Being rich is not about having more but appreciating more of what you already have: the ‘Small Society’ in action
As part of the London Academy’s mission to identify innovative aspects of community and economic development around the world, two directors of the London Academy – Vijay Amin and Colin Gilfillan – recently visited India.
They visited Pune in the central Indian state of Maharashtra. Pune is an economic powerhouse and an example of the explosive growth experienced in many parts of urban India. With a similar population to London, and an economy which at one point in the last decade was growing at an estimated 40% per year, Pune continues to attract inward investment on a massive scale. However, in common with much of India, one consequence of this rapid economic development is de-population of the countryside, with many communities drawn to the opportunities in urban India and away from the land.
Just a few miles from Pune’s massive urban development, the Academy directors visited a small scale rural development project – a farm with a difference- which provides a fantastic example of how sustainable development can really work. The initiative aims to re-create lost employment opportunities in a rural area, revitalizing and capitalising on the skills and traditions of the local community, and opening up traditional and sustainable rural life for people living in urban areas.
The local community manages the farm along sustainable development lines. City dwellers are encouraged to visit the centre for picnics, daytrips or to stay overnight either on the land or in buildings on the farm. The farm is being developed by Sanjay Dalmia, the owner of a leading software company and now a social entrepreneur focused on sustainable development. Sanjay is using ‘green’ skills and sustainable development approaches which he learned during a year-long study of sustainable rural development in Bali. The farm uses state of the art, low tech, green approaches, from vermi-composting to water harvesting.
Overnight visitors have different options depending upon how close to nature they want to be. They can stay in cement houses on the farm or share with local villagers in their houses, or stay in tents under thatched roofs. Visitors can cook their own food, eat with local villagers or visit a local hotel for food.
We are currently putting together an itinerary for a larger scale study visit to provide the opportunity for people to have a closer look at some of the exciting new ideas emerging out of India. Please get in touch with us at the Academy if you are interested.
Colin Gilfillan -email@example.com