Monday, November 12, 2007

Bihar’s Waterman

How much time do three bulldozers take to make a pond 60ft by 60ft in area and 25 ft deep?

Now... how much time will one man, 56 years old, take to do the same thing, armed only with a trowel [khurpi or खुरपी in Hindi]?

7 years. Yes, for seven long years, Kamaleshwari Singh, a semi-literate farmer of Manikpur village in Barh block of Patna district, worked on this dream project, which is now bearing fruit.

From the article:
Manikpur village had no pond before Kamaleshwari decided to get one dug, thereby making a permanent source of water available to the residents of Manikpur.

What makes Kamaleshwari’s achievement more significant is that his initial inspiration for the job and his continued determination to keep digging for seven years came from his frustration with what he calls "nasty village politics". He was not a participant in village politics. A simple farmer who owned 12 bighas of land 15 years ago and now has only five bighas, he got entangled in the regular tide of crime in his village and surrounding villages. His elder son, who kept fighting pitched battles for supremacy with gangsters in the nearby villages, was killed. Kamaleshwari had to sell seven bighas of his land to fight court cases. Thoroughly disgusted, he once decided not to fight any court cases and to rather concentrate on "something constructive".

It is a great story of determination in the face of adversity.

"After losing my 26-year-old elder son, Siyaram, to gang war, I decided to forget all bitterness and start doing something constructive," Kamaleshwari told TEHELKA. As he started digging for the pond [...] in the summer of 1996, [...] the entire village started laughing at him. "[...]They even ridiculed me by calling me ‘Talabi Baba’. My own family tried to restrain me from this work, but I kept ignoring everything and got the pond ready in seven years," said Kamaleshwari, who studied only up to Class VIII.

The cool thing is, after so many years of hard work, it has finally brought respite to the villagers.

The 60-ft-by-60-ft pond has enough water even in summer for the villagers to bathe, wash clothes and feed their cattle. [...] In fact, the village, inhabited by people from various upper and lower castes like Rajputs and the Yadavs, has deep and complex caste divisions that disallow people from using one another’s resources. "But there is no caste division in the use of this pond," says Rakesh Kumar Gupta, a villager.

Here's to Kamleshwariji and his determination!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:24 AM

    an inspiring story, undoubtedly. just hope K-ji gets the credit he rightfully (and solely) deserves and that people don't misuse his labour of love.