photo of Indian woman Garwhal and Kumaon
India glossary








head of Mahila Mangal Dal/farmer


Dargi village, Henval valley, Tehri Garhwal


January 1994



Village Dargi is one of the farthest villages of Chamba Block, where the inhabitants of the original village of Said Koti (near Badshahi Thaul), 12 kms away, migrated. Despite this they are still living amidst many difficulties. Dargi is still today far from obtaining any benefits of progress. It is 6 kms away from the main roadway. Despite being the working area of many voluntary organisations and an agriculture university campus, the village life is incomplete (unfulfilling). The people of the village are not ready to adopt the developmental techniques of all these organisations. Many want change, but not the modern technology based one. They hold our modern techniques responsible for the changing environment and situational equilibrium. Vimla Devi is an influential woman of this village. Her point of view on technology is to be noted.

Section 1
Are you a native of Dargi village, or have you settled here after coming from outside? Would you tell me something about this?
Our village is actually Said Koti. We are natives of Said Koti and settled in Dargi. We are told that this is our fourth generation in Dargi. Our caste is Negi and now we are about 50 families in Dargi.

So, your paternal village is Said Koti?
Yes our paternal village is Said Koti.

Do people of your community still live in Said Koti?
Yes, people from our community are there. We go to each other's place during marriages and other functions. This way, our contacts are maintained even now.

How many families are there in your village?
50 families of Negis live in our village. In the beginning three families went there and now the three have become 50 families.

What would be the population of your village?
I think it would be above two hundred.

How many people are there in your own family?
There are eleven people in my family.

Do you all live together?
Yes, we all live together. Eleven people of my own, others belong to my younger brother-in-law's wife and my elder brother-in-law's wife.
Section 2
How many children do you have i.e. how many sons and how many daughters are there?
I have a daughter and two sons, four grandsons and one granddaughter.

Would you tell me about your children, what do they do?
What can I say about my children, I was a very young widow and I have two sons. My children are a widow's children - children without a guardian - and nowadays it is the era of the educated. Without this, one doesn't get jobs either, and my children are not that capable. Meaning, they are not so well educated, that's why they didn't get jobs. There is no government job, only this job: they are looking after families by doing labour, hard work.

So now what are your sons doing? Please tell me.
What is there to tell? I think it is only labour. They do not have any position for me to talk about.

Even then, they must be doing something, some occupation?
One son of mine is doing contract work in Pant Nagar and has a sweet shop. This is the only occupation of our family.

What does your daughter do?
The daughter is married and is in her in-law's house.

I see. Is your daughter also educated?
No, my daughter is not educated. My situation was not such that I could educate her. I did not have that much money. I did not have the means to feed my children’s stomachs and mine. So educating them was too far from my reach.

What do you think about the education of girls; should girls be educated or not?
I understand that girls should be educated. Through education, all troubles end. Educated girls can manage when faced with troubles. The uneducated have great difficulty. I think of my own situation as an example; if I were not illiterate then I would have done something. But I am uneducated; hence I had to face many difficulties. If I was educated then I could have lessened my sorrows. I have faced a lot of sorrow and difficulty. Now, it is a very long story.

Tell me something about this. Tell me something about yourself, that is, what are you experiences in life?
My experiences are all in the past. For the future, I would say that girls should be educated because they should be able to stand on their own feet. Otherwise everywhere people push a woman behind. If the children have knowledge, then nobody can keep them back.

Nowadays, people are laying a lot of stress on educating the children, but you did not educate your daughter. But what do you think about your granddaughter?
In my view, every one should study. We are educating both grandsons and granddaughters. Now in future it is their understanding and their knowledge [which will see them through].
Section 3
What is the main occupation of the people in your village, Dargi?
Earlier the main occupation was farming, and then it was animals and cattle. Then we used to manage and live a little on this. But now there is nothing, people are doing labour and eating. Those who have someone to do labour they bring [money] by doing hard work. Those who don't have someone to do labour, they are just passing time.

