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Profile of Shri Rajendra Singh

1. NAME: Shri Rajendra Singh

Tarun Bharat Sangh

Bhikhampura, Kishori via Thanagazi

Alwar, Rajasthan

2. DATE OF BIRTH. 6th August 1959

3. QUALIFICATIONS. Post-graduate degree in Hindi

Allahabad University ,

Ayurvedic physician,

Rishikul Ayurvedic Mahavidyalaya, Barout, UP

4. NATURE OF ACTIVITIES AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE WORK DONE OVER THE YEARS:

During his student days, Shri Rajendra Singh was associated with the "Sampurna Kranti", movement led by J.P. from year 1974 to 1982. After finishing his studies, he joined as a National Service Volunteer at Jaipur under the youth education programme of the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India till 1984. That was the year twenty-five years old Singh left his job and committed himself to rural development. With four companions from the small organisation he led, Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS), he boarded a bus and travelled to a desolate village at the end of the line. Upon advice of a local village elder, he began organizing villagers and learning to repair and deepen old johads.

By this time Alwar had been opened to miners and loggers, who decimated its forests and damaged its watershed. Its streams and rivers dried up, then its farms. Dangerous floods now accompanied the monsoon rains. Overwhelmed by these calamities, villagers abandoned their Johads. As men shifted to the cities for work, women spirited frail crops from dry grounds and walked several kilometers a day to find water. Thus was Alwar when Rajendra Singh first arrived in 1985. Before that he worked with nomadic tribes and tried to understand issues in natural resources management in rural areas.

Guided by Gandhi’s teachings of local autonomy and self-reliance, Singh has introduced community led institutions to each village, i.e. Gram Sabhas, Mahila Banks, River Parliament etc. He initiated an awareness campaign for Gram Swawlamban, which is organised every year during the summer months for forty days in different hundreds of villages. In this campaign discussion on Gram Swawlamban, soil conservation, improved seeds, collection of herbal medicine and shramdan were the activities undertaken. Singh coordinated all these activities to mesh with the villager’s traditional cycle of rituals. Meanwhile, with others he waged a long and ultimately successful campaign to persuade India ’s Supreme Court to close hundreds of mines and quarries that were destroying the ecology of Sariska National Park .

With a view to fulfill the needs of the villagers, Shri Rajendra Singh started rural development and employment generation in 1985 at Gopalpura village by Water Conservation. He played a catalyzing role in the building of 8600 johads (water harvesting structures) in 1058 villages spread over 6500 sq.km. Out of these 3500 were built by TBS and as an after effect of these the community was motivated to build the remaining 5100 structures. For these 5100 structures only technical help was provided. The area covers parts of the contiguous districts of Alwar, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Karoli and Jaipur districts. Johads and the other appropriate water structures have also been built in the districts of Jaisalmer, Ajmer , Udaipur and Bharatpur. As a result of these efforts f ive seasonal rivers in the northeastern Rajasthan area, that had nearly dried up have now become perennial. These rivers are Ruparel, Arvari, Sarsa, Bhagani and Jahajwali. After the regeneration of these rivers, the Govt. of Rajasthan gave contracts for fishing in certain stretches of Arvari River . To oppose this policy and to protect fish and other riverine life forms, a three-month long Satyagraha was organised for not allowing any fishing. This Satyagraha resulted in reversal of govt. policy. To sustain this unity and the river in future a decentralized power model has been structured among the 70 villages of Arvari River , i.e., the ARVARI PARLIAMENT.

The efforts towards water conservation have had numerous positive impacts on the communities inhabiting the area. Employment opportunities have increased and migration has reduced substantially. Studies have shown manifold increase in the enrollment of students in school and output of food grains and milk production.

In 1995 he led a "Nadi Pahar Bachao Yatra" from Galta in Jaipur to Gangotri in Uttarkashi. The aim of this yatra, carried out between June 5 (World Environment day] and June 27 was to create mass awareness to preserve the sanctity and purity of rivers and the green cover of the mountains. Since 1996, he initiated Jal Bachao Johad Banoa, which is organised from Dev Uthani Gyaras in the first week of November to December for forty days.

