Chitrakoot ‘Nanaji Deshmukh’
Chandikadas Amritrao Deshmukh who is popularly known as Nanaji Deshmukh has done exemplary work in the fields of education, health and rural selfreliance. He established India’s first Rural University at Chitrakoot and developed a model for the development of rural areas on the basis of integral humanism.
After retirement from active politics in 1972, Deshmukh then founded Deendayal Research Institute to validate the philosophy of integral humanism profounded by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. Deshmukh developed a model for the development of rural areas on the basis of integral humanism. Integral Humanism gave a vision for Bharat that, with an approach to man and his relationship to society that is integral and complementary, could transform Bharat into a self-reliant and compassionate example for the world to follow. Nanaji implemented the philosophy of integral humanism to improve the living standard of more than 150 villages of bundelkhand.
Nanaji did pioneering work towards the anti-poverty and minimum needs programme. Other areas of his work were agriculture and cottage industry, rural health and rural education. Deshmukh assumed chairmanship of the institute after relinquishing politics and devoted all his time to building up the institute. He was also instrumental in carrying out social restructuring programme in over 500 villages of both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh states of India. He also published the journal “Manthan” (introspection) which was edited by K.R. Malkani for many years.
In 1977, Nanaji moved to Chitrakoot, a remote village in Madhya Pradesh with a mission to create a prototype of self sustaining model of development based on the concept of ‘Gram Swaraj’. After initial experiments in Gonda (UP) and Beed (Maharashtra), Nanaji finally finetuned an integrated program for the development of rural areas that covers health, hygiene, education, agriculture, income generation, conservation of resources and social conscience that is both sustainable and replicable with the aim of achieving self reliance for these villages. Many of the hundreds of villages that have come under what is now popularly known as “Chitrakoot project”, generate their own electricity through the Bio-energy and solar energy plants. The villages which always faced water shortage today have a variety of rain harvesting and water conservation methods. Organic farming is not just for experimentation but a way of life and Chemical fertilizers are no more an inevitability. Women entrepreneurs today, help run many small scale industries which produce quality goods. All of this with very little support from the Government.
Later, Nanaji established Chitrakoot Gramoday Vishvavidyalata, India’s first rural University, in Chitrakoot. For suitably running these projects, he developed couples inclined towards social service into SamajShilpis (sculptors of society). These SamajShilpis are devotedly handling the projects and executing them correctly and in good speed.
Nanaji was also the first chancellor of Chitrakoot University. The University is currently being run by Chirtrakoot University. The Government of India bestowed on him the PadmaVibhushan for his outstanding lifetime work in social service. After living a long and inspiring life of a social entrepreneur, Nanaji Deshmukh breathed his last on 27 February 2010 at the premises of Chitrakoot Gramodya Vishwavidyalaya. He is remembered by the country as a great leader, a social activist, an educationist and also as an inspiring social entrepreneur.