How it began at Sanskruti Samwardhan Mandal

Spend a day (or two as I did) at Sanskruti Samwardhan Mandal and you’ll understand how one family has taken it upon themselves to develop the district of Sagroli. I’m fairly certain you haven’t heard of it. Well, neither had I till my visit to Sanskruti Samwardhan. Sagroli is one of nine districts of Nanded, which is a city in eastern Maharashtra. But what’s important is that they are working in a systematic area to make improvement in all gap areas – be it education, health, environment etc. in the area.

A look into the history books and you realize that passion for developing Sagroli is in their genes. The organization was set up in 1959, by Babasaheb Keshav Narayanrao Deshmukh. At that time, Sagroli was an integral part of the Nizam’s state of Hyderabad. Babasaheb belonged to the then regal family of the Deshmukhs. As a child, he was sent to the city of Hyderabad to get an education. And having got one of the best one could get in those days, he wanted the same for his children – sons and daughters.

So, when the time came to send his children to school, he realized that there were no options available for his daughter. His son would be sent to his alma mater in Hyderabad but what of his daughter? Good schools for girls were available only out of the state. While he could afford to send his daughter there, he wondered what others would do. After all, not everybody was a wealthy zamindar (landlord) like him.

For someone who believed in “Sa Vidya ya Vimuktaye”, which translates into “Education leads to Emancipation,” he did not like that all girls could only be educated till grade four (which is what the village offered). This prompted him to set up a school in the village – for his granddaughter and all other girls in the district. Sanskrit Samvardhan Mandal was thus setup in 1959 with the primary aim of providing education at the grassroutes level.

Little did one realize then that setting up of the school was just a baby step in the list of developmental initiatives to come. With time, Babasaheb took every opportunity to serve the deprived communities of his district. From women and child welfare, to agriculture, to the environment, to watershed development, to conservation of national resources, Babasaheb helped out in a host of areas – all identified by and requested for by the people themselves. He even donated 130 of his agricultural estate for this mission he started. Babasaheb’ s services were duly recognized by the nation and he was bestowed with many honors and rewards at national level platforms. He had six presidential awards conferred upon him, though he humbly avows the felicitation to the credit of all his volunteers.

While Babasaheb Deshmukh isn’t around today, his legacy continues through his son Pramod and grandsons Abhishek and Rohit.

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