Maulik Sisodia is one of the well-known social workers in the country and he has been the heart behind numerous social activities in the region of Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Maulik runs Tarun Bharat Sangh, an organization that works to bring dignity and prosperity to the life of a destitute section of the nation through sustainable development measures.
Situated at the foothills of Aravalli ranges of Rajasthan, is the village Bheekampura there is an Ashram called the Tarun Ashram. There one can find Maulik guiding volunteers on how to educate people about water conservation and its need.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Maulik and his team of volunteers worked tirelessly as Corona Warriors and supplied the needy with essential food items at their doorsteps. With the help of local bodies and village heads, Maulik immediately chalked a plan to help the nomads and the daily wage labourers. They even supplied cooked food to thousands of migrant labourers who were rendered jobless and penniless.
Born into a family of social-reformists and zameendars of Baghpat (erstwhile Meerut) and brought up in Jaipur did MA in Economics from the University of Rajasthan and MBA in Agri-Business from Symbiosis, Maharashtra. After which he worked with country’s premier agribusiness-corporate for a year.
Maulik has been working on rejuvenation of two small Rivers Shairni and Tevar in the basin of Chambal of an aspirational district Karauli in Rajasthan and a River Mahakali in the basin of Agrani in Sangli district of Maharashtra impacting more than One Lakh families. In the three river basins, he has built and restored more than 150 traditional rain-water harvesting structures (Pokhar, Pagaare, Taal) with the capacity of conserving Five billion litre rain-water at once.
He says, “Rivers have always been a basic unit in the matrix of development of human civilization. But now we have lost all the respect and empathy toward these living eco-system. So it is the time to adopt small rivers and rejuvenate them with your sweat and patience. Hollow table-discussion won’t work. Regeneration of small eco-systems around small rivers will lead to revival of macro level hydro-cycles and eco-systems. This is the only way to adapt to climate change crisis.”
Maulik’s motivation in life is his father, Rajendra Singh, popularly known as the Waterman of India, who has been bestowed with the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2001 and Stockholm Water Prize in 2015 and is a water conservationist and environmentalist. Maulik joined his father in his social work and he has now created an identity of his own with his social works. He was also invited with his father as special guest on the stage of Kaun Banega Crorepati Karmveer Special for their contribution to the society.
“I work in Rajasthan and Maharashtra in the areas where farmers go out to earn a living as they do not have water for their land so if we could provide water to their lands, maybe they will not go back to do labour work in the cities and can proudly spend his life as a farmer. Rejuvenating Rivers, Forest and Land are the only solutions to solve this problem,” says Maulik.
Maulik and his team have motivated and supported 1,000 women-farmers in Alwar district of Rajasthan, to do efficient use of water in agriculture by adopting sprinklers system saving 100 million litre of groundwater every year.
Maulik is also steering a national movement of water literacy “Jal Jan Jodo Abhiyaan” to protect the rights of rivers, water bodies & their natural course & basin and to ensure community rights on this precious resource through creation.
The Corona Warrior:
On 24th March 2020, the Government of India announced the largest and strictest lockdown ever happened in the history of humankind in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Maulik held a quick meeting with the volunteers of Tarun Bharat Sangh at his ashram, discussing the probable situations people could face as the conditions across the country looked grim. They concluded that the nomads and the daily wage labourers would be hit the hardest.
“In the situation of natural disasters, you can go to volunteer but in this a curfew was imposed and even if you wanted to help, you still can be arrested under the law,” says Maulik remembering the days of the first phase of lockdown.
Maulik decided that for immediate relief, dry ration should be provided and the day lockdown was announced, they started working for the relief of the needy. They met the local Govt. authorities and took all the necessary permissions, gathered volunteers and worked in full cooperation and passion.
His team made processes on how to identify the people who needed relief. They worked with the local village heads, principles, development officers, Asha workers and important people from the villages.
What the team thought was a work to help 50 families, soon became a chain and spread into six districts of Rajasthan, from Alwar, Bharatpur, Dausa, Jaipur, Karauli and Dhaulpur, helping around 10,000 families.
During the lockdown, his team worked tirelessly for two months to bring in the necessary items, made them into small kits and then went to these villages to distribute them. The ration kit consists of 15 essential edible ingredients sufficient for a month.
During this relief work, they also organized a special campaign for vaccination of infants and providing healthy and nutritious supplements for pregnant women and new mothers for one month. They supported the installation of oxygen plants in the local block level hospital which was first of kind in the district.
When the migrant workers from the cities started returning, there was an increase of almost 25% population with no source of food. Maulik’s team provided the 5000 plus migrant workers and their families with cooked food. They also extended the delivery of cooked food to these families for one month.
“It was sheer luck that when coronavirus came to India, it was harvesting time so at least the farmers had something to eat at their homes or else the situation would have been much worse as compared to what it has been,” says Maulik.
At the ashram, Maulik can be seen doing shramdaan, motivating the youth volunteers and doing field visits. Maulik feels that just like nature, human life too has a balance and one should work towards maintaining that balance.