Shivganga began as a Journey of one man, Mahesh Sharma and became a journey of the whole Bheel Society of Jhabua. Mahesh Ji visited Jhabua for the first time in 1998. He was influenced by the society there to such a great extent that he decided to stay there for ever, working for the Bheels. Positively influenced by the nature and culture of these simple people and at the same time hurt by the wrongs being done to them by society at large, Mahesh Ji decided to dedicate his life for the cause of the people. And he is still staying there, having merged into the society of Bheels as its integral part. He spent a considerable time just touring the villages, trying to just interact were the people. With no intention to impose any Agenda of his own, that various other organisations were trying to do in Jhabua, he wanted to really understand the core of the problems existing there.
Acceptance. The most difficult part of the journey was acceptance. The Bhil people were shy of anybody from outside. Also because of their past bad experiences, they initially thought that Mahesh Ji was another person from outside who will ultimately loot them. However persistence and selflessness of Mahesh Ji won them over and they accepted him as one amongst them, who wanted their good.
Learning. As there were no prejudices in his mind, Mahesh ji started understanding this society. On one hand he got to know the culture of Bheels, their social organisation, their economic organisation, their rituals and beliefs. On the other hand he also started learning the problems these people faced. Years together Mahesh Ji just travelled village to village interacting with people. In this course when Bheels made him familiar with themselves, Mahesh Ji also put across to them what he thought about everything he learnt.
Motivating. Mahesh Ji started seeing a solution to the problem in Jhabua. The solution laid no where else but with the people themselves. He started asking them why didn't they take lead for their own development. So started interactive sessions where the village people themselves thought of their problems and started delving into the real reasons for their problems.
Discovery. In the course of all this, there was a great discovery. HALMA, a great Bheeli tradition that existed since time immemorial. A tradition where the whole community helped the member of the society in need, and all in return of nothing. HALMA showed the way forward. It had to be reinvented and reinvigorated. It had to be reinvented at the scale of whole society. The Society had once again to come together, but not for just one member's problems. But to solve the problems that the Society collectively faced.
Water. Numerous discussions and mammoth analysis led to establishment of one fact. Water was central to their all problems. So They decided to collectively solve this problem. From here came the name Shivganga.
Shivganga now has become a community movement for the holistic development of Jhabua. People are coming together to solve their problems in all spheres of development. Our Scope of work has considerably widened. Starting with conservation of Water we are now working to develop entrepreneurship amongst the youth of Jhabua by imparting them skills both technical and soft skills.
In this Journey we have now with us constructive forces from all around the country synergising their energies with us for the development of Jhabua. Role of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, IITs , NIETI are quite prominent. We also have a large section of motivated and highly qualified individuals associated with us who have faith in the model of development emerging in Jhabua and who wish to be a part of this change.
It is important to tell the story of our Journey to properly understand the movement that Shivganga is. Shivganga has been an organic movement that has evolved over time shaping itself according to the aspirations of the people.