photo of Indian woman Garwhal and Kumaon
India glossary








ayurvedic physician


Chamba, Henval valley, Tehri Garhwal


early 1994



Section 1
What is your name Sir?
Mohan Lal Uniyal. I am 60 years old.

Your current address?
Doctor Mohan Lal Uniyal, Jayananda Ayurvedic clinic, Chamba, Tehri Garhwal.

How many members are there in your family?

Can you tell me something about their education?
You know that I work as a doctor in this clinic. My eldest son is a double MA and working in an institution. My second son is an advocate. The third and the fourth ones are studying. They are going to be postgraduates in science subjects. Both of them have taken their MSc final exams.

What about the education of women in your family?
The youngest daughter has done her BA and the wife of my eldest son is in her MA second year. My wife is also educated.

What is your outlook on women's education?
In the hill region the percentage of women's literacy is low. It is rising gradually. In the past the percentage was the lowest but it is not so now. In remote areas, the condition is not much better. We have separate educational institutions here in this area for the girls. More attention should be paid to the remote and backward areas.

Please tell me something about customs, traditions and about marriage and other traditional festivals?
Marriages are settled within the caste groups since time immemorial. Inter-caste marriages are very rare and whenever performed, unfortunately end up in a worse condition. It gives birth to social disruption. It is the result of modern education. Fortunately such cases are few.

How is health care maintained in the family?
There is no problem here in my family. You know I am a doctor. I personally advise them as to what they should eat and what not to eat. I also take care of them and examine them if the need arises. All is well and good in my family.
Section 2
Do you live in a joint family?
Yes, I do.

In modern conditions what type of family system do you support?
I would like to support the joint family system. No one can survive in this rural area if they don't live in a joint family. We need some hands to do agricultural work, some to see to domestic work and some to do other jobs. This is necessary to pull the family cart ahead. A man belonging to a separate family cannot perform all these necessary tasks and suffers instead of becoming well off.

What changes do you see in the status of womenfolk compared to the last few years?
There is no change in their condition especially in the remote areas. There they get up at four o’clock in the morning and get busy in their work till 10 o’clock at night. They start their work with attending to the needs of the animals. First of all they feed them, then they take away the dung. After this they wash their children and clean their clothes. Then they go to the forests for collecting fodder and firewood. After returning they serve food to the family members and this goes on till late night. Thus they get so busy in their domestic work that they find no time even for reading. This needs reformation, so that their mental and physical health could be improved. They think that they have only been born for doing all this work. There is no awareness in them so far, and it needs to be attended to.

Whose role is most important in tending the family?
Usually the senior member of the family leads the family. But anybody else can attain the chief position in the family when the members get scattered due to temporary migration. In such situations the eldest son takes care of his own family and likewise others do the same for their respective families. And amongst those who remain at home, a person attains the chief position according to their seniority. Sometimes, when there is no senior member in the remaining family at home, other relatives or neighbours help them. When they don't get such help the family has to face difficulties and it gets scattered.

Please throw light on the historical background of your family.
At present we belong to Kemri village but our ancestral village is in Uniyal Gaon in Saklana Patti. Our grandfather settled in Kemri village due to its suitable farmland and party for professional reasons. Since then we have been living here in this village. My grandfather had six brothers. He had four sons among whom my father was the youngest one. We have been living in the present village for about one hundred years.

What are the other means of earning your bread?
We belong to Brahmin caste. My ancestral occupation is medical service. Astrology and teaching jobs are the second and third ancestral occupations. We used to impart academic education along with the knowledge of Astrology. These were the chief means of our livelihood. We also possess a little farmland and we also do work in the farm. But it was a side business for us. But now we have adopted other jobs too such as government and private service. This distributes the responsibility of the family. This is our method of running a family - a joint family.
Section 3
What do you know about the past of your village?
I don't know about the remote past of my village, but since I've settled down here in this village I know that there were some facilities for earning a living. Especially the irrigated farmland was fertile enough to produce crops like wheat and rice. It has good fertile land for agriculture and favourable conditions for rearing cattle. Some families were living in this village before our arrival here. They belong to another caste, Saklani by name. Both the castes have flourished and now there are 10 to 12 families in all. Nearly all facilities are available here so we are still here and in comfort.

