Students of LIBA spent two days visiting villages in Tamil Nadu and came away enlightened.
Moving away from the world of stock markets, the economy and other urban issues, we, the students of Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), spent two days visiting villages and studying the prevailing social, economic and political conditions there.
We visited the villages to learn and understand at first hand, the issues faced by the villagers.
Beyond the objective
It was the first time that many of us were spending two days in a village. Initially we could not understand why, as B school students, we had to spend time with villagers.
Our objective was to understand the dynamics of social structure, infrastructure and resources and their effects on the villagers. We also aimed at understanding the status of women, their contribution and role in developing rural entrepreneurship.
But when we got the opportunity to personally interact with the villagers and learn about their experiences, it took us beyond this objective. Some places that we visited were Bommarajapuram village, Irullarkudiyirupu of Nallathur panchayat, Anthankarai colony, Ayapakkam village of Ayapakkam panchayat, Vayalur small colony, Chatiramedu village and Karathitu village of Vayalur panchayat.
Back to the basics
With the population, on an average, consisting almost entirely of Dalits, every village had about 30-40 households. Most of the houses had only thatched roofs, except for those belonging to the village leader and some others who had brick houses. In spite of existing government grants to build houses, the villagers lacked the basic knowledge to construct houses. People owned plots of land but did not have funds or facilities to build houses.
Despite an abundance of water, there were no toilets attached to each house. Every household depended on the common toilets, and most people defecated in the nearby fields.
With the government providing free education, the villagers realise the importance of education and ensure that their children are sent to school.
Every house had a television and dish-TV connection even if they did not have electricity to run these.
Girl child charm
Despite being uneducated, women are treated with respect, they are not abused by men, and while they are not allowed to join major discussions, they are consulted by their husbands. Contrary to our misconception, we realised while interacting with them that girl children are preferred and not ill-treated.
There is sufficient scope for improvement in villages in the direction of providing livelihood opportunities. Providing subsidies may not be as effective as giving them information and knowledge about their products, their value and demand in the outside market.
It was a weekend well spent and reflected upon. The experience opened our eyes to our responsibility towards the development of our nation.
The writer is a student of Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA).