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Swachh Warriors

From The UK To An Indian Village – This NRI Couple Is Transforming Lives

This couple decided to leave their well-paid jobs in the UK and move back to India to transform lives of people living in Lonwadi village.

Swachh India From The UK To A Remote Village – How This NRI Couples Journey Transformed Lives 4

Ashish Kalawar was just a teenager when he had an encounter that was going to shape the rest of his life.

“I was waiting to catch a train to my hometown; a little boy approached me and offered to polish my shoes. I instantly told the child that at his age he should be going to school and not working. The boy replied that he will use this money for his education and that’s when I decided to let him polish my shoes. I was simply mesmerized with his spirit and determination and decided to give him double the price of whatever he was asking,” reminisces Ashish Kalawar.

The happiness on that child’s face had a huge impact on Ashish and he knew he wanted to spend his life helping out those less fortunate than him.

Swachh India From The UK To A Remote Village – How This NRI Couples Journey Transformed Lives

Years later when Ashish got married, his wife Ruta shared his vision and values and was equally keen to help out those in need. The electric engineer couple travelled the world, before moving to the United Kingdom in 2009. In the UK, they spent a lot of their time volunteering at the local temple and participating in charity walks to help people raise funds for different initiatives.

I use to wonder, if we can help people outside our homeland then why we can’t do the same in our own country – India –  Ashish Kalawar

It was during a short visit to India in 2012, that Ashish and Ruta decided to [highlight] adopt a remote village in Maharashtra named Lonwadi [/highlight] . It was a backward village with a very poor standard of living.

Forget about toilets, the life of the people there was too hard to be explained in words. They simply didn’t know how to live, remembers Ruta Kalawar.

Lonwadi, in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, is located on a hill – It had no electricity, no water system, no roads and obviously no toilets.

Ashish and Ruta, together along with the help of an NGO decided to transform Lonawadi into an ‘Adarsh Village.’

For the next two years Ashish and Ruta kept helping their adopted village on a part time basis. However, in January 2014, the couple took a huge step and decided to leave their well-paid jobs in the UK and move back to India. Not just that, they also started spending most of their time in Lonwadi. Bit by bit they became an integral part of the village, transforming the lives of everyone they met.

First up, they had to tackle the most basic problem – water. Thanks to its remote location on top of a hill, the villagers had to go downhill every day in order to get water. The Kalwars set up a solar-operated water pump to draw water to the top of the hill.

Swachh India From The UK To A Remote Village – How This NRI Couples Journey Transformed Lives 2

Another thing that Ashish and Ruta noticed was that women and girls of the villagers had no toilets and had to go out to the open fields to relieve themselves. Sometimes, they had to hold themselves all day before they could relieve themselves. That’s when they decided to build toilets for them.

One house one toilet, keeps surrounding clean and healthy – that was our mantra and we wanted everyone in this village to know that having a toilet is their basic right –  Ashish Kalawar.

However, merely constructing toilets wasn’t enough for a population that has always defecated in the open. Ashish and Ruta started counselling the villagers about the benefits of toilets and how by using it they can make their own village ‘Swachh.’

Swachh India From The UK To A Remote Village – How This NRI Couples Journey Transformed Lives 3

Ashish and Ruta’s counselling sessions have helped the villagers realise the importance of using toilets. Today the village has 2 bio-toilets, good roads, electricity, a water system, and a digital school too.

To get the villagers accustomed to the toilets, Ashish and Ruta came up with a unique idea – the toilets in this area are covered with bushes so it gives the same feel as being out in the open fields.

We have seen people here being interested in toilets – they too want their basic right, but as they are not aware on how to use it properly they tend to not use it or demand it. All we plan to do is change this mindset and educate them about these basic things –  Ruta Kalawar.

With the help of some friends, Ashish raised 90% of the funds required to make Lonwadi an ideal village.

The remaining 10% was contributed by the villagers – “We wanted to make sure that there is some ownership from the villagers as well and that’s why we decided to take some money from them as well. Together they funded a sum of Rs. 30,000,” said Ashish.

We always had a passion to work for our country; we have seen people struggling to meet their ends, we just wanted to help them out, added Ruta.

The couple also aims to make this village open defecation free in next two months.

Also Read: This American Woman Is Changing Lives In Rural India, One Toilet At A Time



  1. Nitin

    December 9, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    great man !!!! great initiative

  2. Sara

    December 9, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Great work guys! Going out there and implementing is not at all easy as we speak behind desks.

  3. Lingaraju

    December 9, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Salute to you both. when everyone is running out of the country for money and comfort you both decided to return back not just to India but to village to bring good change to rural life. you both are inspiration for many NRI’s wanting to follow your foot steps including myself. Wish you the best in your future endeavor.

