The title may sound a little weird but this is talk of the town in Mhaswad for the last month. When the fellowship journey started, field visits were usual and I had chance to visit nearby places and get familiarized with the surroundings. The town is gifted (not sure though) with the Manganga river. The first visit to the river is still fresh in my mind. It was hard to guess for me or any new person that the place where kids were playing cricket is a river. The river was a huge flat ground with traces of sand and few rocks resembling to that photograph claiming that water existed on the Mars. And obviously, no one used the bridge to cross the river although it was in good condition.
From the stories of the local people, the river flows only during heavy rains and that too as a small stream. Firstly, Mhaswad is a drought affected area and rains are very seldom here. Adding to this, it’s located on plateau due to which water drains away quickly from the river. So, what went different this year is construction of a check dam on the river and there were heavy rains in the season. During first month of the rainy season, it rained a bit but there were no traces of water flowing in the river. It was assumed by many that the check dam is going to do no wonders.
Soon the situation changed, rains were heavy and check dam construction was finished and it was ready to stop the water from flowing away. As it rained for 2 days continuously, the check dam filled completely and river was flowing like never before. Population of Mhaswad was capturing this historical moment and farmers were happy looking forward to a good reaping in next season. Soon, boating also started for the first time in history of this town.
The check dam construction was completed by using the funds received from a foreign firm and local government body had no credits in that. To my surprise, local politicians left no stone unturned to take credit of bringing water to the river and hosted a big event of worshiping the river. This event was organised just to showcase that some work is done by local ruling party to seek benefits in the upcoming elections. And the body responsible for pulling the funds and taking responsibility of check dam construction was completely side lined. Local people also were happy to see the work done by the leader elected by them and no one acknowledged the real entity behind the work.
This event left me a bit shocked as I witnessed how a person or a group of people could just take away the credit for someone else’s work only for personal benefits and by exerting their influence. And when I gazed at a bigger picture, I was in a state of complete distress thinking if is this how the things work at the upper levels and how we believe things that media tells us. Surely, the united work of civil society which has resulted in such a big success should be the story we hear and not the hijacked version. As villagers piled on the boat and took turns at rowing up and down the river, I began to realize the undercurrents of a deeper societal dynamic.