Mewat is a new and not-so-developed district of the otherwise prosperous state of Haryana. It is on the outskirts of Gurgaon. It has relatively low literacy and unemployment rates. I got to visit a couple of villages in this district with Mehmood Khan. I have had the good fortune to know him for the last few years. He and his wife Sanobar run Rasuli Kanwar Khan Trust. The trust is doing a lot of innovative work in rural areas in the fields of education, healthcare, sanitation, and water management.
Mewat Village Visit
We started our journey to the village on a Monday morning in chilled January from Gurgaon. On the way, we could see a lot of scenes that one would typically associate with the villages depicted in Hindi movies. Like women carrying the water pots on their heads, washing clothes on the edges of a well or a pond. There were children playing all over the place.
Khans do a lot of developmental work at Mewat. Like for example
- Free eye camps
- Learn to read classes
- Promotion of women entrepreneurs
- Providing vocational skills to young women
- Providing English-speaking classes to students to make them more employable
- Arranging easy finance for farmers.
There are a lot of innovative experiments being done here. They are experimenting along with a few private banks to bring the banking system to rural areas. They are encouraging the same banks to hire persons from local villages. It is a win-win situation for both the villages and the banks.
Specially designed spectacles
One interesting initiative that I learned about is the distribution of specially designed spectacles to all the kids and elders who are suffering from bad eyesight. These spectacles have been designed by Prof Josh Silver of Oxford University. The glasses can be used without an optician’s advice by anyone no matter how defective his eyesight is. These adaptive eyeglasses “power” (refractive power) could be adjusted by the user himself. The lenses of Silver’s “adaptive” spectacles are not made of glass. They are, in fact, small liquid-filled sacs covered by tough but transparent plastic.
Their users can fine-tune the power of these lenses. By using syringes that come attached to the frame. The syringes can be used to increase or decrease the amount of liquid in the sacs. To change their thickness and thereby, their refractive power. Their Trust aims to distribute 10 lakh adaptive glasses to eradicate the problem of bad eyesight. This is, in my mind the real innovation. They are bringing light to millions at almost no cost.
I look forward to contributing to this initiative in some way soon. And hope to nurture many more such initiatives.
Recommend you read the following on places to visit near Gurgaon.
PS: Rural school image source – Shutterstock