Friday, 25 November 2011

The Richest Treasures of Happiness

1. This is a unique Ashram that will transform the world with brotherhood and prosperity for all. In it everybody pursues happiness with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength. Every inmate of the Ashram cooperates in the production, multiplication, distribution of happiness. All energy, talents and creativity are enhanced and harnessed to enjoy the ecstasy of love, joy and peace. Amidst the prevalent poverty-producing, fatalistic and dreary rustic way of life, Aregudem, with its unique ashram, becomes a symbol of our age in modern India. It will be a glorious testament to the genius of our villagers and to the compassion of philanthropic leaders and to the wisdom of professional experts. The benefits of transformation will be felt not only by the empowered community of Aregudem and Chityal in Nalgonda district but by villages and communities all over India. The ashram initiative is viable and replicable in the modern world.


2.  Leading individualistic lives, going on dividing properties down the generations, ending in uneconomic land holdings unsuitable for professional and commercial cultivation, growing indebtedness making farmers desperate, and without sanitation and hygiene the villagers tend to migrate to cities creating slums. Educated youth and skilled artisans go hunting for greater earnings in cities and abroad. Villages are in danger because villagers are becoming poorer and unhappy. While nature is abundant everywhere, most villagers do not meet their basic needs. The villager does back-breaking work but produces poverty. And poverty is deadly. Emile Durkheim, an eminent sociologist, reported how similar situation led Europeans to alienation, anomie, depression, exhaustion and paranoia during the onslaught of urban industrialization.


3.  How to reverse this socio-cultural system that produces poverty and unhappiness? How to initiate a new system that transforms the existing village neighborhoods into real communities of prosperity and caring compassion? We need an ingenious strategy. We have everything in the village: people and land; and they are sufficient. Technology and expertise are within reach; they should be brought in. Villagers must find a way to become self-reliant and prosperous. Cannot we use others’ successes as stepping stones to our success? Others have made desert sands bloom and mountain rocks yield waters; they have developed verdures and are exporting vegetables, fruits and flowers. Our lands are better: not at all barren but more fertile. We have resources. Let us learn from their successes. We must enjoy production and its fruits, wealth in its many dimensions.


4. “Each time a person stands for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy, these ripples build a current that can sweep the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance”(Robert Kennedy). The strategy must be designed and streamlined very well. Like a heat-seeking missile, it must be crafted exquisitely to strike the target on time and every time. Poverty and crime are not acceptable. All that belongs to man is human, must become humane and win-win for all.


5.      SAVE is a special and unique organization. It has been inspired by the life and discipline, vision and service, leadership and dedication, pioneering and achievement of eminent persons and institutions. Founded by a scholar of multiple disciplines and supported by social workers of rich experience, SAVE acquired a handsome image and great reputation in the areas of micro credit, dalit confidence, women’s empowerment, community healthcare. 16500 women saved more than one crore (10 million) rupees from their poverty and multiplied it several times by circulating it through transparent procedures and democratic involvement. 54 women contested and 18 women got won in local elections. By starting a school for the target population SAVE not only contributes towards literacy and very good education of the community but is now self-reliant and maintains volunteers and their families. 510 boys and girls attend the school; 19 teachers and 8 volunteers manage the school. More than 100 of our students are pursuing their college studies. People are enabled to fight against excessive fluorides in water; fluorosis has been crippling them and their livestock for generations. Rotarians encourage SAVE and its functioning.


6.      Established in 1981, SAVE is a success story in traditional systems of service delivery and rural development. Giving medical and educational services to individuals, promoting thrift and self-help groups, strengthening the weakest link in the social chain, promoting the interests of target groups of women, dalits, children etc., and alleviating the pain of victims of all kinds social evils, environmental degradation and economic exploitation, giving fish and teaching people how to fish – all such traditional approaches have been attempted with dedication and success for decades. Some individuals have indeed benefited. But the real root cause of all troubles was missed. And the crucial source of strength and solutions was not recognized. Focus on human resources and enhancement of humane relationships would synergize all the positive competencies and higher values available in the local community. Organizing the neighborhood community which fosters everyone’s uniqueness, dignity and value for better quality of life and deeper happiness of all is the paradise. The community and its members would mutually benefit and enrich each other for total fulfillment and shared happiness of all.