What are the facilities for education available in the village?
There is a primary school in the village itself. Now there is also a high school at a distance of one kilometre. An intermediate college is about 4.5 kms away. We also have a degree college. But this is not so in other villages. Children have to travel up to 8 kms even to get primary education in many villages. There are some places where there is no bridge over the streams and the children have to face so many difficulties that the parents think it is better not to get their children admitted at all. Though some progress has been made in this direction there is yet more to be done.

Are you satisfied with the kind of education being imparted?
No, not at all. We are still away from the first step towards progress. So there is no question of being satisfied at this juncture. In the hills the situation itself is different. We need at least one primary school in a village. It is very essential.

What kind of education would you like?
Traditional education should be imparted along with vocational education after the senior or high school stage. People can make rapid progress thereafter because many professions could flourish here such as carpentry, mason work, weaving and other handicrafts based on local material, like raambans (sisal). These occupations can thrive as a part time work with farming and gardening. For this centres should be established in the village. There are many kinds of subjects, which can open new horizons for getting more jobs and for commercial progress.

Do you find any difference between the outlook and ideals of old and new generations? What could be the reasons behind it?
With the passage of time our needs are growing more and more. In the past people had no leisure time for such things like TV because they had to be busy in earning their bread. Through TV programmes we come in touch with different cultures and traditions. The feelings of affection for one another is diminishing day by day. Ancient values of our culture - like respect for elderly persons, civilisation and mutual understanding and other tender feelings - are departing. No one recognises one another. We have become strangers even to our neighbours. Moral education is needed urgently. Thereafter we can establish adjustment between old and new generations. Otherwise the distance between these two generations will keep widening. The new generation has stopped bidding customary salutations to their elders. They hesitate even in exchanging formal wishes because they see no profit in it.
Section 4
How can we bridge this gap?
I have told you already that moral education is needed. This gap cannot be filled unless we impart moral education from the very beginning.

What castes other than yours are found in your village?
No other castes are found in my village, other than the two which I have told you about already. But in some other nearby villages there live some people belonging to the lower castes. People who belong to backward classes live in another village. In the hill area all live in complete harmony. There are no such conflicts among people belonging to higher or lower or backward class. In the plains all understanding is based on profit and loss. In this area all people belonging to different castes and classes take part in all social activities and live with affection for one another.

What are the social activities of this area?
Everyone takes part in village fairs, marriage parties, and attend Ramlila performances (enactment of the Ramayana - important Hindu epic) and other ceremonies alike. People live with friendly relations here, indifferent to one another's caste and creed. But it is not so in the urban areas. People have become more selfish over there. This evil is creeping into the rural areas gradually.

What is the religious importance and conventional values of our traditional customs fairs, ceremonial worship and of religious places?
All people, no matter that they belong to any other part of this universe, worship this or that god, or have faith in some supernatural being. Romans also believe in deities. The very word ‘god’ or ‘deity’ proves the existence of them. English men call that supernatural power ‘God’. We call it ‘Bhagwan’ or ‘Devta’. We can call it nature. But it is true that there is some controlling force in this universe. All agree to this. And you know that we who live here are religious people. The great poet Kalidas has said that the greatest mountain in the world is situated here and the people who live in this area are the embodiment of the deities themselves. Some people accept a deity as their personal god; sometimes these become village deities and are worshipped by the villagers. This hill area is the land of the lord of lords, that is, Lord Shiva's Himalaya. Its name is Kedar Khanda. This is worshipped and respected. We also have faith in it.

How are conflicts settled in the village?
First of all, no conflicts and quarrels crop up at all especially in the remote areas. They know that they will lose all in the process of getting justice. The cause of quarrels lies in influence. The people who live there have very few needs. They need food for eating, clothes for wearing and a house to live in. If the basic needs are being fulfilled, they never quarrel. If it is unavoidable, anyway, it is settled by the intervention of some wise and elderly persons of the village, and seldom do people knock at the doors of the courts. But most people avoid those circumstances that give rise to a quarrelsome situation.