  4. Ami Jain

    December 9, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    That is a true patriotism! Salute to the couple! Namaste

  5. John

    December 9, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Hats off to both of you for your noble thoughts and courageous decisions to leave off your comforts and to work for the backward fellowman. You are truly inspiration to many and wish you the best in all your initiatives.

  6. Neethu

    December 9, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    great Job! God Bless You

  7. sasi

    December 9, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Good job.. Its need great motive to do such works..

    • Hemant

      December 12, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Super, God bless you

  8. Ramesh

    December 10, 2016 at 5:55 am

    Amazing work! How do you make a living yourself?

  9. B Mahesh

    December 10, 2016 at 7:46 am

    Salute you guys. The world needs more such people.

  10. Shyam

    December 10, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Excellent! will inspire many more to emulate you.

  11. Bonifacio Vas

    December 10, 2016 at 10:37 am

    If we can help monetary wise??

    This is not just inspiration, but a great challenge, both of you along with your child, May the Lord Jesus Bless you.

    Reply Please

    Love and Regards
    Bonifacio Vas

  12. ramya

    December 10, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks and appreciation to the couple.
    Hope many educated/ well earning would follow their path and do what in their best of capacities for the welfare and bright future of the underprivilged .

  13. Kuldip Kumar

    December 10, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Sensational job NDTV for high lighting these personalities.Makes a refreshing read among
    these rotten scams. Good luck Ashish,Rutu with your commendable work. Would love to have your contact.

  14. JPS

    December 10, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    Great efforts.. and after a looong time reading such a nice.. inspirational article. Perhaps there are many more such people who are doing great things for the nation. They are actually building nation.

    Seriously, everything on every new channels revolve around Demonetization(notebandhi) ..good or bad. Seems like life has just stopped but thanks to people like Kalawar family who are silently doing such a great work. God bless these people.

  15. Saji

    December 10, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    When everyone wants to have high paying jobs abroad, you both sacrificed that for a noble cause. Such virtues are hard to find now-a-days. Wish you all the best.

  16. Milind

    December 11, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Great job Ashish & Ruta. It requires not only passion but a lot of guts to leave a well paid job and comfort to actually implement what you are doing. Hats off to you. I am sure there are a lot of NRI’s who have already moved or thinking of moving back to India including myself. Our experience should always be used for the benefit of the country we belong to. Overall it is a very optimistic environment in India as of now and we can make things much better for the future generations.

  17. S N Shetty

    December 11, 2016 at 3:13 am


  18. nalin

    December 11, 2016 at 10:21 am

    fantastic work by the couple.r any politicians , bureaucrats reading , that is if they r literate. all they can do is shout and take bribes.

  19. Manpreet Sangha

    December 11, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Wow, what an achievement ! Respect !

  20. Ananth

    December 11, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Hats off to you guys.

  21. Sumit

    December 11, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Salute to both Ruta and Ashish. You both guys are inspiration to many people who want to contribute towards society but not able gather courage for taking initiative.I hope more people will come out and join hand in noble cause like this. Wish you all the best for future.

  22. Gaurav

    December 11, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Great work. Doing this before one must have passion for it. Very good…

  23. Vinod Menon

    December 12, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Nice to know we have dedicated people out there who wants to really help the rural village of India. Wish you can share how we can contribute to this task….monetary wise or volunteering hours.

  24. An Indian

    December 12, 2016 at 5:31 am

    Great Couple!! May God bless you for being considerate to the people in need…your children will be blessed!!

  25. Needhi

    December 12, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Great work. Appreciated. Very hard work.
    Lots of OCIs and NRIs are keen to come back and work. Government should also support the OCIs who can take our sports to very high levels.

  26. Swaroop

    December 12, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Commendable job.Respect!

  27. Chandru

    December 12, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Great work couple. Truly inspiring!!
    Many are working for themselves. It needs courage to think about others and execute it.
    Wishing you good luck!! and keep going.

  28. Prathibha

    December 12, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Great work by both of you. You are blessed to have companionship of each other. Many times, even if one wishes to do good to society, one of the spouses will not share the same vision. Thankyou NDTV for sharing this news

  29. Raghu

    December 12, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Great feeling reading this article, appreciate the great work of the couple.

  30. Pankaj

    December 12, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Ashish and Ruta,

    if you are reading these comments, can you please share your contact details so that i can connect with you.

  31. mohan

    December 12, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Good job…I have a plan to do same and looking forward to do asap…


    December 12, 2016 at 9:31 am

    hats-off both of you

  33. VoIP Wholesale Provider

    December 12, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Nice job.. Keep it up, you are an inspiration for other NRI’s.

  34. Nikhil

    December 12, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Dear Ruta and Ashish what you have done is to transform lives not just for the current generation but of many more to come in that village.No amount of money can ever achieve the happiness and respect that you have generated from your endeavour.It shows your courage and determination.keep it up.

