02 August, 2021

Siddhrajsinhji and wife protect old 'subjects' from modern travails

Siddhrajsinhji and wife protect old 'subjects' from modern travails
Back in 1974 Siddhrajsinhji spurned Paris for Dhrangadhra, the land of his former subjects. Once a principality, Dhrangadhra is now a dot on the map—halfway between Bhuj and Ahmedabad. Here, Siddhrajsinhji and his wife Kavrani Kanchande spend their time piecing together lives torn apart by political apathy and divine indifference. To the people of Dhrangadhra, Siddhrajsinhji is "Siddhbapa", Gujarati for "Siddh uncle". The couple manage and partially finance the Jhalama Unnati Astha (jua), a 10-year-old ngo with a "people's agenda". jua's responsibilities include primary education, the preservation of a bird sanctuary in the Little Rann and the equitable distribution of earthquake relief in the remote villages of Saurashtra.

When Siddhrajsinhji returned to his roots, he was appaled by what he saw. Lines appear on his broad and regal brow as he paints this picture of woe: "There were no jobs, no proper schools. No attempt was being made to promote industry. The monsoons played truant twice in three years. There was no irrigation. Water was scarce and conservation...

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