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Jayapur Village in Varanasi

Jayapur is a village in the Arajiline Tehsil of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It falls under the constituency of Varanasi, and is roughly 25 km away from the holy city. Recently the village has been in the news owing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the village in early November, 2014.

Primary industry of Jayapur - The primary industry prevalent in Jayapur is agriculture, and most of the population of the settlement is involved in this industry. In the agricultural industry, Jayapur is particularly noteworthy for its production of sugarcane, of which it was one of the top producers in early 1990. Funding for infrastructure such as brick roads that have been laid out in the last three decades is also largely drawn from the surplus accrued through sugarcane production. Though there is no particular historic event or value associated to the village, which is also not very dense, its close proximity to the holy city of Varanasi has resulted in quite a few decades of basking in the latter’s glory.

The current situation of the villagers - The current situation of the villagers could be called less than optimal, to put it mildly. Less than five percent of the total population of children goes to school. The villagers are day to day field workers who cannot afford to miss even a single day’s work on account of their low earnings. There are more than a thousand families living in the village, but hardly a hundred out of these have their own sanitary and toilet facilities. For the entire remainder of the population there are two public toilets, one inside the Panchayat Bhavan, and the other in the only primary school in the area. Also, most of the population is too poor to be able to hold bank accounts, having almost zero savings to keep from their daily earnings. An understandable consequence of all this is that barely thirty percent of the population is savvy enough to use even simple and inexpensive technology such as cellular phones.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits -Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the village on the 7th of November while on a two day visit to the holy city of Varanasi. Addressing the population of the village in person, the Prime Minister announced that the village was his choice of inclusion under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, according to which a village is to be adopted by every parliamentarian in a constituency, and subsequently remodelled for a better standard of living and more optimal occupational efforts. Narendra Modi is the Lok Sabha Member of Parliament from Varanasi. In his address to the people of Jayapur, the Prime Minister covered a vast array of topics relevant to social uplifting as well as infrastructural progress.

Motivation for taking Jayapur by Narendra Modi –

  • Saying that most of the widely reported theories about the motivation behind his selection of Jayapur were baseless and fictional, Prime Minister Modi went on to spell out the precise reasons for his choice. He said that Jayapur was the first village he had learned of upon being nominated as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s representative for the constituency, and that a tragic outbreak of a fire which killed five and wounded several was the first news he got of the village. He had made several efforts to provide relief to the victims of the fire, and the Prime Minister’s own words, ‘bonds forged during times of duress are everlasting’, and this was the only pure motivation behind choosing Jayapur.

  • The Prime Minister also went on to strongly rebuke the practice of female foeticide and condemn all those who still took part in it. Giving an oversimplified example for the benefit of the large audience, he said that if hypothetically the sex ratio of a given demographic was 1000:800 male to female, it leaves 200 men without a bride, and that is very far from the ideal situation that we as a country should be aiming for. The Prime Minister even went so far as to say the birth of a girl child should be celebrated as a festival by the family; he then posed a rather sardonic question asking if a person or a population really needed their government urging them to get their kids vaccinated against polio and its likes, and whether the youth was capable of understanding the consequences and taking up the responsibility of such tasks themselves.

  • Explaining the functionality of the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, the Prime Minister said that contrary to popular perception of Members of Parliament adopting the guardianship of villages, it would actually be operating the other way round, the villagers being the ones to take the Members of Parliament under their guidance and show them the issues immediately at hand and possible ways of tackling them.

Wonders for the tourism of close by Varanasi - If one was to speculate on the basis of the direction development has taken under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the western parts of the country, the adoption of Jayapur under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana should do wonders for the tourism of close by Varanasi, which is already rather popular among the pious and the curious alike. The village currently has no electricity, post office or banking facilities, or basic amenities such as street lamps and dedicated drinking water supply. Varanasi, on the other hand, has recently been under fire for the many religious practices it promotes so flamboyantly. These practices have been polluting the Ganges and other aspects of the environment and eco system, and as a result are currently under scrutiny of the offices in charge.

Taking an optimistic stand point, it can be hoped for that Prime Minister Modi’s adoption of Jayapur and the efforts undertaken for said purpose will also yield results in the holy city’s clean up and preservation. Of course, the concept of a modern village will inevitably help the tourism aspect of the city, since the stigma of backward underdeveloped conditions would have evaporated, leaving only an aesthetically appealing, environmentally friendly settlement of prosperous agriculturists, with up to date infrastructural facilities.

Historical Fact of Jayapur - Several aspects of the Prime Minister’s speech and the Jayapur village demographic have however, been called into questioning and put under scrutiny since soon after it was delivered to the population gathered in audience. For one, the village was accredited with stopping the army of Mughal ruler Aurangzeb by him. There are two problems with the claim:

  • firstly, it is not a historical fact but rather a popular folklore legend passed down generations residing in the area. The legend is associated to the Hindu-Temple-demolishing-spree led by the infamous Mughal ruler through various parts of the country. The army that was supposedly warded off and run out of the village by the common villagers intended to destroy a unique Hanuman Temple in the region. It is unique for the resident deity, Hanuman found here, is black. However, there is no historical record or documentation of any such incident ever having occurred in the said location, the only source of the information being the locals, who learned it from their ancestors.

  • Secondly, in the hypothetical event that this incident did transpire, it would have happened close to four hundred and sixty five years ago, as opposed to the Prime Minister’s emphatic claims of it having occurred three hundred and fifty years ago.

Controversial aspect (Political) - Another controversial aspect that has gained a lot of attention ever since the Prime Minister announced his selection of Jayapur for the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is the fact that in the entire population of the village and its neighbouring areas, there is not even one single Muslim resident. The dominant part of the population is Kurmi, which have proven to be a faithful vote bank for the Apna Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party’s only ally in the entire state at the time of the Lok Sabha elections. A lot of media attention has been directed towards the speculation that perhaps this was one of the influencing factors for the selection of the village. The Prime Minister and other BJP leaders have aggressively denied this claim since its initial introduction

It was also recently reported, the Prime Minister was also denied permission to hoist rallies in prominent locations of Varanasi such as the Benia Bagh grounds, and was only permitted to rally in Jagatpur, 12 km away from downtown Varanasi. Reportedly, Prime Minister Modi was also denied the permission to conduct the Ganga aarti in the holy river. Senior BJP leaders have dismissed all reports of denied permissions as baseless.

How to reach Jayapur:

Rail: Jayapur is fairly easily accessible by rail, the Baherawan Halt Railway Station is approximately 5 km away, the Raja Talab Railway Station around 7 km away, the Nigatpur and Hardattpur Railways stations being 8 and 12 km away respectively. The Varanasi Railway Station is the main connector to these, and is roughly 23 km away.

Air: The Varanasi Airport is the closest airway link to the village, and is situated approximately 30 km away from the village of Jayapur.

Road: The area is generally rather well connected by road to nearby cities such as Varanasi and Mirzapur, roughly 24 and 29 km away respectively. From these cities greater road connectivity to prominent locations in the state are available.

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