Or, who knows today’s villages better?
It is our firm belief that only those who live in the villages or those who have links with the rural India as landowners, traditional owners of agricultural lands, are those with much stake and can speak for the villagers’ points of view.
Unfortunately the Indian media industry, both the print and the new style TV news channels like to print or present the rural India still in standard old-fashioned ways.
Villagers are still, after 70 years of Independence and also a great deal of economic development where you see almost every village has changed, why transformed into sort of well-connected roads and telecommunications, the Internet and the mobile phones have really put even the illiterate people in the know of things.
In states like Tamil Nadu, to cite one example, rural roads are such an advanced development while in the nearby AP, in the border district of Chittoor which was once the constituency of Chandrababu Naidu where once we missed one rural route and the struggle and the fear we went through till we reached the Bangalore highway, it was a nightmare. The AP rural roads is a hell even now. This is one instance again.
The point is that rural India is still neglected in the over-all development perspective of the governments.
Also, for the rural distress we have to add the related political culture, the parties, more so the regional parties have added the multiple issues of widespread corruption, poor media reporting, the corruption-ridden administration means the many government services are not reaching the people, pensions are not paid and the 100-days work schemes don’t pay the wages and so on.
Again, taking TN as a state for reference, the TN state was once well-administered but not anymore.
The two regional parties, DMK and now the AIADMK have played extreme populist policies that there is a breakdown of the state machinery. The police is at the beck and call of the local village party functionary and the rural issues, a combination of social, caste and other issues, too many to describe here, have led to, as we have seen right now in the state a series of suicides by the very poor people who have been caught in the web of usury.
Just as we write a series of suicides, from the Southern state to the capital where people have borrowed at very high rates of interests.
So the spread of usury means what?
It means that banks are not lending money to the very many segments.
So, what reforms needed?
A whole range of administrative reforms!
How to ensure the future of the villages would be set on some rational grounds?
We need to recognise the rural realities as they are emerging.We need to recognise, we say, by recognising the existing traditional social and economic hierarchies, right.
There will be social and economic inequalities, right?
How to deal with inequities right?
As of now there is no such rational approach. The current chaotic political culture is one party when captures power dominates the entire society. From universities to the village panchayat, the local party functionaries dictate terms to even the Vice-Chancellor!
The District Collect, Superintendent of Police and even others, we restrain ourselves from mentioning the other branches of the government, these government agencies instead of operating in some independence depends upon the almost whimsical powers exercised by the incumbent Chief Ministers.
So, we are now living in a democracy which is becoming more and more authoritarian. So, the time has come to study the rural issues in some new objective manner.
So, please appoint a high-power commission to suggest the new rural institutions and thereby giving some new freedoms to citizens to become farmers, to buy lands and rent lands and cultivate crops and invest in rural professions and services.
We have to generate employment. One sure way of generating employment is to give freedoms to people, farmers to invest funds in farming.
Today, we have to resort to much illegal means to get things done in the rural areas.
We know much of the same corruption on a larger scale is indulged by the persons in cities.
Corporate corruption we all know. Some of the more powerful politicians have been punished and some are inside jail. Still many are outside the jails and are awaiting sentencing!
All this is now reported in the media for fear of the authorities only.
So, what to be done?
We have to debate. Teach rural sociology in all colleges in the first degrees like B.A. Teach rural sociology and conduct department-led research in all universities.
Let the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers talk on the great rural issues of the day.