What changes have been brought about through the present political set-up in the community?
The present electoral system has reduced the feelings of affection and brotherhood among the villagers. People begin to look at the candidate as belonging to their caste or creed. They start to evaluate him through a selfish narrow-minded measure rather than judging him by his virtues. Once this tendency comes into existence it persists even after the elections are over. It disrupts the social set-up and gives rise to tension. This is not good. It would have been for better if the candidates were choosing unanimously. This is the outcome of wrong education, which is being imparted nowadays. The present education does not educate people in a real sense. That's why they quarrel with one another. The wrong education gives birth to lesser instincts, which make them selfish and egoistic. This is not good at all.
Section 5
What are the means of earning a livelihood for the villagers?
The main source of income is agriculture. Cattle rearing and small cottage industries are run as part time jobs. Some people also joining service. In my opinion if traditional farming were kept alive, it would be better. Our traditional seeds and agricultural methods have become extinct because of the new chemical fertilisers and crossbred seeds. This shouldn't be done. It causes us great loss. Our lost traditional things and methods should be revived. Some scientists and other men need to be engaged in this work. Traditional fertilisers and seeds have lost their ancient strength on account of the use of chemical fertilisers. Our traditional seeds were rich in nutrients. Newly developed seeds lack vitality. The traditional seeds have also lost their vitality since fertilisers became popular. The milk we get today is also bad in taste and smells because dried grass and fodder, lacking vitality, has reduced the good quality of milk. So we need a revival of the old traditions.

Do people depend on local resources for their livelihood or do they have to depend on others?
If the family is small they can fulfil their needs from the local resources. But a big family needs some side jobs. That's why people need other jobs, employment, and it results in migration, the draining of manpower. Intellectuals and others will keep going to the plains unless and until there are more cottage industries established in this area, because people having big families don't get adequate output from agriculture.

What is the impact of migration on community life?
Its bad impact is clearly seen and felt. Villages, one after another, are being deserted. People don't like to go there. Only old men and womenfolk are staying back in the villages. Youths rush to the cities for jobs. This manpower drain can only be stopped by establishment of cottage industries, creating job facilities here in the nearby area. The government and the intellectuals should pay attention to this problem.

What is the impact of the economic system on our reciprocal relations and on the community?
The present economy has an utterly bad effect on us. The ancient system of goods exchange was excellent. If one was in need of ghee (clarified butter) one could have it by giving rice in exchange to the person who needed it. As I am a physician, I could have done free service or might have got anything in exchange for my medical services. The currency-based economy is giving rise to corruption. Selfishness is increasing and society is witnessing disruption.

Any suggestions for reformation of the system so that we may survive within the system?
As I have already told you, the only way out is the revival of the goods exchange system. Work and goods will be exchanged and then there will be no need of money.
Section 6
What is the reason behind the dowry system and what are its effects?
There was no trace of this dowry system in the past. Weddings used to take place without any exchange of dowry. It is still not so popular here in comparison with the plains. Wherever it is seen you can be sure that it is an influence from the plains. It always happens when a fashion becomes obsolete somewhere else it arrives here thereafter. But it is not good at all. If both the parties agree and establish a mutual understanding the system will soon die.

Do you produce all the necessary items of daily use in the village or do you bring them from outside?
The old set-up has changed totally. In the good old days there were oilmen (?) who were ready to serve you all the time. There were water-run flourmills. Now the power run mills have taken their places. With it we have become totally dependent on electricity. If there is no supply we remain without flour. All the traditional work like pottery, carpentry and other occupations like blacksmiths, goldsmiths and oilmen should be revived. I mean all the work that used to be done in the village in the past should be revived. We were very happy in the past. Now we are in great trouble. Blacksmiths have given up their jobs. Now we depend on those who came from outside for a short period and live in the temporary sheds beside roads. Potters were also found here, but today earthen pots are not available here. Other trades have also gradually become extinct.

