While almost every Indian would jump at the opportunity of migrating overseas, Shekhar Bhadsavle clung to his ideals, to his father’s dreams with utmost pleasure as he returned to wear the robes of a farmer after completing his post-graduation in California. Every day, families seek greener pastures outside their hometown. Shekhar always knew that the greenest of pastures lay right in the heart of Raigad District, where we now find Saguna Baug – India’s touchstone of eco-tourism. Shekhar visited SRISTI in the first week of September and narrated his journey from studying Food, Science & Technology to adding a brand new dimension to ecotourism in Maharashtra.
His father Harikaka Bhadsavle’s indefatigable dream was to boost the farming outfit and lure runaway farmers back into the grind. Shekhar repetitively stressed on how the lack of occupational prestige is the root of every farmer’s desire to flee from the profession. “Agar pratistha nahi toh anatta bhi nahi (without prestige, there is no identity),” he said. Even his extensive knowledge of plants and seeds failed to arouse admiration from his fellow-farmers. Their indifference was fractured only when he successfully caught hold of a snake in the farm, after which he earned fame and status amongst the whole village.
He went on to present slideshows of the Saguna Baug experience. He described how hordes of travellers flock to bask in the serenity of the fields, empathise with the daily labour borne by a farmer, acquaint themselves with various medicinal plants and farming techniques, milk cows and engage in many more endearing activities. And of course, there is the water buffalo ride, a truly unforgettable experience. For those looking to escape the grime and bustle of city life, Saguna Baug is no less than a Shangri La.
Urban dwellers are as dependent on agriculture for sustenance as the rural folk are. Yet, the process of cultivating paddy and the string of intensive farming activities are inconsequential to their routines. Saguna Baug shows them the ropes.
Shekhar succeeded in driving home a few good points of ecological sustainability. Nature bears not only the fruit of nutrition but of prosperity as well. Shekhar did a fantastic job at conveying this fact to SRISTI in a talk that he gave on 5th September 2012.