Rural Development in Himachal Pradesh: A New Perspective…

Please don’t call me anti-establishment and anti development if I write about my most honest views the way Himachal Pradesh is moving towards development. I may be wrong in my interpretation as it may reflect my own perspective that is very narrow and old fashioned!

It was during Nalwar Mela when I had this strange enlightenment about the so called development of our beloved state. The fact that rearing of oxen had dwindled in the hilly terrains, and that just one pair of bullocks is shared by many households in the village for farming and the truth that all these families share the fodder and other maintenance service of the bullocks, made me question the changing life style in the rural areas of this hilly state. Why such a change?I remember that when I came as a young bride to a village some 28 years ago I was surprised to find a pair of bullocks in each of the households in the village. The pair of the bullock would be considered privileged pride for the owners. But today hardly one family keeps a pair of bullocks! Where have all those pairs vanished? Or is it that cows these days don’t deliver male calves? Or don’t people plough their fields anymore?

When I visited my village some days back I was surprised to find huge crowd of women at a shop. On enquiring I found that they had come to take the monthly ration—grains, cereals and other essential commodities that are supplied at dirt cheap price at the fair price shops. More surprise was in store for me when I found some of the ecstatic ones calling their friends on mobiles to inform about the availability of the ration! A real information sharing! I got answer to my question—why should someone bother to toil in dirt and fields when the public distribution system takes care of all your needs?So what do they do during the free time thus made available to them courtesy Himachal Government—Ekta Kapoor’s serials are what keep them busy. I am so thankful to the Television and the cable TV services made available to our villages. This has made it possible the village women to use time to some useful activity. Such a wonderful and judicious use of time!So why would people rear calves and toil in fields.

Everyone wants to have a government job and go to office instead of fields. Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh seems to be serious towards encouraging Agriculture sector in Himachal. And what if the Himachal Government plans for Organic farming in a big way—where would we have cow dung from? Perhaps we will have to import cow dung from some other states to use that for organic farming in Himachal. The village life has changed a lot and an old fashioned person like me is susceptible of such a development in my state.

We really have come a long way in the name of development!

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