Why we must visit rural India-The real surface of problems

Prof. Ram Sateesh was teaching Vernacular architecture, he was trying to make us aware about importance of emphatic experience of the problem, when we design its solution sitting in cabin somewhere at height of 50m. Especially when the problem is of rural area. He cited the example of houses constructed under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, which didn’t respond to context and problems of those rural users. In my recent visit to Jhabua, working for an organisation Shivganga, I had the opportunity to visit rural-tribal areas and I found his words true to every possible extent. It wouldn’t take an extraordinary mind to figure out that the reason is an enormous gap between we the students-supposedly solution creators and the problem surface. I would confidently give credit to this gap for lots of problems in our society and one that is most relevant, the most damaging is being inefficient (rather negligible) utilization of human resource in our country and thus practically nonexistent social capital generation. One sane mind wouldn’t disagree that experiencing a situation always hit our senses more than any other way of absorption. Not surprising that many of the facts which we read in books have absolutely nothing to do with reality on the ground (I have discovered here multiples of them). For example, there are several misconceptions floating about tribal community but it’s more like we are reading the story of a lion from the hunter’s perspective. All we are asked is ‘listen us-and preach them’. So we never interfere with reality or truth. When India got Independence, it directly inherited the administrative system from Britishers-the system which was made to rule. If there’s any problem, that has to be solved by a structure of bureaucracy, and not by the people. We never understood something thoroughly and if ever India is to develop, it’s through the people. So sitting at high chair and making policies is not helping because we are making those policies for over selves-sometimes even unconsciously. Isn’t so pathetic to realize that we are usurping the resources of this land suiting just our own benefits-much like the British did. This lack of exposure essentially also creates a void on the place of sensitivity for our own society, which in turns, comes out as students running after packages, foreign luxury or a seemingly comfortable life limited to four walls & artificial sky. Even the students opting for civil services with a thundering spirit of ‘samaj ki Seva’ are able to do everything but ‘samaj ki Seva’. We keep calculating relative happiness and in the course never realize that money is not the only satisfaction. There’re others, which we merely watch by standing at the bay. So, as I see, it’s of utmost importance and unexplored significance that we walk on those dusty roads, stand under the shadow of that one single tree at the boundary of a burning field, embrace the heat waves of scorching sun-all just for nothing more than ‘a fair living’. Share the eyes with those deprived & denied yet glad & cheerful eyes, feel the burden of that young little girl, who’s more mature than her age as she couldn’t have the privileges what is a necessity for us. It is of utmost importance that we realize that we are running late, and that their problems are created by us, that their problems are also coming after us sooner or later. It is of utmost importance that we realize, that we can have a better life, by trying to make better for others. It is of utmost importance that we see our villages, our rural land!

(Based on my own experience of 2 weeks in Jhabua, under the organization Shivganga & excerpts from the book ‘I too had a dream-Verghese Kurien’)