Diaspora led rural development and education in Palahi Village, Phagwara Punjab
Brief description of the initiative
Palahi is located on a link road between Phagwara on the main GT road, and the Hoshiarpur road In Punjab India. It has a population of 3,800, with an equal number of former residents settled abroad. Seventy percent of the working population in the village are agriculturalists, and the village has 548 hectares of irrigated arable land. The village is home to a successful rural polytechnic, which since 1984 has trained over seventeen thousand technical, computer and vocational students. The majority of students are rural, unemployed, male youth, but women are also trained in various courses. The Polytechnic also has seven extension centres around Punjab where young men and women complete various vocational courses.
Results and lessons learned
The village has become something of a model village boasting a library, post office, 2 banks, a community park, 3 schools, solar street lighting, a community hall, and a community biogas project, and as a result, it has been profiled by academics, television and print media as a local as well as national success story.
Key success or innovative factors
Palahi Village in Punjab, India benefits from its large community of Palahi people abroad, who have been central in funding the major village improvement projects. Early migrants who settled along the North American Pacific west coast in the early twentieth century were active in raising funds for the needs of villages and educational institutes back in Punjab. Palahi set up its own educational society as early as 1922, and village elders believe that US$17,000 was donated by Palahi men working in North America at this time. More recent fundraising has been channeled through the village NGO, the National Rural Development Society Palahi (NRDSP), which was set up in 1983 and was responsible for establishing Palahi’s Polytechnic. The advantages of collecting money through an NGO rather than the village council or panchayat, allows funding decisions to be made independently of the local block development officer. The head of the society is Jagait Singh Palahi, who for many years was village head or Sarpanch. Mr Palahi is now a permanent Canadian resident who tours throughout North America collecting money for village projects, and returning to Palahi to oversee developments. One project to be completed in Palahi was the Miri Piri community hall; sound-proofed hall with a capacity for 1,100 it cost 35 lakh (over US$83,000) and was financed with US$80,000 contributions from Palahi people overseas. The hall’s clock tower and solar powered clock cost five lakh (US$11,900), and was fully financed by one man in Britain.
Main thematic areas
Education, development and environmental sustainability
Environmental and technical education for rural youth, village development leadership and general rural development.
17,000 students, local villages in the region.