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Harbingers of change

Mar 02, 2009

The villagers of Karnwadi in Maharashtra in western India were living in penury until a group of IT professionals ushered in change. Their efforts at promoting sanitation and environment conservation earned the village the Nirmal Gram Puraskar in 2008 for being one of the cleanest in the state.

Bhor, Maharashtra: Recession may have eaten into material comforts, especially in the corporate scenario, but it certainly hasn’t dimmed the spirit of social service of some. The whiz kids of Cybage, a Pune based IT services company, continue to find time to perform their roles of good Samaritans.


Taking time out of their busy schedules and hectic professional assignments, a group of software technologists from Cybage have proved that no obstacles can stand their ground in front of a strong commitment.

They are a part of CybageAsha, a corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity of Cybage who work for the under-privileged and needy sections of society to enhance their quality of life. They had adopted a tiny village called Karnwadi around two years ago in the heartland of Maharashta, located around seven km from Bhor.

Karnwadi has a population of 500 residents. “The village was taken under our wings so that we could develop for its people new sources of income and improve their standard of living with the construction of toilets, tree plantations, a proper drainage system, education, zero budget organic farming and water harvesting. Our aim also was to make them conscious about their responsibilities in society,” states Ketan Parekh, Senior Project Manager, Cybage and Senior Committee Member, CybageAsha.

"CybageAsha has given us an identity and shown us the path to development and progress"

Even though CybageAsha didn’t get the much needed initial support from the villagers to smoothly carry out the upliftment programs, their determination and patience finally wore out the resistance level.

“The villagers then started participating in the programmes and the transformation, when it happened over a period of time, was such that Karnwadi was honoured with the Nirmal Gram Puraskar last year for overall cleanliness and the Tantamukt Puraskar 2008 for not complaining about anything to the local administration and instead resolving their problems themselves.

A community movement

“We at CybageAsha followed the chronology of human needs for the improvement of the village in which we first aimed at fulfilling the basic needs. Therefore, we helped resume the supply of water to Karnwadi by paying the unpaid electricity bill of Rs 40,000 to run the two water pumps,” states Prashant Pandey, Anchor, CybageAsha.

“We arranged frequent free medical check-ups for women and children and installed smokeless chulhas in every house to ensure that they would no longer suffer from respiratory ailments. For all this, only 40% of the total cost was taken from the villagers. Then CybageAsha focused on education and we donated two computers to the Karnwadi Primary School. We also initiated tree plantation drives, demonstrated the positive effects of vermiculture (the preparation of organic fertilisers with home waste and garbage) and also took the villagers to Kapsi village to show them what makes for an ideal village,” he adds.

For the villagers, the involvement of CybageAsha has worked like a miracle. “We had never ever dreamt that Karnwadi would one day win a national award. What CybageAsha has done is to not only provide us with the basic facilities to make our lives more comfortable but has given us an identity and shown us the path to development and progress. Those who were unemployed or did not have any land are now engaged in income generating activities such as making candles, developing vermiculture pits etc,” says Sampat Pawar, the village sarpanch.

CybageAsha, boosted by the success of their project, now aims to construct an underground drainage system in the village by May this year, the cost of which will be to the tune of Rs two lakhs. The villagers have agreed to share half the expenses through contributions of individual members as also from the Nirmal Gram Puraskar award money of Rs one lakh.

“Karnwadi is a significant achievement and has been an exemplary learning experience for CybageAsha. It has also enthused us to adopt more such villages and guide villagers through the process of change,” avers Parekh.

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