THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR :)

Ours is a fast paced world. With information at the fingertips, we can access anything anytime anywhere. This means we are more aware of all that happens around us. While this has been one of the most remarkable achievements of the information age, the flip side of it is, we expose ourselves majorly to the negative side of all the information.

Did you know that while there are hundreds of reasons for us to drown in self pity and weep at the intolerance that seems to be the order of the day, there are thousands of reasons to believe in a better tomorrow? Yes, put in baby terms (let’s call it baby terms instead of layman terms) for every bad deed happening out there, there are 10  good deeds. The choice we have to make is whether we are going to weep in fear or join the march of love. If your choice is the latter, here’s a story (One among the thousands of under-reported good stories, one among the thousands of reasons to believe in a better tomorrow)

Our story is set in the rural regions of Rajasthan, a place where education is not from books. A place that’s hardly noticed by us dudes and dudettes(I sincerely hope this passes off as the female version of dude, assuming of course that ‘dude’ is masculine).

We as a country have been painted with tag ‘A country of sexist men’.. But I am sure the men of Piplantri village panchayat, in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district will beg to disagree.

Here, villagers plant 111 trees every time a girl is born and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up.

Over the last six years, people here have managed to plant over a quarter million trees on the village’s grazing commons- including neem, sheesham, mango, Amla among others.

On an average 60 girls are born here every year, according to the village’s former sarpanch Shyam Sundar Paliwal, who was instrumental in starting this initiative in the memory of his daughter Kiran, who died a few years ago.

In about half these cases, parents are reluctant to accept the girl children, he says.

Such families are identified by a village committee comprising the village school principal along with panchayat and Anganwadi members.

Rs. 21,000 is collected from the village residents and Rs.10,000 from the girl’s father and this sum of Rs. 31,000 is made into a fixed deposit for the girl, with a maturity period of 20 years.

But here’s the best part.

“We make these parents sign an affidavit promising that they would not marry her off before the legal age, send her to school regularly and take care of the trees planted in her name,” says Mr. Paliwal.

People also plant 11 trees whenever a family member dies.

But this village of 8,000 did not just stop at planting trees and greening their commons. To prevent these trees from being infested with termite, the residents planted over two and a half million Aloevera plants around them. Now these trees, especially the Aloevera, are a source of livelihood for several residents.

“Gradually, we realized that aloevera could be processed and marketed in a variety of ways. So we invited some experts and asked them to train our women. Now residents make and market aloevera products like juice, gel, pickle etc,” he says.

The village panchayat, which has a studio-recorded anthem and a website of its own, has completely banned alcohol, open grazing of animals and cutting of trees. Villagers claim there has not been any police case here for the last 7-8 years.

The story is from April 2013 and it randomly turned up on my Facebook news feed about half a year ago. If positive deeds like these can be stumbled upon by sheer happenstance, imagine how much we can find if we open our eyes, search and probably even try to do a couple of nice things ourselves. I am sure that each of us who sincerely try to, can find atleast one good story to get inspired by. And once you have a story like this one, you can move towards increasing the proportion of the good rather than weeping at the proportion of bad. AND once we do make such a move, we too like the people of Piplantri will know that there’s always something worth fighting for. 🙂

SWAMINATHAN SHANKAR

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