Gandhi Vichar Parishad, Bankura

 

 

A Brief Profile

Gandhi Vichar Parishad (GVP) is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious voluntary organization which was established in the year 1965.The mission of this organization was to reconstruct the villages on the line of concept and praxis of “ Gram Swaraj” as articulated by Mahatma Gandhi and later taken up by Achayara Vinoba Bhave as part of non –violent revolution of post-Gandhi era to solve the country’s land problem. Indeed, Acharya Bhave had made a padaytra in this district for mobilizing young men and women for this movement

Initially, it was started as a study circle for discussion and dissemination of Gandhian ideas and values among the urbane educated classes. Finally at the clarion call of LOknayak Jayprakash Narayan this organization extended its activities in rural areas by establishing basic infrastructure with concrete work programmes which ultimately could mature into self-governed and self-sustained village republics with legislative judiciary and executive combined. The experiment started in 10 villages by formation of own organization of the villagers called LOK Samity with a set of operative principles and embarking on an action programme commensurate with the vision and mission of the organization.


Power to Where it belongs--The Lok Samity runs and governs all the affairs of the village, operates cohesively and unanimously in a communication pattern that nurses in its core the essence of a republican village with its Judiciary, Legislative and Executive taken together.
It formulates development plans and programmes, establishes priorities, determines budget, secures and disburses development funds, keeps accounts, maintains community assets ,settles village disputes, forms rules and regulations.
Every member is required to act in a non-partisan manner when he is in the Gram Sabha for village development programme.
With these guiding principles the village councils function with full freedom and GVP provides a moral presence drawing attention of village councils in case of any deviation from the accepted principles.


Modus Operandi: The Lok Samities are motivated to jointly deploy its manpower in developing natural resources of the villages for creating a stable resource base for them to struggle to obtain a life of justice and dignity.
1)The primary focus is on land improvement activities including reclamation of fallow land, creation of an assured irrigation system and improved agricultural practice for yielding more varieties of crops to eradicate food insecurity of the villagers.


2)Creation of forest on a large scale for reducing soil erosion and soil nutrient loss.


3)Setting up of micro scale enterprises for production of mainly consumer goods and propagating the use of local products among villagers.


4)Generation of surplus revenue for community asset creation like community forestry. Community tank, community land for grain banking, small savings at SHG levels.

 


The programme was initiated for implementation during early 70s.In the year 1998 two professionally managed consultancy experts in rural development were requested to undertake a study of the activities and its impact on people and society at large .The following are some of the relevant excerpts of their findings:


Impact at community level: Gandhian principles as practiced by GVP for socio-economic and political transformation has been adopted and accepted and practiced by the Loksamities and Mahila mandals.


2) System established to generate surplus revenue at community level through community assets creation, savings and grain banking.


3)70%Loksmities are able to handle development fund and planning and implementation of projects besides effectively manage the village administration, maintain records and books of accounts independently.


4) Money lenders’ domination is no more. Community level village credit system is in progress.


5)System established to run, maintain, repair and replace the assets created for its sustainability.


6)Improved co-operation and inter-dependency.


7) Reduced village disputes.


8) Increased awareness.

 


Impact On Agricultural/Natural resources management:

  • Reduced migration by above 80%.

  • Increased production of major food grain by 84%

  • Reduced food insecurity at farm household level.

  • Improved agricultural practice.

  • Increased employment for marginal and landless labourers.

  • Increased fodder, and fuel production.

 

Impact on Environment:

  1.  Reduced soil and soil nutrient loss through massive plantation ie 22814000 plants, and land improvement activities.

  2. 1622 acre degraded land has been treated with soil and moisture conservation techniques.

  3.  Intensified vegetative coverage.

  4.  Increased surface water harvest and management/controlled run off.

  5. Reduced use of chemicals in the crop practice.

  6. Introduced leguminous crop practice and bio-diversity.

  7.  Reduced tree felling.

Ideas have legs:
The application and experience people participation proved to be well suited for creating peoples movement for a societal change. But this experiment was limited to a few villages with little infrastructure.


Which is why, GVP tried to network local voluntary organizations into a forum. .Local voluntary organizations were exposed to the ingenuity of ideology of peoples development and slowly there was an inculcation of the GVP process by local voluntary organizations.


Now22 voluntary organizations are strongly advocating for the village self-governance in the process of power structure.
The following are the organization and clusters working with the process in 20 Blocks of 09 districts in 2 states namely West Bengal and Jharkhand.

 

State District Village Covered Councils formed Shadow Villages
West Bengal Bankura 150 70 80
Purulia 250 90 160
Birbhum 10 -- 10
Jhargram (M) 30 -- 30
Jharkhand Hazaribagh 50 40 10
Deoghar 30 30 --
Giridih 25 -- 25
  Total : 545 230 315

 

 


Sadly, the ingenuity of the concept in the working procedure with tested success can not be replicated across the country by Gandhi Vichar Parishad alone.

Accordingly, GVP plans to enter upon the next phase of its action plan – a movement for self-governance and self-reliance of village communities and calls for active participation of people to realize it as people alone can bring about tangible and meaningful changes in the quality and texture of their lives and sustain it for good.