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tea shop owner/farmer


Sileth, Khadi, Tehri Garhwal


December 1993


Kalyan, 93 years old, has been a widower for 23 years. He has four sons each with their own families and he is “head of the family only in name, now”. Kalyan lives in one room and his meals are taken care of by each of his sons in turn. He ran a small teashop and farmed a limited amount of un-irrigated land. He lives in a small village of around nine or 10 families, all of Hindu Rajput caste.

Throughout the interview he focuses largely on change over time. He generally feels the “new ways” are not as effective or just as the old, and that corruption has increased: “People want to earn more profit with a limited effort by telling lies.

This is a short interview with brief answers; the interviewer often fails to pursue for more detailed responses. The interview finished because the elderly narrator couldn’t cope with too much questioning.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-2  General details about his family, their education, income, living arrangements and farmland.
Section 3  Decisionmaking in the village is now done less collectively, more individually; village leaders now include “some foolish and corrupt” people who make wrong decisions (he gives a recent example). No possibility of expanding farmland because the village is surrounded by protected forest. As a result, some have to migrate to make their living.
Section 4  Comments on the system of monarchy in Tehri (until1948). It was good administratively, but there was a forced labour system in existence. "In the present day every person is free” but there is a lack of clear authority - too many people are responsible for law and order. Fairs are now celebrated "in a colourful and better way" due to “enhancement in economic condition of people” Diet. Claims that “today's food habits are adding to the increase in diseases”. Village labour and financial resources are inadequate to develop a better water system but the government “does not pay attention to our words”.
Section 5-7  Development of agriculture is difficult, due to “the excessive prevalence of wild animals” which threaten livestock and crops. Decline in fodder “due to the growth and propagation of a special type of grass [possibly black bamboo].” And a decline in forests “due to the cutting and taking away of timber by outside people.” Cremation practices and methods of worship. End of animal sacrifice “after the mutual agreement of the villagers”, but also partly due to the expense.
Section 7  He approves of family planning but due to the “constant increase in the first-borns being girls and a desire for boys, this is not possible.” Corruption in business. Refers to the statues of three monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil) to illustrate this point saying, “This is the situation today. All work with their mouths shut on purpose.” Road-building reduces distances but “there is no employment-related importance.
Section 8  Conflict between their need to expand farming land and the government's desire to protect forest.