Where do people do labour - in the village or outside the village?
They do it in the village only. Someone is building a house, or somewhere roads are being made. They do labour there.

The people of the village are usually away, being employed?
Many are going out, but even outside it is the same. Some labourers have gone, leaving their families. Many don't have anyone of their own there, no one to listen to their sorrows. They are suffering from loneliness.

Do you think that it is right for the people to run towards the cities?
I understand that everybody should live nearby. That is right. If they live far away then there is hardship. But in our people's view, those who have gone away have done right, but there are difficulties.

Do you only do farming, or do you grow vegetables also?
We try to grow vegetables but we don't get water. We can make beds etc on the riverside and grow vegetables by getting water. From where do we get the water in this dry hilly area? We used to grow mandua (finger millet) earlier in the dry fields. But now when there is no rain, from where will the mandua grow? Jhangora (barnyard millet) also doesn't grow. Then what will we do? Those who have dry fields, they don't have anything with them. This is our situation. Not only ours, this is the situation of our country.

When you fall short of grains, what do you do?
Those who have children and men - they eat by doing labour.

Do they eat after buying the food?
Yes, that's how they eat.

What type of farming do you have?
We have a simple dry farming and the fields are far away. We can grow only one crop on it. We can grow grains during monsoons. It remains as it is the rest of the time.

How much farming do you have?
Very little.

You have very little farming?
Section 4
How much animal wealth is there?
There is one buffalo. But there are no means to feed it because the trees and forests have all disappeared. Trees and plants do not thrive. We can keep a buffalo with great difficulty.

Do you feel that there is any change in the way animals are kept between earlier times and nowadays?
I feel there is a lot of change. Earlier there were a lot of shrubs, now there is no rain, no water. So, from where will the forest come?

Earlier you had a lot of livestock?
Earlier, we had a lot of cattle. Each family had two buffaloes and bullocks and sheep, goats etc. Everything was in plenty. One family had about 10 to 15 cattle. Now, with great difficulty, every family has one buffalo.

From where do you get the fodder for your livestock?
We get fodder from the forests. Even now, we manage a little from our farms. We manage from the straw of the cereals. Now we manage like this.

Do you have trees for fodder and from what trees do you get fodder?
Bhimal, oak, guriyal, etc are not there any more for fodder. But we are trying. If some growth occurs, the coming generations can have some fodder.

Which trees are best for fodder and leaves?
Guriyal is the best for fodder leaves. Any tree for fodder leaves. Bhimal etc would be better for the coming generations.

Do the forests belong to the government or the panchayat (village council)?
Forests belong to the government. We also have panchayati forests. Our people do the enclosing of these. We get fodder from them.

Do you sell the milk, ghee (clarified butter) etc, that you get from your cattle or not?
It is like this - one doesn't get enough milk from one buffalo. And then there are children etc in the family, so it is just enough for them, and there is nothing left to sell.

What do you think we should do to increase the production of milk? What should be done to increase the production of ghee etc.?
Production of ghee, milk etc, will take place only when cows and buffaloes are reared. If they have not been reared from where will we get the milk, ghee? Nobody pays attention to ghee. People are resorting to education more as there will be development only through education. But instead of any development taking place, once they are educated they run away from here. Then what development can take place? Those who get educated go away from here. They have built houses in Delhi or Dehra Dun after leaving our Garhwal. Then how will the development of this place occur? Many don't like this place anymore, but those who have intelligence are coming up because they have money. And our people are running down for money!
Section 5
Do you consider this running away appropriate?
I don't consider it appropriate. I understand that by hard work one can achieve anything.

People are going to the towns for the village's future. Is that the appropriate thing to do?
In my view, it is not appropriate, but if they are going then it must be right.

What is your opinion?
In my opinion, if one gets a good job in one's own house, then that is appropriate.

What is the advantage?
The advantage will be that all the members of the family can eat together, live together. It won't happen that one person is somewhere else. Agreed, I have two sons, one lives in one place - the other in some other place. And their families live somewhere else. Then what happens is that when one is sad, we can't see them, and when one is happy about something we can't share it. That is what happens.

