HindustanTimes Sun,26 Oct 2014

VIP visitor’s brush with rural India

Sadaf Modak, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, November 07, 2010
First Published: 23:33 IST(7/11/2010) | Last Updated: 23:34 IST(7/11/2010)

On Sunday, Ram Todkar, a farmer from Peth near Pune, won a bet of R10,000 and earned hero’s status in his village.


Todkar (32) was one of the farmers, who met US President Barack Obama, at the Agriculture Expo held at St. Xavier’s College on Sunday. “When I was informed of my chance to meet Obama on November 1, some of my friends back home didn’t believe me and bet against it. Not only did I meet him, he also addressed me by my name, shook my hands and spoke to me,” said Todkar, a farmer who supplies potatoes to a leading potato chips company.

The Agriculture and Food Security Expo exhibited products of the collaborative efforts between 11 companies and farmers to bring new technology and opportunities to villages. “I explained to him about the farming process and showed him the potatoes from our farms.

“He was impressed,” added Todkar, whose village had been glued to the television to watch him meet the US President.

Obama also visited an expo on democracy and open government in the college campus and spoke through video-conference to people from Kanpura village in Ajmer, Rajasthan. The village has been provided Internet as part of a pilot project launched by the Panchayati Raj Ministry. The internet enables the villagers to get information on government schemes.

“They told Barack Obama about the wonders Internet has done for their village by giving them access to the world. Talking to the President of the US, was a global exposure in the real sense,” said Uma Iyer, media advisor for the project—National Panchayat Portal.

Showcasing the strength of local self-government bodies was Sharmibai (35), sarpanch of her village, Sirohi in Rajasthan. Sharmibai, who heads the panchayat of 10 members, including five men, was on her first visit to the city. “Meeting the leader and telling him about our efforts to better our village was great. I have lots to tell to my villagers...” said Sharmibai, who represented the The Hunger Project, which works towards eradicating hunger.

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