E360 Video Contest Winner — Third Place

In Drought-Prone India, a Hard-Pressed Village Struggles to Survive

Indian filmmaker Ramesh Holbole focuses his lens on the drought-stricken village of Aagaswadi. His film, “Village in the Sky” – the third-place winner in the 2019 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest – captures the frustrations of the residents, who are running out of water as drought worsens.

2019 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest

India is in the midst of a massive transformation. Its GDP has increased six-fold in less than 20 years, and more than 90 percent of its population now has access to electricity, up from 55 percent in 2001. But much of this growth has been focused on the country’s urban centers, while many of India’s rural communities have been left behind.

In his film, “Village in the Sky” — the third-place winner of the Yale Environment 360 Video Contest — filmmaker Ramesh Holbole focuses on a small village in the drought-stricken region of Maan in Maharashtra’s Satara district. The community, Aagaswadi, is running out of water, leaving crops to wither and livestock to die. A wind farm built on village land sends the electricity it produces elsewhere and provides just a handful of jobs. Only a few dozen residents remain in Aagaswadi, most of them elderly. The town’s young people and families have mostly fled to cities, including nearby Mumbai and Pune.

Holbole’s camera captures the bleak, dusty reality of life in Aagaswadi and the frustration of the hard-pressed villagers as the drought worsens. “Our situation has always been this desperate, and this time we’ve barely had water to even drink,” says one villager, Bhimrao. “Every year it is the same – no crops, no water, no livestock.”

About the Filmmaker: Ramesh Holbole is a filmmaker based in Pune, India. His short film, “Village in the Sky,” has been screened and honored at several festivals in the United States and Europe. He is currently studying at the Film & Television Institute of India.

About the Contest: The Yale Environment 360 Video Contest honors the year’s best environmental films, with the aim of recognizing work that has not previously been widely seen. Entries for 2019 were received from six continents, with a prize of $2,000 going to the first-place winner.