THE UNSUNG HERO: Maharaj Madhusudan Singhji of Danta by Khyati Singh
In my mother tongue, 'Nanosa' means grandfather. I was brought up in front of his eyes, and have been staying with him ever since. He's seen me grow from a tiny baby into an independent young lady. Back in the day, Nanosa's work remained restricted to a specific area. There was neither social media nor cellphones to click selfies that would go viral on the internet. Hence for me, he remains an unsung hero. Here is a little tribute to my grandfather for the work he has done, being an honest politician for his country, and a true inspiration for his people.
Maharaj Saheb Madhusudan Singhji of Danta
My grandfather's name is Maharaj Saheb Madhusudan Sinhji of Danta. He was born on 31st May 1933 in the old palace of Danta. Named Maharajkumar at birth, he was the second son of late Maharana Saheb Sri Bhawani Sinhji. He completed his schooling from Daly College, Indore, and Rosary High School, Baroda. Following this, he graduated in History and Law from Maharaja Sayaji Rao University, Baroda in the year 1958.
Upon his graduation as a scholar when Nanosa returned home in 1958, Danta's façade had completely changed because princely states had merged with independent India. Danta was the last state to sign the merger on 16th October 1948.
Since Rajputs are known for their administration and service to their soil, Maharaj Madhusudan Sinhji decided to join politics with the intention and interest to serve the people and better their life. Thus, he made his political debut in 1962, wherein he emerged victorious in the Gram Panchayat elections and as a result, was appointed as the Sarpanch. Later, he became the Taluka Pramukh of Danta, where he constantly governed for 25 years with an uninettupted incumbency. However, even after winning the Taluka Panchayat elections afterwards, he stepped down from the post in order to make way for governance the younger generation. Under Chiman Bhai Patel's government, he became Director of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation and provided employment to the needy.
Upon becoming the director of Banas Dairy, he along with the help of Galba Bhai Nanji Bhai Patel, worked in Danta Taluka and encouraged people to engage in dairy farming. This was especially directed at the tribals in a bid to prevent them from getting involved in anti-social activities. For their socio-economic upliftment, the first milk depot was set up in Danta. Today, it runs as a successful business for several small scale farmers.
During the governance of Shankar Sinh Vaghela, he was the chairman of the House Gujarat Water Works Department (Pani Parotha). He initiated the project of supplying water from Dharoi Dam to the areas where there was a scarcity of drinking water. However, later due to political factors, the government underwent change and the credit was passed onto someone else. Nonetheless, he remained unabashed - his motive and objective of serving people never subsided.
In the olden days, Nanosa was very fond of shikaar. However, one incident had an impact and changed his life forever. While walking unarmed through the Aravalli Range behind Gabbar, he realised that a tiger was walking towards him. He paused for a while, but was perplexed in how to avoid serving the beast as its prey. In the midst of his mounting fear, the tiger casually strolled towards the stream and drank water as it was a hot summer evening. The magestic cat took a break to cool himself down, during which he briefly locked his gaze upon Nanosa's before casually wandering past him. This incident left Nanosa in guilt. He couldn't help but think that he would have definitely shot the big cat down had he had a weapon. Perhaps that day, the wild cat had gifted him a second life, which came as a turning point for his outlook towards wildlife, making him into a devoted conservationist. Two years ago, he retired as the Banaskantha district's wildlife warden. One of his articles titled 'Rape Of The Forest' has been published in Times of India.
A Gujarati newspaper clipping that narrates the tiger incident
He departed from the palace in which he was born, and lived at his farmhouse in Diwadi near Danta ever since, where Nanosa loves to call himself a farmer.
This is the story of a man who was born as a Maharaj Kumar but, nonetheless, lived an ordinary life and won people's hearts by his selfless deeds and work. He believes in 'simple living, elevated thinking'. He has inculcated the same values in his children and grandchildren.
This write-up is a tribute to a grandfather from his super proud granddaughter who has inherited from him, among the many values and ideals, the love for wildlife, nature, and farming.
Happy 88th birthday to the best man in my life. Today I am filled pride when I say that I am your granddaughter.
Khyati Singh has worked as a naturalist, who has worked in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. At present, she practices agricultural development in close proximity to Danta, and is also attempting to rewild the Aravalli ranges through local awareness drives. Her latter pursuit has also earned her the title of 'Daughter of the Aravallis'. Maharaj Madhusudan Ji of Danta is Khyati's maternal grandfather.