You were telling me that your main occupation is farming. Would you tell us about your village farming; what do you grow?
From the beginning, we have been growing what our predecessors grew. But the new problem is that people are growing soya beans. We are growing cauliflower. It also depends a little on the soil. Vegetables also grow in one person’s farm, but in another nothing grows. Earlier, there were edibles we used for the household. Nowadays they also don't grow. When there are no rains, how will they grow?

What kinds of crops are grown here? The ones your ancestors grew?
Our predecessors grew jhangora, mandua, gatu (?), rajma (beans) etc, then grew wheat and masoor (pulses). Now people also grow gram (variety of pulse). And mostly the people have now learnt to grow soya beans. Many sell rajma etc after growing. Now people are more business-minded. People don't give importance to farming any longer. Our ancestors’ farms have now got divided by the families. That's why farming has reduced and now there is land only for growing vegetables. Now only this kind of farming is left.

Do you manage to get grains for the whole year from the farm?
No, no. Grains for the whole year long from these farms - where? It is only people who earn by doing a little labour who are able to look after their families. Here it is non-irrigated land, but in the irrigated land anything can be grown. Only when rains occur something grows in the non- irrigated lands.

From the time that you got married and now, do you find any change in the quantity of produce?
At that time there were forests so rains occurred. At that time our grains grew on the farms only. Nowadays, we do farming of all kinds but when there are no rains, then what do we do? There are people who have large farms but are unable to get labour. From where then will production take place? But if people have a small farm, then, through hard work there can be good crops.
Section 6
You were talking about rains, water etc, do you feel there is any change in this?
I understand that a lot of change has come. I can still remember a lot of change from about 15 years ago, if not more. At that time, a buffalo used to yield four kilos of milk, nowadays it gives one kilo. This is also a change.

What do you think is the cause for this change, this change that has come?
I think firstly the rainwater and other people’s attention towards hard work has lessened. There is no attention paid to the animals in the house and towards the labour on the farms. Every man thinks about going out but one doesn't get anything from outside either. And then if a man does a job, and say he gets 4000 Rs for it, he has to pay the rent too. Then, if he has a family house at home, he has to send money there also. After doing all this what will he be left with? And in six months, if he comes home, then he will be spending more than that in coming and going. I have seen the fare increase from 10 rupees to 52 rupees.

In your opinion, what is the reason for the decrease in rainwater?
The forests have been destroyed. From where will the rains come now? Because of the presence of forests, the wind used to move, the wind used to carry rain. Now with what will the clouds collide? I used to feel this way. Now, the wind passes here and there. This is how my mind works.

What difference do you feel in the forests then and how?
Earlier there were very thick forests. With a little fog, rain used to occur. Forests used to bring rain. Now there are no forests so from where will the rains come?

Earlier, what kind of trees and plants were there in the forest?
Earlier there was oak, rhododendron, kafal (small tree with an edible fruit), chir pine, deodar (Himalayan cedar) etc. We had many forests. We don't have the knowledge but our experience is that in the absence of forests, rains don't occur.

Today there are no forests. In 15-20 years the forests were destroyed. What is the reason for that? Please tell me.
Now there are contracts for [felling] forests. The forests have been badly cut, small plants have been crushed and have been destroyed, so the forests came to an end naturally. The destruction of forests took place just like that. When a tree falls many small trees under it fall and break. And now the big trees are no longer there, so the seeds will no longer fall from the tree. So how will the new trees sprout? That is why our ground water has also finished.

You said that the ground water is finished. So is there a relation between the trees and water?
Yes, why not? Where there are shrubs, water is present. If there are no shrubs, from where will the water come? We also sit where there is good shade.
Section 7
Do you know any tree from whose roots water comes?
There are many in the hills. There is kafal, oak, rhododendron, the roots of old pine trees. From these the water comes. There are small plants also under them. And then when there are no trees, then on the falling of rain, very little water comes out. There are no trees left to stop the soil from flowing. So what happens is that everything flows away when there is no support. The river flows for some time and then dries up.

