Think Rajasthan, think hotbed for all the women’s issues that still haven’t alienated India yet- Dowry, Sati, illiteracy, infanticide. But there’s a ray of light emanating from within this dark universe- in the form of Piplantri, a village in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district. This village is doing all it can, to protect the girl child, and even celebrate their birth in the most ingenious manner.

 

An activity that their former Sarpanch Shyam Sundar Paliwal put together in fond memory of his daughter Kiran who died some years ago turned into a full-blown initiative by their Panchayat. And today, for every little female bundle of joy that is born to a patron of the village, 111 trees are planted in and around the village.

 

This is a part of the Panchayat’s umbrella initiative to promote the successful birth, nurturing and upbringing of a girl child, abreast with modern times; abreast with the ideology in cities even. Out of the 60 girls that are born on an average every year, almost half the parents still tend to be skeptical about keeping the child.

 

For keeping a check on such families, the Panchayat has assembled a committee consisting the village school principal along with panchayat and Anganwadi members, to identify such families. Later, 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 turned into a fixed deposit for the girl, with a maturity period of 20 years.

 

And they see this concern through, right up to the girl’s adulthood. “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 to The Hindu

 

With this homegrown brand of eco-feminism, the village has planted over half a million trees, increasing the green cover around it greatly. Furthermore, the tree plantations are cared for all the way through. Apart from banning open grazing and cutting down of trees, to prevent them from being infested with termites, the residents planted over two and a half million Aloe vera plants around them. Now these trees- namely neem, Sheesham, mango, Amla among others, and especially the Aloe vera, are a source of livelihood for several residents.

 

“Gradually, we realized that aloe vera 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 Aloe vera products like juice, gel, pickle etc,” he says.

 

Activist Anna Hazare, who had once visited the village, was very happy with the progress made by them. But Mr. Paliwal realizes they have a long way to go.  “Rajasthan is quite backward in terms of village development compared to panchayats in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra etc. We need to work hard towards creating more and more empowered villages.”

 

Source: The Hindu

 

Featured Picture Courtesy: Ibtimes.co.uk