Project ‘Hriday’ is about alliance of Plan, People and Policymakers for sustainable development
AROH Foundation, a national-level NGO, and LIC Housing and Finance Ltd collaborated in the year 2021 for an aspirational Holistic Rural Development Project (HRDP) ‘Hriday’ for seven indigent villages of Rajasthan. Hriday aimed at the socio-economic reformation of 9,250 people in seven villages in Antah block of the Baran District so as to elevate their standard of living.
AROH Foundation, a national-level NGO, and LIC Housing and Finance Ltd collaborated in the year 2021 for an aspirational Holistic Rural Development Project (HRDP) ‘Hriday’ for seven indigent villages of Rajasthan. Hriday aimed at the socio-economic reformation of 9,250 people in seven villages in the Antah block of the Baran District so as to elevate their standard of living. This was to be achieved through various interventions planned under Hriday, which covered all the facets of rural life such as agriculture, animal husbandry, water and natural resource management, health, education, employment, nutrition, awareness and advocacy.
It has been a roller-coaster ride since then while the mission had to face major roadblocks during the Covid-19 period, coupled with the lethargy of the system. But within all these turbulences, team Hriday has been consistent and kept putting in concerted efforts towards its goal.
Indeed, the project has proven to be a “Silver Bullet” for eradicating rural poverty and elevating the standard of living in these seven chosen villages. A conducive synergy towards holistic and sustainable development was created with liaisoning amongst various stakeholders, convergence and community participation. Hriday has a broad vision to transform the adopted villages into a self-sustaining revenue model and empower each individual with their due dividends. It has provided people with alternative sources of livelihood, better agricultural practices, voice and decision-making power to the women, better environmental and water cover within villages, access to basics of life like education, health, nutrition, and sanitation and apprising awareness in the villagers.
The HRDP seeks to bring about dignified and healthy living among rural communities and strengthen community self-governance. This has been achieved through simultaneous interventions in various domains, focused on comprehensive development of the people. This includes the introduction of livelihood options from agri-allied activities like vermicompost, azolla, goatry etc.
Hriday also facilitated the formation and handholding of seven Farmer Groups, 35 Self Help Groups (SHGs) and seven VDCs. Further, the adoption and up-gradation of three Anganwadis and seven Government schools were done with up-to-date infrastructure, informative BALA painting, SMART classes, small library set-up, provision of safe drinking water and sanitation units for girls and boys etc. Villagers were also supported with easy access to safe water with the installation of three Jal Minars, access to safe night walks while installing 175 solar street lights, and three school sanitation units. The ecological balance of the villages was upheld and upgraded by the promotion of solar energy for lighting and water.
Many rural problems derive from the way decisions are made and so the ultimate aim of Hriday is to unroll a cover of voice and vigilance within people, which is assured with their economic upliftment. Some evident changes include increased participation of people, especially of the women folk and other vulnerable communities, in the rural development programmes, decentralization of planning, better enforcement of welfare reforms and greater access to dues and dividends.
The project also instils and fosters scientific innovations in its implementation and substantiation processes. Some of these include smart class set-ups for government schools, scientific agricultural practices, chemical-free and organic farm activities, use of GPS for asset tagging and monitoring, extensive use of technology for monitoring and tech-based models for access to water and education interventions.
Besides bringing a positive transformation in people’s lives, the project also serves as an additional step towards the achievement of all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and facilitating the Indian Government in the national agenda of ‘Suvidha shahar ki ho aur aatma gaon ki’ (facilities of a city with the essence of a village).
Having a vast experience of around eight years of execution in some of the toughest terrains like Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, AROH has been an expert implementing agency for the HRDP model. In order to maintain and increase the development of the rural sector, it is important for businesses to take actions, initiatives and projects which would provide benefit to the sector and India as a whole. And for the same, the HRDP model is one the most sought-after models by CSR funders to achieve impact and visibility both.
Speaking about this endeavouring programme, Dr Neelam Gupta, Founder President and CEO of AROH Foundation, says, “Rural development is not entirely a new concept; it existed in India since Vedic times. We have seen how planned development in Indus Valley or Harrapan Civilization has given them prosperity and longevity of growth. The same has been the call of the nation for many years now, as more than half of our country’s growth is pivoted at its villages. For a resource-rich state like Rajasthan, a thoughtful alliance of a Plan, People and Policymakers is what we needed to have sustainable development in the villages. Hriday is all about this concept.”
Dr Gupta adds, “The project is sustained as the community, the village development community, community leaders, local government officials, all are closely involved at every stage of the project. After the completion of the project and handing over ceremony, the community will take care of the constructed structures and fixtures with proper usage, preservation and protection. All it requires is intent and financial support. And with ‘Hriday’, as the name itself suggests, we have all our heart to make it happen.”