Today morning I was entering the park for my walk. Aryas were coming out from the yoga club of the park. Arya had two packets in hand. On seeing me, he exclaimed, “Mr. Sharma, here is satoo from Bihar.”
“Are you sure it is from Bihar?” I wish it had come from there and not from some basements in Noida packing it.
My thought reactions started. Credit goes to Guru Ramdev who is making the urbanites interested in these rural dietary and practices.
Employment must be created in rural India through many manufacturing shifting there. Once the rural India gets connected with road and electrified, these opportunities will reach sky.
However, it requires a major mindset change of the rural society. Over the period, the lifestyle in rural India has changed. While the workloads of male members of landowning communities have reduced, the women have become totally idle.
Let me tell the story of my village and it must be the same for other villages too. The village has two types of families- landowners and landless. In good old days, the farmers owned and used cattle such as bullocks for farming and transportation, buffalos and cows for milk and butter. Almost all the operations were manual requiring a lot of manpower and so it was time consuming too. While most of the males members of the landowners used to supervise and facilitated the tasks of the manual labourers, some used to work themselves too. Ladies in the households had all the task of rice making and grinding of wheat, beside the cooking and other household works. Mills were scarce. Ladies of the families of manual labourers used to work for rice transplantations, weeding, and harvesting as well as in some of the household work such as drawing water from wells and making, drying, and storing of the cow dung cakes for cooking. With the coming in of tractors, diesel pumps, and even combine harvesters, mushrooming of rice and flourmills, and now the cooking gas, the need of manual hands have reduced drastically. The ladies from the deprived class too have emulated their counterparts of ‘badka log’, and hardly do anything but cooking. Major work of cultivation for each crop in a season hardly takes 15-20 days. For the rest of the year, there is hardly any work in traditional farming of rice and wheat to keep the people engaged.
And the situation of lack of engagement in rural India is getting into the mindset of the people, both male and female of working age. The woman folk are losing interest in stitching and knitting, and many other skills of yester years very fast, and even in the cooking some difficult items that they used to like. The knowledge of the preparations of many of the food items- litti, satoo, gur, tillawa, some seasonal sweets snacks such as haldi, methi, and sonth, and many such items that varied from region to region, will soon be lost and become part of history only. Leave the other things, even the women will soon forget or have already forgotten the folk songs they used to sing while doing any household work. Will it not be a cultural loss? How can the traditional knowledge be kept alive? Perhaps it requires some marketing and innovation to make the old items suited to the present needs. The story of the popularity of satoo in the urban areas is one example. And now think for a moment. The satoo can be made and packed with different additions such as masala satoo, sweet satoo, sweet and sour satoo, to make it tastier. The same can be said for the production of ‘goor’ and related products that used to keep a lot of people engaged in a season. Why can’t some young man take the initiative of getting that done in rural areas, market and supply to the retail outlets in urban India?
A major thrust on milk production and cultivation of vegetables and fruits suited to the local conditions may increase the engagement. Many innovations such as bottling of sugarcane juice or cleaned sugar cane pieces in plastic bags for tasting its juice can be attempted. However, it requires roads for fast transportation to reach market. Direct procurement promised by the big retail houses may make this diversification of crops happen. All other regions must emulate the successful states such as Punjab where the progressive farmers have started farming in a way that a commercial enterprise is run.
As we understand, a person must have engagement of at least 8 hours a day to register a justified contribution to the GDP of the nation. And it is possible to create work in the rural India. Some one is to take the lead. I wish the real smart students from IIMs and other B-schools with their rural projects come out to make this happen for the sake of providing work and eliminating the possibility of getting the fifty percent of the population totally lazy and living on dole either of the government or from the children working far away from the villages. Perhaps one way will be the through the success stories of self help groups throughout the country and getting the whole lot of the unemployed idle population in some useful engagement. There can be hundreds of products that can be innovated, produced in rural areas and marketed too. If a high school drop out can set up a readymade garment unit employing about 70 women in a rural Rajasthan, why can’t it be emulated in other states?
India’s sincere bureaucrats, intellectuals, educationists and its NGOs must look into the ways to change the mindsets of its people regarding hard working over the government favours and doles.
Everything must be aimed at creating jobs in rural areas.