A couple who adopted their three ancestral villages

Meet Subhash Chand Aggarwal  and his wife Sheila who adopted three ancestral villages and helped uplift them by acting on some simple ideas

By Neena Badhwar

What does one do when one retires from a job? The so called active retirees still have so much energy, knowhow and experience left in them. Up and until retirement one has been working to fend for the family and busy raising children and guiding them as they find their own niche and stand on their own feet. Retirement time is fraught with a lot of free time on hand as children get busy with their own family and work, with retirees with a lot of time to spare.

It was inspiring to meet one gentleman S C  Aggarwal  and his wife Sheila who are visiting their son in Sydney. He recently gave a talk at the Sri Om Care group in Pennant Hills. Not only has he written a book ”˜War on Poverty: role of the privileged people’,  Aggarwal  having retired from Income Tax department as IRS officer, he thought of acting on his own suggestions he has put forth in his book. He went ahead and adopted three villages ”“ one his own, second his wife’s and the third one ”“ his mother’s.

With adopting says  Aggarwal, “It does not mean that I spent some huge amount of money. In fact in all I must have spent hardly five rupees.” He said one has the car and enough money to visit one’s own village, meet his people and visit local school and do something worthwhile to uplift the village.

Obviously you are curious how did he do what he did for the villages he adopted.  Aggarwal  went to the school village and conducted a discussion in the class with students what kind of improvement the children would want in their village. They were given an assignment to list the issues. After the exercise he gave children pens and pencils as incentive. Then he met the village mukhiya and the local member/traders who equally got interested. Thus says  Aggarwal, “In my mother’s village (Mohna) there was no bank branch. Mohna, which is 23 kilometres from Ballabhgarh, had no bank and people had to go all the way to the bank in Ballabgarh town to keep their cash.”

“I met Mr. Vinod Rai and Dr. C Rangarajan in a summit organised by Economic Times in Delhi on “Financial Inclusion” where I put a question to both of them on financial inclusion and followed it later on. This correspondence resulted in OP Bhatt of State Bank to seek a feasibility report ultimately a bank branch of SBI was opened there and made life so much more easier for everyone. Soon the branch started overflowing with money. People were scared to keep cash at home but now they had the branch handy to keep their money safe as well ask for loans to further their business since Mohna has the second largest anaaj Mandi there.”

“Also there was no gas in the village. To get gas cylinders people had to go on a two-wheeler all the way to get it from the town – Ballabgarh. At times to get a cylinder, it would take three days. I contacted Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, Petroleum Minister in Delhi through email which resulted into Adani Group laying down pipes lines and providing piped natural gas (piped cooking gas) to households in the village.   It made life much easy for everyone. All I had to do was to write a few emails/letters and approach the right people”

Another idea that  Aggarwal  is working on is to generate electricity in every house by installing a 1 kilo watt power to five kilowatt solar system which is a Rs. 50,000 to two lakh rupee investment. Says he, “I have got installed a solar system on the roof top of the house of my mother’s grandson in the village. God willing one day every home in the village will have electricity of their own and will not have to depend upon the Sarkari bijlee or to live in the dark.”

Aggarwal’s book outlines many ideas which are easy to achieve yet can help lift a village out of poverty and invigorate the people as well as the village that something positive is being done.

According to him, ”Poverty is the most burning question. We have worked hard in life for the family. It is time that we now do it for the betterment of our people. This kind of work will give a lot self-satisfaction. And will empower each and everyone of us to help fight the scourge that afflicts our India.”

According to  Aggarwal  how much can a government do? “We must do something, each one of us, the teachers, the accountants, the intellectuals, the editors, the film makers, to tackle and help India lift itself out of poverty. We the privileged have the means, the know how to uplift our own villages where we came from or where our ancestors came from.”

Like a true karmayogi, this  Aggarwal  couple is doing something great to fight poverty by instituting simple yet workable ideas, and that too for their own village.


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