Please comment on the construction of the road on a large scale and the construction of the big dams in the hills.
In my opinion there should be no excess tampering in the hills. The network of the roads has increased the chances of migration from the hills. In the past people used to walk on foot to the shrines. Austerity and self-punishment have religious values. Today people go there not as pilgrims but as tourists. They sit in the vehicle and get down at the shrine. No communication and interaction take place in between; no mutual understanding among the local and the outsiders. It took months for the completion of a single visit to a shrine. Pilgrims used to stay in the charitable inns, like Kali, Kamli and others, set up on the paths to the shrines. The pilgrims had plenty of time and they came in direct contact with nature. They used to feel nature, but it is not so now.

Have you witnessed any natural calamity during your lifetime?
In October 1991 an earthquake disrupted the life of people here in the hills. The scientists suggested different and also irrelevant reasons for it. Famine is the other calamity but it is not common here in the hills. No other noteworthy calamities occur here.

What is the impact of increasing popularity of wine?
I am dead against the wine shops. Everybody should stand against it. The government should be made aware of its bad impact. Our youth is acquiring the disease- he is losing his health and wealth too. His respect and honour is also affected. People are in trouble. The local leaders should raise their voice against it. This evil should be curbed with a heavy hand.
Section 7
How long have you been offering health service in this place?
For the last 30 years.

Will you comment on the medical facilities in the hills?
People come for treatment in the hills because we have some God-given facilities like pure air and water. The atmosphere is pollution free. Even if people become ill, new medical centres should be opened for them. The main problem we have to face here is pregnancy. If a problem arises during natural childbirth in some remote areas, the woman dies without medical aid. To avoid this, maternity centres should be opened at short distances.

What were the medical facilities in the past?
In those days people had the knowledge of wild, local medicinal plants and roots. They used to treat others with these and the people got well. Valuable medicinal plants are found here in plenty. I have acquired this knowledge. I know more than 200 wild roots and plants of medical value. Now few people use prepared medicines without knowing whether the right medicines are included in the preparation or not, whether these are out of date or fresh. Fresh medicines are more powerful and we can use the local medicines.

Would you like to share your knowledge with us?
It is too lengthy a subject to be taught. There are many such roots and plants which can be grown in the fields and there are some which are obtained from the forest. It is my suggestion that a group or a team of well-versed men should be sent to collect these valuable wild plants and roots. Our needs can be fulfilled through these.

Please tell me something about these medicine plants which you recollect?
Gilohi (cucumber-like; for treating animals), satawari, manduk parni, vajradanti (used for cleaning teeth), brahmi (good for brain power, memory), etc are some medicinal plants which are available everywhere and which are also easy to turn into medicine. The Himalaya are the storehouse of medicinal plants and roots. It has been written in the Ramayana, written by Valmiki, an ancient sage, that Hanuman brought all the necessary medicinal plants to revive Lakshmana into life from the Himalaya. This is a subject for research. A team of investigators should be sent for this work. If such a group is sent, Mr. Maya Ram Uniyal can help them a lot. He possesses a sound knowledge of it. I can also extend my help to them. There are many valuable plants. There is one plant named manduk parni. Charak has written about it in his book:
“Manduk parnya swaras prayojya,
Khsirenya yasti madhukarsya churnam
Rasogudu chyastu samul pushpa
Kalk prayojya khal sankhpushpi.”

(Juice of brahmi with cows’ milk and madhsyasti powder if mixed with the stalk of sankapushpi and gudchika (wild mushroom) juice and eaten with milk or made into ghee, gives strength and colour to the body. It increases mental power, vitality and life expectancy. It also cleanses the throat and increases appetite. Sankhpushpi is especially meant for increasing mental capacity.)
Sankhpushpi also cures apasmad; a disease common among women. If research work is conducted we can display such medicines which are unknown to medical science even today. Ayurvedic medicines are capable of curing leprosy too. In Ayurveda 10 types of leprosy are described. There are many medicinal plants, which can cure blood disease. Shariba is one plant, others are krishna shariba, khadir and majistha (madder: also yields red dye) which cure blood diseases. These can cure itches and other skin disease. They even cure leprosy. These should be collected and preserved. It will give employment to the local people and thus can check migration.
Section 8
Which therapy would you like to advocate for the hills?
Ayurvedic medicines are most suitable for this area. Some old women tell us that they know the treatment for many common diseases. They recognise many medicinal plants like kedar kadru (?) and attis (aconite). These are sure cure for stomach pain for babies. There are hundreds of medicines, which they know about; sometimes it confuses me to see that these medicines work more suitably than those suggested by me.