  35. Basavaraj Annapur

    December 12, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Great Work by this couple god bless them and give more strength to do more to the society. We hope join one day them to help them at least.

  36. Mukesh badhwar

    December 12, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Great job done guys …. salute to both of you

  37. Giri

    December 12, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I am sure the amount satisfaction you will achieve will be million times more then earn million billion dollars

  38. Vignesh

    December 12, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Hats off for your commendable & thankless work you both are involved in. Truly Inspiring.

  39. devaraju

    December 12, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Great Job

  40. sv

    December 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

    we need more people like and less fekus like modis

  41. Sethumohan K Nair

    December 12, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Salutations !!!
    Kind Attention: Dear Ashish and Ruta,

    Hearty Congratulations for transforming the lives and ensuring success of fellow men and women.

    May i request your advice on partnering with your mission.

  42. Naveen Shreevatsa

    December 12, 2016 at 11:30 am

    Great work Ashish and Ruta. You guys are really brave to come back India from well-paid jobs and help our people in village. Your social service and vision is appreciated.

    I had worked with Ruta for few months in ISAC, Bangalore. She was passionate and enthusiastic about work and social service. My very best wishes to both of you in your selfless service to the society.

    Hats-off to both of you

  43. Pradeep

    December 12, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Great work,
    Sadly this is what the government is supposed to be doing, but they are busy with other things.

  44. CA. Parveen Gambhir

    December 12, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Please accept my regards. You both are working like a solider.

  45. Baburao

    December 12, 2016 at 11:59 am


  46. Chenna Kesava Reddy Padmati

    December 12, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Dear Ashish & Ruta,
    Hats off to both of you for your great initiative.. Though many of us have the feelings, only few like you turn into action..
    Great work..

  47. Nitin Narayan

    December 12, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Dear Ashish and Ruta,

    You have taken a giant leap when you decided to return to your motherland leaving behind well paid jobs … I have been delving on this decision for quiet some time and am unsure about future … I too, have similar interests and want to return what I have got from my motherland … you have shown a path to me and this should serve as an inspiration to me now to decide on pursuing matters close to my heart …. Hats off mates … All the best!

  48. Ajay

    December 12, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Really appreciated!

  49. Satish Kumar

    December 12, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Ashish and Ruta ,
    excellent work and you will inspire many more on your great path…I wish you all the best..


  50. Rohit

    December 12, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Great work, Kudos to both of you for this noble effort.

  51. Badrinath

    December 12, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Hello Ashish and Ruta,

    You guys deserve a lot of appreciation for your good thoughts and bringing them in action. Lot of people have such dreams but only few in numbers do in action like you guys. You guys deserve some awards.. Really appreciated!!!!!!

  52. Yeshi

    December 13, 2016 at 2:36 am

    That is the true defination of humunity. Life is more comfortable with sustenance …give out the gift of humunity..

    Salute u …

  53. SANJIV

    December 13, 2016 at 4:34 am

    I really appreciate the initiative taken by the couple, great work gives satisfaction is more then one can expect. Everybody must think to do something for the society because it’s the moral responsibility.

  54. Niranjan

    December 13, 2016 at 5:04 am

    Really very happy to read about such nice people….

  55. D Kipgen

    December 14, 2016 at 2:32 am

    You are unique as its hard to find having the same vision.In general women tend to be detractors.Hope your story will inspire many more couples to follow to help others in need.

  56. upma

    December 14, 2016 at 4:47 am

    wow amazing work and true inspiration..

  57. Yamuna

    December 14, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Hi Ashish and Ruta ,
    Hats off to both of you for your great initiative.. Though many of us have the feelings, only few like you turn into action. leaving comfort zone and living for society is not at all easy

  58. Raja

    December 21, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    You both are really GREAT and greater than those Billionaires and Millionaires of India. GOD has given you a Great Heart and I pray to GOD to bless and support you in this NOBLE work. All the Best

  59. Sameer

    December 22, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Great work . people like you who make difference .

  60. Niyai

    January 17, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Great work guys. We have many armchair enthusiasts and many “doers”. You guys are the Doers and Indians are proud of you .

  61. Sanjay Maheshwari

    January 4, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    Salute, may your tribe grow.Love for country is astonishing. very inspiring.
    er Sanjay maheshwari

  62. Munish

    January 26, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Wow, Great work Guys. You Inspire.

  63. john mascarenhas

    December 19, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    kassai ky rao? what an inpiration! from little things….big things grow.
    i wish you, your family and your ilk ALL THE VERY BEST!

  64. James Wright Uk

    January 20, 2024 at 1:51 pm

    Wonder and uplifting, rewarding to all and life long achievement that will last within the family. Keep going do more inspire others.
    Best wishes

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