Feed your village for free



    A lot of people think that we need money if we want to do some social activities. It is not completely true. There are so many things that we can do without money. I am planning to do the following next year and if anyone of our group member like this idea then he can do the same in his village.

    As I am sitting in the US – too far from my village, therefore I have to ask someone to do this for me. If I would have been near to my village, I would have prefered to do it myself.

    What I am trying to do:
    I will ask one my cousins to sow  the seeds for different vegetables like cucumber (Kheera),  Calabash Gourd (Ghiya),  Squash (Kaddu), Okra (Bhindi),  Eggplants (Brinjal – Baingan), Indian bittermelon (Karela), Basil (Bhavadi – Pahari name) etc.

    Where we can do:
    We will plant them on empty land, wasteland and on both sides of roads in the village. Someone told me that we should sow these seeds in February and the vegetables are ready by July- August. We do not need land to plant these vegetables. Two to three plants of each vegetables are enough to feed the whole village.

    The whole thing will not cost me more than Rs. 100.

    Who will benefit:
    Poor people from the entire village will get vegetables for free for 2-3 months. Anyone can eat these vegetables. Birds, Monkeys and other animals too are welcome.

    My aim is to make these vegetables available all around the year for free. But I don’t know the vegetable-names that we can produce through out the year.

    I am also planting fruit trees like mango, Black berry (Sahtoot), Guava, peaches, figs etc. So that kids in the village can eat fresh fruits all around the year.

    You can mail me your suggestions. If someone of you like this idea, we can repeat in other areas also. Critics can also send their take on this.

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    1. Fantastic.

      In my opinion villagers do have sufficient agricultural land around
      their houses where they can grow seasonal vegetables or fruit
      trees..long term planning. This would ensure that what they grow remains
      under their watch unlike on the roadside. I fully agreed that it is in
      an affordable and practical proposition. Villagers have been doing it..I
      remember this from my village days. It is a question of restarting it.

      But now I would ask few difficult questions..How many of us would spend
      our post retirement life in our native villages after having ‘tasted’
      for so many years the city life either in India or abroad ? Even if we
      decide to do so, can we adopt the lifestyles we descarded years ago ?
      Will our children stay with us if choose to live in a village ? Pretty
      hard questions..no easy answers. I myself don’t enjoy city life..it
      sucks..it doesn’t provide a sense of community..makes you more of an
      inward looking person…have avoided becoming one so far.

      Shahar gaya tha vaapis na aaya..some poet wrote. Even if some people
      come back to spend their twilight years..they settle in nearby towns.. a
      few kilometres away from their own village which once gave them an
      identity and took care of them in their formative years ..but now have
      difficulty in getting back to it. Victims of avoidable ‘they’ and ‘us’

      The no. of households in villages are dwindling. My village use to have
      a pleasant hustle & bustle..it had close to seventy households at one
      point of time..today the number of active households has dwindled down
      to 30-35. Some houses remain locked for years and gradually crumble to
      ground…nobody to provide much needed regular maintenance.

      There used to be an old ‘mausi’, who in mid eighties was in her late
      seventies..lived alone. Last time I visited my village..did not see that
      house…consumed by vagaries of elements after her departure to heavenly
      abode..bushes and weeds growing where her beautiful house with a bamboo
      balcony stood majestically and so did the swarm of sparrows who used to
      throng it for taking a daily feed from her…sad.

      Land is in my village is fertile but not much of agricultural
      activity…because men work in cities. Result.. most of the fields have
      become barren. The area around the village has tens of mango, guava,
      gooseberry and other fruit trees. Each tree bears fruits with distinct

      Lure of city life makes people ignore even the basic needs for
      survival..clean air, clean water, wholesome diet and peaceful life which
      cities have failed to provide to many who got lured by city life. I
      guess the situation is same everywhere.

      Cries of a critic were feeble, this time 😉

    2. hi !

      Well the assumption that lure of the city that is making people go to cities and towns is completely.
      Its the abscence of basic amenities which is forcing people to opt for small towns and cities. Even being a hydropower abundant state i faced power outages. Many hilly areas don’t get plenty water supply. The telephones go out of order for months even the newly used technologies like wirless fixed phones show outages for long periods and just on the onset of a low intensity wind. Yes some private GSM networks r good but expensive considering the income levels in villages.
      Your idea for growing vegetables is good but not all people can do that and they need supply of fresh vegetables and other food items in nearby shops which is not good enough. Remember post-retirement people will like to live peacefully rather than slogging in fields. Transportation facilities are not good enough and each family owning a vehicle concept or rather viability is not yet been reached. Not all people would like to rear herds of cattle for there milk and other needs, which should be compensated by packed milk and other supplies. Yes its a vicious problem that people will arrive first or services.

      Other than this medical facilities are far off and employement is meagre.

      Its that most people have been forced to live in small town and cities even though the facilities are poor but still available at less costs.

      yes things are improving but untill then people will have to move out.



    3. Dear all,

      This plan is good and can surely yeild results.

      I have following doubts:

      1. Suppose I started this in my village. I stay in UAE and can ask my cousins or deploy someone to do this. Will govt allow this?….they might think we are doing “kabza” kind of thing.
      2. Furthermore, in my Village there are 3-4 shops selling vegetables (note that they did not leave the village and decided to do something in the village itself). What will happen to their small bussiness once we started distributing those vegetables for free……
      3. The idea of planting fruit Trees is much more practical and must be done by all of us …atleast who have their roots in vllages…..


      Manish Gupta

    4. Manishji,

      Here are the answer to your concerns
      1) Govt. will not say naything. you are not trying to occupy the land. Noone will say anything. Even if someone say something then you can use other land next year.
      2) As per Lord Krishna, You do your Karma and do not wait for results. Let’s do our Karma and other eat the fruits. If you are able to grow more vegetable than your village can consume then tell these 2-3 shopkeepers to sell these fresh organic vegetables in the market. Tell these people to grow more vegetables so that they can sell in outer market.

      Why there are 2-3 vegetable shops in your village ? Earlier people used to grow vegetables in their yards. Are we making money to eat 3-4 days old vegetables ?

      3) Our grand parents (I mean old people in villages) had planted
      fruit trees long back and when we were kids, we ate the fruits of these
      plants. All these trees are old now and you will not see any
      more fruits in some of these trees. Because the trees are too old to
      grow any fruits.

      Someone planted these trees and we eat the fruits. Now it’s our
      turn to grow these trees so that someone else (our kids and grand kids)
      can eat the fruits.

    5. Dear Sawdesh Jee,

      I really appreciate your keen desire to help people of our motherland and especially for Himachal. Sawdesh Jee I had spent my golden 22 years of my life in a small village and then moved to Delhi. And from 9 years I am here in Delhi. My objective to saying this is that I had done fair work in farming.

      Your idea of putting seeds beside the road sides is must be the idea, which had come from an AC room, where things are easy to think, but miles away from ground reality. This is the pity of our Nation also, the policy makers sitting in the AC room and making policies for country.

      Sawdesh Jee, water is very important for doing any agricultural activity and in HP people gets drinking water after doing a good walk of 1-2 KMs.

      Swadesh Jee, it is not a comment on you, but this is something, which I lack in myself. I know everything, but not do anything, atleast you are giving suggestions.


      I don’t want to hurt anybody, if this will hurt anyone I am sorry for this. These are my thoughts, may be many of us won’t be agree. I request to all of us instead of starting a new debate, let’s do something collectively which may produce some positive results.

      One revolution is started by our fore fathers the revolution of FREEDOM. Now it’s our turn to start a revolution for FINANCIAL FREEDOM.

      Jai Hind, Jai Himachal.
      Vande Matram

    6. Vikramji,

      You said it rightly that we make the decision by sitting in AC room. When I wrote that mail I was sitting in heated room because it’s winter here 🙂

      Anyway, I have already planted couple of hundred fruit trees in my village and distributed several hundreds to different people in different villages. But I agree that I have not been able to convert my 100% dreams into reality. I might have done 10-20%. But even then I am happy and looking forward to do more as I am sitting 16000 km away from village

      I have already stated in my mail that I will sow seeds of different vegetables in Feb. 2007 There are around 400 members in this group. Whoever liked this idea, can implement this in his village also. Thatway we can do it in a big scale.

      It is very hard to bring 10 Indians together on any issue. That’s why we have so many political parties. We have so many organisations.

      Most of us think this is Kalyug and Bhagwan will come to make all the things right. Everyone is waiting for Lord Kalki to come and save us from terrorism, suffering and everything happening around us. But I know if Rama had fought Ravana alone, he could not have won Ramayana war. Rama defeated Ravana only because a lot of people like Hanuman, Bhavishna, Sugreev, Jamwant, Nal, Neel and even small monkeys helped him to win that war. Same is true for Krishna during Mahabharata.

      As you have lived most of life in a village and you have better understanding of farming, please take a lead on this project and guide the other member of this group. I will assist you in all possible ways. Let’s make a Banar sena. Noone will come from outside to help us.

      Anyway, Bhagwan help those who helps themselves.

    7. Now I can’t stop poking my nose in this too twirly a topic. Swadeshji if
      start distributing seeds among vanar sainiks then instead of sowing they
      would start consuming the seeds 😉 Growing vegetables/fruit trees means
      continuous care and regular watering. Himachal is also suffering from
      acute water shortage. I still feel that villagers can perform such
      activities in their neighbourhood for reasons explained.

      India was never together, we were and are a cluster of ‘kingdoms’…apni
      apni dafli aur apna apna raag. Old habits die hard.

      Regarding defeat of Ravana or Kauravas it was more because of
      manipulative tactics adopted by Ram and Krishna instead of superior

    8. Dear Swadesh Jee,

      At this movement I do not have any idea how to start this movement; you called it “BANNER SENA”. And honestly speaking, I don’t have enough time that I can lead the movement. But, yes fundamentally I am agree with you that God Help Those Who Helps Themselves.

      If I just elaborate more this sentence only then I understand that do not help anybody just wake him up. Means show him the way, tell him the destination, rest he will achieve it.

      If we pay attention to the strengths available in our society (Himachal), we have huge number of trained, committed, sincere and honest retired army persons. I feel IF in anyway we can gather them on a common stage, nothing is impossible to Himachal. In Uttaranchal these Army persons are doing great, really appreciating. And today if I say Uttaranchal is growing with more speed than Himachal, would not be wrong.

      Swadesh Jee, you are working in a developing Nation, you thinking scope is much wider than what I can think. You are also aware with our society structure, values and Govt. policies. I would request if you study the American Agri business and suggest us, guide us that how our farmers can increase their income dramatically. I know this would take time, but getting started means getting ahead.

    9. Dear Swadesh Jee,
      Yes i am very much agree with Vikram ji’s view ,that its very appropriate decision to arrange gettogether not for retired defence persons but also others too.
      Its nice to hear about word “BANNAR SENA” …so its good to think God Help Those Who Helps Themselves.
      Meenakshi Pathania

    10. Hi all,

      I think we had enough discussion about how a village can be fed without
      making huge investment in terms of time or money.

      I have a simple suggestion..those who are going to visit their native
      villages in near future can talk to panch parmeshwars as to how they
      think this problem could be addressed. Involving them in this problem
      solving initiative can prove worthwhile otherwise we would continue to
      discuss things in isolation.

      Five-six years back when I had been to my village, I had asked fellow
      villagers as to why they have stopped agricultural activities…reply
      was..”munnua ithhu badhe bhaari baander hun.”

      For Kangri challenged it means…”Dear Son, we are facing a monkey
      menace of stunning proportions” ..that’s why agricultural activities
      have been curtailed. Monkey menace was there when I lived in the
      village, but people used all sorts of techniques quite successfully to
      keep them away. Pet dogs, scare crows and children beating tin cans, and
      singing & shouting. These may not be quite effective today since
      monkeys also have very high awareness levels. They also watch cricket
      like we cricket crazy Indians.

      It is a fact that we are becoming lazy day by day. We want everything
      packed and home delivered…Trade-offs …detour to economics. ..and
      there are others who slog and sell convenience to exploit laziness.
      Little surprise that villagers are also falling victim to these

      Please feed this forum with new ideas.

    11. Dear All,

      Swadesh ji has kicked up a lively debate with responses pouring in for the past two weeks. As I read the responses, many thoughts cross my mind. I shall try to put down a few of them.