What is the condition of water sources in your village?
Now, we have tap water provided by the government. The spring water has dried up. When there are no forests, from where will the sources come?

Is there a relation between forest and water sources (ground water)?
Yes, from the past till now the water was there. It was the water of the forest only. Nowadays, people say it is the era of progress, but according to me, this is the age of destruction.

How? How is it the age of destruction?
If not destruction, then what is it? The government gives the forests out on contracts. Earlier we used to get fodder from the forests. There were big trees so we used to get dry wood. Now, there is nothing. We never require raw wood. But now, when there is nothing in the forest, we get raw wood for burning by breaking the rules. For this reason alone, the forests are degrading.

Do you think it is necessary to save the forests?
I think that instead of saving the little that is left, we should plant more. Now, we have patrols for security, but even then people say, "yes, cut these trees". Otherwise, even now if forests grow, rains will fall, and I can't say this for sure, but we can once again get the water from the springs. When there are roots on top again, there will be water below.

The forests have reached a bad state now. How can we bring them back to the old state? What are your views?
If people don't try to run away, and instead grow trees on the little land that they have, it will be very good. If nothing else we would at least get fresh air from the trees and grow forests. Someone or another can look after them from time to time, plant trees in their gram sabha (village assembly) and protect them.

What type of trees and plants would you like for the coming generation so that your forests remain green and you also get wood, water etc?
More plants and trees from which we can get for ourselves and our cattle are good. Like guriyal, sandan, timla; plants like these are used by everyone, even now. If forests are planted with these trees, it would be comfortable for us.
Section 8
For example, we can put taps in our water springs (ground water). Sometimes, something gets stuck in the tap then that is a problem. Nothing is better than our own natural sources.

What difference do you feel in that water [from springs] and this water, with respect to health?
There was something special in that water. There was a strength because it was from plants. It was fresh and pure water. This water, one doesn't know how it is, whether stagnant water (stale water) comes. Medicines are being put into it. One never knows there might be some organism which will cause disease. We used to get strength from our spring water, fresh water, equal to the strength from ghee today. People of today are hollow. They don't have strength.

What could be the reason, in the food habits or in something else?
It is in the food habits.

What difference have you felt in the food habits?
Nowadays people need tea first of all. We needed milk. Now there are no forests. So from where will the milk come? There was curd, there was buttermilk. Just as people now eat roti (bread) with a little sabji (vegetables), we used to drink curd etc, from plates.

You feel the difference in health due to the food habits?
Yes, it is because of the food habits.

The government has taken many measures like enclosure, etc for saving the forests. What do you feel, do you feel any change? In your opinion, is this appropriate or inappropriate?
These are all schemes to empty the government's treasury. I don't see any use of these schemes.

What are your views on afforestation?
It is like this. We people have taken away all the stones [of the walls] for something or another. Many have also taken away the stones of check dams. So how will development take place?

Whose fault do you think it is?
It is all the government's fault and ours, everybody's fault.

After getting the work done, the government doesn't even ask. What is given is given. It is gone. Our fault is that we don't know how to use it. The government thinks that we will benefit by making the check dam (small dams along streams). And we are destroying them. We have this weakness. If not me, then it would be some brother of mine. That is why I am saying this.
Section 9
You were talking about check dams just now. So what other methods are there to stop the water from running off the terraces?
Yes. Shrubs and grasses would be possible check dam breaks. As long as there are no trees, the erosion will not stop. This is my personal experience.

Is there a community organisation here?
There are such groups. We built roads, etc.

Meaning, there are groups?
Yes, there is a Mahila Mangal Dal (rural women’s council).

Who is the president of the Mahila Mangal Dal?
I have been the president for 10 years.

How many activities have you done together through the Mahila Mangal Dal?
We have done a little together like building roads, planting nurseries, grass etc, we have a meeting on the 10th of every month and we deposit five rupees. We built roads etc. We haven't done any other important work.

