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  • Writer's pictureAdvait Girish


It might surprise you to know 830 million people in India live in villages. That’s about 63% of the population, but despite this India’s vision is highly urban centric.

The general condition of the rural population is terrible, with almost 3/4th having an income of less than Rs 5000 a month. This is not surprising, since more than half of the occupants of such villages don’t own land and are casual laborers. These villages also have low literacy levels and bad healthcare services. Some people migrate from villages to cities but urban areas cannot take the load of migration either.

We have created an economy of rich cities and poor villages and bridging the gap certainly won’t be easy, but with the right intent it is possible.

Hiware Bazar is a village in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. Popatrao Pawar had just finished his post-graduation in 1989. He returned to the village for a visit and what he saw shocked him. The village was in clutches of extreme poverty and alcoholism caused by drought and crop failure and many people were migrating away to nearby villages and cities.

Against his family's wishes, Pawar turned his back on a secure life he could easily have with his education but instead decided to help his village. He became the village headman, implemented a 7-point program with the help of the women and children, and worked hard for years.

It was extremely difficult but he never gave up hope and finally in 1998, after 9 years, the efforts paid off. In 1995, 168 families out of the 180 that lived in the village were under the poverty line. In 1998 only 51 were. Seeing this turnaround, families reverse-migrated back to the village. Today the village has over 60 millionaires. Pawar and Hiware Bazar have become role-models all over the country, attracting international attention. In 2020 Pawar was awarded the Padma Shri.

One man, Pawar, put the needs of his village before him and changed the lives of so many people. We too can do the same. We don’t need armies of people. We just need one person with a vision and we can change the lives of thousands for the better. Be the change you wish to see!

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