7.      SAVE is uniquely positioned to prepare and implement an extraordinary strategy to create a model modern neighborhood community. All relevant knowledge, expertise, resources and technologies will be coordinated and converged to make an impact. Already 24 experts and leaders have visited and personally explored life in Aregudem village. Socio-economic studies have been made. 15 village representatives were received at the venue of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce in Hyderabad and they interacted with 45 leaders and experts in various walks of life. The villagers have expressed their desire and commitment to cooperate with plans and strategies for a model village. A young Dutch girl student came, stayed in Aregudem, learned Telugu, sang in Telugu and inspired the villagers with grand visions of a sharing and caring community.



8.      Context of the project: Going east from Hyderabad towards Vijayawada, at 72 km turn right, keeping the hills on your left, after half a kilometer is Aregudem village. 400 families live mostly in a cluster of hutments, surrounded by 2000 acres of their own cultivable land. The residents belong to diverse castes and outcastes. Hindus, Muslims and Christians live together. They have a small elementary school run by government. Without sanitation and protected potable water, and with fluorisis and weary cattle, the villagers eke out a painful living.



9.      Problem statement: Television has come into the homes of remote villages. The villager is able to witness the wonderful achievements of mankind in advanced countries. Besides the glitter and glamour of technology and prosperity, the people perceive the quality and style of life available there. Freedom in dress and media, loneliness and alienation, strange mixture of volunteerism and compulsive consumerism raise issues of tradition versus modernization. And the digital age is on us.


10.  Mahatma Gandhi and Lech Walessa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King blazed a new socio-political path. Mohd Yunus and Amartya Sen showed new economics. Tim Berners-Lee and Bill Gates gave us the worldwide web and computers. Kibbutz and Koinonia are some of the experiments. Scott Peck and Amitai Etzioni are designing new communities. After several dialogues, studies, and conversations a unique strategy has emerged. This strategy transforms a traditional and fractured neighborhood into a vibrant, democratic, prosperous, harmonious and open community. Whatever be the origins, history, differences and conflicts among the people of a locality, any neighborhood can become a happy and significant community.


11.  Strategy: An Ashram -- Integral Community-Building Elders Ashram: Belief that all can be happy (sarve janah sukhino bhavantu) by living as one universal family (vasudhaika kutumbam) through the practice of wisdom, values, and unity (buddham, dharmam and sangham saranam gachchami). Ashram gives and sustains us with the sublime values of renouncing selfishnes and embracing each other as gods (matru, pitru, acharya and atidhi devo bhava).  And the modern corporate culture of leadership and management gives us techniques, skills and competencies to lead better community lives by developing each one of us into the best persons that we whole heartedly desire and deserve to become. Thus we benefit from the best practices of both the Ashram and the Corporation: we build our community paradise.



12. Goals and Objectives: A self-sustaining ashram community is the first step.
·          ‘Seniors Strengths’: Experience, wisdom and talents of the village seniors will be voluntarily and fully harnessed to the best possible advantage of the community;
·          initially up to 40  healthy, interested and active families of 55 years of age will be identified  and trained, supported and equipped to lead a happy life. Gradually, they will be trained to develop tools and skills needed to organize a  community development corporation where every villager is a shareholder;
·          An ashram with residential facilities, kitchen and conference infrastructure together with a 100 acre farm area for all kinds of commercial activities is to be established; this ashram will spearhead the process of a model village community;
·          Community organizing and empowerment skills are to be provided to the ashramites by the experts initially and regularly; the 40 families experience empowerment together, and will steadily work to integrate  the entire village;
·          Administrative, management and financial abilities will be improved; services of experts will be enlisted in the beginning stage; ashramites learn the skills;
·          Ashram Director, Training director and Administrator have to be recruited;
·          All commercial activities are managed professionally and transparently; and
·          A professional blueprint will be developed for the village community development corporation and a master plan for a model and modern community of the village will be envisaged and documented.



         


13. Model Modern Village: Vision

·          A good villager likes people, makes friends easily, builds trust, helps others gain confidence, gives credit to others; he is honest, courageous, flexible, self-disciplined, and mature;  he listens, questions and is open to new ideas; he develops his own identity, vision for life, a sense of humor, an attitude of helpfulness and loving service. He cultivates skills of successful working with people, conducting meetings, building responsible and transparent and committed institutions, how to use media and raise funds and how to inspire and promote a democratic culture and deep moral values amidst amiable and harmonious community life.
·          Every person is a born genius with a potential to become a leader, champion, hero and a saint. Neighborhood community is the soil and environment to bring out the best in him. Every seed can become a great tree with proper nutrition and support.

