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Seven decades into independence has brought India many developments but not fast enough or sufficient enough for rural India. Opportunities and consequent inequalities between urban and rural India continue to grow. This realisation dawned upon us as a result of our interactions with many a village in Sevagram and Wardha during our medical training years. These interactions brought us face to face with Gandhiji’s vision of rural socio-economic development for a strong and powerful nation. Training in rural India made us aware that poverty does not have to be absolutely brutal in its presence or vivid in description - poverty is a farmer committing suicide in rural Sevagram and Wardha; poverty is the widening gap between the ‘haves and have nots’ in India’s socio-economically diverse groups. Poverty is when a farmer forcefully mortgages his farmland to pay for his family’s basic needs. The luxury of choosing where one wants to live, what work one wants to do, having access to basic social amenities like toilets, clean drinking water, electricity, well-resourced local schools will stem rural migration to overcrowded cities and will go far in addressing many factors contributing to Vidarbha’s rising famer suicide rates.
Our interactions with many a village in Sevagram and Wardha during our medical training brought us face to face with Gandhiji’s vision of rural socio-economic development for a strong and powerful nation. The candle of social justice that was lit in many a medical student’s heart continues to burn bright in alumni- a light that keeps us connected in many ways to our alma mater’s mission and the founder’s vision. One of the ways we do this is by contributing time and resource to various village education and development activities. Over the decades, many an alumnus has contributed to the social work delivered by MGIMS in Wardha district by contributing to MGIMS funded Village Education Development Fund (VEDF). A number of alumni have also found ways to directly involve herself/ himself with initiatives delivering a holistic approach to rural development, transcending traditional healthcare practice and building self-reliant rural communities in Vidarbha region. These rural development initiatives are largely delivered through Prof Ulhas Jajoo’s social platform which is an excellent catalyst in a much needed sphere and ensures agrarian empowerment across Vidarbha region. Together, these initiatives are aimed at agrarian empowerment.
VEDF-Village Education and Development Fund:
The VEDF grew organically of an older initiative delivered by MGIMS and developed by Prof Jajoo (the Jowar Health Assurance Scheme). This health assurance scheme depends on annual collection and sale of Jowar (Millet) from each village. The money collected from sale of the Jowar is deposited in the bank account of each village. A portion of the fund is then transferred to a corpus, under the aegis of the Kasturba Health Society (KHS), and the interest accrued from this is used for procuring drugs and organizing educational and development activities at village level.