The documentary Swaraj Mumkin Hai made by Maya Vishwakarma, the Padwoman of Madhya Pradesh, has bagged the ‘Best Social Entrepreneur Short Film’ award at the World International Film Festival (TWIFF) in New People theater San Francisco, California, on Friday 21st Sept. The award ceremony took place at New People Cinema. Showcasing a case-study of a small village Baghuwar in Narsingpur district of Madhya Pradesh, the documentary was made by Maya in 2016 to inspire other villages in India to promote local self-governance. “I had no idea that such a village existed in my own district and I visited it in 2014. This village fulfills Gandhiji’s dream of empowering villages to spur the overall development of the country,” says Maya “My idea behind making the film was to inspire youth to take up such projects if they really wanted to make India a developed country. Why do we need to be so dependent upon the government to make things happen when we have the power to bring about change?” she asked.
The credit for the extraordinary development of the village goes to Surendra Rajput, a visionary who proposed the idea of not conducting panchayat elections for the dual purpose of saving money, while using it instead for the development of the village. “Thirty years ago, Rajput came up with a plan to improve the standard of living of all villagers. He decided to use the money spent on panchayat elections to build the village and sought donations from residents. Those who could not give money paid in kind by giving their time and efforts for the development of the village school, the opening of an Ayurvedic medical center and various other development projects,” she said. The highlight of the village is the rainwater harvesting system due to which the groundwater level has gone up considerably. Now, one can easily find water at 15-20 feet, she said.
Maya Vishwakarma hopes that her movie will inspire other villages in following a model of rural self-empowerment to truly honor Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy.