Rural areas are yet to get their due, says writer

Published - May 20, 2024 07:25 pm IST - Belagavi

Writer Nagesh Hegde at a function to release Halligalannu Kattuva Kashta Sukha by Prakash Bhat in Dharwad on Sunday.

Writer Nagesh Hegde at a function to release Halligalannu Kattuva Kashta Sukha by Prakash Bhat in Dharwad on Sunday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Kannada book Halligalannnu Kattuv Kashta Sukha, an autobiographical work by Prakash Bhat, rural development activist and former regional director of BAIF, was released in Dharwad on Sunday.

Writers, activists, and residents of villages, where Dr. Bhat had worked for several decades, attended the event held at the Alur Venkatrao hall. They shared their experiences.

Nagesh Hegde, development journalist and science communicator, recalled his long association with Dr. Bhat. He pointed out that despite all the progress in India, due priority was not accorded to villages.

“Just look at the Republic Day parade tableaux. In the beginning are those celebrating war and arms and ammunitions. At the end are villagers, farmers, handicrafts persons, and others. That shows the priority we accord to various sectors,” he said. “The miseries of villagers has featured in the speeches of leaders from Indira Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi, but we seem to have done little about it. In such a situation, people like Dr. Bhat who have stayed in villages and worked for their uplift, without talking much about it, are important for us,” he said.

In the book, Dr. Bhat has helped us understand their difficulties and explore solutions for them. He has brought the difficulties of building self-reliant villages, he said. He hoped the book would be translated into various languages.

Dr. Bhatt spoke about his early life. “I got a veterinary degree and went abroad for higher studies. But I returned to India and began working for BAIF, founded by Manibhai Desai. I chose to go to villages and tried to understand the problems of villagers. I found that a small amount of care and affection towards them is returned many times over. I am the best example to demonstrate this phenomenon,” he said. “Money is not the only thing important to them in life. They value relations,” he said.

Tejaswi Kattimani, Vice-Chancellor, Central Tribal University of Andhra Pradesh, said that Dr. Bhat and his team had made a difference in the lives of 75 villages. Over 7,000 families have been involved in the transformative process.

“Not only this, he has set an example of how to fight drought . Over 20 lakh trees have been planted and over 50 crore litres of rainwater have been collected through various structures,” Prof. Kattimani said.

Dhamakka Patil of Surashettikoppa, a beneficiary of the BAIF projects, spoke of how Dr. Bhat and his team transformed the village and the lives of villagers, through a well-rounded approach. “When they first came, no one believed they could make a difference. But we soon realised their sincerity and engaged with them. They took up projects like financial management, rainwater harvesting, energy efficiency, health and hygiene, and other programmes,” she said.

Villagers sang songs and symbolically opened a box of rotis to mark the occasion.

Thinker Krishnamarthi Biligere, publisher G.N. Mohan, and others held an interaction with the writer. Questions were asked about Dr. Bhatt’s idea of sustainable lifestyles, association with villagers, and others. His wife Sunanda Bhatt spoke. MLA Aravinda Bellada, former MLA D.R. Patila, writer Malathi Patnashetty, and residents of villages like Bellakki, Surashettikoppa and others participated.

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