How successful has your Mahila Mangal Dal been? Do people believe in it?
They believe in it, but even then what is there in the belief of the uneducated. What if we make a noise in the village? Our voice does not go out.

Because if we were educated, then we would have done the proceedings on paper. But we are not educated. We shut up after making noise. Our Mahila Mangal Dal runs only this far.

From where did you get the seeds for the nursery?
Once it was given by the Sarvodaya (powerful movement based on persuading big landowners to give some property to the poor and landless) people. Some trees of ghuriyal etc, were also given by Sarvodaya. ‘Trees for life’ gave us sweet lime and orange trees. We planted some of these also.

What do you want? Should the nursery programme expand in the future?
Yes, it should expand. The plants will become trees someday.

Are there some plants in the village?
Yes, they are small now. More will be planted now.

What other plants would you like now?
The fruits of tangerines, sweet lime, orange, lemon etc, are also commercial fruits.

What are your views about apples?
Apples grow in some places and don't grow in others. But orange and sweet limes etc. grow everywhere.
Section 10
When marriages etc, take place in your village, do all the people work together or separately?
In our village, all work is done together.

Even now?
Yes, even now all the people of the village get together and lend each other a hand in their work. The marriages etc are tackled this way.

There must be a temple in your village? Would you tell us about any of your gods?
There are small sites, but there are no temples there.

There must be some places. Would you tell us about them?
Yes, there are stones placed by our ancestors. There is god Nagaraja's temple. We pray there. That is our temple.

There must be other gods and goddesses who have significance?
Other gods and goddesses are Nagaraja and Narasimha etc. Their mandalas (small houses for the gods, or temples) have been built.

There must be some special ways of worshipping here? Would you tell something about them?
The pandits (priests) do everything here. We don't know. We only give the jowar (variety of millet) and til (sesame seeds).

What do you think, how much truth is there in this belief in gods and goddesses?
I can only answer for myself. God is the one who has created this universe. The rest is all this feeling of the heart. But generally we believe in this fact more in our villages. Gods etc are our sentiments. We will be born on the day we are to be born and die on the day we are to die.

Besides Negi, do people of other castes also live in your village?
Most of the families belong to Negis here and there are 150 families of Brahmins.

The melas (fairs) that take place here, would you tell something about them?
It does not take place in our village but a mela is held in Badshahi Thaul.

What is that mela like, would you tell me something about it?
Those were old melas. When people never used to meet in years, they used to meet through the melas. Now, they are roaming about every day, so who would like the melas?

Are there any melas now to which the people go?
Yes, one in held in Gaja, one in Badshahi Thaul and in Chamba.

Are there families of Harijans (lower caste) also in your village?
Yes, there is one family.
Section 11
Do you feel any change in their conditions (status)?
Yes, when a change has come in the mother-in-law -daughter- in-law status, why won't there be a change in the Harijans’ status?

What kind of change do you feel in their status?
The people earlier used to oppress them. But now, when the government has given equal rights to everybody, a change is certain. When the rights of husband and wife are the same these days, they have equal rights, so they also fight.

Your land is Chipko (forest-protection movement) land. Did you make any contribution to this?
I did not do anything but other women and women from Sabli went. They went for the Chipko movement and objected to the cutting of raw wood. Only then did this small quantity of forest remain safe.

Which forest?
This forest of Pantnagar, of Lohita.

Is Chipko necessary for the saving of forests, what do you feel being a woman?
Our people are stopping outsiders but they themselves are cutting the forests. So then what will happen?

What did you think when you were protesting against the cutting of forests?
I thought that if the forests are saved, then there will be rains, then the water sources etc, will be recreated. But one person's thinking does not mean that something will happen. If we make a group and do this work then only will something happen. If everybody thinks independently then how will progress take place?

As the president of the Mahila Mangal Dal, what do you think? Will your children contribute to the saving of the forests, and how?
I think that if they form groups and plant trees then only the forests can be saved.

Do you think it is proper to build large dams in the name of progress?
It is harmful for us. Like our farms and trees on the roads disappear because of erosion, the land slips and crushes the farms below.

