7th Sept 08:
There is now on and off cellphone connectivity and i’m now able to understand how dependant i have become on technology and its tools. Wanting to live in a village and actually doing so on the terms of the villagers themselves is a completely different proposition. I now understand that lack of drinking water and sanitation are not mere statistics that I love to quote in meetings, but a serious life issue. Finding water is a challenge; making sure that it is potable and that you have a place to use it for your toilet and bath is another. One feels so angry and helpless at the situation and ones’ heart goes to our millions of rural poor who have resigned themselves to this fate. What other choices do they have? It is either resigned acceptance or a state of constant tension and internal conflict. No change, no response and no understanding from a system which has been kept that way by our politicians and bureaucrats. I am also realizing that all that this Yaathre can do is to teach me more of these rural realities. It will only help me ensure that all my future development strategies are based on the realities of rural India and that any interventions that we can think of should be grounded in these truths. Our rulers have little time, patience or competence to understand the structures and power systems of rural India. Most of the schemes planned are impractical in their implementation and provide little space for the participation of our people. It also does not accommodate the lack of skills, knowledge and practices of rural India. What is disturbing is that all these schemes are so very prescriptive and seem to be ‘urban solutions’ to ‘rural problems’. What India needs is rural solutions to rural problems and a huge investment in building the confidence and self-esteem of rural India along with building its infrastructure.
What has also left me impressed is rural hospitality. One has to also experience this to appreciate it. The beauty of poverty in rural India is that it is yet to take away the basic value of ‘aatithya’.
8th Sept 08:
This morning was to be a memorable day in my life. No toilet facilities, searching for water and my own private spot were indeed a lesson in itself. The genuineness in one of the local villagers in locating a secluded place for me demonstrated the care that they were giving us. Our villages still have so much of life in them. There is constant tension in our villages. The struggle to find a balance between the reality that exists and the needs that are growing is evident. One has the money to buy the latest motorcycle but hardly a thought that I do not have a toilet in my house. One wants to dress well and flaunt the latest model of cell phone, but one is not worried that my child is not learning much in the local school. There is so much helplessness and so much loss of self esteem too. People have become used to accepting what comes their way and are slowly losing out on how to even dream. One also feels happy that the youth want to know and understand how different things work. They are so hungry for the information that we are giving. Our books on RTI are getting sold very easily. People are also giving us the Rs.10 donation comfortably. One can easily feel confused on seeing this mixed response of our villagers. One needs to understand and appreciate this before one even begins to interact with them. The silver lining is the fact that they still believe that change will come and that they can be a part of that change….