The rural “pastoral idyll, a dream fantasy” farming is, yes a bloody profession today but it can regain its old value system and might become or turned to be a perennial source of inspiration.
Every morning the first thing we do in Bangalore is to call the village, some 300 km away, and talk to our house workers, the maid servants, the farm manager, farm workers, the daily wage labour, the others who are all on different assignments. The cows have to be milked in time, milk taken to the co-op sales point, the veterinary doctors to be attended and other routines of running farm have all to be attended to. The villagers in our blood veins survive and our day in the city doesn’t start without these preliminaries are gone through!
Yes, we maintain quite a lot of contacts, on a daily basis and this link with our village home is what keeps our mental energies charged with a new confidence and a new reinforcement of our value system keeps us going. We enjoy these early morning calls and also the many other calls during the course of the day, a busy day in Bangalore living to a fast pace. The late night calls, often past the very busy daily schedule are also to our village home.
What do we gain?
Oh, so much!
The very thoughts on rural India, the India’s millions of villages, as one marketing man called, India is with a billion minds!
And these billion minds live and survive the vast majority in the remote, rural interior! This wonderful land mass, the human settlements, the vast human mass as well! Who has the time and energy to think of these vast expanses of the geography and our own mental landscape, the very thought of rural countryside brings in me these desparate thoughts.
Yes, when I think of the villages, I think of the changing value system too. Yes, the old glamour of landownership is losing its shine. There is a tremendous pressure on the villagers in this generation.
Land ownership had always been a tricky affair with us, the villagers, and the farmers. You can find out everything about a villager but not his landownership! No villager, a farmer will disclose the exact land ownership! That is the secret of the village’s survival! Buying and selling of lands, I mean agricultural lands are always a sensitive activity. In the last generation, there was not many willing to sell land but only too willing to buy land. Selling land, that too ancestral land is considered almost a sin.
Not now, not anymore! This generation there is tremendous pressure on the villagers to retain land. The gradual fragmentation of the land ownership patterns had led to severe parceling out of family lands into unviable holdings. Indian economists have done many good things but they have done irrepairable damage to rural economy by concentrating too much of their cleverness about land ownership patterns and measuring the level of rural poverty. So, we have all these statistics telling us why so much fragmentation.
The West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee says that he had created 55 lakh new farmers. He didn’t tell you the exact truth. Not farmers as onwers, but tenants as land owners, tenants creating records of land in their occupation. It is this misguided Communism in India that had ruined rural India. In the name of land reforms, they had overnight brought in a parasitic class of tenants; these tenant owners have now created some bizarre situations in Kerala and Bengal, all in the name of progressive land reforms. The progressive is in fact has become regressive.
Yes, we have to change with the times. But let us all do it on some principles of justice and equity to original land owners. What is the point of ruining the countryside with a new class of impoverished land owners? Land owners are a concept that is not welcome in the so-called Left political circles. But even in TN where the Dravidian parties also fell for the populist land reforms, had created a vast mass of poor tenants, poor land owners and in total agriculture in TN is now the most uneconomic activity.
Why so much tears? I am saying that all these negative developments didn’t discourage us from continuing to be land owners, continuing to be villagers, attached to our rural roots, expounding our attachment to a rural India that would survive these types of attacks on the rural “pastoral idyll, a dream fantasy,” farming is, yes a bloody profession today but it can regain its old value system and might become or turn to be a perennial source of inspiration for much of our family values, our urban living might prove to be mere existence, but it is in a rural environment man still can realise his own being’s primordial chord.
Villages have survived all through the ages, in all countries, even in the Westernised Europe, you see the small farmers, the small farming systems very much intact and very much protected by the modern state. There is a tremendous emotional bondage we maintain with our rural roots, we feel we are living a full life, a life that had evolved over the years in a natural way. This seems to be our very original life; we have lived all these years. We in fact, had lived for years in our village home, doing farming, social service, education projects and also state politics. These things came naturally after our education, yes, an unusual education at Santiniketan and Oxford.
Yes, we are often amused by the Indian Oxbridge set, there is a terrible paranoia with the Oxbridge set, they all pretend to be Indians but live a very artificial life, they mostly do the government work, as government servants or academic persons and we often wonder: is this all for our Western education, this serving the governments of the day, often governments run by illiterate politicians and the Oxford educated Indians serving this new tribe of politicians.
Even in the best of the times, we, the people at large never had any high opinion of the fellow who entered the ICS and IAS. Though Motilal Nehru, the great man who built a dynasty thought at one time that with ICS nephews in ICS and one son as barrister, the Nehru name would endure.
One might have believed such things in the last generation. Not this generation! Dynasties might survive, not in the political democracies; my guess is that family dynasties might still survive in the rural India.
Indians even now, after all these new developments, the new cities booming, the coming of the new generation millionaires and billionaires, in IT and new economy industries still look back and like to recall the unchangeable India. The unchangeable India? Yes, there is the village India, the village wisdom.
All the great minds, even now are inspired by the seeking of a freedom, a sense of unspoilt joy, the spiritual freedom .All these sources of joy are sought only in the open space, in the sparsely populated geography, not in the crowded, noisy, polluted cities.
So, this city vs. village paradigm might survive and inspire us. For ever!