Friday, 7 July 2017

The conundrum of development of a village

7 July 2015 at 13:51
When people tell me that my duty is to repair the village with alternate employments. I again start ruminating on what my duty is. I do not know. We act - trying to create 'alternative employment', doing afforestation, doing RWH structures, teaching children, establishing ayurveda ... all the while knowing that the fundamental issues are different.
I actually do not know what I should do.
A self sufficent village existed 30 years ago. Yes, they led a hard life, but their life was sustainable, and dependent on the annual water recharge that the area had. They grew millets and groundnut and a little paddy for consumption. It was a hard life living in the dry Rayalseema belt. But houses had cows as these were necessary to agriculture. And all the children had milk and ghee as these were not sold. The tanks had water as no borewell had depleted the groundwater, and there were fish and crabs in the tanks for everyone.
My educated city community decided to 'develop them', and gave them borewells and electricity. They also gave them dreams of 'progress', and taught them to seek soaps and shampoos and cement houses - and money. The village people over 30 years grew sugarcane and paddy and mango and sold them. The groundwater was drained and exported to cities as sugar and as mangoes.
Now there is no groundwater left to draw out. My educated community through its indulgences has brought on a climate change that has left the village people with successive droughts. There is no water, no agriculture, no hope in the village. After a brief dalliance with 'development' that was seductively sold to them.
In addition, the educated community has also given them a schooling that has left the children nowhere - they have learnt to look down on village occupations, and have also not learnt these skills which are learnt in a different way by working along. And they are unfit for white collared jobs living the rural schooling system. The youth are a frustrated generation, into drinking.
I have no answers. Except to lay the facts before my educated community. And ask them to consider the facts. Of their lifestyles, and the compulsions of their own livlihoods, and the implications of those.
We have drained the rural areas of their resources and left them barren. We have used them as a market and destroyed their self-sufficiency and contentment. We are riding on them and choking them. And while doing that, we also wish to 'help them'. These were my questions when i went to the village in 1995, they stay my questions today also.
Ravi Badri "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". There are two forces intervening in the village: The a) government/market and b) the do-gooders. The government and markets have a single point agenda which is the 'develop' them for GDP growth. the problem is when 'do-gooders' also operate from the same framework. first thing to do is abandon the idea of doing any good to anyone. next is to recognize the deep violence in society and how we are participating in the violence and also deeply impacted by the violence. the village which is the only for of sustainable living is under attack from governments, markets and do-gooders. so our job is to sensitize the people in the vilage of these larger political forces in their own contexts and engage in sangharsh and rachna. nonviolent sttruggle to resist the violent structures and constructive work to create the society we want. both must be bottom-up and they will be bottom up if they emerge from deep dialog with the folks in the villages and if proper understanding of forces impacting their lives is developed.
Aparna Krishnan Agree. As much as we need to strengthen and sensitise the village people, we need to sensitise the urban person. Because the attack is from there - from draining the villages for their needs, to marketing to the villages for their own careers. To destroying the climate and the rains. And for setting the dominant idea of 'development' through every weapon in their arsenal. Starting with the TV.
Ravi Badri we still have numbers on our side as there are more people living in the villages. as Rajaji says, recognize the strength of vilages and turn them into possibilities. the folks in village can walk long distance, eat one meal a day and still walk, sleep, defecate, bathe in the open and live under harsh climatic conditions. they have enormous mental strength. these strength if channelized into a nonviolent force can do wonders.
Preekshit Dhillon Aparna Krishnan Reducing oneself to poverty is no solution to another person's poverty. Pardon the directness.
Aparna Krishnan 'There is enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed'. We are living in the greed zone, I also apologie for the directness.
Aparna Krishnan And there is a logic for integratng with the people we wish to understand and work with - as far as courage and integrity permits.
Aparna Krishnan When one goes to a far superior culture, impoversished by us, and tries to 'help them' ! One faces many dilemas
Ravi Badri there is no dilemma aparna when we realize that the struggle is just as much ours as it is theirs, we are only alies in the struggle and as allies we have specific responsibilities, not all the responsibilities. secondly when we realize the manufacture of desire that is taking place and that real freedom is in freedom from these manufactured desire, then all our accumulations will start to feel like a burden. we will not be adopting poverty but we naturally start wanting less and less. the next thing is how sure are we about our agenda ? are we willing to put everything at stake for what we believe in ? if we examine our own lives, we find many instances where there are contradictions. resolving these takes time as it takes time to develop courage and conviction.
Aparna Krishnan Yes, one desires less, and anyway those things never interested ( expensive clothes, or eating out, or anything), so it was no great 'giving up'. But these is that worry about the future that makes all mankind one - and that makes us hold on when we should give away. To that extent one stays compromised. Yes, moral evolution is a process, and meantime one carries the cross of contradictions.That is one part.
Aparna Krishnan The other part is that as we get closer to their living style only do we understand more and more and are able to act more and more meaningfully. And therefore also the necessity.

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