You, your survival, and rural India.
Your survival depends on rural India. It may be a very tall claim to say this, but let us know if you agree, at the end of this post.
Let’s begin first, with a simple story. Once, there were 3 blind men who came across an elephant. One of them touched the leg of the elephant and thought it was a pillar. One touched its trunk and thought it was a pipe. Another touched its torso and thought it was a wall. None of them would ever see it was an elephant.
In many ways, this is India. Where the bullock-cart and the BMW can be stuck in the same traffic jam, and nobody thinks it strange. For the up-and-coming English-speaking urbanite, India is all the hustle and bustle of the modern metros. It’s the open culture of heading to the pub after a hard day’s work. It’s sexually liberated young men and women who are trying to remove the shackles of caste, religion, and rituals to focus on their own individuality. In tier-two towns and cities, India is that blend of the past and the present, where the base is still conservative, but moving slowly to more liberal ideas. In the villages, however, the cultural fabric is still woven from ancient threads.
All of us agree, however, that the basic needs of our survival depend on 3 things: roti, kapda, makhaan. Food. Clothing. Shelter.
In Rural India, the torso of the elephant is where 65% of the country lives. That’s more than 780 million (78 crores) of us living in 663,17 villages, governed by 255,626 panchayats. In total there are 22 languages spoken in the country, across 28 states and 8 Union Territories. India has the 2nd largest arable land in the world, making it one of the largest, and oldest agrarian societies in the world. Yet their stories, struggles, and realities are left out of the mainstream conversations we have in its towns and cities. When we talk of business, we mainly discuss industrial development, services industry, and technology.
This is where, we, at Dharma, want to re-align our focus. Can we really consider growth and development by ignoring 65% of the country? We are not advanced if 86 million and more of us are still in poverty. And if the largest section of the poverty-stricken lives in rural India, then there is no advancement without considering them.
So, let’s consider it. What is rural India to you?
For some, it’s the deep roots of their ancestors, their lands, and their heritage. For some, it’s just the vague memory of a time in their family’s history, many generations ago. For quite a few, it’s not even a thought.
Here’s the reality: Every time we sit down to eat, we are able to do so because of rural India. The cotton, silk, hemp, flax, and jute in the clothes we wear are grown in rural India. The large apartment complexes and houses we live in are built by migrant rural workers. Agriculture and its allied activities provide employment for some 152 million in the country. Food production is an 800 billion-dollar industry. The cotton industry alone is 11.7 million hectares in size. Despite the many synthetic fibres we now have, the garments industry would not be able to survive without natural fibres. And real estate, a 1.72 billion-dollar industry, would be at a stand-still if not for laborers and their migrations into the cities.
Our roti. Our kappa. Our makhaan. There is no part of this that could be managed without the contributions of rural India. Do you agree, then, that this is a part of your survival?
With this in mind then, what should be our duty to this largest base of our country? This is the question that we, at Dharma Endeavours, work to answer.