Friday, March 5, 2021

India Lives in Villages - Sri M K Gandhi: Lalit K Kaul

                                India Lives in Villages – Sri M K Gandhi

                                                                                                               Lalit K Kaul

Village is the basis (fundamental unit) of Swaraj. How possibly can a village be defined?

In the era prior to the advent of modern technology and associated advances in the means of

transportation and information sharing, leading to the ease of travel and ideas exchange; the people

living in different geographical locations mostly remained confined to it and its surroundings. The

natural outcome of this confinement was to be that the communities living in disconnected

geographical areas evolved on their own-may be differently from others- by way of interacting

within their commune as also with the surrounding Mother Nature. It may be said that because of

this intra community dynamics evolved a locally acceptable World View that defined a Value System

comprising Right Vs Wrong, Moral Vs Immoral and Ethical Vs Unethical. The social, economical and

political conduct came to be governed by the institutionalized Value System. This socio economic

political set up that bound people together may be called a Village. So, it may be said that there

existed village based civilization.

Travel or movement from one place to another was either by foot and/or bullock cart. So, the

accessibility to villages in other geographical areas may have been defined by the transit time. The

lesser the transit times the more the accessibility leading to interactions with different village based

civilizations. A totally decentralized set up with the possibilities of one merging into the other for

enabling access to wider spectrum of human and natural resources, willingly or otherwise. The ease

of accessibility to surrounding villages may have also contributed to inter village trade; cultural

exchanges and exchange of ideas insofar as relationship of this Human to the Mother Nature is

concerned. It can be expected that feasibility of such interactions may have facilitated evolution of

the Value System to accommodate different World Views thereby rendering it mutable. Evolution of

innumerable languages can be said to be a direct outcome of this decentralized set up as ordained

by the geography and constrained movement of people due to limitations of the means of transport.

Cultural diversity can be a direct outcome of this geographical separation which was not easy to


So, it may be said that institutionalized Swaraj in the true sense of the word existed.

In the modern world/civilization it is said that the World is one Global Village and that the

revolutions in transport industry and information science has made it possible. The information

technology and transportation means have integrated the hitherto inaccessible areas at such a scale

that was incomprehensible, say, even 30 years ago or less. Owning a mobile phone may have no

relationship with the economic status of an individual because they are available to people of all

strata. With digitization of economy and ever diminishing dependence on paper currency, these

mobiles are being used by the smallest vendors to receive payments for the sale of their goods

including the payments they make for buying their inventory. Distance is no constraint; sitting in

Kashmir one can make payment to a distributer in Trivanthapuram through his/her mobile and

goods would be received in time. The reason why these small footpath vendors prefer digital

payment for their sale is that it secures them from any chance of losing their hard earned money by

accident or under duress.

The proliferation of mobile phones is quite matched by that of two wheelers; added to all this is the

network of highways and river ways that are being built to reduce commutation time. The whole

infrastructure is laid only to integrate each and every nook and corner of this land mass called India.

The underlying motives may be questionable / debatable; the economic policies can be questioned /

debated; the degeneration of political system and politics based on falsehoods & half truths can be

questioned / debated; there can be no two opinions on these issues. Alternative to present political

dispensation is the most urgently required as is the search for growth and development model that

affords each one to make a livelihood on the strength of his/her knowledge base so that this stigma

of ‘being poor’ and perpetuating existence on doles is done away with for a dignified existence that

allows an individual make his/her own choices in his/her personal world.

But, in today’s world,

How do we define a village?

In today’s world the basis for Swaraj need not be a Village, in the traditional sense; but a democratic

set up that allows direct and not indirect way of electing people’s representatives. So, the question

may be framed as: What can be the fundamental unit that enables people to choose / elect their

representatives directly to various Assemblies and the Parliament? The contemporary system of

elections deprives people of that fundamental right.

In my opinion, whatever be the limitations of Rakesh Tikait & the attempts of other vested interests

to hijack his platform; basically he is questioning the Parliamentary Democracy; MSP etc are not the

issues as the government has shown willingness to accommodate the farmers’ demands including

putting a hold on the new laws for 1 ½ to 2 years. He is not budging as he wants laws to be repealed

& that’s the political message. January 26 flag hoisting hijacked his agenda & farmers started

distancing themselves from him. His fallibility lies in the kind of threatening language he uses. Yet

the message is loud & clear that has rattled the government. Slapping of charges against him

including imprisonment may not annihilate the political seed that he has sown. If it sinks in the

minds of well meaning people, his demand may usher in an era of new politics.

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