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A village’s metamorphosis

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Migration, urbanisation and economic development have changed the face of a rustic land.

A human being dies when the soul departs, rendering the body lifeless. Likewise, the soul of my village is gradually ebbing away, leading it to its obvious fate.

I visited the place after almost five years. En route, pictures of my childhood flooded my mind, but unfortunately I was welcomed by a grotesque-looking place which I did not reconcile with. The old bus stop is not to be seen, humongous mobile towers dot the landscape, and there are patchy roads, more shops than ever before, grass growing wild, houses covered by a mattress of creepers, no cows and buffaloes, no bullock carts and a few ageing inhabitants. My once vibrant village is swaying to the tunes of migration, urbanisation and economic development.

As I waded through the serpentine alleys, negotiating boulders, I reached my home. It spoke of being neglected, with worn-down plaster, stained floors and no life. It got so accustomed to loneliness that our arrival didn’t seem to entice it.

This set a flurry of questions in my mind, the answers to which were elusive, and terms such as urbanisation and mass migration spooked me.

While living a city life, I was quite assured that whenever I feel perturbed by the cacophony, I would set out for my village to connect with my “roots”. Little did I think that I would find a developing city there.

A majority of houses were vacant, though that at some point of time people called them their “homes”.

The newly sprouted shops, made of cement and brick instead of thatch and straw, bore telltale signs of urbanisation influencing rural areas. The 21st century world ensures that urbanisation comes to your doorstep and barges in without your consent.

However, the thing which pricked me the most was that most of the inhabited houses were those of the poor who seemed to be untouched by whatever benefits development has brought in.

I pose a question to you, whether this development caused any good or just ruined the charm of a village?

Children get better education, parents have better and stable jobs. Roads have reached the villages, Internet has connected all, schools have opened up, post offices, banks, health care and better farm implements have reached rural areas. Grassroots democracy, reduction in open defecation, awareness of rights ... it’s undeniable that the countryside has been transformed and the process is ever ongoing.

On the other hand, we also need to acknowledge that there is farm distress, rural wages are declining, the purchasing power of the rural poor has been dipping, land yield has been falling and there is mass migration, but it’s satisfying to know that the lives of 70% of India’s population are metamorphosing.

After pondering over the issue in my head, I reached a satisfactory conclusion that change is inevitable. Look at our urban areas. They are transforming with cities expanding, high rises coming up, better healthcare and affordable air travel. So why should rural India evade progress?

But it’s also true that the idea of a village that we have in our heads is starkly different from what the newer generations have, the simplicity of village life has got lost in the sheen of development.

Speaking of my village, yes its changing, there are more indicators of development but I didn’t find people in my village relishing the nectar of development, the select few who have chosen to stay on are doing it out of helplessness for they do not have any alternative.

Finally, I’m satisfied that development is percolating to the bedrock of India but it’s fortunately and unfortunately true that the good, old and simple village which I associated with has been lost forever. I can’t connect to my roots as the roots are dying. Perhaps I have to change my definition of the “soul of my village” to get satisfied, but yes, I am happy that an entity like Sirsaud (my village) does exist!

as91814@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 11:33:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/a-villages-metamorphosis/article30061189.ece

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