Why is Manmohan Singh’s village better than mine?

Published: June 25, 2012

"Its heart aches for the children who walk along the unpaved streets and it despises the darkness that overcomes the village past sunset".

Reading the tale of a ‘modern village’ Gah, I was amazed at how each word painted a surreal picture of an ideal village. Was this village really in the same country and the same province as my village?

Gah happens to be the birth place of the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. As a friendly gesture, Musharraf’s government labelled Gah as a modern village’ and what followed miraculously helped to improve the standards of living of the poor people there.

Commendably, Manmohan Singh stayed in touch with his roots played a pivotal role in supplying the village with solar energy. Thus, the people of Gah are heavily in his debt and greet him with open arms for his generosity.

The news article I recently read about Gah spoke of a village in Chakwal with a population of nearly 2,000 villagers. This village has undergone a surprising transformation due to the development funds being diverted to it by the former government.

A literacy rate of a 100% has been achieved here and children can now study in the schools located inside the village. The kachi (unpaved) streets are now paved and solar street lights have been put up which help to brighten the path for the villagers at night. Projects on sanitation and clean drinking water are also underway.

Unlike the rest of the villages in Pakistan – where people have to sleep outside battling the scorching heat – the residents of this modern village can now sleep inside the comfort of their own homes as they enjoy unrestrained electricity supplied by the solar panels installed on the roofs of their residence. Children no longer have to burn candles to study at night. Moreover, in the winter time, when the temperatures drop, a small mosque in the village has a water heater so that wuzu (ablution) can be performed by the villagers without any difficulty.

As I looked at some of the pictures of this ‘modern village‘, it reminded me very much of my village near Vehari.

My village is not as fortunate as Gah; no famous personality was born here and hence no benevolence is bestowed on its residents.

It is yet to be blessed with the basic necessities like natural gas. Those who cannot afford gas cylinders still burn fire wood for cooking and to keep their homes warm in the winters. Just like Gah, agriculture is the main source of livelihood here as well, however, when the farmers return home after toiling the fields all day, they are welcomed by the agonising power failures that occasionally last for hours. With no decent hospitals and schools in the village either,  people are forced to travel to nearby cities for the fulfilment of their bare necessities. Even the main road connecting my village to the nearby city like Vehari, has been under construction for almost a decade now.

Overall, the development in this region remains sluggish and there is hardly any political will or active plans to procure the much needed improvements.

A picture in the news article mentioned above  struck me was one showing the Banyan tree where Manmohan Singh might have played as a kid; it brought back old memories.

My village had a similar mighty banyan tree near the main chowk (roundabout) as well. The old tree covered the entire chowk and it once bustled with life. Children used to play around it all day ans many elderly people would sit at the chowk discussing day to day matters. Even now women – on their way back from the fields – can be found sitting under the shade trying to gather the latest gossip.

Both these trees must have witnessed several generations come and go. The kids that once played around it must have grown old by now and have probably started settling down with their own families. Some of the elders who once sat discussing matters under its shade must have parted from their beloved by now.

Unfortunately, the banyan tree in my village has seen almost everything but a change in my poor village.

It stands quietly in the moonlight wondering when there will be solar power that will brighten every street of the village it resides in. As its leaves stir in air, it gloomily looks at the poor labourer sleeping underneath its branches and it secretly envies the people of  Gah who can sleep soundly in the comfort of their homes. Its heart aches for the children who walk along the unpaved streets and it despises the darkness that overcomes the village past sunset.

Whereas in the modern village, not so far away, another banyan tree stands proud as it once gave shelter to a boy, who later became a Prime Minister. It has the most telling stories to brag about of this saviour of its village.

All I can do now is wait eagerly for a saviour to be born in my village; a saviour who will one day change the fate of the people of my village too. Till then, I look hopelessly at the Bilawals of Larkana, Sharifs of Lahore and Gilanis of Multan to come to our help.

Wajiha.Noor

Wajiha Noor

An MBA graduate from Lahore School of Economics who currently resides in US

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Komal Ali

    As much as I understand where you’re coming from, I would say that waiting for a savior is unrealistic. People need to take control and bring the changes they wish to see.Recommend

  • zalim singh

    because you are not Manmohan Singh.Recommend

  • G. Din

    “Till then, I look hopelessly at the Bilawals of Larkana, Sharifs of Lahore and Gilanis of Multan to come to our help.”
    Why can’t we dare to look with a lot of hope at a certain girl “Wajiha Noor” who would one day have metamorphosed her village near Vehari (doesn’t it have a name of its own?) ? You will be surprised at what one is capable of if one only puts one’s mind to it! That you carry your village in your mind is a good enough indication of that!Recommend

  • Ordinary Villager

    Most of the people infact dont know that many villages of Chakwal have a literacy rate of 100 percent beside Gah and recently I visited one village Dulmial near Kallar Kahar and in this small village i saw three schools and paved roads and modern infrastructure and even I had the clean water which i was not able to find in Cities The secret of success in these regions is that many well known families and personalities do remember their roots and then invest in their villages. For example Sehgal group is from Chakwal and they do some projects there. Similarly many of the schools are established by people who live abroad and now with the help of their efforts many villages are being transformed. I have seen that in this region people are sincere of their land and that is why you can feel the change. It is not the government that can do wonders alone but the collective effort really changes everything and that is what i have seen in Upper Punjab.Recommend

  • zahra.mohammed

    Sweet post Wajiha Nur! Enjoyed reading it

    Recommend

  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan

    We all left our ancestral places during partition. Nice to know , Pm sir, still remembers his birth place. It reminds me of my grandmother who was from gujranwala. Take care. CheerioRecommend

  • ezaz

    it was really nice to read. specially ending lines were delicateRecommend

  • Akbar

    Correction: Vehari is a DISTRICT not a small village of 2000 people. I acknowledge the possibility that it may be worse then Gah. South Punjab is generally deprived by its rich North & Central Punjab where Gah is located. Recommend

  • Iyan

    Dr. Manmohan Singh of India is a very kind and noble individual and this article is a very nice one. His political opponents in India may yell and scream (with reason often, since he is leading a team and many of the team members clearly lack his integrity); but, every Indian (almost all the billion of them) inside his/her heart is full of respect for this singularly honest and very hard working man with the most humble attitude possible for a world leader of a major nation state. The scriptures in India say that such people will be rewarded here and in the hereafter. The Prime Minister has already achieved many of the things that he wants to do to his people presiding over a spectacular economic progress in the history of that nation, but it is only a matter of time when more of his wishes will be fulfilled. A young woman from a country which is generally regarded as a very hostile enemy in India writes such a warm and heartfelt article on the Indian Prime mInister’s ancestral home, apparently a small but beautiful village filled with dreams. That is what I mean. He evokes such thoughts in human beings. May God grant him a long life. Recommend

  • Furqan ALi

    What are you trying to say??
    Only because your village is not good, Gah should not be good either?Recommend

  • Furqan ALi

    I suggest you visit Gah first and then draft your comparison again!Recommend

  • Ordinary Villager

    @Akbar: That is exactly the mindset I have seen in South Punjab. I have visited many places in South Punjab and their rich never invest a penny in infrastructure and then they blame the government and Punjabis for their shortcomings. Do you know that most of the projects in Upper Punjab are completed without government efforts.People here build schools and set up infrastructure from their own Pocket. My uncle set up One hospital for free. Ask some Wadaira or Peer of South Punjab to do something for you. You Wadairas and Peers are not your sincere. You are deprived by your Own thinking your People are selfish. Can you give me a single example where any RIch from South Punjab have set up university, School or Hospital for the Poor of South Punjab???. No you cannot but I can give you tons of examples in my region where ordinary people are working and I myself work for One School Project without any money. Baloch Tribes of South Punjab are good in Hating and Blaming and other than that they do nothing and are slaves of their own Ignorant mentality and nothing else. Recommend

  • taimoor naseer

    How to contact the author? Recommend

  • Fazeel

    The author has MBA degree and lives in US, what an irony.Recommend

  • ..

    Be the change that you wish to see in the world. Invest in your home town/village, do not wait for a savior! Recommend

  • Parvez

    Reading this should embarass the few capable of reading in our government, but I doubt it.Recommend

  • khalsa

    the solar street lighting is done by TERI and indian environmental institute run by TATA group of companiesRecommend

  • rashid khan

    Ever heard of Dalwal, a village near Dhumial near Kallar Kahar. The village has a school that is more than a hundred and ten years. I think at safe guess presently it has three schools yet it doesn’t claim any prime minister or any high profile personality,
    By all logic the village should have a 100 percent literacy rate, if that is not so then its the inhabitants of Dalwal who are to blame and no one else.Recommend

  • Shadowliner

    @khalsa:

    TERI is no longer run by Tata. Its independent now. Recommend

  • Rajendra Kalkhande

    Nothing evokes as strong emotions as one’s love love for his birth place. almost 70% of us in south Asia come from villages. I am no Man Mohan Singh or not even remotely anywhere near as powerful or resourceful. I take very keen interest in the affairs of my village and have spent my life time earnings in building a cancer hospital. I am no Imran Khan that people will come and donate for this hospital. However, its very hard to operate such facilities in rural areas as no doctor wants to live and work there. How to make our rural areas attractive for educated people to work , should be the main focus for many of us. I love my village. and spend a great deal of time there. Recommend

  • Amjad

    Come to my village and you will also see almost 100 % literacy and development. The truth is that people have to get their act together and work for their own betterment instead of waiting for a saviour. That’s how the West got developed. The problem is that a lot of our people fight among themselves and that’s why things in my village couldn’t improve when we wanted sewage drains, public water etc.Recommend

  • AMK

    @ Akbar she is saying about her village not about Vehari city having population of 2000..Recommend

  • Zr

    Why do we only blame others for things??
    Be a part of the change that you want to See….Recommend

  • http://www.dland.in dLand

    Is it true ?Recommend