Noted Gandhian and water conservationist Shivaji Kagnikar have been awarded this year’s Rajotsava 2019 award.
Rajyotsava Awards, the second-highest civilian honor of the State of Karnataka. The award is conferred annually by the Government of Karnataka on the occasion of the establishment of the State on 1 November.
Shivaji Kagnikar from Kattanbhavi has been working with his Jana Jagrana organization which has been credited with the starting of night schools in remote areas and also creating awareness about education and water conservation among the rural folk.
He was awarded the D. Devaraj Urs Award for 2018 and also he was awarded the AAB’s Belgaumite of the year Lifetime Achievement award 2013.
About Shivaji Kagnikar:
A shepherd by birth, a Gandhian by choice, a highly sensitive educator by default and a justice seeker by genetic compulsion, meet Shivaji Kagnikar the man who is spreading literacy and also empowered the citizens of Kattanbhavi village to sustain their lives being ecologically friendly. During his school days, he was inspired by Sane Guruji, a great thinker, and promoter of literacy and he decided he too will have to take this route at some point in life. The village well would go dry mid-summer and people used to get water on the rationing basis. With no employment and little agricultural activity, each one was depending on money lenders and the many were addicted to liquor.
The Rajyotsava awards are presented in the capital of Karnataka, Bengaluru by the Chief Minister of the State. Each award carries an amount of Rs. 1,00,000, a 20-gram gold medal and a citation.
A shepherd by birth, a Gandhian by choice, a highly sensitive educator by default and a justice seeker by genetic compulsion, meet Shivaji Kagnikar the man who is spreading literacy and also empowered the citizens of Kattanbhavi village to sustain their lives being ecologically friendly.
He can still be seen in his Khadi half pant and shirt going on his cycle, which he has being doing for ages now.
His life was never easy, from the very beginning experienced discrimination from early childhood as his he was considered to be of a lower caste. He believes in Gandhian principles of frugal living and simplicity.
During his school days he was inspired by Sane Guruji, a great thinker and promoter of literacy and he decided he too will have to take this route at some point in life.
The villages around Kattanbhavi are now self reliant in terms of water and other resources just because of the commitment and tenaciousness for the past thirty years.
The village well would go dry mid summer and people used to get water on the rationing basis. Literally they used to get into the well using ladder and fill water by hand. With no employment and little agricultural activity each one was depending on money lenders and the many were addicted to liquor. Many were even working as bonded labourers to clear their loans.
At this time Shivaji Kagnikar along with Ram Apte, Sadashivrao Bhosle took meetings and explained to the villagers what can be done to get them out of this menace along with importance of water shed management and how water management will one day accomplish all their dreams.
A few villagers were taken to Anna Hazare’s village Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmad Nagar by Jana Jagran the NGO which was helping him in this activity. Situation of Ralegan Siddhi was very similar to that of Kattanbhavi and hence if a model worked there, a similar model should work here as well was the thought. Massive plantation was taken up on govt land, trenches were dug by alongside the village using indigenous methods (Continuous Contour Trenches)Jan Jagaran NGO came forward with financial support on this front. About 1 lakh trees were planted in the trenches and with time a committee was formed so that the trees would be saved. With time the only well in the village started to recoup water and also the ground water level increased dramatically. A pond near the well now serves the livestock which has water all the year round. With the growth of trees many species of birds and even wild boars, peacocks, have made it their home. With good grazing grounds and also good agricultural activity due to availability water the village came out of the hands of the money lenders. Even co-operative societies working in the milk sector have started operations there. Each family has cattle and each one has his own Gobar gas plant. Starting with 30 liters of milk collection a day it has now crossed 1400 liters a day.
Once the Kattanbhavi village had large illiteracy but now it has an Anganwadi and primary school upto 7th Standard and even night school.
Shivaji Kagnikar later started to work on similar lines to upgrade the village of Ningenhatti. 3 lakes were dug and over 1 lakh saplings planted. Nigenhatti which was more of a barren land a decade ago is now a completely full of trees of various fruits and agricultural activity has also grown tremendously.
With simple thoughts and practices Shivaji Kagnikar has changed the fate of these villages and even today he is on the same mission telling the youngsters about why the conservation of environment is very important.
AllAboutBelgaum salutes this great man and his vision.