Dr UN Jajoo authors a book on Rural Health
It is an experiential book written in the format of a story. The real hero, nay Ram of this story is the poor whom Bapu called the daridranaryan. The real purpose of our experiment is to empathetically relate ourselves with the emotions and sufferings of the common man. Definitely service is inherent in this experiment, but we don't want people to go on seeking crutches and least of all to develop a dependency syndrome. Our basic premise has been that our work should not remain confined to ivory tower discussions and thinking. Rather we should work together in close collaboration with rural society.
The basis and direction of our work has been inspired by the thoughts of Gandhi, Vinoba and Jayaprakash. The context of our work is also closely linked to thoughts of these three great personalities. We would be more than satisfied so long we are taking some steps towards the path shown by these great souls.
Health care was our medium for entering into the village life. Our endeavour was to reach out the poorest of the poor of the villages. Our attempt has been that nobody should die due to the lack of medical facilities. We got rid of vaccine preventable illnesses. We could prevent the deaths of gravid mothers at home. The mathematics and logic of our 33 years of experience tells us that the amount being spent per head by the Government of India on health services would prove adequate to provide qualitative health care to the people if it follows pattern of Kasturba Hospital, Sevagram. The only condition is that the whole amount must be spent in a systematic and scientific manner and the money should lie in command of Gram Sabha. But that requires strong political will coupled with constructive effort to give it a practical shape. The control over resources and participatory decision making are the real pillars of such a structural transformation. Then alone we could move towards gram swaraj.
In the course of work it has been our day to day experience that science doesn't have all cures for many diseases and human problems. Our medical knowledge is very limited. Unless we change the economic, social and political structure of the society, many of our problems could not be solved.
The mantra given by Gandhi and Vinoba for self reliance and people's awakening through constructive programs are the real paths for us to traverse. By transcending the boundaries of health care and medication, we have launched projects like one latrine for every home, village dairy with the participation of every household and irrigation projects to take the water to the last agricultural plot of the village. All these projects were launched on the basis of participation of villagers and taking the village as the basic unit of the society. We didn't want to beg to finance our projects. We have successfully tried to raise a model of development based on self employment. To that end we have mobilised Government development funds including those of Gram Panchayat and supplemented it by part contributions from the villagers.
In the process of successfully undertaking development work, we came to realise that economic prosperity breeds selfishness and cut-throat competition and many types of self indulging addictions. All these prompted us to do self introspection and self evaluation. The search for remedial measures then began for preventing the moral degeneration. We could fully understand that self-interest driven groups would promote selfishness. This realisation also inspired us to find ways and means to come out of such labyrinthine chakravyuha.
We came to realise that we have to shake and arouse deep sense of devotion and faith hidden in the very depth of human beings. But it has to be tested on the touchstone of human rationality and in the process we have to move on the sacred path of action. We have to find devoted and sincere people for such an arduous journey. In the process, we could identify three constructive programs to move forward in the right direction. They were:
Self Help Groups of Women
Women are the most oppressed section of the society. They have to bear the brunt of immorality in the society. Therefore, they are the natural custodians of morality and saner norms in the society. We came to the conclusion that the moral fiber of the society could be strengthened if women organisations became strong. It was with such an understanding and resolve that we started with the SHGs of women. The group resolved that we wouldn't depend on Government subsidy for its sustenance. Nor would it be a caste based group. We would rather make it a system in which the poorest of the poor women could participate and all decisions will be taken by consensus. The group would attempt to achieve the financial self reliance by raising a collective fund. In the course of time the sufferings of women came to fore which led to prohibition movement in many villages.
Organic Farming for Self reliance
The agricultural workers are being exploited by market forces. They don't get adequate and just value and recognition for their hard labour. Those agriculturalists who have taken the pledge for organic farming would not use hybrid seeds or chemical fertilisers. They further decided that they would go in for natural farming and would produce for their self consumption rather than for the market.
Self reliance in Clothing
The cotton producing peasant families prepared their own threads on two spindle ambar charkha for their clothing and thus learned a lesson of self reliance in clothing. They could get clothes in the lieu of their cotton and in the process they discarded lafanga rupaya (the depraved currency) which is the mean to exploit bread labour in the market. Thus they learned the lesson of vowful commitment.
We have found some friends who are socially committed and inspired to action in village society. They could firmly move forward on the path they had resolved to tread. We could easily identify sajjan shakti (the power of virtuousness) among these friends. Health Assurance scheme encourages and support these committed people and constantly reminds them of their mission.
The ultimate purpose of this book is to prepare a kind of balance sheet of our work and record our experiences. All said and done, it is for our readers to judge as to how far we have succeeded in our mission. We would be happy if our readers and well-wishers join us in pointing out the shortcomings of our experiments and thereby strengthening our work by giving a better direction.
How to buy the book
Deposit Rs 300 (Indian Residents)/ Rs 600 (Foreigners) in Account No. 509104000004893 (IFSC Code IBKL 0000509) of Kasturba Health Society, Sevagram in IDBI Bank (Sahu Building, Anaj Line, Near Swarajya Bhandar, Wardha 442001).
Send a Cheque/ Money Order / Bank Draft drawn in favor of “Kasturba Health Society, Sevagram” payable at Wardha to the Chief Accountant, Kasturba health Society, Sevagram, 442102, Maharashtra.