My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW DELHI , Wednesday—Faridabad is one pilot project here which, if it is successful, must be multiplied not hundreds but thousands of times all over India. Strangely enough, the physical plan was made by an American architect, Albert Myer, who works in New York and only occasionally comes to India.

It is an ambitious plan but simply carried out. The people themselves build their houses, which consist of two rooms and a kitchen and a room which may one day be a bathroom but at present is merely a tap with running water. Sanitary facilities have been built outside and wells have been sunk. The water is good because it comes from 350 feet below the surface.

The town is laid out around a central, large open space and arrangements are made for the people to build shelters for their animals at the back of their houses or in a separate space reserved for animals. Each area is like a small village in itself, containing two schools, a health centre, and a public market in which artisans can buy space to ply their trade or merchants can sell their goods.

A hospital of 150 beds is planned to serve not only the town but an outlying area of 200,000 acres on which live 200,000 people.

At one end of the town is a factory area that will give employment to the people of the town who are not busy in running services needed by any populated area. Some of the factories are owned by individual firms and already are in operation.

One part of the area is reserved for the community Diesel engine plant, where Diesel engines and small stoves are turned out. This is a community project and the profits go to financing the health and educational services of the town. Each individual living there pays 10 rupees per month or about $2.50 toward these services and the amortization of their debt. Financing is made possible by the creation of an authority which borrowed from the government and equivalent of what government would have paid these people in relief over the years. By buying the materials and paying the local people wages, the authority induced many who had been before small shopkeepers or clerical workers to go to work to produce things with their hands. This has been accomplished in spite of the fact that, as far back as can be remembered, each generation of many families has worked in the same occupation, and the shopkeeper considers himself considerably better than the man who works with his hands.

We visited one of the outlying villages and I met the leading men of one village who told me that what they needed most was water—and it was quite evident that they did need it. Irrigation would double their crops and help solve a serious food problem.

I walked through one village of mud houses and walls and looked into the rooms. I saw their cattle and the general way of life. Sanitation will take time, and when I thought of the little health centre and the one visitor who covered many villages with her assistant trying to teach the principle of sanitation I realized again what the problem of education was for the future.

I used to think in the early thirties in the United States that we faced a fairly staggering problem of unemployment, but the people working here have an even greater challenge. The director, however, of this community, Dr. Sudhir Ghosei, is equal to the job. He is one of the most inspiring and dedicated people I have ever met.

All one can do is pray that imagination, courage and hope will keep these people going and make what help the United Nations, the United States, the Colombo Plan or any other agencies can bring to them of lasting value.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New Delhi (India) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 6, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.