Saturday, August 29, 2009

DBDS #035 RETURNING TO THE VILLAGE, REVIVING THE GRAM SABHA

Gregory Almeida sdb
KAWANT, AUGUST 29, 2009:
August 27, 2009, marked a major event for Don Bosco Kawant, as the students of Standard IX visited Singalda village to witness a Gram Sabha LIVE!

Before visiting the village, the students were briefed about the importance and purpose of Gram Sabhas through two short videos dealing with the benefits of attending Gram Sabhas and the practical problems that people face while participating in them.

The students were welcomed by the Sarpanch and Talati of the village, and were given a place of honour at the very front of the gathering! As the meeting progressed, it was obvious that the officials were making a special effort to conduct the proceedings properly and answer people’s questions, even if it was only an attempt to leave a good impression on the children! The people of the village were also happy to have the students in their midst, and this strengthened their resolve to participate actively in future programmes.
At the meeting, the students were able to put all their classroom knowledge of Panchayat systems into perspective, as they witnessed first-hand the way in which government systems function in the villages. The experience helped them understand that although many factors prevent people from claming their rights, they can move towards empowerment by insisting on participating in Panchayati Raj institutions.

With the Governance Project taking shape in our province through a focus on the NREG and Panchayati Raj, this visit helped the students realize that it is their turn to return to their villages and participate in programmes such as the Gram Sabha. While many students leave the village after completing their studies, today’s experience helped the children understand that proper guidance, organized strength and leadership can also enable people in the rural areas to live a dignified life.
Attending the Gram Sabha reminded these future leaders of their responsibility towards their villages. The entire experience recalled the story of the film ‘Swades’, wherein the educated hero returns to his village to lead his people to a just form of development. And at Don Bosco Kawant, the time has come for our young people to return to the villages to bring about a CHANGE FOR BETTER LIVING.

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