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Gandhi Vidya Mandir was established in 1950 by the munificence of Shri Kanhaiyalal Dugar (late Swami Shri Ramsharanji Maharaj) and the local gentry on a tract of 1190 acres, three kilometres east of Sardarshahr, a tehsil of Churu district. In the formative stage a great Sanskrit scholar and former Education and Railway Minister of Bikaner State Acharya Gauri Shankar Sharma was associated with it, while many leading luminaries in the country’s educational and social service fields like Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Aryanayakam, kishorilal Mashruwala and Shriman Narayan. As the name of Mahatma Gandhi is associated with that of the institution, it has to pay attention to the values of self help and manual labour as a part of education. Situated in a rural area, it has to continue the work in the cause of education, particularly for the poor.

GVM is one of the few educational institutions which have taken interest in the education of children from balwadi to post-graduate and doctoral stage, Boys Senior Higher Secondary School, Ayurvedic College and Training College have afforded excellent opportunities to the people of Rajasthan and elsewhere to pursue education in rural surroundings. The Gramoday department, geared to the promotion of integrated rural development, made contribution also in relating education to the challenges of national development.

The institution has ever been trying to reach new horizons in the fields of education, health, social service and rural uplift.

The Basic Teachers Training College has almost from the beginning been an essential and flagship unit of GVM. It was founded in 1953, with the then prevailing TTC course, in 1954 the course was replaced by Basic STC, in 1956 the degree course in Education was introduced, in 1960 the College was upgraded to the Post-Graduate level, in 1968 the facility for Ph.D. was added.

On 28 Aug., 1955 Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India laid the foundation stone of GVM building which was to be the first rural University in India, where experiment in public instruction was to be undertaken through basic education.

The institution has to its credit rural libraries, Non-Formal Education centres, Ayurvedic dispensary and hospital, cottage industries etc. It has always played a vital role in the draught relief programmes.

Rural education has to be differently postulated rather than following the routine formal patterns of education. The ideological inspiration from Gandhiji led to the establishment of GVM. It is a university in the making with the existing educational facilities. It is striving to speed up a total and all round development of rural and semi-urban people in one of the most neglected backward desert areas of India.

Under the comprehensive rural development programme non-formal education units, functional library centres, adult education centres, social education camps, mobile libraries were set up to cater to the surrounding villages.

It used to bring out a six monthly journal Avagahana in education, culture, rural development and health. This had been an effective vehicle of communication from ‘the head to the hand’, while GVM itself had been a happy synthesis of old and new cultural values.

Sri B.P. Berry, the Chief justice of India was so impressed by GVM in its first decade of development that he accorded in 1961: “This institution is not simply a marubhumi, but a dharmabhumi, karamabhhumi and punyabhumi”.

Sh. Ganeshmal Dugar, Vice chancellor, G.V.M. was the author for the status of autonomy for the Basic Teachers Training College. He wrote in April, 1972 to Shri Barkatulla Khan, Chief Minister of Rajasthan.: “The need of the day is a marriage between science and the traditional values based on universal truths India, at one time was at its pristine glory, Ram-rajya was not a wishfull thinking but a reality, Education was imparted by sages who had not only preached but practised virtue in their lives, We are a historic nation. We are the sons of great father like Ram, Krishna, Mahavira , Buddha, Ramkrishana, vivekananda, Mahatama Gandhi and Pandit Nehru and citizens of kingdoms under the rule of Ashola and Chandragupta Vikramaditya”.

“Autonomous educational institutions are the need of the day. They will help the development of man, society, and the region through proper curriculum, contents and methods in the light of the requirements and resources of the region and people. The Teachers’ Training College should be the first choice in assigning the status of autonomous colleges as they are able to produce trained teachers who can give a form and shape to the needed educational set up. The Kothari Education Commission had made recommendations to set up 50 autonomous colleges in the country. The Gajendragadkar Committee also recommended that the Acts and statutes of the university might make provisions for autonomous colleges”.

Shri Barkatulla in his letter of 7th April, 1972 wrote to Dr. D.S. Kothari, Chairman UGC:
“GVM has been making significant contribution to the cause of education, social service and rural uplift … in a backward desert region. It is wedded to the promotion and propagation of Gandhian ideals, BTTC is the oldest and biggest College for Teachers’ Training under the University of Rajasthan. Considering all aspects, we agree to grant autonomous status to it as per the recommendations of the Kothari Education Commission and strongly recommend that UGC kindly give their approval”.

Commissioner and Secretary to Government of Rajasthan Education wrote on 20 April, 1972 to Secretary to Govt. of India, Ministry of Education:
“This BTTC has maintained some of the highest traditions and excellence in teachers’ training work and is one of the fit institutions of the state to be covered in the category of autonomous status. It is strongly recommended”.

The case of autonomy is still pending after 28 years.

In 1978, there was a large celebration in GVM for Silver Jubilee. The address of Vice-chancellor, Madras University, Dr. Malcom S. Adiseshaiah at the annual conference of GVM on 7th January, 1978 is worth quoting in this contet:
“When we talk about rural development, we are talking about national development, as in rural development 80% of the people, supplying 70% of the country’s work force and contributing 60% of the national product incomes are involved.

“Can we help in devising a relevant literacy/learning technology' Then there is the need to ensure continuing learning of the newly educated adults… There is a problem that educational research in our universities, teachers training institutes and centres, and programmes using innovative educational techniques, curricular and technologies is small in relation to the new demands that rural development is opening up.”

Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee was then the Foreign Minister of India and Chancellor of the institution (1977-80) in wishing success to the celebration, he wrote on 25th January, 1978:
“What this institution has done in the field of education, social service and rural development is praiseworthy”.

Dr. J.N. Kaul, Joint Secretary to UGC and himself a distinguished educationist sent a message on 1st Feb., 1978:
“There is something sacred and ennobling in the very sands of Sardarshahr, GVMandir is indeed a temple which brings out the best in the giver and taker of learning and education”.

Apart from Teachers Training College turned into IASE which has been narrated above, GVM maintained its onward march in the field of education and rural development, In 1987 it organized a large workshop-cum-seminar at Sardarshahr with the triple objectives, viz education, social service and rural development. This culminated next year in a national meet, in collaboration with UGC, NCERT, Human Resource Development Ministry etc., at India International Centre, New Delhi which gave a clear call for rural development through education. In 1993 GVM was allotted the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Transfer of Technology to Farmers) for Churu district by Indian council of Agricultural Research. In 1994 it joined a causative of NGOs for a German assisted project in Churu, Jhunjhunu and Hanumangarh districts (Aapni Yojana) for integrated water supply, sanitation and health education.

GVM had also been associated, one time or the other, directly or now through Krishi Vigyan Kendra with the Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur for its blossoming in the desert. Students and scholars of the institution have come to hold high positions in administration and public life.
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