M A I N   N E W S

Ladoos lift a village in J&K
Environmentalist Joshi leads the march of Parthal
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Anil P Joshi
Anil P Joshi

Dehra Dun, April 7
Not many pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi would know the money spent by them for buying prasad of ladoos made of corn flour and other ingredients there has become a tool of economic emancipation for scores of poor people of Parthal village, about two kilometers from the shrine.

Since last two years, the ladoos prepared by womenfolk of the village have brought tangible financial gains for their families whose income level was abysmally low. Farming was unprofitable for most of them due to very small size of landholdings. The main crop of corn was hardly remunerative without any value addition. Others in this small village of around 60 families depended on manual labour.

But the turnaround came when Dr Anil P Joshi of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO) visited the shrine in 2005 for the first time as a pilgrim after completing a project on rural electrification in J&K in association with the Army. The water mill technology developed by him helped illuminate more than 500 villages in the state.

“At the shrine, I noticed that prasad offered here was prepared and brought from outside urban centres, so I thought why can’t this be prepared by the ruralfolks, especially women of the area by equipping them with technology evolved by my organisation to process the local farm produce. To me, this seemed as a sure way of providing employment to them,” he told The Tribune.

So, this village nearest to the shrine was chosen for the purpose after assessing the economic condition of its people. He then negotiated with authorities of the shrine board, who readily agreed and assured purchase followed. Earlier, he had successfully provided employment in this way in areas around temples of Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri.

A steady flow of income is on since then. The women got organised under banner of Vaishnavi Mahila Dal (VMD). The sale increased from 500 to 1,000 packets daily, achieving present annual turnover of around Rs 30 lakh. The overall quality of life improved with pucca houses and new things like TV sets and electronic gadgets. For instance, family of Sudesh Kumari, vice-president of VMD, is now proud owner of two motor cycles. As incidental benefits, around 8 persons got permanent work as carriers of the product to the shrine. Packing is also done in the village. “The idea should be replicated at other religious places in the country to make religion truly purposeful,” he observed.



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