Think deserts. Think Thar. Think western Rajasthan. The images that conjures up in your mind with these words is the difficult terrain and the chronic droughts that strike this arid state. It is under this grim scenario that GRAMIN VIKAS VIGYAN SAMITI was founded in 1983 by an enthusiastic group of activists led by the late Lakshmi Chand Tyagi and his wife Shashi Tyagi based on community dynamics.
As their core area is the empowerment of local communities, they work in tandem with villagers and govt. organisations bridging the gap between administration and aspirations. They are firmly focused on mitigating droughts, water harvesting and judicious use of natural resources.
The Gandhian philosophy of ‘Sarvodaya–all rising, but the last person first’– is the basis of Gravis’ strategy and approach. Village communities are exhorted to stake ownership of their environment and institutions because self-reliance is the key to their survival. They have adopted an integrated approach for sustainable development- interacting directly with people for data collection, making documentaries, capacity building and the major segment of health care through programmes like Kriya – which facilitates training on traditional crafts to women prisoners and village women for access to livelihood, VOPA-Village Old People’s Association and Village Education Committee to name a few.
Working on meager resources they have however covered more than a 1000 villages in Rajasthan especially around the Tinwari village and Uttarakhand states of India. Their success lies in mainly blending local expertise with modern technology thus optimising the use of scarce resources to transform lives. Setting up ‘Khadins’- rainwater storage tanks and tankaas-water tanks which can store water between 18000 -20000 liters, sufficient for a family for 4-5 months. Thus it has helped transform lives. Another hurdle is reaching a consensus with the villagers and caste dynamics that come into play along with dwindling resources because India is no longer a priority country for international donors.
However, despite these practical hurdles, they are driven by the philosophy of John. F.Kennedy,’ECONOMIC GROWTH WITHOUT SOCIAL PROGRESS LETS THE GREAT MAJORITY OF REMAIN IN POVERTY, WHILE A PRIVILEGED FEW REAP THE BENEFITS OF RISING ABUNDANCE