For centuries, thinkers have repeatedly said - The secret to happiness is to help others.
For Subhash Kadam (Natha), it was not about living a better life, but the survival itself. He was four when his father passed away and his mother had to do menial jobs to provide a meal to the family.
At 18, after finishing Class X, Natha shifted to Mumbai in search of a job to help out his family, and started working as a cabbie. Although he always longed to do something to help the community, he couldn't just then, as he had to help out his mother.
It was around this time that a friend introduced him to the ‘Happiness Programme’ by the Art of Living Foundation in Mumbai in 2007. Later, he also attended the Youth Leadership Training Program (YLTP), which Natha claims changed his life completely. The course aimed to teach soft skills to rural youth and empower them to become agents of change.
“Almost everyone lives to take care of themselves and their families. What happens to those who cannot take care of themselves and have no one to turn to for help? Someone has to reach out to those who are struggling,” he told News18.com.
After saving up enough for his sister's wedding, Natha returned to his village Jaigaon in Maharashtra. He initially started work to secure better pension plans for the elderly and the disabled in the village. The Pune government authorities were impressed with his social work and they helped him construct 77 toilets in the village.
As the local leaders were not very impressed and helpful with his work, Natha decided to run for the local elections. Natha, who was only 32, managed to secure the position as the Sapranch (head) of his village, reports the Better India.
Natha immediately started work to help his village with its most-pressing problem – scarcity of water resources. He started ‘Stop the Water, Save the Water' campaign, and taught the villagers skills to conserve water.
Today, Jaigaon, which depended on water tankers for most of the year, is tanker free. It has 27 wells, 20 stone CCT dams, 4 lakh litres of stocked water and 1,75,000 cubic metres of saved water.
“Our freedom fighters sacrificed their lives for the country. In today’s age, nobody is asking you to lay down your life. But use your talents, money or shramdaan to make your village and country better. Dedicate an hour of your day, a day of your week, a week of your month or a month of the year to it. And watch it happen.”
For Natha, this is only the beginning. He wants to turn Jaigaon into Adarsh Gaon.