Until three years ago, Rongbul, a small village in South Sikkim, suffered from various problems, including irregular power supply, lack of government school teachers, and no development among others.
However, things turned better in 2014 when Raj Yadav IAS was appointed South Sikkim's District Magistrate as he launched an inspirational project to adopt and transform villages like Rongbul.
Here's all you need to know.
Went to grassroots levels of villages, addressed their issues: Yadav
When the Center launched Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana in 2014, Yadav thought about "tweaking" it so that the district administration takes direct responsibility for the villages it adopts.
He then launched District Administration's Adopted Village (DAAV) initiative for adopting and developing villages and transforming about 2,000 lives in every village.
"...We went to the grassroots-levels of the villages and addressed their issues," Yadav said.
'You build your village' was the mantra, said Yadav
The DAAV's objective was to develop South Sikkim's remotest villages, according to TheBetterIndia.
It was decided that Rongbul, which was being plagued by numerous issues at the time, would be the first Gram Panchayat Unit (GPU) to be adopted under DAAV and transformed into a model village.
"'Aapno gaav, aap banao'—which in Nepali means, 'you build your village,' was the mantra," said Yadav.
Found out that villagers' needs were very basic: Yadav
"...First step was to gather the gram panchayat and speak to them. Without effective, two-way dialogue, we couldn't have zeroed in on the targets to be tackled," said Yadav.
"We took suggestions from all the people...and found out that their needs were very basic. They wanted a reliable supply of water and electricity before anything else, and so, that's where we focused," he added.
Villagers initially didn't trust the district administration too much
On executing DAAV in Rongbul, Yadav said, "With the first GPU, one of our biggest challenges was to motivate people to join our forces."
"Initially, they did not trust us too much, but we began the work anyway, roping in the adults during designing and...children in beautifying the school buildings. Before we knew it..., villages and the district administration were working together," he added.
Later, villagers provided manpower and financial aid too
Yadav said the villagers later joined the DAAV brigade and even provided manpower financial aid for the initiative whenever there were insufficient funds. Funds allocated for specific tasks/projects couldn't be used for DAAV due to which the district administration went through a cash crunch.
The DM and his team transformed Rongbul in 8 months
Yadav and his team transformed Rongbul in only eight months. They equipped the villagers with regular supply of water and power, new schools and teaching staff, banks, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Primary Health Sub Centers (PHSCs), improving their lifestyle.
Yadav also launched the "Each Friday, Field Day" project to ensure proper maintenance of all these schools, banks, ICDSs, and PHSCs by the authorities.
After Rongbul success, four other villagers were adopted
"For a major part..., we focused on developing and maintaining the existing infrastructure. The Rongbul GPU has a population of about 2,000 people, and when we completed the project successfully, we decided to replicate it in four other GPUs also," said Yadav.
After the success in Rongbul, his district administration adopted GPUs of underdeveloped villages like Lingi Paiyong, Tinik Chisopani, Mamley Kamrang, and Sanganath.
We tried to achieve 100% in every aspect: Yadav
"It (DAAV) was a unique programme... We tried to achieve 100% in every aspect in those GPUs through community participation. If I get similar opportunity in future I will try to work with same strategy," said Yadav, currently the Additional Secretary to Sikkim's Finance Department.