Patna, Sep 27 :Shram Bharti 'Khadigram' was constituted to fulfil the dream of Mahatma Gandhi to make people self-sufficient after Independence but the organisation itself is seeking aid from others.
The All India Spinners' Association established Khadigram Bhavan on a piece of land purchased from Raja Kalanand Singh Bahadur of Sultanganj in Noomer village of Jamui district of Bihar on November 30, 1943. On March 13, 1948, the Association was merged with Sarv Sewa Sangh -- established under the chairmanship of Dr Rajendra Prasad on an appeal made by Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
Gandhian thinker Prasun Latant said that the properties of the Association were transferred to Sarv Sewa Sangh after the merger. It also had to manage the operations of the association.
Chairman of All India Spinners' Association Dheerendra Majumdar became the first Chairman of Sarv Sewa Sangh. Sarv Sewa Sangh started 'Shram Bharti', its first centre under his leadership on March 12, 1952. It was on his appeal that the Sarvoday workers from across the country developed it by planting trees and building ponds. Thereafter it became a training centre of Sarvoday workers.
Latant told IANS, "During their visit to Khadigram in 1957, Dr Rajendra Prasad and Jawaharlal Nehru advised Dhreerendra Majumdar to continue working for the development of Khadi.
"U.N. Devar, Acharya G.B. Kriplani, Jayaprakash Narayan, Zakir Hussain applauded the work done by the Sangh and encouraged the volunteers."
They not only built ponds but also opened schools for married women and labourshops. Acharya Rammoorti also came here and managed the operation of Shram Bharti. As soon as he started managing Shram Bharti he started practicing self-reliance. The agriculture was the main focus and agricultural science centres were opened.
Manjri Singh, a resident of Muzaffarpur who has worked with Acharya Rammoorti, said, "Things drastically changed after the death of Acharya and the current situation of Khadigram itself reveals that Bapu's dream of making people self-sufficient couldn't come true. Now, neither cotton is harvested here nor there is any brainstorming on khadi."
She said that looking at the bad administration of this area, Acharya along with a German lady Sister Mary opened up women school on April 18, 2004, so as to provide education to the girls. The girls were taught here from class first to sixth and hostel was also provided.
"All the expenses, which included the living expense, food etc., were taken care by Sister Mary. Sister Mary came to visit Khadigram after the establishment of Shram Bharti as a nurse," added Singh.
Manjri Singh further said that the school which has helped in making more than 1,000 girls self-dependent till 2015 is closed from last four years. The closure of the school not only deprived the girls of education but also took away the means of earning of many families who were associated with the school.
She told IANS that the girls were taught stitching, embroidery, home science, gardening, music, etc. so that they can become self-dependent in future.
The locals said that Gandhian people used to visit Shram Bharti Khadigram in Jamui and inform them about new methods of agriculture.
In order to promote self employment, Union Ministry of House and Urban Development started preparing the cheap raw materials so as to provide cheap houses. People from Kaimur to Kishanganj were benefited from this. HUDCO closed this scheme in 2013. The activities of agricultural science centre operated in the premises have also been affected over the last five years. Employees of the agricultural science centres have not been paid salaries from last many months.
Sarv Sewa Sangh convener Ramesh Pankaj said that since the agricultural science centres started operating here Khadigram started desolating from last 20-25 years and homes were demolished.
Sewa Sangh chairman Mahadev Vidrohi said that now we will rejuvenate Shram Bharti. Necessary decisions will be taken in accordance with it. A women school will be reopened.
Sarv Sewa Sangh wants to bring khadigram in its original form as it was during its establishment. A steering committee will be formed to manage the activities of Khadigram, he added.
He further said, "We will again start such activities in Khadigram that they can rejuvenate Sarvoday and then only Bapu's dream of self-dependence be realised."