The Har Ghar Tiranga campaign (marking India’s 75th year of independence) was organized by Sehgal Foundation in twenty-five Uttam Gram villages in seven states (Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar) of India with a number of events between August 10–15, 2022. The goal of the campaign was to instill and celebrate feelings of patriotism and provide an opportunity for people to express gratitude to and for India’s freedom fighters. About 3,400 villagers (800 men, 950 women, 1,650 children) gathered at the central point of the village and schools and sang the national anthem. The contributions of the freedom fighters of India were acknowledged, and a rally was held in the village.
The collective celebration on the eve of Har Ghar Tiranga in the Uttam Gram Initiative (UGI) villages provided a good opportunity for people to connect with each other and know each other better. The Uttam Gram initiative had the objective to develop selected good-practice villages on integrated village development on agriculture development, water management, and local participation and sustainability in the project locations of Sehgal Foundation. These villages are the training / learning grounds for community leaders, local institutions, and organizations for adoption in their own locations.
The village development committee (VDC) formed in each village for leading the process of development in collaboration with gram panchayat was the agency that mobilized people to participate in the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign in their villages. VDC members and the gram panchayat invited government officers, schoolteachers, aaganwadi workers, and SHG members to participate in the campaign. Such community connection activities are ideal forums to discuss and suggest development activities in villages. A number of children participated in a painting competition in the schools of the UGI villages in Telangana. Regular convening of community connection activities in the UGI villages engages people in village development and puts pressure on gram panchayats to include the development needs of the village in the gram panchayat development plan. It also triggers collective action by villagers on issues such as sanitation and awareness about safe environments for women and girls, which do not require any funding, but creates regular sensitization and identifies people to take a lead for action. The community testimonials of the villagers who took part in the campaign showed their enthusiasm for the Tiranga campaign.
Alka Gadekar, a women leader of Nidona village, Auraganabad, said that participation in the Har Ghar Tiranga yatra instilled in her “and in other women, a lot of self-confidence and self-respect as they have not never taken part any such yatra recognizing sacrifices of freedom fighters.”
Poonam, a women leader of Barota village, Nuh, Haryana, said that seeing the national flag on nearly all houses in the village gave her tremendous happiness and she was “very happy to be part of Tiranga yatra.”
Damaroa Jadhav, the chairperson of the Water Management Committee, Wawna village, Aurangabad said that a “common person” like him never had an opportunity to unfurl the national flag ever, but this time he could do it at the roof of his house and take part in yatra, holding national flag. He felt “very happy.”
From such community connection activities, community leaders emerge who can be in the forefront of collective action. In UGI villages, the endeavor is to organize community connection activities every three months, so that a momentum for leadership building and collective action is maintained at the grassroots.
Author: Dr Vikas Jha
(Vikas is principal lead, Local Participation and Development)