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Magazine Web Edition > June 1989 > 'Build India' Group Solves Problems Pragmatically

'Build India' Group Solves Problems Pragmatically



"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," John F. Kennedy exhorted the American people. This is exactly Bharat Nirman's tough way of thinking - "It is time that we stopped expecting the government to do everything for us," they preach. This "let's get on with it ourselves!" attitude is a refreshing break in a lazy age of "wait for the government to do it and criticize them if they don't."

Bharat Nirman (the name means "Build India") was founded in 1980. It identifies itself as a registered "all-India organization to take up constructive activities in all walks of life." Its five areas of service are: employment, economic growth, village development, social upliftment and cultural and spiritual upliftment. Hardly a narrow approach. On top of this massive work load they produce periodic conferences on controversial and yogic subjects - e.g. "The Role of Women in India's Development," "Daughters of India - Victims of Dowry," "Drug De-addiction - Demand of the Day," "Meditation and Mental Peace" and "Inner Realms of the Mind."

Their best energies, though, are not employed delving into the mind's soft tissue for explanations of the Ultimate. The people they serve need food, housing and employment before Vedic philosophy. With this earthy attitude, Bharat Nirman is fighting to slow down the migration of India's rural youth into the big cities. Discouraged by a paucity of rural employment, they are abandoning the villages. But instead of finding work in the cities, they often end up packed into already crowded slums, where drugs and prostitution await and bait them. "Thus, one of the major problems of the country is to improve the living conditions of the villagers by providing them better educational and health facilities and by teaching them skills so that they can find work for themselves or become assets sought by employers," reads a Bharat Nirman flyer.

To fund their work, Bharat Nirman begs individuals, the government and private institutions for every rupee they can get to channel into one of a long list of projects. Among the biggest pockets they vie for are those of wealthy Indians living abroad. But Bharat Nirman doesn't expect gifts. Instead, they produce economic investment opportunities that will reward the investor. In fact, it's building this sort of infrastructural economic machinery to attract investment that they do so well. It's the longer route, but instead of just providing the "next meal," this method secures for India's underprivileged citizens trades and skills they can use to feed and uplift themselves - the far-sighted approach.


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