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(INDIA 17)








Krabha village, Nichar, Sutlej valley, Kinnaur


December 1996


Although short, Ram’s testimony is interesting. As well talking about her own life – the poverty she has suffered, her lack of education and her livelihood now - she also discusses development programmes in the community. She is positive about their impact, explaining, “School buildings have been constructed, roads are being built, mule tracks, forest development, electrification, agricultural development projects are the various activities going on. This is generating job opportunities as well as providing the basic necessities.” When asked about the hydroelectric plant, she says it has been helpful – generating employment, providing electricity and freeing them form the health hazards of smoky rooms – but she also points out the problems: “our lands have been taken away for this project…and the compensation given for land is not sufficient. Another problem the project has caused is that the population of the area has increased which has created a firewood crisis.”

She also discusses social changes that have taken place in the community including the lessening of caste discrimination: “Here also this social evil is gradually disappearing. Everyone is considered equal.” At the end of the testimony she is asked about family planning and explains that although it was resisted at first. it is now accepted: “People thought that the birth of children was God's gift… But with the spread of education and of people's proper advice regarding the population problem today, people have started accepting it. Now everybody can see the point. The population is increasing but not the land. So when land is divided and getting less and less the day is not very far when there will be no place left for us to stand.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Introductions. She explains she is “totally uneducated” as “we had no schools and girls were not sent out. Getting education was considered bad.” She follows both Hinduism and Buddhism.
Section 2  When it snows: “We generally stay indoors and spin wool. The elders recite old proverbs and narrate anecdotes about the past.” Childhood memories: “We used to be out with the cows the whole day, and kept playing our own games” None of her siblings were educated – schools were too far away. But “I have three daughters and three sons. I educated them all, and got the daughters married.” Her husband rears goats and sheep. The Sanjay Hydro Electricity Project: “it is very useful. The locals have got employment…Electricity generation is of immense use to our area” But cites some disadvantages too, including insufficient compensation for lost land.
Section 3  Water: “Earlier we had to fetch water from a distance of 2 km but now there are water connections in every village and each house.Farming is main source of livelihood, list of crops they grow. Apple growing. Health: “I have led a tough life ever since my childhood” and her health has suffered. Medical care: “Whenever I fall sick the first thing I do is to ask the gods and goddesses, and if they give permission I go in for treatment.” The impact of development in the area: “These days the things are much better than before. We now get everything here”.
Section 4  List of the castes in the community The forests “are the national wealth”. Transport: “There are many link roads but they do not connect many villages. There is no road in my village, even now. Earlier it took us months to reach Rampur so we had to carry enough foodstuff, but now it is not so.” Caste relations – people no longer look down on other castes. Joint families now considered “socially bad…people prefer to live in small families.” Benefits of kerosene and electricity: “Our health does not suffer and our hands and faces do not get black. We are not inhaling carbon any longer”
Section 4-5  Parental property is distributed between sons and cannot be inherited by girls. Family planning: she says that “Initially the very mention of this programme enraged people” but that now it has been accepted.