23 February 2009

Deepak Saha: This real hero gave up IAS to develop villages

Deepak chose to turn his back on IAS and come to Bhagalpur to join Jaiprabha, his mother's NGO.
Banka District (Bihar): In CNN-IBN's Special Series Real Heroes, meet Deepak Saha, who could have been an IAS officer but shunned the life of comfort to transform 40 villages in his home state Bihar. Read more...
The semi-plateau terrain at the Bihar-Jharkhand border was a virgin experiment bowl for Deepak Saha, where not even a blade of grass grew. Today, this region has everything - right from well irrigated green lush fields, mango gardens, schools for kids, safe drinking water for all, vocational training centers for women folks-churning out new breed of women entrepreneurs, successful models of women's self help groups and health centers in every village.
Today, in this entire region, not a single soul lives below the poverty line and sex ratio has been completely reversed in favour of girl children.
"I started this social entrepreneurship. It was primarily because of the economic comfort my family background provided me. I really didn't have to think only about bread and butter and it gave me liberty and scope to do what I enjoyed doing the most. I wanted to be a social entrepreneur. "
It all started in 1990, when Deepak cracked the civil service exams. But instead of taking up a Government job, he chose to return back to Bhagalpur to join Jaiprabha, the NGO being run by his mother. After 18 years of long journey, today he looks back with contentment.
"The motto that our organisation has is towards self reliance. So we don't want the population to be dependent on what we are doing for them, but they should become self-reliant so that they are able to fend for themselves, so that once we are redundant, once we phase out of this area, they should be able to look after all this. People's participation is important," he says.
A usual day in Deepak's life starts early morning with newspapers and breakfast with the family members and soon after, he is on move to what he calls his experiment bowl. Nothing refreshes him more than joining children in their playground and playing Santa Claus to them.
Today, Deepak runs 13 such pre-schools, where dance and songs are the medium of teaching. After teaching at the school, he joins the mothers of the children for the weekly Self Help Group meetings. It's this initiative, which has had maximum impact on the lives and earnings of families. For the first time, females of this area can walk out of their houses and start their own ventures from the petty loans they take from their Self Help Groups. In this way, they are able to contribute to family income. Today, they walk tall and proud.
"It was almost seen as a economic enterprise. We didn't just want it to be some women gathering together and starting some small manufacturing unit or a small business enterprise. We started social engineering through these groups, to empower them. They started dressing better, had their own money and they had their own investments. They could take loans. We linked them up," explains Deepak.
Irrigation had been another stress area for this nearly barren plateau region. The answers came in the form of deep bore wells, de-silting of natural water bodies using satellite imageries and building check dam and using lift irrigation for farming.
"Just because of water problems whenever we used to go to the field and exert pressure on people to send the children to school, they would refuse to. They used the children as working hands because they did not have the means to sustain themselves. I realised the reason they were not able to sustain themselves was because the irrigation was very weak and primitive. It was absolutely monsoon dependent. They needed means of irrigation especially since this entire area is a plateau with a reverse from both sides. So we lifted the water high in this low lying area with the help of a check dam. It has been replicated in 10 villages and all their fields have become fertile. They are getting free crops, they are doing multi-cropping and the land is getting fertile," says Deepak.
Eighteen years of experimentation and consistent efforts has yielded desired results in this region.
Over 131 deep borewells and hand-pumps introduced by Jaiprabha provide safe drinking water to 100 per cent of the population of the region.
There has been not a single maternity death in the past three years.
Education in these villages is almost 100 per cent.
The Jaiprabha Vikas Kendra caters to the personality development of people by providing vocational training in arts, crafts, music, tailoring and other related activities.
Smiles on the faces of the children and the women cycling fearlessly in this Naxal infested area are just few reflections of how one intervention has made a world of difference for people of this region.
Follow I Love India on Facebook:
Like this Post??? Share it:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to leave your comment about the post, weather u liked it or not, if any thing u wanted to add or any type of suggestion.... just comment...