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Big lesson from tiny village

It was a lazy drive towards Rajouri from Jammu. Rugged mountains on one side and steep slopes on the other were the hallmark of the journey, writes Peerzada Ashiq.

india Updated: Nov 25, 2008 19:39 IST
Peerzada Ashiq
Peerzada Ashiq
Hindustan Times

It was a lazy drive towards Rajouri from Jammu. Rugged mountains on one side and steep slopes on the other were the hallmark of the journey. What would punctuate our view were small villages and towns. One such village was Chingus, some 126 kilometres away from Jammu.

Just as we stopped to straighten our backs a bit, and get back to our senses after four hours of journey, villagers sitting on shop fronts were attracted by the word 'PRESS'.

While they were off the shop fronts and started staring at us, my first reaction was: "God they are going to bombard us with their typical grievances of waterlines and jobs."

But as the villagers of the tiny village pour out their world out, it was full of surprises. They did not rake up the traditional rural demands --- subsidies, Class IV jobs. A grey haired old man came forward along with other middle-aged to register his complaint with us.

"All we want is that our school have proper staff for the kids," said one of the village elders.

As the sun was about to hide behind the mighty mountains for the day, our driver pushed off. "Please sir enter the school and see for yourself what it lacks. Students keep idling during the day as teachers do not take interest," said the village elder.

What came across as another arrow of surprise was the plan of the village elders. "We have sought a meeting with our leader next week. The meeting is to discuss and see what the leader has done to alleviate our problems. We will vote only on the basis of performance this election," said the village elder.

It was getting dark. Our car started pushed off with a screech as the accelerator raced fast. Leaving behind speedy air and ruffling dust on curvy road to Rajouri, I kept asking myself: Is it the beginning of change in our country?

People, like in Chingus, have started hitting the right notes. The thrust is on education, the real driver of prosperity. Sixty-five years of political churning in India have not thrown desired results. Histrionics continue to be hallmark of our polity. Sops continue to be a tool to win voters. But there is a ray of hope thousands of miles away from the Capital. Voters in a tiny landlocked village have started asking questions essential in a democracy and prioritising their demands rightly.