Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It was Documentary Filmmaker Ajay Saklani, who introduced me to the ‘whole new old world’ of India – the Melghat Region in Amravati district of Vidarbha. Even though, I knew before hand about the highest malnutrition infants’ death (in India) and the Tiger Reserve in Melghat Region, the region had been unexplored by me, not so any more though. The young passionate documentary filmmaker has made a very hard-hitting documentary on Melghat Malnutrition Infants Death titled – UPAASMAR – The Taste of Hunger!

Precaution from Diarrhea...

When we met in person in Wardha, we discussed at great length about various problems on ground in the region and pondered what can be done there to facilitate some better infrastructure to make life of the Korku Tribal villagers. Ajay spoke about various people who were doing great work in the region since the past one decade and one such name was suggested to me was MELGHAT MAITRI, an NGO which comprised of three dedicated individuals, who represent the Pune based Trust MAITRI. I contacted Madhukar Mane and was able to connect with Chandrakant Jagdale and Ram Phad on Facebook. It was so nice when these individuals welcomed me with open arms to explore and guided me well to reach the destination - Chilati Village. All the while I was in constant touch with Madhu over phone.

On 8th Morning I left for Chilati... from Wardha to Amravati, then to Paratwada... I got stuck at Paratwada for near about four long hours as there was no bus to Hatru (only one Bus per day @3.30 pm.)... at about 3.45 pm, the bus finally arrived and the beautiful journey around the ghats with forests all around was mesmerizing for me... thoroughly enjoying the nature in its full splendour, I was busy clicking pictures... reached late in the evening at around 7.30 pm... Chandru was there with his motorcycle to receive me and so was the darkness all around... the journey to Chilati through the forest area in darkness was an experience that was truly exciting for me... no roads and no lights, Chandru, one must say is an expert driving carefully throughout... All the while I was wondering when nature is so beautiful here, why this region is haunted with so many infants’ death!

Sarpanch Shri Ramlal Bethekar

Even though I had travelled for almost 12 hours, I was excited and not tired at all... with the fact that last night I didn’t sleep at all... we both exchanged information about each other and the al-fresco dinner under the moonlight and infinite stars was totally out of this world! The sorry state of the region with so many problems, sans basic infrastructure and basic needs... I wondered is this part of my nation India? For this reason, I titled the post as – “The New Old World of India”! It was really heartening to know all the problems in this region but certainly there were many beautiful things too, to experience during my three days stay at Melghat Maitri Chilati.

The next day, Chandru and I headed for a remote village KUHI... He took me to meet the Sarpanch (the Village Head) and we were welcomed at Shri Sabulal Bethekar’s house. The family is the highest educated family among the Korku tribe of Kuhi village. As part of the survey, we gathered all the required information, interacted with the whole family over a cup of tea. I was made aware by Chandru that there are many villages like Kuhi where basic infrastructures of drinking water, electricity, health centres, schools, irrigation facilities and connectivity to cities are still missing since time immemorial. Deep down I was amazed at the callousness of the Indian Government Policies ever since we got our freedom from British in 1947.

The highly educated family of the village Kuhi

Even today, wells are dug with bare hands using basic tools by the poor villagers. What is heartening is that there are no medical facilities in the region... one has to depend only to the nearby city (Paratwada – 90 kms) and the mode of transport during emergency is bullock cart, motorcycle (if one happens to be in the village at dead of the night)... the mountainous roads (natural) are dangerous and with jungles all around... I shuddered at the thought of such emergencies... deaths of new born babies due to malnutrition is prevalent in this region and has been recorded as the highest in India... still the government has turned a blind eye. Dedicated individuals and few NGOs are doing a wonderful job in trying their level best to provide some relief and help to the villagers in various remote villages.

A part of Kuhi Village...

We met the Sarpanch Shri Ramlal Bethekar, with education up to the Sixth Grade and he gave us all the required information about the village needed for the survey. Around the 15 kms radius of Village Kuhi, there are near about 15 odd villages, each separated at a distance from 2 to 15 kms through the jungles. With no roads and no electricity life in this village is certainly hard but the Korku tribe has been living here since generations (for more than 300 years old)... I was asking self – Is this the INDIA SHINING or INCREDIBLE INDIA that our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is talking about as the REAL GROWTH of the NATION?

... to be continued...


  1. Great blog! It is very interesting and informative, especially to an American like me, who is so far-removed from your world. Keep up the great work!

  2. Thank you so much Catherine for your encouraging words... also I wish to thank you for sharing the blog in your Facebook Wall... the world has to be informed about all that is happening on ground in my nation... the misconception that my nation is growing faster economically is a myth... this is the reality of India, which lives in Villages without proper infrastructure and in inhuman conditions with the government turning a blind eye to provide even the basic needs to its citizen...

    this is certainly not the INCREDIBLE INDIA that is being sold to the world as a product... this is IRONICAL PATHETIC INDIA!

  3. Ironic ain't it? Everything to protect the tiger but nothing to protect the future of this country?......Makes one wonder....

  4. Yes Meenal, totally ironic & pathetic...