Has some progress occurred after the building of the Ranichauri Road or are there any problems?
There is only one benefit. Where we used to travel for one hour we arrive in 5 minutes now.

What loss have the roads brought?
The loss is that the forests have been cut. The farms have gone and everything has become barren.

Is there any feeling of insecurity because of building of the road?
There is danger now on account of the roads. Miscreants have come into the village. And the way on which only we used to walk are now full of many new kinds of people.
Section 12
Earlier, people used to build wooden houses, and now they build with cement. Is it appropriate?
These are fine to look at but our houses were suitable for us.

The cement houses are cold, as there is cement on all sides. Our houses, which were of mud were warm inside.

For the settlement at Pantnagar many forests must have been cut. Didn't you protest against this?
We protested but who would ask us? Our women folk can't go there alone. Different types of people have settled there.

Has the settlement of Pantnagar benefited you in any way?
There was only harm, no benefit, because our forests have gone and we can't walk about alone.

No, I meant any agriculture - related benefit, quality seeds etc.?
We have not taken any kind of seeds from them.

Your villagers did not get any benefit from it? They didn’t give any good breed of cattle etc?
No, they didn't give anything to us. They also didn't give animals. Our people, who work there, we ask them for seeds sometimes.

Were old traditional methods right, or their methods? Are their new seeds good?
For us, our ancestor's methods alone were right. We are farming by our old methods only. We are sowing the same seeds.

Are the old methods appropriate for you or the new scientific methods?
Scientific methods would be fine for those who are adopting them. But we are sowing only our old seeds.

Have they given their technical knowledge to any village?
They must have given it to some people. They haven't given anything to our village, but may be wherever they have taken plots like Gaja and Kana Taal they have.

Somebody must have benefited there?
The people there would know about it. Pantnagar is nearby and we don't know anything about it. They haven't given any seeds etc. We got soya beans only once through the block. We only planted that.

What is your opinion about soya beans?
The earlier crops were better than sowing soya beans.
Section 13
When we used to sow kodo (finger millet) and jhangora we used to eat the upper part. The lower part became grass and the seeds of kodo were pulses. Chaulai and ramdana (amaranths) are there, too. Today, we sow only soya beans in our field, and only that one crop is there.

Does a new crop of soya beans, have any effect on the land, on its fertility?
There has been a bad effect on the land due to the putting of manure and sowing of soya beans.

What is your opinion about urea etc.?
In my opinion the old manure is better.

Your Mahila Mangal Dal didn't do anything to prohibit liquor?
We have done work on prohibition of liquor. The Gurkhas (ethnic group from Nepal) were the first ones to teach liquor-making here. After cutting the trees, they have sold the shelters they have made to our people only. Gurkhas taught them to make the liquor.

Has the Mahila Mangal Dal tried anything to prevent this?
We only said so in the village, but if we were educated then we would have given it in writing. The one whose duty it is can say so, but who will listen to us in the village? Even then we thought that we would tackle those who drink and fight on our own in any possible way. If they drink and spend their money then we don't do anything.

You are the President of the Mahila Mangal Dal, so would you tell us if the voluntary organisations in Ranichauri are helping you?
There are many as such but they haven't helped us in any progress. They haven't done much even through there are many of them. They neither give us information nor have they told us anything regarding progress. Then how are we to know what they have done?

Haven't the Sarvodaya people in Ranichauri helped you?
They only told us to form a Mahila Mangal Dal and then they would give us the seeds. But they didn't give us any information. Then how were we supposed to know! We also don't know from where these seeds come and from where they give it to us. No, if we all knew what the Sarvodaya people have given us... they don't touch those who they think have information or have knowledge.

Would you tell us something about the work these people are doing on the Angora rabbit?
They told us to rear the Angora rabbit. I myself offered to rear them but they didn't mention it again. So from where could I rear them?

Is anybody else rearing them in the village?
Dimeswar Kothari is rearing them and there are two or three people more, in my opinion, who are rearing them.
Section 14
Have they gained anything from this or not?
I don't know anything about it.

