redeem village

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Dec 2018 11:47:45

EVEN as various States are engaged in a slew of moves to waive off farm loans or power bills or grant other concessions to the farming community, and even as the experts and institutions like the Niti Aayog are debunking the moves, time has come for the nation to undertake measures to redeem the Indian village. It is time the nation paid a very serious attention to the rural sector not just from the point of view of agrarian distress but also from the angle of comprehensive redemption of the villages where, according to Mahatma Gandhi, lies the soul of India. The stress on urban growth is perfectly all right, but the need is to have a parallel emphasis on the development of the rural sector so that the national economy registers an even and balanced growth. If this is not done in right earnest, then a belated attempt at redemption may not yield the desired result. 


Everybody has agreed that the Indian village is in a prolonged crisis that has stretched over decades. Everybody agrees that the Indian village is no longer an effective unit of the Indian social system. Yet, nobody seems to feel a sense of urgency to start taking care of the rural sector in a comprehensive manner. The only official activity that seems to go on in the rural sector is to offer loans to the farming community and subsequently to waive those, despite the disapproval of the approach by experts. In the past few decades, village industry has been suffering, village schools are being deserted by students, village art is facing extinction, and the village folks are constantly on the move to the cities in search of better life. The village, thus, no longer is able to hold the people in its folds. The village is dying slowly in favour of urban-centric growth which the Government is pushing.

Hence the need to redeem the Indian village, to redefine its growth needs, to redesign its developmental strategies, and also to make systematic efforts to ensure that the village folks do not exit from their traditional habitat in search of a rather unachievable happiness in the urban mess that Indian cities today have become. The need of the hour is that our planners spend their energies and resources to redefine the parameters of the rural sector and re-energise the village culture, village economy, and agriculture that has been the mainstay of the village.

The question, however, is whether as a nation we recognise the truth in all these issues. Do we really think deeply about the villages -- in the manner of Mahatma Gandhi? Or better still, are we ready to delve into the deeper past to know what actually kept the Indian village throbbing with zest that was the signature of overall prosperity of the Indian society?

There is an urgent need to address these issues so that we begin our work to redeem the village. In the din of vote-bank politics, however, nobody seems willing to take a deep and detailed look at what our villages actually need. This is why we need to shun the political approach to overall developmental scene in rural India. Instead, we would do well to take care of our villages with a mix of tradition and modernity. This can be done well only if we recognise the fact that tradition and modernity do not militate against each other, and can co-exist easily.

That was what Mahatma Gandhi meant when he talked of appropriate technology, suggesting a mix of need-based adoption of technology without hurting the good aspects of tradition. We must go back to his approach to village-development. To make a beginning, we must start offering to the village the basic things that differentiate the village from the city. If reasonable urban amenities and comforts are available in the village, the folks would not migrate to the cities. That will help in slowing down the rural outflux -- as the first step to village redemption.