What would you like to suggest regarding improvements in medical facilities for the hill areas?
Where there is the need of curative treatment for the common diseases, Ayurvedic medicines and those doctors versed in this science should be preferred. And for surgical needs, surgeons should be appointed. These Ayurvedic doctors who have knowledge of this therapy directly from the Guru (teacher) orally, should be appointed here. Surgeons should be appointed in government hospitals. Ayurvedic hospitals should be increased in number. These are suitable for this area. It is said: “Yasmin deshohiyo jatah, tadhayati tadosadhihitam” (a person’s suitable medicines are those which grow at his birthplace). According to this quotation Ayurvedic medicines are most suitable medicines for this area as they grow here in this area.

What articles were made here as handicrafts?
Almost all the necessary items were made here in the past. As for the things made of metals, ornaments of even silver were made, other than gold by goldsmiths. There were braziers who made brass pots. Pots were also made of copper and bell metal. Blacksmiths were well experienced in making almost all the necessary tools used in agricultural work. Plough-heads spades and shovels and wheels for bullock carts were made here. If they were given more technical knowledge, they could have made more things. Many things of wood and stone were also made like slates, turbines used in water mills and grinding stones. Beautiful stones were carved for use in buildings. Many things were made from the fibre of bhimal (variety of tree). Ropes and matting were made from its fibre. Ropes were used in cots. Raambans was also used for fibre. Ropes, bags and many other articles were made of it. Many tools were made of strong wood like sandan (a deciduous hardwood) and oak, like ploughs and yokes. Carpenters made them; carved pillars were made by them. People used to keep sheep. Most clothes used to be made of sheep wool. Even women's garments were made from it. These were suitable for this region as they gave warmth. But now these are becoming extinct gradually. This is because people have left their occupations. Some have migrated and the new generation doesn’t know how to make them. Training centres should be opened to make them fit for making traditional things. Handicrafts should be revived thus. Government and social organisations should take steps in this direction.

Section 9
What are the reasons behind the extinction of all these arts?
As I have mentioned before, the main cause is migration. On the other hand, needs have grown. Men rush to the cities to earn more so that they might fulfil their demands. People want to raise their standard of living. To avert this situation we have to create such means and resources that can increase their earning, increase their incomes within nearby areas so that the migration can be checked.

What were the agricultural products here?
Rice, wheat, coarse grains like kauni, mandua and jhangora (varieties of millet), pulses, black beans, lobiya (variety of bean) and almost all the vegetables are produced here. People also keep orchards and grow such fruits like apple, peach, apricot and mangoes. Guavas are also grown in the valleys. The Chamba - Mussoorie fruit belt is producing fruit in plenty. Apples are grown in a great numbers. Due to the wrong transportation people are not getting full profit. Very good varieties of potatoes are produced in this area. Research work should be done to improve this variety further. There are potato development officers but they are not doing adequate work. The farmers should be trained for this. They should be taught the means of preservation. This is the best way of earning a living.

Are the traditional methods of keeping orchards and farming still in fashion?
Yes they are, but a gradual decline is being seen. It is due to the lack of adequate rains. Since the trees have been felled, the environment is getting polluted. The natural cycle has been disturbed. No rainfall occurs at the appropriate period when the crop needs water. The forest department should take appropriate steps to increase the forest. The remaining forests should be protected. Forests of this region have experienced massive tree felling.