Do you think that rearing rabbits could be a good occupation in our villages?
If somebody has good know-how about this matter, then it should be profitable.

The T.F.L. (Trees for Life) people are working in Ranichauri. Would you tell us something about them?
They also said that they would give us plants. They helped us with the tank. They made the tank but it wasn't made properly, it is made on the canal.

What is your opinion about the rainwater tank?
It is of great benefit to us if the rainwater is collected. Tanks like this also exist but they are not good for farming, etc.

From where do you get fuel?
From the forests.

The government has now restricted the cutting of wood. What are your views about gobar (cow dung) gas?
Gobar gas was useful at a time when people had lots of cattle. Now, when there is no cow-dung then what will we do with gobar gas?

What is the root of our problems?
When there are no cattle then from where do we get the dung?

What are your views about smokeless chulhas (stoves)?
They are appropriate, good to look at, but not very great.

Earlier the dal (lentils) were cooked in the traditional bhadd (round cooking vessel) in our villages; today the pressure cookers have come. How do you like this change?
Earlier, the dal, which was cooked in the bhadd, was tasty. Where is that taste in the pressure cooker dal?

How do you like this change with respect to your traditions?
In my opinion, the bhadd was good.

The dal used to dissolve well and the taste was also good.

Were there any other benefits?
It used to cook well in the bhadd, and was good. And now even the vessels - one doesn't know what they are made of!
Section 15
Would you tell us one thing more, what is your opinion on education?
Only an educated person can use his time well today. He can get a meal anywhere.

What are your views about the Tehri Dam? Is such a large dam appropriate?
In my view, this large dam will be the cause of destruction one day.

Is it good to displace people for one big thing?
I don't consider anything about it as appropriate. Who would leave a place from where several generations of our people have passed? Had there been any intellectuals amongst us, then even this Pantnagar [agricultural centre] wouldn’t have been able to settle on our heads. Pantnagar has been settled here not for our progress but for our destruction. Our women folk can't walk there alone.

What is your reaction to the displacing of village after village because of the dam?
This dam is being made and in my view this can't be stopped. This will happen only through unity.

Are you in favour of this or in opposition?
We say that when there is equal benefit and harm then why should we leave our place and go, why should we go anywhere?

What are your views on women's education?
If women are educated then they cannot lose out anywhere. In our times there was at least a feeling of togetherness, but since that has gone the coming generation should be educated.

This feeling of togetherness is coming to an end. Why is it so?
I think that those who are less educated have become indifferent, but those who are educated have not lost the sense of belonging.

Do you have hope for the future, in the changes that are to come?
The future will be full of difficulty. Everyone is full of pretence. There is no unity. They pretend when they are near and they forget everything when they go away. Each one wants to keep away from any argument.

What kind of future do you want?
Good. But it won't be good by mere thinking. We have do something to achieve it.

What kind of change do you want, of progress or of togetherness?
The change should be in oneself, there should be a change in the family. When I am good then my family also will be good.

Meaning, you want a change towards togetherness?
Yes, I want a change towards togetherness.

What do you think, how can Dargi become an ideal village in the future?
Dargi can become an ideal village when everyone becomes one, when even those who have done wrong are included in the community, and their wrong deeds are forgiven them.
Section 16
You were saying that forests are the most important things. You are dependent on the forests. Then how do you develop them?
If we plant trees together on our own land, then the forest can develop and then we should look after them.

How can your village be an ideal in the field of education?
If the schools and colleges are far off, then how will one get education? Obviously only the school can educate, but when I don't have money to send my son to school then how will progress occur?

What do you think about facilities for providing water?
We have constructed tanks etc, and will do so in future, too.

Can you leave your traditional farming on the saying of people from Pantnagar?
We will do what we want to do and follow the way of our ancestors. What will they tell us? We know much more about planting trees, plants and so on than they do. We are not ready to abandon our methods.

