The Mahatma Gandhi Mission – Youth for National Construction, an initiative of the Banwasi Seva Ashram, is a project approved by the National Committee for Promotion of Social and Economic Welfare, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. The idea of the Mission was drafted and launched in the year celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 125th birth anniversary. The aim was to build 125 Mahatma Gandhi Mission centres, Spread across the country. The idea was conceived by late Shri Prem Bhai (1935-1994), the then Secretary of the Banwasi Seva Ashram. The former Chief Justice of India, Shri PN Bhagwati, who was its first chairman, marked the beginning of the programme on the 2nd October 1993. The founder-originator of the scheme, Prem Bhai, wished the scheme to be self financed through voluntary donations from individuals having respect for Gandhian thoughts.
The first training camp was organised in the month of September 1993 for the youth willing to join the Mission. The Youths were oriented to the ideology Mahatma Gandhi and his work and thoughts. They also had a chance to see the Gramswarajya work of the Ashram and an opportunity to talk to the beneficiary community.
The objectives of the schemes are:
- To identify and promote through training, guidance, and material support, the young men and women showing desire to work for social change, compatible with Gandhian views on Gramswarajya encompassing both village governance and development
- To raise a corps of Lok Sevaks – the missionaries
- To create 125 dedicated volunteer youth centres across the country
The volunteer youth have been active in the fields of children’s education, women’s awareness and development, development of agriculture, orchards, forest protection, employment generation, drinking water provisions, building community assets through labour donation etc. Apart from these some have been working for environment protection, prohibition, obtaining land entitlements, employment rights etc. All of them mobilise community to donate labour for building community assets, to contribute into village funds, for children’s education centres, and also encourage self help groups. The volunteers have mobilised the beneficiaries to contribute labour, grain etc. for the development activity at a specific site of common consensus. The volunteers themselves also do labour in company with the people. At places they have mobilised the Panchayats to extend its schemes and also accept proposals of the community for financial support.
The work on project ‘Mahatma Gandhi Mission for Gramswarajya’ was initiated by Prembhai. The work has made a progress since then. The experience has given the confidence that 125 Mahatma Gandhi Mission centres, the original target of the founder-visionary, Prembhai, can be achieved in days to come. These will be the centres of education and learning for the people of the area.