What was our traditional management system for seeds and fertilisers? What experiments were conducted?
All traditional seeds and fertilisers were used. The fields were ploughed with bullocks and ploughs. The corners where bullocks couldn't reach were dug with spades and the fields were made ready for sowing seeds. The best seeds were kept in airtight pots and thus kept safe for the next season. Cow dung and rotten leaves were used as fertilisers. Compost was used. It gave good results.

What is the impact of the developed variety of seeds and chemical fertilisers on our traditional agriculture?
A very bad impact indeed! Whatever traditional crops we grew here were excellent in taste and rich in nutrients. Now it has become a thing of the past. It should be revived now. Research work should be conducted to develop these traditional seeds and methods rather than the application of those new methods, which are not suitable for the climate here. The Japanese methods of paddy plantation proved useless in comparison to the traditional methods which produced more than the imported method.
Section 10
What way do you get water for the village?
We get water from the streams through canals. Due to stripping of the forests the streams are drying up gradually. And with this we are losing our irrigation facilities. Hydram pumping (a device for lifting water to higher areas) which has been introduced recently has proved unworthy. The traditional system was most suitable.

What agriculture based industries can thrive here?
There are no such industries here in this area so far. It can be introduced now. In my opinion highlands are not useful for growing crops. They are far better for fruit trees. We can establish industries for making jams and jellies. This can give employment and contribute to improve the economic status of the local people. So more attention should be paid to agro-forestry, horticulture, than to agriculture.

What are the popular superstitious of the villagers of this area?
People belonging to this area worship their traditional deities. They have faith in their religion.

What is the present state of folk songs, folk dance and of traditional musical instruments?
All are losing ground with the arrival of modern means of recreation like radios and TVs. All the traditional methods of entertainment and village fairs and local functions, ceremonies, are becoming things of the past. Steps should be taken to revive all these things otherwise the culture will disappear.

This area, Uttarakhand, is known as a centre for divine activities. What is the religious importance of the mountaintops and rivers of this area as described in literature?
"Astitwarsyam diri devatma, Himalaya nam nyadhirajo
Purvaparatoyen devgahiyah, satat prthviya iv mandandah"

(This Himalaya is the divine soul itself. It is the king of the mountains).
This land of Uttrakhand is the land of deities. The scenic beauty arouses divinity in men and women spontaneously. This natural beauty should be protected at all cost. Mountains and rivers of this area shouldn't be exploited for material development. Massive road construction has also caused tree felling, increased soil erosion and landslides in this area. These should be touched in emergencies only.

What is the condition of animal migration here?
With the thinning and stripping of the forests the animals here moved their shelters into the area where the forests are thick and lush. Many kinds of animals are vanishing gradually. Lions and tigers have become endangered species. Stags and deer are also disappearing slowly. The elephants in the valleys are also decreasing in number. Birds like munal (Himalayan pheasant), partridges, quail are also disappearing rapidly. These kinds of animals and birds are vanishing with the increasing population and disappearing forests.
Section 11
What is the system of land ownership and management?
In the beginning, all the land was owned by the king of Tehri State. He was called bhumidhar (landlord). All others were called khaiker (tenants). Now the tenants have become landowners since 1st December 1949, when the State was merged into the Uttar Pradesh province, and with the implementation of the Kumayun Jamindari abolition act, the tenants became legal owners of the land.

How is the distribution of the land done?
Traditionally a field is divided into pieces and distribution takes place. But this is not good. Instead of this the system of consolidation of holdings should be applied. It can save time, which a farmer wastes in going from one field to the other. If he holds a piece of land in one place, he could build a shelter there and manage the cultivation in a better way and take care of his land.

What is the position of soil fertility today?
It is degrading gradually. It is partly due to insufficient rain and partly on account of insufficient attention of people to farming. They pay less attention because they get less production due to insufficient rainfall. People also do less work than before. They have grown lazier than before. In the past people were healthy enough to manage the hard work needed for farming.

What are the marketing facilities in this area?
It is all right in this area. But there is a great problem in remote areas. The farmers cannot get full profit out of their cash crops because the fruits rot by the time they carry them to the roads, which are at a great distance. The areas, which are beside roads, have facilities of marketing, as they are able to promptly rush their products to the market. But it is not so in the remote areas.

