Updated: January 2, 2022 11:25:01 am
The “ustaad (coach)” of Kakrahiya village’s 100-year-old desi akhara, Ravindra Singh had dreamed of soon having a well-equipped indoor wrestling stadium when Prime Minister Narendra Modi adopted the village under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) in 2017. He made several appeals to BJP Gujarat MP C R Patil, who visited Kakrahiya several times after the PM adopted it.
Four years later, little has changed at the akhara – one of many in this village that is part of the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat – where over three dozen young wrestlers still slide down a rope hanging from a tree and jog on a cemented road nearby. “Wrestlers practise here three hours every morning, in the evening they go to Sigra Stadium in Varanasi city, around 17 km away, to practise on mat and for judo,” says Singh, who trains them for free. “Many go on to join the CISF, ITBP, Army and police.”
Former Kakrahiya pradhan Ranjeet Patel says a survey was done by government officials, but enough land could not be found for the stadium. Patel, who completed his term earlier this year, also claims that it was he who urged the PM to adopt Kakrahiya at a conclave of village pradhans in 2016-17.
In the first year of its adoption by the PM, Patel says, Kakrahiya used to see a flurry of visits by government officers, politicians and NGO functionaries. “But when the PM adopted another village, Domri, focus shifted there. No one comes here now.”
Before Kakrahiya, the PM had adopted Jayapur and Nagepur villages. This year, the PM has adopted two more villages, Pure Beriyar (in the Sevapuri Assembly constituency) and Parampur (in Rohaniya), according to sources at the public relations office in Varanasi.
Kakrahiya village has a population of 2,500, most of them OBCs, largely dependent on farming for a living. Patel, who hoped for Kakrahiya’s “karyakalp (transformation)”, says some amenities did flow from the PM connection, such as water taps and free electricity connection for every household. “This was a big change in our lives,” he says.
Puja Gond, 22, a commerce graduate, is the village’s new pradhan, “represented” by husband Suraj Kumar Gond, 24. She was elected after the seat got reserved for Scheduled Tribe women in April. Suraj says what the village needs most is a government hospital, with the nearest one currently 20 km away.
While sewage pipelines were laid in the village, residents complain that the narrow drains are almost always choked. In the past few years, a concrete road has come up.
The “biggest change” is in education, says Rekha Yadav, a teacher at the village’s government-run English Primary School, with 256 students, which now has smart TVs, ceiling fans, tables, desks, and a well-equipped library thanks to donations.
“Modi ji ke prabhav se yeh hua hai (It happened due to PM Modi’s influence),” says Rekha. When Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath transferred the scholarship amount to accounts of pre-matric students, it was shown live to the students.
Recently, a ‘nandbhawan (play school)’ came up on the school campus for children under 3 years.
“Seeing the infrastructure available here, some students from nearby private convent schools have taken admission,” says Chandra, who also teaches at the school.
Rajesh Singh, a teacher at the local Upper Primary School, says various social organisations and public representatives have helped the school with money for classroom floor tiles, computers, projectors and desks. “Earlier, students used to sit on tat patti (jute strips) on the ground,” he says.
However, the administration has not been able to build an intermediate school, reportedly due to unavailability of land. Students from Classes 10 onwards have to travel at least 12 km to school.
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