will deal with it later”.

This is more or less the attitude that one faces while dealing with the poor rural folk… this is the attitude that has to be changed. This is what the effort of the Padayatra is all about.

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