·          It takes a whole village to bring up a child. Every individual need and every community concern can be addressed by an enlightened, committed and compassionate social institution. “If we attempt to act and do things for others and for the world, without deepening our own self-understanding, our own freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, we will not have anything to give to others; we will communicate nothing but our own obsessions, our aggressiveness, our ego-centered ambitions.” A few rare individuals, through uncommon effort and enormous good luck will surmount even institutional hurdles; but dreams of most will be realized by supportive institutions in flourishing communities. To save our children’s future should spur us to create systems of support, to raise social capital and to establish best communities.

·          The greatest invention and achievement of mankind will be to create excellent and happy neighborhood democratic communities and to network them all over the world. Humankind cannot live in true community without rebirth of a new spirit. It is worth spending lifetime and sacrificing all that we have to realize this dream, which both shaped and eluded the greatest men of all time. Peace, love and harmony should become the √©lan vital of every person, group and community.

·          We see a local neighbourhood turned into a community where all of us share the altruistic and ashram values and develop and practice modern corporate management and its best practices which help and empower us to lead harmonious, prosperous, fulfilling and integral lives.

·          Mission : Lead a model community life: think, speak and do only good. Make yourself happy by filling yourself with goodness, kindness and love. Develop yourself by improving positive thoughts, values and professional competencies. Share your happiness in integrity with every neighbour.


14. Methods: 

·          SAVE constitutes different panels of experts for different aspects of the program, whose main function is to give valuable advice, guidance and training, in their specialized fields; villagers utilize and benefit from talents and expertise of people in NIRD, APARD, MANAGE, WALANTARI, ICRISAT, CRIDA, URD, Rice Research Institute, departments of horticulture and agriculture, sericulture, medicinal and aromatic plants, livestock and animal husbandry, food and nutrition, cooperative and banking and financial sectors, media and tourism, education and entertainment, youth, games and sports, rural development and social forestry, water and irrigation, professional bodies, nonprofits like Rotarians, Lions, Roundtable, Jaycees, Wisemen, Scouts and Guides, YMCA, YWCA, NHRD, NPPC, APPC, NISIET, SISI, FAPCI, HMA, NABARD, SIDBI, AIMO, CII, NRIs, NRVs etc.
·          Ashram in the village is the campus where all the facilities and infrastructure are well-provided. Integrated, integrating and integral leadership and community in the entire village is the real aim. Ashram is the lab and gym for modern model community living with prosperity and brotherhood as twin goals.
·          SAVE selects the 40 healthy volunteer seniors from the village;
·          SAVE identifies and acquires the 100 acre farm;  
·          SAVE appoints directors for different functions initially;
·          SAVE trains and equips and empowers all the eligible elders;    
·          Documentation and media centre;
·          Public relations and fundraising.

15. Budget: All accounts of the community are totally transparent.
·          Personnel:
§          Director (admin model)
§          Finance (model transparent)
§          Training (model creative)
§          Utilities manager (totally compassionate)
§          Driver (available and effective)     
·          Infrastructure:
§          Farm campus
§          Residence/quarters
§          Kitchen & dining
§          Conference/ training facilities
§          Media/ library/office
·          Equipment:
§          Computers.  
§          Vehicles
§          Generator: energy, water
§          Pump sets
§          Phones/ media

      *    Furniture:
                       *    Operational: inmates maintenance
                       *    Resource persons/ guest faculty       
                       *    Miscellaneous

16. Evaluation: In evaluating the success of this initial phase, several basic questions with regard to visible and measurable items will be answered. The campus measurements, the infrastructure facilities, recruitment of personnel, selection of volunteer trainees, visits of guest faculty, maintenance and training schedule of ashramites and their documentation will be provided for verification and confirmation. Evaluation team will consist of both internal and external persons. The evaluation process mainly aims at finding positive strengths of the program and offering suggestions for their improvement.

17. Future funding: Once the initial grants are received from the donors, the supportive funds will be raised from local government and financial institutions. After one year of support the ashram is expected to be self-supporting through its income from the farm. During the year planning and budgeting will be done for the promotion of community development corporation where every villager is a shareholder and all the community is the owner of the corporation.


18. Conclusion:
       Every permanent resident is a shareholder in the village community corporation.
Ashram inmates are  full volunteers, and their basic needs are taken care of by the ashram community; community owns everything; every individual member can make use of the facilities which are meant for the benefit of all the inmates; no individual member personally owns anything. All decisions are taken in accordance with the spirit and byelaws of the ashram.