He has also initiated a National Water March (Rashtriya Jal Yatra) on December 23, 2002 from Gandhi Samadhi, Rajghat, New Delhi and covered 30 states including northern and southern states including 144 river basins. He has organized five national water conferences during this yatra in the different parts of country. The “Rashtriya Jal Yatra” was an attempt to share the water related concerns and mitigate the pains of citizens of India , the farmers and the poor people. The yatra stressed the fact that we should strive for linking people to rivers rather than interlinking rivers. The experiences of the yatra have been now germinated into the form of TARUN JAL VIDYAPEETH.

Forest and Wildlife Conservation

Starting from 1986, he undertook work in and around the Sariska National Park to motivate village community to regenerate and protect the forests by reviving the customary laws of the communities. Under his leadership, Forest Protection Committees have been set up in 90 villages in and around Sariska and another 32 committees have been set up in Sawai Madhopur, Karoli and Jaipur districts. A people's sanctuary Bhairondev Lok-Vanyajeev Abhayarany, spread over 12 sq.km has been set up by the community in Bhanvta-Kolyala villages in Alwar. The area, which was completely barren 12 years ago, has now good forest cover and wildlife. Since 1986, he initiated a "Ped Bachao-Ped Lagao" padyatra, which is organised every year during the monsoons for a forty-day period in different villages in this region. The yatra ends on Raksha Bandhan day, with the villagers tying rakhis to the trees as a symbol of their determination to protect the trees.

In his leadership during January to March 1995 a "Jungle-Jeevan Bachao Yatra" was organised in order to motivate communities to protect forests and wild life. This yatra covered 21 forest sanctuaries in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat , Maharashtra , Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab , Haryana and Delhi involving numerous voluntary organisations and thousands of people. Another important initiative he took was the documentation of medicinal plants and their uses in traditional medicine. This has enabled communities in this region to become more self sufficient in meeting their health and medicinal needs.

Shri Rajendra Singh also led a campaign and a struggle against the destructive consequences of mining in the Aravali hills. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, on the basis of a Supreme Court Order of 1991, issued orders banning mining in the Aravali Hills system. With a view to ensuring that this order was observed, Shri Rajendra Singh launched a movement to mobilise people He also organised an Aravali Bachao Yatra from Himmatnagar in Gujarat to Delhi . Thousands of people participated in this yatra. As a consequence of this mobilisation, the Rajasthan Govt. closed nearly one thousand mines in the whole of Rajasthan, 470 of which were in and around Sariska. The workers rendered jobless due to the closure of the mines were rehabilitated through water and forest conservation activities and rural development, like animal husbandry, agriculture and through different types of employment generation activities initiated by Tarun Bharat Sangh.

Shri Rajendra Singh also initiated several activities in association with Government. The Govt of Rajasthan which has now recognised and acknowledged the work done by TBS in the conservation of water and forests based on the knowledge and efforts of communities, and as part of this recognition has sought its co-operation and help. Similarly, the Minor Irrigation Dept of Govt. of Rajasthan has also sought Shri Rajendra Singh's help.

During the last few years, the State Govts of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka have sent their forest and watershed officials and community and Panchyat Raj representatives to TBS for an orientation on community based watershed development efforts.

Rajendra Singh is dedicated to mother earth and Tarun Bharat Sangh has been one such voluntary organisation engaged on rural development with environment care and protection for the last 21 years. Through his determination, vision, hard work and dedication, he has transformed the life of people in 1058 villages of Aravali hills. He has turned the arid land cultivable, densely afforested large tracts making a wild life sanctuary by water management, made the rivers dry flow throughout year Aquatic life and bird sanctuary has flourished. Animal life has become lively, with desert beaming with life all around.