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Because Criticism Is Too Mainstream

So they opted to act.

When the majority has already opted to sit back and decry every action of the stakeholders, young minds are trying to cut the queue and work for the nation. Somewhere we all have been a part of this vilifying community but are scared to admit it openly. Our film industry, in an attempt to portray emotions, has also started launching whodunits which are blended with some twists and turns to boil the story down to a “Happy Ending”. Our political leaders too, never fail to dispirit me with their continuous efforts; efforts to cast the most sensitive national issues into a frame which can denounce the ruling party, or their efforts to examine some half-baked reasons for their party being drubbed in elections.

I am here not to criticize but to appreciate the trend setters, a voluntary students’ group of IIT Roorkee. The group in discussion, SIIRD, stands for Students’ Initiative for Integrated Rural Development, won SKOCH Award and many other national awards for smart governance as well as self-sustainable models to develop a village called Chharba (District Dehradun). The group evolved under “National Competitiveness in Knowledge Economy” project awarded to IIT Roorkee by the Department of Information Technology, Government of India with Prof. V.K. Nangia as Principal Investigator. Over the years, this initiative evolved as the rural development vertical of this Knowledge Economy Project. Prof. V.K. Nangia’s commitment towards this group is implausible and it is the result of his experience, knowledge and mentorship that these young minds are always incited and geared up to take down knotty challenges. Under the leadership of Uday Bhardwaj, an undergraduate student of IIT Roorkee, the concept of SIIRD was awarded fourth position in a global Social Innovation Tournament organized jointly by Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE and Wharton, University of Pennsylvania on May 9, 2013.

These young minds believe in synergizing the efforts of industry, academia, society and government to bring an effective overall development of rural India. Members of this group, exploit the CSR policies of different companies to bring in funds necessary for the development of village. They have worked upon various segments like Agriculture, Awareness, Education, Employment, Health, ICT, Skill Development and Sanitation.

The group has organized five health camps, and thereby treating more than 1800 villagers. They also organized workshops for creating awareness about women health and AIDS too. These workshops were organized in collaboration with NRHM. The group, with the support of Infosys and IIT Roorkee, succeeded in setting up a computer laboratory too in Chharba. One of the initiative leader, Prakhar Gupta, generated a regular source of income for five families by not only perfecting their women in the art of newspaper bag making but also connecting them to a suitable market. This initiative supported these families by a monthly income of 12500 rupee and also boosted the self-esteem of women in the village. The group is also active with agriculture awareness camps in collaboration with KVK, KRIBHCO as well as Uttarakhand Organic Committee Board.

It is just a result of their success stories, undying energy and continuous hardwork that the working methodology of this group has given shape to the methodology of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, IIT Roorkee. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, a MHRD, Govt. of India initiative aims towards the betterment of rural India through technological as well as managerial solutions for ground level problems. The model of SIIRD has been duplicated in four other villages too. The students have organized Legal Aid Camps as well as LED distribution camp in some of the identified villages. All the initiatives not only aim to improve the lifestyle of villagers, but also to bridge the gap between the government and the public.

This article is just a pocket sized view of their endless efforts and models implemented in Chharba. The venerability of these young minds lies in their dedication and idiosyncratic approach towards development. They are also inspiring students of other colleges by presenting their model there. All this not only satisfies their thirst of serving their nation but also inculcates in them a sense of responsibility and nurtures their managerial skills. I believe that these minds will soon get recognized all over the world and will serve as a motivation for others to work against the vilifying mainstream.

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