My journey of India Fellow started with a lot of energy and enthusiasm on a fresh morning of 5th July and that has maintained until now. It made me observe and explore things around, practically as well as thoughtfully. When the day came to visit rural areas around our training center in Udaipur, it was an opportunity to understand different aspects of a village, places from where India is born.
Gandhi’s statement, “The future of India lies in its villages”, always inspired me to work in rural India and be a part of its future. I was born in a village called Kovalli, in Andhra Pradesh from where all my relationships started building. It contributed a great deal to who I am today. The beauty and allure of that village has stayed with me since childhood. I also made some time to re-visit whenever possible, and those visuals became the only memories of that place until now.
Gradually people started migrating from the village, and my extended family there was not an exception. They left the green fields in search of green pastures of their life. For a long time, I had a hope alive that my village will glow again with joyful days and we will have fun when everyone comes back, but I was wrong. It made me think why this is happening, and I started raising a lot of questions without any answers. The thoughts never died but now I think I’m ready to begin my search of those answers.
Kavita, a small village in Udaipur, gave me a kick start to take a step ahead in my thought process. First day there, taught me a bit about its geographical attributes and people. I just observed the on-goings by walking around the village. The pleasant, green surroundings kept me energetic and eager to learn more about this place. Within a few hours, I managed to strike conversations with local people about their lifestyle and livelihood.
To my surprise, I found that migration played a vital role in livelihoods of people here as well. They said that it’s difficult to earn money as they don’t have enough resources in their village. Agriculture is becoming an extinct profession in Kavita and only a handful of people are dependent on it, while others go to work in Udaipur and other cities nearby where they get paid better for their time and effort.
Under Gandhi’s constructive program, he clearly supported the idea of creating opportunities in villages so that it becomes and remains sustainable. He was against MNCs and other outsider companies to influence rural markets because he wanted to create employment locally and grow industries from within so that people don’t need to leave their homes and migrate in search of better work and more money. We can easily figure out as to what extent that’s successful in present times.
Instead of getting answers from the village, I now had more questions in my mind:
Why is migration a problem?
If we think migrating to cities is problematic, how can we justify that staying in villages will result in a better livelihood?
Why should a village even survive?
Why not everything becomes a city?
These were some of the questions that came up during a discussion with one of my mentors at India Fellow. I was now thinking about the importance of villages, and binding it to instances back home.