Baidyanath Sing is from a poor tribal family of Aswakuti (Hudisahi) village near Similipal of Mayurbhanj district. Since his school days he had to struggle financially for his studies. He got admission to NIT Rourkela in Electrical Engineering. Lacking financial resources, he was supported by his friends for his study. After that he did his M.Tech at Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. About his early days, this is what he has to say:
Since from my school days, I struggled for existence, had to work to support my education. After getting admission into Engineering Institute, my friends supported me financially for entire four years as I was in no position to support by my own, nor my parents were. During those days, when I visited my native place, I saw lot many talented students not being able to complete their studies due to poverty, like mine. This moved me so much and forced me to think again and again. This, I realized is not an isolated case and there is a need to look at the bigger picture. From that day onwards, I realized that I have a bigger role to play than any of my friends and thought of doing something for the poor people like me. My determination was multiplied by several other problems such as deforestation by jungle mafias, ignorance of the fellow villagers about their rights and resulting exploitations. I realized that people in here needed somebody to lead them and show them ways to create a better life for themselves and the generation next. Situation demanded that, I spend my valuable asset, my times, as I myself don’t have enough funds to spin on development of my fellow sufferers.
During his days at NIT Rourkela and IISc Bangalore he cultivated friendships with his classmates, juniors, seniors, and alumni working across India and abroad. About this interactions and how it shaped his future agenda this is what he has to say:
During our electronic e-conference all my intellectual troupes suggested insisting upon taking legitimate care of the education from the grass root level. We concluded that we will start with education i.e. we will interact with primary school teachers, guardians by arranging meeting in regular time interval and we will support attractive accessories to kids to attract them so that we can avoid drop out in the primary levels. Then I personally realized that visibility of development would take much time if we will start first with education, in the most deprived area where education is a distant dream, and our effort would be useless. They dearth in living standard and they are not at all in a position to think of education, and mostly they are busy arranging for their per day foods. So, we have to observe their weakest point, through which we can attract them more easily and we can change their mentality to bring them towards the mainstream of developed path. Then I proposed if we can start education and parallel with some income generating activities like agriculture, agricultural related activities, managing locally available natural resources by local people and villagers empowerment porgrammes. then there may be possible in “sustainable rural development” and finally my proposal was accepted by all others.
With those agenda in mind Baidyanath Singh left his job in an IT company in Bangalore and embarked on several projects in and around his villages. In pursuing those projects the procedure he adopted is outlined as follows in his own words.
Step 1: We are having local tribal educated mass, arranging farmers’ awareness programmes in targeted village and forming FSHG (Farmers Self Help Group) and WSHG (Women Self Help Group), which consist of 15 to 20 no of members. In each village there are minimum 5 to 8 no of SHG depends on strength of the targeted village. There is no discrimination in cast, religious, BPL and APL during group formation. Landless villagers are also included in the groups so, that they can take advantage out of it. And we are trying to create competitive mind among the groups.
Step 2: When we are arranging awareness programmes in targeted village we are making survey of
- What are their livelihoods?
- What are their traditional crops?
- Any person in the village doing other crops pattern?
- Any crops they were cultivating previously but they stopped now, if yes when and why?
- After getting all data there will be a mutual discussion with them and they will give proposal what can possible so that everyone can accept it with great interest by which no one will feel as a burden and probability of success for proposed crops should be 100% with any weather conditions so there will be no frustration among the farmers. With this our aim is to attract more and more no of farmers not only that village but also in consecutive villages.
Following are some of the activities that he has been involved in, in and around his village, after he left his job in Mumbai and came back to his village to help develop his village and its surroundings. They are in his own words.
Activities 1: My village Aswakuti (Hudisahi) is located very close to Similipal reserved area. During my B.E. time there was lot of timber business used to happen by Jangle mafia from out side. They were taking advantage of villager’s illiteracy, innocence and poverty. The mafia groups motivated the villagers up to such extend that, instead of traditional farming their hobby became supplying timber. Which became easiest income source in a short time period.
I personally realized that if a thing goes so then just after 5 years there may be vagaries of nature. Then we motivated some people to understand the reality and arranged one meeting in our village and formed one "Jangle Surakhya Committee". This committee formed four groups and each groups was assigned to do duty in jangle once in a week. As a result it hampered mafia and motivated villagers, which became a great problem for our committee. They became our great enemy and we got life threatening from them. At last we took help of our Sarat local forester who supported us. He became our advisor now our village committee is renamed into J.F.M (Joint Forest Management). This JFM is working so effectively that we are also getting financial support from Forest Department. Interesting thing is that now maximum villagers are having Committee.
Activities2: Year 2004-05 we promoted Niger cultivation as an experimental basis in the village of Dangadhia, Khukundu and Paterpada of Thakurmunda block in Mayurbhanj district among the 100 beneficiaries, but seeds were not perfect even though it was a great success for us, farmers accepted it very easily. maximum farmers earned minimum of Rs 3000/- just for four month.
Activities3: Year 2005-06 we distributed same seeds in my sarat area of Kaptipada Block among the three villages named Keshpada, Kadabahali and Kutumundi with four FSHG as a foundation seeds for this area. This activity was so popular for this area and also they earned very god amount. I will feel proud to inform you that this year agriculture department people (Udala ADAO) visited our field and he appreciated it.
Activities 4: Last year’s Niger activity was so popular and year 2006-07 (this year) we distributed 5 quintal Niger seeds which covered more than 100 acars of free land, vegetables seeds, 1 quintal of mustard seeds which has covered more than 20 acars of land and 60 no of vegetable kits from Horticultural department in different villages. I think this Niger project was a biggest activity in whole Mayurbhanj. This years Niger activity was so excellent and attractive. I will be proud to inform you that last 25th Oct. during flowering time we organized one Agricultural Awareness Programme.
Activities 5: This year on 24th Sept. We organized Mathematics Olympiad Test Called Rural Mathematics Talent Search Test (RMTST) for 6th class, which was state level Exam. and supported by Institutes of Mathematics, BBSR and NRO’s USA. Qualified students will be awarded Rs 1500/- per annum for five years and they will be eligible for National level (for national level they will get Rs 1500/- per month) and then for International level.
Activity 6: From this year I became a lifetime member of Foundation for Excellence (FFE) USA based Organization through which we can be able give scholarship to students from BPL/antardoya/arnapurna card holders with good marks in High School, +2, +3, Diploma, Medical (rank within 280) and Engg. (Rank within 2050) from Rs 5000/- to Rs 40,000/-. Per annum until to complete their course. This year I have provided scholarship (Rs 5000/-) to Mr. Manash Mallick from BPL family who has secured 667 marks in HSC-2005, Kumini Prava Panigrahi (Rs 19000/-) who is doing Diploma in Rourkela but yet to come.
Activity 7: From next month we are going to start Masses for Rural Computer Education Institute in Sarat for school and college level students with minimum price. Which is also going to support by NRO’s USA.
Activity 8: We are running one non-formal school for students from class 1 to 5th in my village Aswakuti itself (class timing is 6.30 am to 8.30 am and 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm) this is just a special class and volunteer teachers from village itself, salary for them is donated by parents themselves. This school is running so effectively and we are planning to do in other villages also. Some NRO’s from USA are also going to support these special schools very soon.
He has the following proposals for the near future; again in his own words.
- All activities as mentioned above will be continued in future and multiplied into large scale till turned into sustainable activity.
- As farmers’ interest is multiplying drastically, which is a positive symbol for this area, within next two years we are trying to cover all nine Gram Panchayat, which includes more than 80 villages with more than one lakhs people. Our mission will be to form as many as no of FSHG and WSHG. All groups will make saving account in near by Baitarani Gramyan Bank.
- Last year we encouraged only for Niger, mustard and some area for vegetable cultivation but this year we are preparing to promote mixed horticulture farming which includes Turmeric, Zinger, Sun flower, Sweet Potato, Drumstick, Hybrid Banana, Mango, Amala with very large scale.
- Beneficiaries list is increasing. If these activities go in this way then within very short span of time this area may be able to give huge amount of Agro-product. But main problem is market potential. As per Orissa is concerned Agro-Industries are very rare so agro market potential is not supportive for farmers. Farmers are not getting proper justice for their product, which is tending to create frustration among the farmers.
- According to our vision, if there will be a processing unit just like a Small Scale Agro-Industries (SSAI) in the local area there will no question of mediators in between grass root level farmers and SSAI by which maximum benefits goes towards grass level framers only. Which can influence financial status of farmers directly.
Few weeks back he contemplated getting into electoral politics and run in his constituency. Following is an excerpt from an email he sent to Sandip Dasverma on his thoughts on why he should run and his chances.
… whole area is requiring one good leader for them so I am thinking that I may not be a good leader for them but I will try to be a good leader for them. I am thinking that as election in Orissa is very close and I am thinking to contest from my constituency (KARANJIA) as a MLA …
Since I am a highly qualified tribal guy who has been involved directly with social problems since from long days so, why shouldn’t I enter into politics in order to deliver my capabilities and my dreams for my areas. People of my area love me very much and I have excellent chances to win from my constituency.
Yesterday Baidyanath Sing went to file his nomination for the Karanjia Assembly seat as an independent and we support his candidacy whole heartedly.
Following is a map of the Karanjia constituency. We encourage readers with ties to that area to help Mr. Sing.