      1. If this is an idea which can revolutionise the rural scenario then why has it not happened till now?

      In the villages that I have visited, there are people who grow many vegetables in their kitchen gardens and also fruit trees like Dussehri mangos in their fields(since the produce of wheat/maize is not providing attractive cost benefit ratio) . This means that the technology and the know how is there- then what is missing?

      a. People who would want to take up this idea
      b. The resources that would be needed for them to do it

      Here is my take on the above, but the second point first:

      a. The bare minimum resources that are needed can be put down as follows:

      i. Seed/saplings: Seeds/plants of local varieties are most of the times readily available near the villages. Even if they are not, they can be had from nurseries (private or governmental) at reasonable prices that people in the villages are ready to pay if they find it beneficial. Every monsoons I see people who are interested in planting trees taking trees in ones/twos/jeep loads etc. but these are mostly horticultural varieties intended for economic purposes.

      ii. Water/compost: For ensuring survival and good growth of a tree/vegetables they need to be manured and watered regularly. This is not an easy job in most of the areas considering that water has to be carried over long distances during the months of water scarcity.

      iii. Protection: One of the most difficult process for areas that are not fenced. Please keep in mind that even fences need protection regularly. Protection of trees in open areas would need the consensus(or control mechanisms) of the whole village in not letting out their cattle in that area till the trees grow beyond a level. Even this done, the menace of the stray cattle would still remain.

      iv. Weeding: This is of utmost importance especially in the case of vegetables(except for some climbing varieties).

      b. The people who would want to take up this idea without any monetary support should be motivated enough to provide all the inputs that are cited under point a. This means that they should be motivated enough to give to others without expecting anything in return. There are not many people today who would be ready to continue doing this for a long period of time considering the fact that everything today has been monetised and cost-benefit rules our minds. The rare people of this nature that I have seen in the villages already share a lot with the others including the vegetables that they grow in their homesteads. The people who grew the trees that we eat fruits from(namely Mango/Amla etc.) were the ones who saw the worth of it and were ready to provide the time and the effort to protect, water and care for these trees for the long years that it took them to grow beyond the level at which cattle could damage them. Who would be willing to do that today except for substantial and short term personal gains?
      Today in a lot of our areas, the lifestyles have changed; Amla and wild Mango are cut down for firewood and timber respectively(while they preserve and propagate the commercial varieties of mango and harar); 5-10 years old Devdar trees in the forests are cut by people (mostly from the new generation) if poles are needed; people have stopped eating corn, Kodra(mandal) and other traditional grains because white wheat and rice have become fashionable and are easy on the palate. I am sorry but this is the truth that I have witnessed first hand in not one area.

      The times have changed and we need a social as well as an economic movement to get to the goals that we are seeking. Things shall have to be linked to the livelihoods(short term and long term) of the people but with a long term strategy in the mind. And all these things have to be seen in the light of the current government policies and laws and the situation on the ground; agriculture and forestry are facing crisis in their own ways. The problems of absentee landlordism and fragmented landholdings can be found in the same villages; while the enterprising and the educated left the village while the opportunity was there, there are hoards of unemployed and optionless youth (considering that incomes from farming would not fetch you latest mobile phones) in the village who are taking up unlawful activities like smuggling liquor etc. The forests resources are being mismanaged due to competition between communities and the forest department as well as due to competition amongst the members of the communities themselves; neighbours are competing with each other for the increasingly scarce resources. Encroachment and illicit felling are also other aspects of the same malaise.

      Finding solutions is not an easy task but has to be done for the future lies here. And yes talking alone would not get us anywhere but thinking hard, strategising and acting upon the strategy would surely see us a step forward at a time.

      I think I have written enough to make people come up with some ideas. I shall get back with some solutions in a few days.

