Escaping poverty: the Ralegan Sidhi case

Poverty remains to be the most important development issue facing India with an estimated 301.72 million Indians (27.5 percent) living below the poverty line in 2004-2005. In 1975, Ralegan Siddhi was just another drought prone, poverty stricken village, but it has had much success in poverty reduction since then. Ralegan Siddhi's success is not just a story of change as a result of access to water. This paper provides evidence of the remarkable economic, social and community regeneration in Ralegan Siddhi, due to a strong, selfless, ethical and accountable leadership as well as its replication in Hivre Bazaar. Ralegan Siddhi and Hivre Bazaar are outstanding examples of holistic development and sustainable poverty reduction, with a large number of rural households successfully moving out of poverty without slipping back below the poverty line. The dramatic transformation in these villages and the improvements in the quality of life of the entire village community need to be understood, analysed and replicated.