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Broken Paradise

Welcome to village Loyera. A picturesque village situated 10 km from Udaipur city. It is surrounded by mountains appeared to be in race with each other to touch the sky and green farms spreading across one side. A person who visits Loyera for the first time will definitely fall in love with its serene atmosphere. But as they say not all that glitters is gold and sadly Loyera is not an exception for this. As you begin your exploration journey into the village the paradise appears hollow and you start questioning yourself about the impression you made for Loyera just few moments ago and that portrayal of paradise somewhere vanishes. School students smoking outside school in front of wall graffiti of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’, huge boarding of ‘Say no to child marriage’ and on the another corner you see girls who got married at the age of 12 and many more such things. These all incidents certainly were depressing and rendered me to contemplate on what could have been the possible reasons for all these things? But it was really difficult to come up with any conclusion

The task was to check your stereotypes about rural India but I have never had any stereotype about villages. So I went to this village and luckily on that day the local MLA was on visit to Loyera to distribute LPG cylinders under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Scheme. The MLA was addressing the panchayat but it was in local language which was beyond my understanding but I could make from his expressions that he was boasting about the work he is doing for common man. And all of a sudden there was a clash between the beneficiaries in the distribution line. Later on some people revealed that the actual beneficiaries who comes under BPL scheme were not getting the cylinders, instead people who bribed the distributors were availing the benefits of scheme. Villagers also told me that this is not happening for the first time, it’s been always like this.

Before this I only read about corruption in newspapers but here it was clear that how this detrimental monster of corruption is engulfing our country. Time passed on so quickly and I was on my way back to Udaipur but mentally I was still in Loyera thinking about those school students indulged in bad habits and have no idea of the consequences they have to face in their future, with those girls who are barely fourteen or fifteen years old who  should go to school but are now looking after their family  and they stare at other girls thinking why cant we live like them? And maybe hoping that one day someone will unshackle them from this slavery and with the people standing in the distribution queue waiting endlessly for their turn. It was definitely a sad day but there was a reason I was sent to the village and this experience certainly enhanced the sense of responsibility in me. Loyera is not the only village in India to have such problems, there are many such lost paradises which needs attention and just visiting them and making reports on them will not solve the problem. I know I cant change the entire situation but at least I can work for one such village to regain their paradise status. And amid all this thinking process I did not realise when the bus reached Udaipur  and i got down ull of hope and optimism.

Chetan Patil

2016 fellow, placed with Drishtee in Korba, Chattisgarh as part of his fellowship. Working on financial inclusion of women self help groups and inspiring them to start small scale enterprises.

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