What would you like to say about unemployment?
People are without jobs because there are no other means of getting job facilities - there is a lack of substitutes. We can solve this unemployment problem by creating job facilities. And it can be done, as I have mentioned earlier, by reviving cottage industries, increasing transportation facilities and marketing facilities and extending them to the remote areas. Agriculture based industries can also provide more jobs.

What is the condition of the workers who were doing traditional work - agricultural or non-agricultural?
Their condition is not good. This is the transition period. On the one hand people are losing their traditional knowledge and means, and on the other hand they are not getting adequate training in modern scientific techniques. As a result of it they are losing all their assets. That's why I advocate the revival of traditional occupations, measures and methods, which are suitable climatically, too.

What is the result of the attempts made by the government to improve their lot?
No clear-cut result has been noticed so far. If there has been some change elsewhere, it is insufficient.
Section 12
What is the reason behind it?
It is due to the lack of proper attention.

What is the present position of the forests in this area?
Only 15% forest remains here. 85% has been felled completely. It began with the construction of the roads and the advent of development. And since the forest department began to auction the forests the matter became worse. The villagers also contributed in it. No one was there to teach them the importance of the forests. They were never told that the forests give fresh air, water and many other necessary things to us. Now the people are facing the problems of drought, scarcity of water and environmental pollution.

What kinds of forests are remaining now?
The remaining forests are partly under the jurisdiction of the forest department and partly under van panchayats as community forests. A few forests are surviving today and they are of a degraded kind. Sincere government servants should be appointed in the forestry department. At present they are destroying the forests instead of protecting and developing them. Some days ago the forests caught fire. Almost all the forests in Uttarkashi Distt, were burning. Last June at many places in Tehri Garhwal District forests were burning. The forest department did not pay heed at all. If a few attempts were made to put out the fires they were of no avail. All the forests burnt down to ashes. That's why the need for devoted and sincere government servants arises.

What could be the reasons behind the forests catching fire?
It is due to the persistent feeling of indifference towards the forests. The people were not made aware of the importance of the forests. They should be taught that it is their personal loss if forests are destroyed. They need to be taught that the loss of the forests causes environmental pollution, scarcity of rains and so on and so forth. For this, seminars must be held, training centres established and people should be taught in community groups.

Who, according to you, can give best protection to these forests?
Without mass cooperation it is not possible to protect the remaining forests. Either the forest should be entrusted to the community or sincere persons should be appointed in the forest department.

How is the climate changing due to deforestation?
It is totally disrupted. The whole climate circle has been disturbed…
[unclear recording….]
….I would like to say that there should be development, but it should be based on the culture and traditions of this area. If you import a song from outside, and the people here don’t know the tune, the results will not be good.
I want that man should develop in a multidimensional way. Which means that his body should develop, his intellect should develop, and his immediate surroundings should develop. The environment, which is all around, should be protected and developed. This is what is called development. Development is not the making of one field or the construction of a road! It should not rob Peter to pay Paul.
Section 13
What are your views about the future?
In the context of the hills, we need an all-sided development pattern. The people here must attain prosperity within this very area. They must remain in their villages - never migrate to the plain or to the cities. First of all the main aim of development should be to provide the basic needs of man - bread, shelter, and cloth. Next, importance should be given to education facilities. Schools should be opened in every village. They should impart academic as well as vocational education. The schools and colleges should provide options so that the learner might get knowledge according to his choice. If every talent gets a chance to flourish the area will achieve progress. Anyhow, the man-drain should be stopped forthwith. For this industries need to be established. The forests should be protected. The natural beauty should be maintained. Local culture, customs and traditions should be saved. It can be done if the government and social organisations work for it.

Do you have any comment on this interview?
The organisation, which is conducting such interviews, can do a lot for the development of these areas if it could create pressure on the government concerned to use the experiences and wisdom of the people located in that area for which the development schemes are planned. It can protect the vanishing culture of the affected areas.