Sri Ramesh Bhai: A Testimony of Karma / anurag shrivastava
Noted Social Worker and Leader Ramesh Bhai breathed his last at the age of 57 on Wednesday, November 19, 2008.
Ramesh Bhai had devoted more than 40 years of his life towards rural development, organizing rural poor promoting communal harmony in the service of women, poor and the dispossessed.
Both of his parents, father Late Brij Mohan Lal Srivastava and Mother Surajmukhi Srivastava, were teachers.
Born on May 1, 1951 in Thamarawa village, 24 Km distant from Hardoi, a city adjacent to Lucknow, Bhai Ji, was the founding Chairman of Sarvodaya Ashram. He worked in the area of Poverty alleviation, women empowerment and promoted Mahatma Gandhis & Sant Vinoba’s message. He firmly believed that a social change is the key to transform rural India.
During his teenage, he organised villagers to fight against the odds of religious boundaries. His creativity in the form of poet on social theme was evident when he used to take part in all leading Kavi sammelan. He also established a college at the same time. Very Soon, this Govt recognised intermediate college played an instrumental role for rural children being a single intermediate college in nearby areas. It was the first step towards institutationalisation of his thoughts. He never looked back on his journey.
He joined Gram Daan Andolan in Sahrasha Bihar and organised youths for social Change as a Secretary of Tarun Shanti Sena. As an active worker of UP land distribution committee, he was instrumental to develop a land distribution procedure. He also took part in execution of the program as an active participant in land distribution work to land less agricultural labourer across Uttar Pradesh. In earlier stage he did padyatra in most of the villages of Hardoi district and organized the land less agricultural labourers village small artisns under the umbrella of All India Khet Majdoor Kisan Parishad.
Getting inspired by the Bhoodan Andolan by Sant Vinoba, he recognized that providing a fertile land to farmers could help in poverty alleviation. He worked out the Sodic Land Reclamation Program. Objective of this program was to reclaim non-fertile land in to fertile land so that land less laborers could start getting land Acquisition rights and start producing crops that will help in their earning. He made this program as a People movement in all UP.
The Success of this approach eventually led to the Sodic Land Reclamation Project, which was approved by the World Bank through UPLDC. In 1983, he established Sarvodaya Ashram to launch this program in 25 districts of UP & Uttranhcal. Bhai Ji was also in Board of Directors of UPLDC. This program helped to provide more than 1.2 million hectares of farmland that has fallen prey to sodicity to the poorest of the poor of the society. Now, this program is also launched in Sri Lanka. This program is popularly known as “Hardoi Pattern”.
Bhai ji emphasized education of Children and women empowerment. He always believes in considering equal opportunity for all. For the same, he established Residential Schools for girls and did many innovations in education model. More than 900 girls are getting education in residential schools.
On his mission to promote peace within society, he also visited Pakistan. He led the team during padyatra, rallies in all districts of Uttar Pradesh. For Hardoi, he visited each tahsil and almost all villages. People often talks about his charismatic personality clubbed with simplicity.
Along with establishing Sarvodaya Ashram, Bhai Ji was the General Secretary of All India Harijan Sewak Sangh, an organisation founded by Mahatma Gandhi. This organisation works in the areas of untouchability, education etc for Dalits across India. Chief Justice of India awarded him the Sewak Award for the social justice and empowerment journey he made to 30 districts of UP. He was also Advisor/Member to Aaskashvani, Lucknow, Member – Upper Gigantic Zone of Planning Commission, National Executive Board of CAPART, Trustee of Gandhi Ashram, Ahamadabad, Member of National Board of Elementary Education, Govt of India
Chief Minister Narayan Datt Tiwari, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Governor Motilal Vohra visited Sarvodaya Ashram to visit the achievements in the field of Social Work. He addressed the audience in Rachnatamk Samaj conferences along with late Prime Minister PV Narsimaha Rao in Delhi and UPA Chairman Sonia Gandhi in Andhra Pradesh. His thoughts on Constructive approach to rural development were highly appreciated by IAS Officers along with Secretary to Govt Boards.