Inspirational Beings team interview with Dr Prasad V. Deodhar,founder of Bhagirath Vikas pratistan, who is Transforming Indian Villages by empowering farmers, women and rural Kids. India continues to be a third world country, when it comes to making rural infrastructure available to the 69% masses, who stays in rural India with per capita income of $ 115 per month against $ 648 in urban India. There have been efforts on different levels on rural empowerment, through drinking water, plantation, farming technology and skill based knowledge to rural farmers but there’s still a lot to be done. India needs to work a lot harder in the interest of rural population who is struggling to meet basic needs and yet to see fundamental infrastructure at many parts of country.
In such situation, Dr. Deodhar, from “Bhagirath Gram Vikas Pratishthan”, has been strongly working towards ‘Holistic and Sustainable Rural Development’ in Sindhudurg district of India since 2004. Till date, more than 70 villages have been empowered by Bhagirath and more than 10,000 rural families have been transpired through their efforts.
Dr. Deodhar is giving a belief to rural Indian that everyone is capable of doing amazing things.
Bhagirath’s campaign of building rural infrastructure has made a social impact on the modern generation. A lot of young farmers are now using the available resources for changing the condition of their localities.
We see this as a great transformation in rural Indians. Not only this, youth of urban areas are joining this Bhagirath mission by starting agro businesses in villages under the guidance of Bhagirath Gram Vikas Pratistan.
Dr Deodhar’s introduction
I am an Ayurveda doctor, I am from lower middle class family in Sindhudurga district, my father was a Teacher & my mother, a Housemaker. My parents always taught me to rise for a right cause, they believed in the power of using our privilege and resources to help those who need it- the lesser privileged, those who do not have access to fulfill basic needs and wants. So, the seeds of serving needy were planted at a very young age. Entire Bhagirath family is involved in this mammoth mission of strengthening rural India.
When and how did you think about starting Bhagirath?
I worked mainly with the patients from agro background, as my practice was in Rural India where agriculture is the back bone of the society.
While consulting with my patients, whenever I used to ask them about their profession, they replied, “I don’t do anything, just farming.” It struck my mind, I realized that farmers had
perceived agro as a non sustainable business, and psychologically they were not ready to rely upon the agriculture as their main source of stable livelihood.
Similarly, my wife, Dr. Harshada Deodhar noticed, most of the households used to use firewood for cooking. The smoke created, led to health issues such as breathing problems, eye problems, in the women and kids. The other issue was villagers were cutting trees to get the firewood for cooking.
And here, we felt the dire need of a support system to rural & undeveloped agriculturist and their families that’s how “Bhagirath Gram Vikas Pratisthan” was born in 2004 in Sindhudurga district.
Explain us about Bhagirath Gram Vikas Pratisthan, what makes the mission special and unique?
Bhagirath started the comprehensive work of improving health of rural houses, homemakers and school students by introducing the robust project of Biogas plants in villages.
Biogas plant is an environment-friendly, economical and low-maintenance affair. Housewives who used to spend a lot of time and energy for collecting firewood and cooking got extra time In hand. We distributed 1000 cookers to save their time, energy and fuel.
Bhagirath helped them in utilizing this saved time for productive things which could earn them respect confidence and money. We trained them on household businesses such as tailoring, homemade packed food business and agro allied activities. Bhagirath facilitated loans to the enthusiastic women for such business. About 85 self-help groups got formed and now functioning smoothly. More than 300 women are now confident and independent entrepreneurs.
Bhagirath Pratisthan not just helped people by building biogases and by providing skill sets to earn their livelihoods but they extended their works in building responsible students and young Indians. Bhagirath encouraged schools to install biogas units under government’s “Healthy Meal” program. As of now 10 schools have installed biogas, 27 schools have installed water tanks to address drinking water issues in schools.
Bhagirath facilitated education loan to able 75 students who wanted to pursue higher education, about 1000 students have received educational material through Bhagirath’ s efforts and deprived tribal communities in villages are being taught basic education.
In the village called “Madhyach wadi students earn $800 per year through Skillful activities taught by Bhagirath.
Projects of water conservation, clean drinking water, cultivating flowers and vegetables, hygiene maintenance are implemented in schools by training students. Bhagirath provided bicycle to girl students, otherwise it was impossible for girl students to travel long distance to attend school. This is the step towards women empowerment by fostering their confidence and by making them independent.
Overall development of complete family in all the aspects is the focus of Bhagirath.
Challenges and learning from this mission?
Initially we faced the challenges of acceptance from society & Skeptical mindset of people who were doubtful about the intention and benefit of the project as I was dealing with uneducated farmers.
Today this challenge doesn’t exist as we have crossed the melting point. Melting point is that point when resistance melts with your persistence and your faith in your work.
We learned on the technique of reverse learning through our experience, wherein we understand society’s obstacle and problems by talking to them and then work towards solving those problems.
How can society contribute in this mission?
Society can contribute their time in sharing experience & knowledge with the needy. They can volunteer in project work by giving time or financial aid. If some of you can start an agro based work in their land or farm houses for serving mother earth, Bhagirath is standing tall for giving you guidance and making it successful.
Any financial, time and knowledge contribution is welcomed in Bhagirath as Jointly we can build robust rural India
Our salute to their efforts and hard work, Wish Bhagirath Pratisthan all the very best for the future.
Bhagirath is becoming environmental friendly, socially acceptable, economically viable and an absolutely sustainable rural development movement.
His approach has earned respect and love in the hearts of people. The changing mindset is going to bring in the much required development and social status for rural people.
India is seeing many new initiatives where people like Dr. Deodhar are the real Alchemist.
Be a part of their mission and join them @
Must watch this video once:
This story is supported by Trisha Marie Joseph
Plympton International College,
Adelaide, South Australia,
8th Grade Student