9. Village needs-Hardware or software?

The Dussehra program of Govindacharya Ji on 26th October 2020 was a grand success in the village Tirhutipur. People expected that now onwards we will work on the hardware part of the village development i.e. school, bridge, road, electricity, water, agriculture, animal husbandry, etc. But we had something else in our minds. We wanted to start the work by focussing on the software part of the village development. By software, we mean the mindset and value system from which villages operate. We strongly believe that the core values of the village should not be tampered with for the sake of development. Rather our development plan should be so designed that it is harmonious with village values.

Before proceeding further, let us talk about the village. What is a village? What are the characteristics that make a settlement a village? A very good answer to this question is found in a movie called – Nadiya Ke Paar. This film was produced in 1982 with the villages of Easter UP in the background. In one scene of the film, the female lead Gunja is going to the village of the male lead Chandan. After walking some distance she asks, “…how far is it now, O Chandan, your village…” In response, Chandan says, “…If people start calling me by name then know for sure that it is my village…” You will hardly find such a precise definition of the village anywhere else.

In the village, almost everyone knows everyone. You have no independent existence there. In the village, your identity is always surrounded by countless relations.  You are known as someone’s son, brother, father, husband, wife, and so on. Relationships and acquaintances can also happen in the cities, and that too in thousands. But there, your identity is only your identity. It is not shared by your fellow residents on an emotional level. Villagers are known to have a long memory. They keep account not only of you but also of your forefathers. You have to bear or enjoy as per the deeds of your ancestors. 

The vibrant relationship is one of the core elements that constitute a village. Not in India alone, but everywhere in the world villages are known for this characteristic. Here, the reference of a book written by Desmond Morris “The Human Animal: A Personal View of the Human Species” is quite relevant. In 1994 BBC produced a 6-episode TV series based on this book. In its third episode, there is a scene when a man pretends to have a heart attack. First, the act was performed on a congested pedestrian street of London. The second time it was repeated in a village-like settlement. The result was not surprising. In London, he remained unattended for several hours, but in the village people immediately came to help him. 

Commenting on this experiment, Desmond Morris says that man started living in big cities but his mind and his biological structure are still very much archaic. It is more attuned with a village-like environment. Morris says that city dwellers (at a subconscious level) consider every unknown human to be nothing more than the trees and plants of an unknown forest. However, when that city dweller is shifted in the village environment, his behavior changes. He starts connecting with every unknown human on an emotional level. This connection does not remain confined to humans alone. Rather it extends to all plants, animals, birds, and sometimes to many inanimate objects near his surroundings. 

When we want to work for the village development, we should make sure that somehow all our actions should promote this very feature of the village. The list of virtues for which the village has been known is very long. For example, being aware of one’s surroundings, sense of sharing, innocence, hard work, respect for elders, custodian of customs, perseverance, coexistence, restrained consumption, and conservation of nature in all its diversity are some of the characteristics that used to be the hallmarks of Indian villages.

Unfortunately, all these virtues of the village are becoming rare. Instead, vices like ostentation, greed, indolence, jealousy, depression, consumerism, etc. are on the rise. The ‘Market’ has ‘liberated’ the villagers. They are confident that ‘Market’ will fulfill their every need. With the backing of ‘Market’, people are becoming careless with each other. Sense of discipline and respect for elders is disappearing. The caste prejudice has weakened in the last few years but its roots are very much there. The combined result of all these demerits is showing in the form of deprivation, animosity, and degeneration in the villages.

When we talk about working on the village software, we are actually talking about saving the traditional merits of the village and eliminating the demerits which have come to be associated with it. We believe that if the software of the village i.e. village mentality is right, then the external signs of prosperity i.e. hardware part of the development will start appearing sooner or later. In such a situation, prosperity will arrive with the fragrance of culture. But if the mindset is not appropriate, the results will remain dismal. At first, prosperity will not come and if it comes, it will come with all kinds of distortions and side effects. 

Governments can have an active role in fixing the hardware problems of the villages, but when it comes to the software part, the government appears helpless. Here, some meaningful result comes only from the social initiative. Due to this reason, Mission Tiruhutipur has decided to give more attention to the software part. Out of the 9 dimensions that the Mission has set for itself, 4 dimensions i.e. Education, Organization, Media, and Events have been designed to take care of the software needs.  Not only that, we have kept the software aspect of the village very much alive in our mind when we planned for the remaining 5 dimensions i.e. Infrastructure, Agriculture, Trade, Production, and Service.

I knew very well that changing one’s mind or mindset is a very difficult task. This task becomes more challenging and almost impossible when one intends to change the mindset of not a few villages but of all the villages of the country. But that does not bother me. I was not worried about the result. I just wanted to follow the procedures which I had come to know and understand from my studies and the company of K.N. Govindacharya Ji.  

It will be quite interesting to know what happened when I faced the village after the Dussehra program of Govind Ji. Goodbye.

Vimal Kumar Singh

Convener, Mission Tirhutipur

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