29th Sept 08:
…This Yathre also showed us the real situation regarding the caste divides prevailing in rural India. At many places, when we went to drink water from a hand pump or a water tank, people would wash them with a bit of cow dung and ‘purify’ the same before and after our use. Access to homes and even their toilets depended on the villagers making sure that we belonged only to their caste. Many a times, our ladies were denied access to the toilets even in times of dire need only because we refused to disclose our castes. It seemed such a tragedy that so many social reformers have come and gone, but the people continue to bask in the security of their own castes and accompanying beliefs. Very few have the courage to break these barriers and let their spirits soar in freedom.
We were joined by our friend and well-wisher Sri Chamanlalji. He spoke to the team on how we need to begin with educating our people about their rights and then move on to getting them to understand and use the RTI Act. It is indeed a privilege for us to have him amidst us. Here is a man who is a living example of how to live one’s values. We have so much to learn from him. If only, each one of us could emulate him and his love for the country!
The days are passing by so quickly….it seems like we left Saragur only a few days ago! The Yathre has helped us to redefine our own beliefs and impressions about rural India.
We have realized that community driven development will just remain another slogan, until communities themselves realize and internalize their own potential and capabilities. The RTI can indeed be a powerful act to restore confidence in rural communities; it can help them understand the different development schemes impacting them everyday and help them take control of the situations. It can also change the power equations in rural India. It can indeed be a powerful catalyst in ushering in the transformation of India from a ‘representative democracy’ to a ‘participatory’ one. It can make the entire development process so much more ‘inclusive’.