Madan Kumar Rai was already frustrated with life as a kid. Waking up at 4:00 am, labouring till 8:00 pm, returning home tired and so hungry that even the sight of food nauseated him. However, he did not have a choice but to unwillingly swallow it, and go to sleep on a thin sheet, not even a mattress to rest his weary bones.
That was the life Rai led in his village in Khotang, and the kind of life the majority of people in Khotang still lead. “To see a motorcycle in every household in Khotang in another 20 ye-ars is my dream,” said Rai.
His dream of building a rural cash economy market based on water, land and people will begin in Khotang. With his meticulously planned project, he wants to develop Khotang that people in other districts are inspired to follow and hopes it will be globally replicated.
According to Rai’s study, there are 44,000 households in Khotang, and he plans to give agricultural training to 50 per cent of the population. Shopkeepers will be given information and training, who will sell seeds. People will grow crops, which will ensure it is done on a wide scale.
“If a person knows how to grow one cabbage or one cauliflower, s/he will definitely know how to grow thousands of them. So there will be no problem for the people of the village to go about it on a big scale,” said Rai, who is the Founder Chairman of Kho-tang Development Forum.
However, the reality is that all villagers are not interested in agriculture, and there are other basic necessities that need to be taken care. So the rest of the people will be given training related to these topics, so that the village is self-sufficient and does not have to rely on others for small things.
And the big plans are already underway. “The infrastructure to build a proper road has been started, and in a span of 10 years it should be complete. Then the things produced can be transported and sold in other areas as well,” he added.
Rai also wishes to initiate a computer centre where the youth can have easy access to new technology, which he believes will be very beneficial for the development of Khotang.
His message is, “Though most villagers are illiterate and living in dire conditions, there are a few who have risen out of it. It is these people who understand their land most and have the access to change the conditions. It is them who should contribute to improving their village.”