Village Khaloaa -12 kms from Agra has an inspiringstory to tell. Six months back, a few members of this village attended ‘Anna ki Pathshala’ (talk on Anna ji’s ideals). The values shared there inspired them. They went back, called the villagers and informed them about Anna ji’s ideals of Shuddh vichar (purity of thoughts), Shuddh achar (purity of action), nishkalank jeevan (spotless life), Tyaag (sacrifice) and apmaan pene ki shakti (tolerance to bear insult).
Adding to the above is the power of unity. And, it is this strength of unity that has made ‘Khaloaa- acorruption free village’ today. Around 80 villagers volunteered to form a committee to check acts of corruption and spread Anna ji’s message in their community.
Next time, the patwari (official who maintains land records) asked for a bribe, the villagers staged a dharna (protest) outside his office. By evening around 200 others joined them. The patwari was forced to bow before their united power and the work was done without a penny. Since then, no government official has dared to ask for bribe from Khaloaa villagers. In fact, the authorities themselves have approached the villagers to construct the roads that were being delayed for years. The unity compelled the authorities to act.
The village committee also succeeded in closing down all liquor shops in the area. Any one found drinking alcohol or playing cards is fined Rs.500 in the first instance and Rs.1000 henceforth. Khaloaa has inspired nearby villages to adopt their model. Panchayat’s of neighbouring villages are forming village committees to fight corruption in their own areas.
Anna has also changed the face of Shankarpura village in Baghpat, Haryana. Mukesh and Sharan Singh of this village sat on indefinite fast along with Anna Hazare during the 2012 ‘August Kranti’. On the 10th day of hunger strike, local administration brought in Mukesh’s mother and asked her to break his fast. But the mother was braver than the son. She said, “Not only Mukesh, I am ready to sacrifice the lives of my other son’s too for my nation.” The officials were helpless and finally Mukesh & Sharan broke their fast after Anna ji did so in Delhi. But their struggle is not limited to fight against corruption. The villagers have formed a small committee that keeps a check on the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Their efforts have made their village the first and perhaps the only tobacco free community.
Team Anna’s Lokpal movement that was criticized for being urban centric is now nearing the villages. The ideals of honesty & integrity are connecting to the rural hinterlands.
Image (c) Gettyimages.com