Welcome to do-it-yourself villages of confidence
From teachers to cleanliness, see how people of Ara & Keram have taken charge
Ranchi: The first person to wake up in the morning at Ara village announces the day on the loudspeaker. His voice carries to nearby Keram village and soon all residents of the two hamlets near Ranchi are out of their homes to clean their surroundings.
That's how the day begins for the 600 men, women and children of Ara and Karam, the two villages of Ormanjhi block that have through the year managed to involve everyone to ensure their lives are better and happier.
So, if the only government middle school of the area had only two para teachers, residents pooled in resources and appointed two educated youths from their own to join and help students on a monthly salary of Rs 4,000. Since liquor was a problem with the men folk spending most of their meagre resources on hooch, the villagers got together and ensured there was total prohibition.
Today there is graffiti on the walls of their homes that say so: Bura na maney sharaab bandi hai (Don't mind, no liquor here).
"These two villagers are shining examples of how if a gram (village) wants to do things on their own, nothing is impossible. No government scheme can succeed without people's cooperation," said Ranchi deputy commissioner Manoj Kumar, echoing what chief minister Raghubar Das said the other day when he exhorted everyone to visit the villages for a first-hand experience of their journey towards self-sufficiency.
"The government has only backed their efforts through MNREGA schemes and livelihood options like fisheries and poultry. But the people of the villages ensured actual implementation in the last one year," Kumar said.
There are 117 households in the two revenue villages with a total population of over 600. Both Ara and Keram are around 3km from Kulhi village, which is about 4km from Ormanjhi block chowk that is 30km from Ranchi.
Gram pradhan Gopal Ram Bediya explained how it all started with a visit to Anna Hazare's village, Ralegan Siddhi in Maharashtra, last year.
"MNREGA commissioner Siddharth Tripathi, who came here sometime in April last year to preside over a van raksha bandhan programme where we tie rakhi to trees to promote plantation, appreciated our efforts of tree conservation. He kept encouraging us. Then, he arranged a tour for about 35 of us, including women, to Anna's village where we learnt how residents there ensured cleanliness, took decisions for the betterment of the community and everyone helped each other to fight social evils," he said.
There are also signboards on approach roads declaring Aram and Kera as total prohibition areas. "These messages are for visitors so that they know liquor isn't allowed here," declared Baburam Gope, a recovered alcoholic who is now president of Nav Jagriti Samiti, an organisation of local residents.
Cleanliness is other most striking feature of the villages. If there is no litter it is because women have erected 60 bamboo contraptions that are used as dumps.
Gram Pradhan Bediya explains the drill. "At 4.30am, whoever wakes up first, calls out the others using the mike from our announcement room. Everyone, be it the elderly or children, takes a broom and cleans their surroundings for an hour. Thereafter, the two tutors hold a class for all the children before they leave for school. Others go about their daily work, mostly in farms," he said.