§          Participative democracy by all in the village and efficient community    organization of the niehgbourhood with compassionate moral values should create and share prosperity. It would prove to be a panacea to all evils including terrorism. This is a breakthrough strategy that has been meticulously designed to ensure the desirable and important result. And let us name it the village ashram: the seniors miracle, the elders power, the wise paradise.

§          SAVE will proclaim and display your prominent leadership role in supporting this pioneering pilot project of a model modern village through its initial phase of establishing the village elders’ ashram in Aregudem, the immediate beneficiaries. Your unconditional support by a grant will be the best gift for mankind. If unity is strength, community is almighty power. The courage of love transforms us into heroes of the globe in the new millennium: create a modern village community.

§          When a community is empowered, it can generate resources and enlist the cooperation of experts and equip themselves with all that is needed to address the problems and aspirations of all its members both individually and collectively. The community is convinced that the full blossoming of each member builds up the solidarity and strength of the entire community. Every child grows into mature fulfillment in a family, every family into a wider neighborhood community, and every community into a worldwide network of real communities. Sarve janaa sukhinobhavantu (may everybody and all people be happy). Vasudhaika kutumbam (let all the earth be one family). Through buddham saranam gachchami, dharmam saranam gachchami, sangham saranam gachchami (I surrender to wisdom, I surrender to values, and I surrender to community). Let us converge all this in one neighborhood; let every neighborhood develop; and the whole world will become one community of communities. Coming together to converse peacefully is the first step towards democracy.

§          Broken world cannot be happy: only love and compassion can transform broken hearts. A different drum beckons us to take the less-traveled road: heal, integrate and transform. This is desperately urgent to do: An idea whose time has come, a program whose time is now. Every neighborhood is an empowered community. A life style with full personal freedom and total community happiness – This is the new world all of us want. Let us embrace it with uncompromising commitment. It can be achieved and let us initiate it and impact the future.
                                      


Let us train and equip people how to make and light their own candle and they will know how to maintain it and enjoy its light. The village seniors will be so trained and equipped in an ashram environment that they will empower their total village neighborhood to become a harmonious and professional, prosperous and democratic community.
The village becomes a community development corporation and a trust to develop all the members and their assets to achieve their personal aspirations while contributing to improve the quality of life of the entire community.
A successful and model system is streamlined, which can be used mutatis mutandis in every neighborhood context. Every investment into this most opportune development system of desirable community-making is absolutely worthwhile and urgently needed.
This initiative will transform mankind into a community of communities. Let all people enjoy serene and genuine smiles always and burst at times into hearty laughter. We can, we will, we must choose joy, delight and bliss for all and right now.
 Main Aim of the Project: to bring in the inspirational values of the Indian ashram ethos and to cultivate the best practices of modern corporate culture and management into an entire local community: integral vision of wholesome humanity of every person and of all persons must be realized in a clearly specified area. The kingdom of heaven is here. We build a community paradise.
Every person is a shareholder in a local community corporation: consequently he earns income constantly. And because the person is economically involved, she becomes stronger with solidarity, sovereignty and harmony. A clearly cooperative economic infrastructure is conducive to develop a desirable superstructure of culture where every individual is respected, enhanced, honoured, and celebrated for all his strengths, gifts and contributions. To make everybody happy, entitle everybody by making her a shareholder, a real partner.

Benefits from the Ashram:

1.      sovereignty of every citizen in a democracy is strengthened and guaranteed      through becoming a member of an organized community;
2.      economic independence through constant earning enhances real freedom of  every citizen; by the time a baby reaches the age of twenty, she will become a graduate, a leader, and a prosperous girl with more than Rs 200,000 in her personal savings account; she will have a better start as a responsible adult;
3.      community builds us up, as we learn to build our community. How has man solved the American civil war, Cuban missile crisis, iron curtain, Berlin wall, apartheid? If we don’t solve our problems, who else can?
4.      happiness is everybody’s birthright; as light dispels darkness, our love removes all unhappiness; together we build a system of happiness for all; let us build a paradise for everyone’s happiness.
5.      Ashram is an ancient institution whose members are totally dedicated to professionally promote values of simplicity, hospitality, and discipline; above all an ashram embodies a spiritual culture amidst an enriched natural ecology. Mundane luxuries and glamorous ornamentations are not permitted to disturb the serene halos that emanate from the bright countenances, the innocent eyes, mellifluous voices and the integral hearts of the elderly angels – our grandparents.




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