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#KindnessMatters: How an ordinary Sarpanch is making a difference

#KindnessMatters: How an ordinary Sarpanch is making a difference

#KindnessMatters: How an ordinary Sarpanch is making a difference
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By CNBC-TV18 Aug 20, 2019 2:59:24 PM IST (Updated)

When Suresh G. Chhanga took charge as Sarpanch (village head) of Kunariya panchayat in Gujarat, there were many challenges for him to tackle.

The Unesco Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) launched #VirtualGandhiMarch, a social media campaign to mobilise youth to share their kindness stories, on August 12.

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The virtual march is part of a wider mission, #KindnessMatters, for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a first-of-its-kind international youth campaign on kindness with the goal of mobilising the world’s youth to achieve the 17 SDGs through transformative acts of kindness, compassion, care towards self, others and the environment. The social media campaign has so far generated more than 3,000 stories from over 50 countries. The second phase of the programme, which will start in 2020, will mobilise UN Member States to declare an International Decade of Kindness.
People who change the world aren’t always who you expect. Sometimes, they’re just ordinary people who believe in a better world and have the drive and undying spirit to achieve their goals. These are the stories of a handful of such people from across the country whose innovative ideas and determination are making a difference in their respective communities.
In the run-up to the event, CNBC-TV18 is publishing a series of inspiring stories of people who are the trailblazers of social change. Below is the third story in the series:
 Mission Development at Kunariya village 
Name – SURESHKUMAR G CHHANGA
Gender – Male
Place – Gujarat, India
When Suresh G. Chhanga took charge as Sarpanch (the head of a village) of Kunariya panchayat in Gujarat, there were many challenges for him to tackle. For example, problems such as lack of public participation at every level, decision-making by limited people in the panchayat, lack of co-ordination among local government officials, problems with drinking water supply, irregular local services by panchayat, unemployment and high drop-out rate of girls from schools were some of the glaring issues.
To solve these problems and improve the well-being of its citizens, the Gram Panchayat took up various activities. From January 2017 to May 2019, The
33-year-old created employment opportunities worth approximately Rs 1.2 crore to 552 families under MNREGA scheme. Under National Food Security Act, nine families were given rations regularly.
Nutrition Day was celebrated for children and pregnant mothers in order to increase awareness against malnutrition. Cooking competitions were being organised at the level of ‘Anganwadi’.
In 2017-18 alone, by routinely following these activities, the risk of malnutrition has been reduced by 50 percent. For the past two years, three programmes have been organised for distributing sanitary pads to adolescent girls. For development to take place it is necessary for changes to take place in thought processes of people. To this end, 115 awareness programmes on health, education, agriculture, animal husbandry, women participation, cleanliness, employment and environment are being organised for the past two years, in which approximately 16,000 citizens have participated so far.
Chhanga leveraged the media to ensure proper information was given to the citizens so as to increase their participation in various programmes. These included mediums such as use of loud speakers at religious places, voice calling using own voice, SMS texts in Gujarati language, Whatsapp groups, public notice boards and Facebook.
To create engagement and motivation in schools, teachers were felicitated and student admissions gradually increased. Events were organised to mark Water Day and Environment Day. As many as 20,000 trees were planted in two years
Chhanga started women’s meetings for encouraging their participation in various development programmes. A separate meeting hall was arranged for women. Efforts were also made to increase women’s participation in regular panchayat as well as ‘gramsabha’ meetings. As a result, women’s participation in ‘gramsabha’ increased from zero to 50 percent. To ensure that villagers receive local entitlement services, he implemented the State government’s ‘SevaSetu’ programme in which 65 people registered their Aadhar card and ration card-related queries, and 40 people registered for Chief Minister’s ‘Amrutam’ programme card. Using CM’s ‘Amrutam’ card, eight people got medical treatment free of cost. In the future, Chhanga plans to streamline services offered by the present panchayat. He also aims to ensure 99 percent school attendance, and plant 20,000 more trees.
Follow the #KindnessMatters series here.
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