Creating Ideal Villages

Salav has zero crime, zero alcohol addiction, total employment, and reigns in harmony.

Satara, Maharashtra: An ideal village is one that is free of alcohol and drugs, wherein everyone is employed, where there are no disputes and women are respected, and every farmer cultivates organic products, according to Art of Living teacher Shiv Raj Kadam.

The above model has been followed in Salav village, Satara district, Maharashtra. This village was rehabilitated after the construction of water dam near Naigaon in 2004. Villagers had only nine hectares of cultivated land and the village lacked the resources to fulfil their basic needs. Several residents migrated to the neighbouring villages in search of work. The youth soon became addicted to alcohol and smoking.

In 2008, teacher Shiv Raj Kadam, Sachin Bargh and Mahadev Abhang visited the village along with their team and conducted 10 Nav Chetna Shibirs (free programmes). Free medical camps were organised to solve health issues, and more than 200 mango saplings were planted to make the environment disease-free.

Shivraj Kadam said village sarpanch Prakash Solkar took active part in the Art of Living workshop. After benefitting from the programme, he ensured that these programmes were conducted on a regular basis to reach out to different age groups. The youth were trained in different skills like the making of essence sticks and preparing medicines with cow urine. This helped them earn a monthly income of 18,000 to 20,000 per month. These small-scale industries have helped the villagers to become self-sufficient and financially independent. Now many more youngsters from the village are engaged in such work and are earning a comfortable livelihood.

Volunteers have helped create awareness on hygiene and environmental issues in the village, and have emphasised on the use of smokeless stoves for cooking. The organisation distributed 90 stoves in the village, and Art of Living bore 70 percent of the expenses.

After the awareness of health and hygiene spread across the village, new toilets were built in almost every house. People from all the age groups have enrolled in several Art of Living programmes.

Regarding his plans for the village in future, Shivraj Kadam said gobar gas plants would soon be set up across the village. To establish the plant, 100 residents have come forward to buy 1000 cows. Once it starts production, it will provide electricity to the village and its surrounding areas.

Prakash Kadam said the village would soon become self-reliant and self-sufficient, if this ambitious plan is implemented.

The village sarpanch was of the opinion that several youth could overcome their addictions with a little effort. The village is now free of alcohol shops, he said. There is no demand for dowry in any of the marriages conducted in the village, he added.

The village is a shining example of peaceful living because the local police station has not filed a single case for the past two years, said Additional Sub-inspector of Police Sandeep Shigate. Even if any dispute arises, it is settled at the panchayat level, without the need for registration at the police station, he said.

Salav village is a proud recipient of several awards and honours – the Nirmal Gram Puraskaar in 2006, Mahatma Gandhi Tatamukta Award and the Aadarsh Sarpanch Award in 2007, and the Sant Gadge Baba Gram Swachhta Abhimaan Taluka Pratham Kramank. In 2010, an Art of Living office was set up here and in 2012, the village won the Paryavaran Vikaasrattan award. A recipient of the Ghankachra Vyavasthapan award in 2013, the village is now known as Guru Gram (Village of the Master).

The Art of Living teachers help in conducting regular activities and workshops. Somnath Aaba Sonvane, Sachin Bergh, Abhang Sar, Sau Sindhu Barkade, Prakash Raaskar, Rajendra Bhilare, Aanand Bhaiya, Nandkumar Taaru along with Art of Living teacher Shiv Raj Kadam are working towards the success of its programmes.

Shiv Raj Kadam can be reached at (+91) 9860336770.


Reported by Gajanan Navatre (+91) 9970260145.