Melagodu's Army connection

Family members of the Army men from the village in front of the association  

JAI JAWAN, Jai Kisan, a slogan popularised by the late Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, has become a reality in Melagodu, a small village in Dudda hobli of Hassan taluk in a different sense. The farmers of this small village are joining the Army in large numbers.

Melagodu, which is dependant largely on agriculture, has regularly sent men to the Army in the last two decades.

With a population of 2,000, the village has sent 34 youngsters to the Army so far. The villagers claim that Melagodu has sent the highest number of youngsters to the Army compared with any other village in the State.

The villagers have now formed an association to create awareness among youngsters on the importance of joining the Army and serving the country.

A view of the village.

A view of the village.  

Kari Gowda, an ex-serviceman and the president of the association, says that it all started in 1979 when Rayappa of Chourikoplu village, who was in the Army, used to visit Melagodu and narrate his experiences in the Army. Encouraged by this, Chande Gowda joined the Army and, on his visit to the village, he enlightened many youngsters on the importance of joining the Army.

He says the enthusiasm of the people from neighbouring Kodagu, who are joining the Army in large numbers, also played an important role in persuading the youngsters in the village to follow suit. Interestingly, three members of one family are serving in the Army now. Kari Gowda says that besides patriotism, it is poverty that is leading the youngsters to join the Army in an effort to support their families.

Of the 34, one person died of illness and six have retired from service. The others are guarding the borders of the country at various points and most of them had a part in the Kargil conflict.

Govinde Gowda, vice-president of the association, took part in the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) operation in the Vavunia region of Sri Lanka. The association is now involved in educating youth in villages nearby on the importance of joining the Army. Govinde Gowda says this has also helped reduce the crime rate in the village.

The village has progressed due to the awareness created by the association. Melagodu has basic facilities, including a post office, an Ayurveda and a veterinary hospital, a milk producers union and a primary land development bank.

The association is making efforts to convert Melagodu as a model village in the district, Kari Gowda says.

By Muralidhar Khazane in Hassan