Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan hopes that people unify, irrespective of their socio-political and economic differences, for the pursuit of bringing about positive change.
Khan, who through his NGO Paani Foundation, is working towards making Maharashtra a drought-free state, believes the process is a celebration of humanity.
About the problem that the NGO faced in reaching out to villagers, Khan, addressing mediain Mumbai on Saturday, said: “Well, we were aware of the fact that there is a certain problem will come on our way, so we designed the whole programme in a way to deal with those obstacles. One of the biggest challenges is bringing people together for the cause.
“Look, our society is cracked on many levels. There are different political parties in every village, the caste system is very strong in villages. There are landowners, labourers from the different economic background. Convincing everyone that how water-shade management is actually going to help all of them was a task. But the best thing is, the villagers helped each other to overcome these issues.”
“Since they came together to build up the watershed management system, there is a human bonding the developed among each other. It’s a very different level of emotional binding. And tomorrow, if there is any problem, they are well trained enough to handle that,” he added.
Giving a conceptual example, Khan said: “You see, water can only be stored in a pot which has no holes in it, right? Until people in a society coming close together like a pot, the water will not be stored. If there is any crack in the society, the idea will slip through, like water will slip from a cracked pot. We are trying to bring people closer together in the same manner.”
Starting out with three talukas, now Paani foundation has extended their working areas to 75 talukas and according to Aamir, women are playing a very active role in executing the work.
Citing one such example, he said: “Women are very actively participating in ‘Shramdaan’ [labour donation]. In the beginning, the men of the villages were quite lazy and disinterested to participate in the activity. So a group of women, after doing their day-long shramdaan, did not go back to home, instead, they spent the whole night at the temple.
“They told their husbands, that unless they take part in the activity, they will not go back home. To our surprise, within 24 hours, all the men of those houses agreed to participate in shramdaan. I think it is also in a way taking a step towards addressing social issues.”
As the foundation is organising a ‘Mahashramdaan’, where citizens, both urban and rural, will meet and work together for water abundance, Khan urged everyone to participate.
People can participate by registering online from the Paani Foundation website and travel to the villages to donate their labour of three hours on May 1.
Asked if his children also have the same interest in the cause, Khan said: “Yes, Junaid is actively working with us, he goes to Paani Foundation office every day. Ira is not here, she is studying abroad.”