The cries at 7 pm every day in Vadgaon village. The lights are on. Televisions and cell phones are turned off. It’s time to learn. No one dares to oppose the new village diktat. There is strict supervision in every home. In fact, this digital detox is done so that village children can study and grow up and get big IAS and IPS jobs in the city.
Village sarpanch Vijay Mohite he said to be on time i lockdown since there were schools closed and education it was posted online, children he became addicted to cell phones. “They have lost their studies because most of them there were often on their phones playing games, chatting, or using one app or another,” he said, adding that this digital detox is therefore necessary.
“We chose the evening time because schools end with 5pm and children gathered after school to spend time on their phones. Now they used to stay in their homes and study,” said Sarpanch Vijay he explained. The order is followed very carefully.
When ThePrint visited the village, at 7 o’clock at night a siren sounded and some children who were playing on the road ran to their homes. They pulled out their chairs in spitetook out theirs school books, and began to read. It was Rishikesh Mohite’s seventh birthday on October 27. He was playing with his friends since schools were closed opportunity of the Diwali celebrations.
“It’s time to learn. We will celebrate my birthday at 8:30 in the evening,” said Rishikesh.
Prashant Mohite, Rishikesh’s father, said the arrangements for his son’s birthday party are under control and everything is fine.. “His new clothes are also pressed. His cousin also came here during the holidays. But the celebrations will begin later. First of all, they all need to learn,” he added.
Prashant said that earlier he used to come home after working in the farm field and turn on the TV. “I couldn’t even pay attention to what my children were learning or doing at that time. But with this mandatory rule, they have acquired moral sense and automatically sit down to study for themselves. I can deal with their homework because the TV is off,” he said with a smile.
The point of this work is forward to develop our village, the sarpanch said. “This it was always like that our goal. Students are looked after by teachers for six hours or more, but at home, parents should also be able to check up their studies. Everyone wants ‘Shivaji at home but the best one is Jijabai – Shivaji’s mother.”
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Vadgaon is a village in Maharashtra inhabited by people of the Mohite – Maratha clan. It includes a small population of 3,500, most of the inhabitants of the village are sugarcane farmers.
According to some parents, education had changed to the Internet in the first two years of Covid-19, and children spent all the time on their phones playing games, adding to the addiction.
“Since schools are opening this year, most of the teachers are at this time The teaching committee meeting told us about the problem of students who cannot retain what they have learned. The concentration time is decreasing,” said Sarpanch Vijay. That’s when he started thinking about a solution to this problem. ““Earlier, we asked the teachers to take extra lessons but it didn’t work,” he added
Earlier this year in July, in a gram sabha meeting the village leaders discussed the idea of turning off the telephones and televisions for an hour and a half. “But the problem was that it was 7pm it is the time of popular daily soaps and many are addicted to TV sets” said the Sarpanch, in addition to that people were not ready for this at first.
“We first convinced the children with the help of the school teachers. I asked them to talk to the parents and encourage them to take the first step. Parents then make children understand the importance of time and dedication required for competitive exams,” added Vijay.
It was not an easy process. It took about a month of daily meetings to convince the children before the order was passed on 15 August.
Suvarna Jadhav, a member of the gram sabha and a party anganwadi sevikasaid that some women were reluctant to turn off the television because they were afraid of being criticized by their parents. “Although parents came slowly, some did not want to accept it for fear of how they would convince their in-laws who are usually stubborn when it comes to watching their favorite TV shows,” he said.
The sarpanch said that the gram sabha stepped in and took responsibility to ensure the elders. “We did a house-to-house campaign before passing this order and after the order was passed, the main task was to distribute it knowledge.”
For Mangala Patil, a woman in her ’70s, 7 pm meant ‘TV time’. He has grandchildren at home even when he is there he was told about this step, he was not ready to accept it. “What else was I going to do at that time? But everyone at home convinced me and now I don’t miss TV at that time. I feel at peace. Sometimes, I meditate and take care of these children. Earlier, I didn’t read books but now I started turning pages every evening. “I’m enjoying this now,” he said.
When we first migrated, the success rate was almost two-thirds. “Since most of the children were going to study, the rest also started staying at home and followed them,” said Sudhoba Mohite, a member of the gram sabha.
Now almost every child follows this step. A siren was placed over the temple in the main chowk of the village. To ensure its success, the team all around 20 people, incl i sarpanch, in batches 5-6, can take village rounds.
“We urge the surrounding villages that if we all follow this ‘digital detox’, it will help secure the future of our children,” said the Sarpanch.
One such village is in Satara district, Vahagaon, which has been following the campaign since September. They follow the time limit of 6:30-8:30 pm.
Sangram Pawar, Vahagaon’s constable, said that they have come to know about the campaign through one of the local media platforms. “We they were thinking even if you put this in the discussion they are afraid to withdraw as people come home after a day’s work and watch television. But we first convinced the men and later went to a meeting with the women.”
Sarpanch Pawar said in their village there is no priority when it comes to education. “Children are not employed in government services or Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) exams. This is what we have always pleased parents and spread about. “
In Vahagaon, unlike Vadgaon, the siren it was not stopped immediately. For a week, it was on a test basis to see if people wanted to follow this step or not. But the awareness campaign is done through social media and door to door outreach. “The response is growing. It’s not mandatory here but we are urges people to ride slowly,” Pawar added.
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Gayatri Nigam, a Class X student, said “I noticed the importance of studying every day for at least one or two hours. Since I am in class ten, I am happy that the program has started as it is compulsory for us to study at this time. It will be really helpful for Board exams,” he added.
However, it was not easy for Gayatri and her friends, Suhana Tambure and Sanika Mohite, giving more than one hour dedicated to lessons. It took another 10-15 days to get used to this. “But fear of the sarpanch’s wanderings and looking he made us sit down in the early days,” he said with a laugh. “The money we spend on it charging the phone too in control and I can buy a good book together that’s money,” he added.
Suhana he said younger brother, who belongs to Class III, sits next to him with a book and studies.
“If our children improve in their studies, so we can we also dream of having senior officials in our village. Yes, it is a time-consuming process but in a few years down the line, some IAS and IPS officers can come out of our Vadgaon village,” said Vadgaon sarpanch Vijay.
(Edited by Tarannum Khan)