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(INDIA 19)








Khwada village, Balganga valley, Tehri Garhwal


October 1996


In this short testimony Radhakrishan discusses some of the changes that have taken place in his community. He explains that although it is traditionally agricultural “people do not pay so much importance to agriculture now that the young have mostly gone away in search of jobs. They have gone to foreign countries and mostly the old are left here, who can't look after the fields”. He blames migration, as well as lessening respect for the deities, for the worsening yields. Although in recent years more facilities have come to the village, he says these are largely inadequate; the water pipe is damaged, the electricity supply insufficient and the hospital and schools understaffed. He feels that despite material improvements, important qualities have been lost: “Development has taken place. Roads are constructed, schools and hospitals have been started, but the people are not honest and are never satisfied.”

Radhakrishan has been very involved in the secessionist movement, demanding the formation of the separate state of Uttarkhand. He describes his participation in the protests, explaining that they feel alienated by the current system and are boycotting political elections as they believe their interests are not represented - “instead our representatives want to destroy us.” He concludes by outlining his vision: “we want a separate state from the government where our local problems and needs can be looked after with appropriate planning. We would also be able to protect our forests and plan our development according to our needs.”

detailed breakdown

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Section 1-2  List of the castes in the village. The crops grown, the government canal used for irrigation. The reasons their ancestors settled: “The place is very beautiful, and besides this we get good crops here.” Everyone used to be engaged in agriculture and they sold grain to neighbouring communities. Now many young people are leaving the area in search for jobs. Declining yields: “The main cause is the absence of the young people who have gone in search of jobs. Nobody from the family can look after land.” Problems with water supply: “Now, in spite of the canal, irrigation is poor and the canal has cracked at several points. The condition of the water supply line is also bad.” Climate changes are “due to the lowering of moral values. We do not have faith in our deities any longer” New seeds “get better crop yield but have less food value”
Section 3  New chemical fertilisers increase yields but crops are less nutritious. The pipeline bringing water is damaged – authorities have done nothing. Food cooked on gas stoves and wood fires. The forest is receding due to population increase. Since he became pradhan a hospital had been built.
Section 4  His house “was damaged due to the quake and now is in ruins.” They are living in the area meant for cattle. They have not been given subsidised wood. Problems with forest contractors: “If the forest trees are indiscriminately felled we suffer a lot since the water sources dry up.” Protest to stop the felling: “We tied amulets (a symbol of protection) round the trees and took a pledge that since trees are like our brothers we will not allow their felling.” Facilities inadequate: “There are electricity poles but the supply is very poor”; The telephone department has put up antennae but telephones have not been installed!
Section 5  Joint family system. His sons’ employment – one is working abroad. Their education. Primary and secondary schools “are in a very pathetic condition.” The young men “want to enjoy themselves and relax, earn the maximum possible money. So some are doing jobs in big cities or in foreign countries.” Attempts to discuss the school and hospital problems in the district committee.
Section 6  Feels people have become greedy, yet are less content. Blames education for the deterioration of people’s characters. Roads mean they get to Delhi quickly but “things have become very costly”. His participation in the protests demanding the formation of the Uttarkhand State and the problems with current system: “People are boycotting elections as they feel that there is no point in electing a representative to the parliament where their demands and needs are not looked after.” His vision of a separate state in which they can plan their development according to their specific mountain needs. Village blacksmiths make agricultural implements.