What are your views about health? What do you want? How can it become an ideal village regarding health?
Health is only through eating. Through our things, through our hygiene, through our clean and pure food and not by market dalda (hydrogenated vegetable fat) etc.

You were saying that people are fashion-minded. They have got facilities. For the people of village also, what do you think?
There is rest. The land is the same but the families have increased. They have gradually shrunk by dividing. The livestock has also decreased. And regarding fashion, this is an age of fashion. What has the government done? It has made TV cheap, has made the car cheaper. What do we do with a car? There should be a discount on wheat, which we eat. This is my knowledge.

Is population the root of all problems?
I believe that big families are not good.

The smaller the population, the better for eating, for water and other things.

One last thing. Tell me something that you can never forget in your life?
About myself, I have two sons and two daughters and I was the fifth person. Then [my son’s] father expired. I had a small farm and I had nothing to eat. Then I reared two buffaloes. One used to be pregnant while the other gave less milk. I have brought my children up only on milk. People used to give food and I used to give my children only milk. I didn't know what money was but still I got my children educated till the 10th class. With the milk that was left I made ghee and educated them only with the income from the sale.
Whatever I have done for myself I have done, but there were always problems. Then I also reared calves of buffaloes and sold them. And then I brought up my children. A 30-year-old widow and bringing up four children! I have suffered but I didn't ask anyone for shelter. Never gave up, never lost courage, but never did less than anyone else. I never told anyone that I didn’t have anything to eat. And then on the day of the month when I had to give the fees for the children, I used to think that I would make 1 kg ghee and then after selling it I would pay the children's fees. After paying the month's fees I used to feel so light that I used to think that when the next month comes I would certainly be able to pay the fees. Meaning, I would be able to make 1 kg ghee. I had that strength. But where do today's people have that kind of strength? Nowadays if we don't get bread in the morning then one starts crying for the afternoon's food, complaining that I didn't get it in the morning, you didn't give it to me. I didn't tell anyone when I got food and never complained when I didn’t. And who would I tell, I didn't have anyone of my own. Whatever I have done, I have done by myself and whatever I have destroyed, I have destroyed by myself.
Section 17
You have suffered a lot, but now you are comfortable. What do you wish for the future generation?
It is easy for them. Today's children are educated. I was in a way blind as I was uneducated.

What is your message for those steeped in problems?
A person who has patience (forbearance) can face any kind of problem. A person who doesn't have patience is always surrounded by troubles.

What is your experience in this matter?
When a person suffers a blow, they automatically get strength and courage. The more help a person gets, the more his courage declines. No one acquires wisdom through comfort. When life gives a blow, then courage is born out of the pain. Those who get happiness can never get knowledge. Only with suffering does one understand the meaning of pain.

The children of today are running to the cities after getting educated in search of comfort and convenience. Then what will happen to that civilisation and heritage which you people preserved?
Those who lack courage are the ones who are running away. They are running to old Tehri where the dam is being built. But those who have courage have not taken money, have remained firm even now.

Do you think that the old civilisation and heritage should be saved or everybody should be allowed to leave from here?
No, those who are running down now will return upwards, back to the villages.

Is this your belief?
Yes, definitely. Among those who have sold out and gone, if tomorrow some riots etc take place then they will begin to think that their old home alone was good.
Section 18
Does man love his culture?
Definitely. If I am a native of Dargi then I would like it there even if I am living in a hut there.

One more question, you are the President of Mahila Mangal Dal, you are a social worker, so would you tell us something about Mira Behn (Madeline Slade, disciple of Gandhiji)? You must have heard her name?
I have heard Mira Behn's name and I have also heard that she lived in Pakshi Nikunj. But I don't have more information about what she did on what kind of social work she did I don't know anything about this. I was very young then.

The name of her house was Pakshi Nikunj. A lot of birds used to come there but now there isn't a single bird. What is the reason for this?
There were trees, shrubs, and forests at that time. Today there is nothing. That is why birds used to come. But today there are hordes of human beings there instead. Since people are roaming there, how would the birds come? The population has increased a lot.