Special Correspondent

Survey points to backwardness of villages even after 60 years of independence

Kozhikode: ‘Bharathanjali Swasraya Gramam,’ an NGO which has been engaged in spreading Gandhian principles, has sought the active participation of students and housewives in its programmes that aim at achieving the Gandhian goal of making villages self-reliant.

K.V. Krishnan, spokesman for the organisation, said on Wednesday that surveys conducted recently by Bharathanjali Swasraya Gramam had shown that the Gandhian dream of self-reliant villages had not been achieved even six decades after the country became Independent. As an example of the shocking backwardness that still prevailed in most village, he cited finding of a survey conducted recently by volunteers of Bharatanjali Swasraya Gramam’s unit in Eravanoor, about 15 km from the city, near Narikunni.

The students who carried out the survey found that of the 228 members from 50 families they came across, 22 belonged to Scheduled Castes; 12 of these families lived in thatched sheds that had mud wall; two families did not have even that much shelter; there were huts that did not have power supply and latrines. Educational standard in the region was low. Only six out of 50 women there had studied up to degree classes. And, only one man had that much education.

There were many people suffering from diabetes, blood pressure and arthritis. Awareness about hygiene and sanitation was also low; consumption of liquor was also high. Yet the overall health status of the residents was not alarming – this was probably because the villages had access to safe drinking water and the atmosphere was unpolluted. Of the residents covered in the survey only two persons had government jobs; two others had found employment in Gulf countries and the rest were labourers.

Mr. Krishnan said “this is not the story of Eravanoor alone. Our surveys have shown that the situation in many other villages in our State is no different. We seem to be interested only in IT parks and tourist resorts… many people, including members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, are still poor and have to struggle to make both ends meet.”

Mr. Krishnan, who is a member of the Indian Council of Gandhian Studies in New Delhi, is quick to point out he is only one of the many Gandhians actively engaged in programmes to popularise Gandhian ideals even though they are pitted against heavy odds.