Development of Village in India
The villages in India forms the major portion of India. It is India itself, almost the whole of it. It is the fact and the arithmetic of the matter. The rural/ village community makes more than 80 percent of India’s population. This was so for many centuries and this will remain so for a long time yet to come. Every single person will admit that 80 percent of the people are almost the whole of the people, that what affects them will affect the whole nation and that what does not touch them is of little consequence. No programme in our country can become a nation programme if it is not a rural community programme and yet, whenever there is a programme of national improvement, there comes the unfailing tendency to concentrate it in some vivid patches in our towns and cities.
While the villages form a vast portion of India, the problems profoundly affecting its life and growth are complex to a great degree. Political, social, economic, moral and cultural factors have combined to create a situation which can stagger any thinker or reformer.
There is not one single vital issue which is not complicated by innumerable other factors. Let us take, for instance, the problem of economic development of villages in India. The whole of this problem is affected by the caste system, the religious and cultural tradition and the conflict of ideologies.
The problem of food and land are closely mixed together, making the land hunger and the landless a major issue.
The problems of unemployment and small-scale industries are interlocked, creating a challenge for villages of mixed economy in which industrialization and decentralized production must proceed, without the one destroying the other.
Again public health in the rural area of villages has created challenge for preventive rather than creative work.
The development of villages is largely dependent on education and yet cannot do without the best education possible. The first thing that catches our attention is the widespread illiteracy and ignorance among the rural areas in India. The majority of the people living in the villages do not know the alphabet, and only a microscopic minority of the inhabitants can read and write. This is because of the want of schools and colleges in rural surroundings. There is hardly any efficient school well-equipped with good books in most the villagers. The lack of adequate educational facilities is responsible for the illiteracy of the people.
India is pre-eminently an agricultural country. The Indian Villages are very backward and the farmers are extremely conservative. They are old-fashioned and highly opposed to the introduction of new methods in agriculture. They belief in old traditions and customs though their utility has ceased to be. They are, thus, averse to the worship of the rising sun of knowledge and culture in modern society. The villages in India are the breeding grounds of superstitions and irrational thoughts. Because of the lack of the penetrating rays of scientific knowledge in the rural areas, the people are still inclined to believe in superstitions. They will not begin their new work on certain days in the week and will give most unbelievable reasons for their mishaps. Diseases are explained by the wrath of gods and goddesses whom they will worship so that their sufferings may be cured.
The villages are extremely dirty and the roads in rainy season particularly, become so muddy that one cannot think of crossing them easily without spoiling one’s clothes. The result is that malaria takes a heavy toll of life during the rainy season. Even in other months of the year, the situation in the villages is equally deplorable. The villagers have no idea of sanitation. They deposit their crow dung and their refuse near their own houses, which are generally shared by them with the animals. The poor condition of the houses for human habitation coupled with the insanitary neighboring make the dirtiness in villages a blot on the rural areas.
In rural areas, agriculture is the main occupation of the people. They depend on the prosperity of their crops and the fertility of the soil. Unfortunately, the present condition of Indian agriculture is extremely deplorable, so much so that for last many years Indians have been suffering from food shortage. Our agricultural machinery is out of gear. The old method of ploughing the land is neither fruitful nor productive of much good. Manure in Indian agriculture is of the poorest quality there being the absence of chemical fertilizer in our agricultural system. Seeds are rotten and fail to germinate. The other implements are also crude. The condition of cattle is so poor that a sight at the bullocks will call forth feelings of pity from the observers.
Cottage industries are in keeping with the genius of the people in villages. Development of Cottages industries in villages can serve as an additional occupation to agriculture. During the off-season they provide employment to the agriculturists and bring money to the poor cultivators. These industries include rope-making, basket-making, rope-making, dyeing clothes, etc. Unfortunately, the cottage industries in the rural areas are in a state of decadence. Many people are coming to the towns to find employment in factories. The handicraft of these villagers is being ruthlessly strangled by modern commercialism. The lack of proper financial facilities, as well as the want of adequate marketing organization of the products of cottage industries, has worked for the ruin of cottage industries in our villages.
These poor conditions of the Indian villages call for an immediate reform and improvement. The first and foremost remedy suggested is the introduction of proper education in villages. We have to devise a system of education which aims at training the villagers in useful practical works, developing their general outlook on life and the infusing in them the spirit of courage, hope and initiative. Education has reached in some of the villagers and people living there are showing signs of a new awakening. It is supposed that if this process of educational expansion embraces more and more villages of India, the fate of the rural community will improve considerably and we shall be able to build India of Gandhiji’s vision, brick by brick and stone by stone.
In addition to the educational factor, the following may be the main items in outline, for the development of the village community as quickly as possible to a fuller and better life. These items are balanced in such a way as to combine the material and moral implications which are necessary to build up a peaceful, prosperous and just society in India. They are:
- More food through better agriculture and an equitable redistribution of land through peaceful method of persuasion.
- Better food though mass education in the elementary rules of dietics at the village level.
- Better health through above and through a national sanitation drive touching the people on every side.
- Improvement and organization of cottage and village industries leading up to the maximum possible regional self-sufficiency in the rural area linked to the philosophy and outlook of mutual servicer and neighborliness. This must mean the enfoldment of multi-purpose co-operative.
- Self-government from the bottom through Panchayats which should be real.
- Moral rearmament of the bottom though cultural and recreational programs deriving inspiration from the past traditions of India and going forward to link up with the best traditions of the modern world.
None of these are new items. But they must now be taken up in a new spirit. Technique must mingle with the spirit. Material improvement must elevate the cultural level instead of dragging it down to the dust as is often done now. It is not enough to achieve a working synthesis of the many programs of material development. It is even more necessary to achieve a working synthesis between all the programs of material improvement on the one hand and the moral rearmament of the people on the other.
A good deal of work has to be done for the development of the villages. Neither thoughts nor words however lofty, can achieve anything. The work, for the welfare of the rural community is many-sides and most difficult one. It is going to be long and laborious. We must, therefore, cultivate not only clear minds but strong guts. The soul and the nerve must keep pace with each other. We will have to build slowly and step by step. One can only pray that the great God of India’s history will give the people the clarity of mind, the strength of will and humility of spirit which alone will enable them to fulfill their high destiny in a world, which is on the verge of either total disaster or complete transformation.
– Pankaj Kapoor.