      Thanks and best wishes

    12. All Ji
      I firmly believe that implementing something practically is far more difficult than thinking and giving idea to some one by e-mail. For example when you go to your village , plan to do something by your own; like constructing a “bowri” (water well) or some temple or some shelter or some road for society. Besides having a will to spend money u will face innumerable objections, challenges and obstacles from all sides. a very petty and mean politics is prevalent in almost all villages, there are groupism, casteism , hatred and jealousy for each other. They will suspect and start commenting on your vested interests behind the garb of social work. ultimately you will fed up, loose the interests and run away to your AC or heated room.
      I have spent almost 30 years my life in HP villages & I am scared of village politics. But there are some strong minded people ( Bahuguna, Medha patekar, Arundhati roy and many anonnymous.) who are involved in real social work besides such challenges but such people are real dedicated ones and besides having enormous talent they don’t leave their own country and villages for the sake of a comfortable living and more money. Moreover A real social work can never be remote controlled, it has to be felt and imbibed in our blood by staying at grass root level.
      Mukesh Bhandari

    13. This is a noble idea to include other people (retired or working or students) and start a movement. But when I am asking the same person to work in a team then they themselves are saying we can not work as we are busy. What about others ? Everyone is busy. Like everyone else, I am also very busy. But then you have to take timeout from your busy schedule to these things.

      It is again a noble idea to bring people from different areas to common stage but who will do that ? Varun started this group and gave us this plateform so that we can do few things together. We have a common stage. I sent a mail that I am working on this and who else want to join me. How many people responded to my mail from this common stage ???

      Every Indian think we should have more Bhagat Singh but they should born to one of our neighbours.

      When I sent a mail, I showed my attention. My only idea of sending that mail was to include others. If someone has a better idea, he/she can suggest that. Nowhere I had written in my mail that Rama defeated Ravana because of superiority. I strongly beleive that Rama defeated Ravana because Rama’a team worked as a team. Each one of them did his part to won that war. Even monkeys picked up stones so that Nal and Neel can build a bridge.

      Someone of us has to bring these stones and someone of us has to build these bridges.

    14. My dear katoch

      while sitting in us , definately u will have ideas but tell me how frequently u have visited ur village !!!
      every body in our village /himachal is trying there best to grow/yield something from fields. No body is sitting idle.

      Do thing growing veg/fruits along side roads, open barren land is solution for poors?

      No , by doing so u r spoiling beauty inturn toursim – which is main source of income for GOVT in turn to people…

      plannting tree and veg is definately not a solution for poors, how many months r u going to feed them ,2-3 months , what about next left out months…..

      Think … see actual reality , dont fantasize in US, come to mother earth….

      jai hind

    15. dear friends
      we are all concerned about the rural masses those who are unemployed or underemployed i too would like to give a suggestion
      first of all i wish to inform you that i am working in a rural bank in himachal and in addition to the monkey menace there is one more problem in villages of kangra distt that is of wild pigs most of the people have stopped farming
      in this respect i would propose that why not to start the farming of jatropha ( the biodiesel plant) as i know no animal wild or pet will destroy it , it can be grown in waste land and will be useful
      in the long run for giving employement to the rural masses

    16. Namaste Swadesh ji,
      I am very much in agreement with you… but this is my personal opinion… so please dont mind… as many of us are busy to settle our career, so its difficult to initiate any work to develop our himachal…so if somebody initiate the plan and distribute the work among the members of Him Vani who wants to help, but due to their own schedules they can’t do anything so may this can help us.
      Meenakshi Pathania

    17. Dear Swadesh,

      I think enough heat has been generated on this topic. Please understand that human beings are creatures of comparison and especially we Indians are ahead of all the races when it comes to living in a mode of comparision. Little surprise that adverts like “Neighbour’s Envy Owner’s Pride” aptly reflect our deep rooted mindset.

      Lure of cities means that villagers of HP, many of them doing mundane jobs in New Delhi or other cities wouldn’t mind living in ghettoes or slums. Afterall they also have the right to live in our dying cities like others who are fortunate enough to perch on 11th floor in a shoe box apartment!! Inspite of low education levels why do these people choose to migrate to cities ? Several factors..avoiding drudgery of manual labour, no steady source of income, desires growing like a beanstalk, lack of support from agricultural universities who could help them in increasing farm productivity, perennial water shortage, monkey and wild pig menace et al. No surprise that they find it easier to buy foodgrains (Shaktibhog Atta or Chawal) from nearby shops than going through the motions. Who has the patience to churn lassi when bubbly coca cola is available in Heeru Di Hatti ?

      In this country benefits of agricultural sciences are yet to reach villages although we keep on harping that we have food security.

