Where do we go from here?

Posted February 22, 2011 User_image_bg Shiba


It becomes very easy and tempting to idealise the village life and I have many times wistfully wished that I could live like them, climbing trees, playing in the mud, chasing monkeys, eating mangoes and peaches directly off the trees and challenging the tumultuous monsoon rains that fiercely beat down upon the villages but the utopia comes merely out of our romanticisation of the countryside.A closer look at the village life dismantles such notions.

True, that the village systems in place work beautifully, their consumption practices are traditionally built in such a way that there is barely any waste generated. The sacred cow gives milk, the cow dung and firewood is used for cooking, the ashes from the stove are used for cleaning the dishes, mud is used on wounds, agricultural residues are used to feed the cows, there may be smoke from the chulhas but there are barely any automobiles leaving the air still much cleaner, let alone automobiles, there are barely any roads, just the vast spaces of fields with a thin line of muddy gul around each square plot to walk on with a nice balance or else trip (as I often did). And the people always had time to talk to you. They probably have a million more tasks a day to do than us but still miraculously have more time than people in a town or a city to communicate with others.

Rinky takes care of the bulls, feeds them three times or more a day, washes the dishes, etc. When I wanted to make her video she ran in to play the dvd player to give me background music.

But for how long would the sustainable system remain? Every house that I interviewed was in discontent. They wanted roads, they wanted schools and hospitals to be closer, they wanted employment opportunities other than just farming. That is why each family had a number of members who had moved to the nearby towns andcities to work as labourers. The reason for this discontent is because they have been exposed.

These four children lived in a hut at the end of the village. Their father is dead and mother labours in the fields. All of them help their mother with the household chores.

No village remains too remote anymore. No corner of the earth remains untouched. They have been given a glimpse of the city, and they want (who would not?) the glittering possessions of refrigerators and televisions, scooters, cameras and cell phones and in many villages there are already a few houses that posses all these magical instruments. Many people in the village look up to the city life as a kind of panacea for all their pains and suddenly it seems to them too unnecessary and unfair that they should have to toil so hard, walk so long, sweat so much for earning a living whereas in a city you can earn so much more with lesser work. And so these children, who smiled at me with innocence will also come in a few more years, with this dream to the city, leaving their mud hut for the slum built with sacks on the side of the road and give us our much required army for building up our infrastructure, our roads, our malls, our residential societies, for “development” and “progress” of our country.

And how can we prevent them from exercising their right to destruction of nature, from their right to turning away from a local sustainable unit to the dusty smoke filled crowded highways when we ourselves have with full force exercised this right?

By Shiba, India




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