      There is a much larger issue here which we must undertand. So long we continue to despise manual labour we will never be a developed society. Despication of manual labour is deep rooted in our psyche since time immemorial. It is better handled by others. One type of work is superior to other and every work is superior to manual labour has been our tradition for the last 1200 years.

      I agree with a remark that in villages there is always a stupid kind of politics prevalent. Khali dimag shaitan ka ghar. Such problems can be sorted out only by remaining in the field.

      I do have plans of settling in HP after I decide to hang my spurs but it is difficult to predict what is going to happen 20 years down the line.

      The simplest and modest lifestyle to emulate is that of Amish community of Americas which migrated from Europe during middles ages. Limited desires and unlimited happiness. Are we game for it…probably not..world of comparison continues.

      DS Pathania
      Copenhagen, Denmark.

    18. Hi
      I AM NOT THE VIKRAM SINGH WHO HAS BEEN GIVING COMMENTS, I AM ANOTHER.I have recently joined HimVani and on the first sight I read your worries about your village.First thing is I fail to understand why Swedesh want to feed vegetables to his villagers that too free of cost.I am sure all the discussions are going around himachal village but definetely far away from Himachal.Let me know any of you live in village, certainly none.
      These are the few fundamental problems in village.Many other when it is really done in fields.
      basic aminities
      monkey i.e. banner sena.
      water for irrigation.
      Mr swedesh ,if you really want to do something for the village then generate employment for the youths.so that they remain in the village and don’t run to cities like you all…….I am living in a village and leading a farmers life.
      I used a term marketing. I am not of the opinion that any thing which is given free of cost, is wasted and only small part of it is utilised , I have distributed many thing free of cost, all in vain. If we get vegetable free of cost then I am sure I will fill my basket whether I need ,eat that or not. no problem, I will feed it to my cattles.
      why your cousin would do this? for free of labour cost. you are away from your village not to serve a country, but to make money.think in the same way for your villagers and for your cousin too.

      “If we decide even deserts can be turned green”

      so whenever you visit your village,try to spend maximum time in village. make a group of progressive youths.Give them a name . arrange exposure visits for them. Financial support is must for group to run in smooth manner.contact nearby banks for the adoption of group.chalk out stretegy for propagation i.e. vegetable fruits varities etc.


    19. We Indians are a very strange breed indeed.

      The moment we cross Indian border, patriotism starts overflowing.

      It evaporates the moment you find yourself in a long serpentine queue of fellow Indians (papa ji, kem cho, kemun aachhen and vaango-vaango type) at Frankfurt airport waiting to board a return flight to India.

      Bhaiyya more, gaon main rahenge to internet browsing ka mauka nahin na milega. Isliye door baith kar chit chat karte hain.

      You rightly said one needs to be closer the place of action.

      DS Pathania
      Copenhagen, Denmark

    20. that is precisely the point . a moron is rarely strange and interesting. very often-if not always – it requires talent to be strange and interesting which india is and indians are.

      raghu rai-the photographer- put it succintly:”india is an ocean which is churning itself”.

      it requires far more talent to be interesting and baffling than being monotonous and boring. let us never gorget that. if we indians have to discover it abroad so be it. so did gandhi,subhash bose ,nehru and others.



    21. Well, I am just another one who is sitting far away writing this note. But I think wriitng in and chipping in like this is the first step and I am glad that many are doing it.. The last post on this was on dec 1st and i wonder if anyone did plant trees or vegetables near their home (or in a barren land) …even one tree….

      There are organisations like CPRI ( Central Potato research Institute- its National Headquarters are in Shimla) who would help farmers for free ( for they are govt organisations) , farmers can get the right seeds from them, consult them etc. Contrary to what most poeple think that it would be like another govt. organisation where its tough to get help, it is not.

      So a lot of such govt agencies exist which are ready to help, and people should take their help. It is ultimately the villagers who live there who will fight the problems (yes they will have to look after the growing trees and vegetables etc). So when we visit our villages, we could talk to the people there and post what their problems are and maybe, just maybe, we might come across some solution….coming back to the organisations, if a farmer says that their land no longer sustains good potato crops, one could consult the CPRI to see what is the variety best suited for that soil….just an example….

      Take care Himachalis


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