Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Indian Society & Some Crucial Issues: Worm’s Eye view

Indian Society & Some Crucial Issues: Worm’s Eye view
By Remigius de Souza

Key words: society; institutions; nature-conservation; people-conservation; village-education.

People Energy

ANY EVENT that I notice /read makes me to introspect, watch what is burning under my feet and what is happening around, as far as my sight can reach... with whatever means available.

THE WHOLE PAST comes to my mind like a movie in a flash ...from the age I came to senses, the Four Worlds of India — the Third World (of peasants), the Fifth World (of the marginalized), the Fourth World (of Adivasis) and the First World (of Industrial Society) — where I lived, moved, worked and gained experience. Following few observations are based on this lifelong journey.

WE generally use word 'society' that refers to all social collectives. However, there are some fine differences among the Indian social & cultural sub-groups. Some are civilized societies; some are aborigine communities and some ethnic communities.

India: Socio-Cultural sub-regions
Restore Languages to restore People’s Autonomy. There are as many languages as the cultural groups.

THE COLLECTIVES of the aborigines or Adivasis are better addressed as 'communities'. Because their social formation is not based on division of labour, caste and class, like civilized societies. Here, every individual is representative of whole community. A notable feature: there is no prostitution among Adivasis!

THERE ARE some ethnic communities. For example, there is matriarchal ethnic community in Kerala. Before Aryans came, there was matriarchal society in Karnataka (Bharatiya Sanskritikosha, editor: Pundit Mahadevashastri Joshi). There are also communities of Laman or Banjara (Romano), Dhangar (shepherd) etc.
Distribution of some major tribes of India
Adivasis come with the wealth of their ancient wisdom. The loss of their Forest habitat means assault on their existence and survival.

INDIA STILL HAS RICH BIODIVERSITY; hence, there is rich cultural diversity. The culture is the gift of Srishti, ‘Mother Nature’, to humans! It is, therefore, necessary in India, to include the subject of anthropology in all branches of higher education. It is necessary for the elite to learn about plural society of India. History of India, introduced by the British, is too narrow, mean and out of right context. It propagates feudalism, which is not good for democratic values, than “People History”.

THE COLONIAL RULE brought here industrialization from Europe. It dominated entire educated and illiterate society, before anyone realized. It was not a revolution; it was borrowing; it was imposed. Industrialization came, along came many institutions and complex laws. They took over the private and public life of the collective and an individual. And both lost their autonomy of self-decision and self-reliance.

Social Work
BECAUSE OF INHUMAN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY IN INDIA, many institutions, movements, activists… committed to social work started during past 100 years. However, we speak from a public platform; we take for granted what is below the platform, the reality that is constantly changing. We say 'Chalata Hai – This goes on,’. And the work that remains for the experts, professionals, politicians is to find "curative measures" to save their skin.

IS THE WORK of a teacher, doctor, technocrat, engineer, architect, Govt/semi-government-employee, city planner, economist, scientist... police not "social work"? Aren't they the part of society? Of course, in a decadent society — whether Western or Eastern — this may not happen. We, however, caress our ego. That's all!

THERE ARE NGOs from UN at global level to countless numbers in the bye-lanes of Delhi-Mumbai... These social institutions are started with noble aims and objectives. Some work within their specialized fields. Some of them face resource crunch; they have to struggle to collect funds to survive. Some disappear in the blue. Some show feudal / bureaucratic traits. Some of those working in rural areas think of illiterate peasants and the tribal as backward and "uneducated", and they have come to educate them. These professional social workers from cities find nothing worth "learning" from them.

Education (Learning)
AT THE BEGINNING OF 20TH CENTURY – the times of Ranade-Gokhale – there were two percent educated (not literate) people. Gokhale then was struggling to bring a bill of 'free and compulsory primary education' for India in the Privy Council. That was hundred years ago!

EDUCATION – Learning and Teaching – is now an occupation, no more a vocation. Educational Institutions prepare the highly educated, professional, specialist etc. candidates for employment- business. But our Public Education Institution has failed to impart literacy to large number of people in the past sixty years. Isn't it the "State-at-misfortune"?

Social commitment
WHAT IS SOCIAL COMMITMENT and whom does it apply? To give the last rites to a dead body, according to that person's faith (if known), may rank at the top on the part of society. Just imagine: if the dead is not disposed off in time, what problem would it cause to the society!

BUT THE SOCIETY, religion or person/s need not worry about it. Srishti is does it by ‘recycling’ a dead body. Millions of worms will be born in the dead body and finish it, and they too die and turn into soil.

An ordinary example of social commitment
IN MUMBAI at our home, an illiterate woman of untouchable caste was our maidservant. Once she brought a dispossessed sick old man about to die, at her home – a hut on the roadside pavement. She nursed him. She also gave him the last rites after a couple of days. Honestly, I couldn't have done this.

Reunion with Mother Nature
Conservation of Nature
VINOBA BHAVE, in his commentary on Gita, spoke of three-fold Yoga Actions, Sacrifices –Yajna, gift and penance – as I recall.
1. Yajna (sacrifice): whatever we take from Nature we must return back, for example, we take food grains from land; therefore, we restore it by putting manure, watering etc. That is Conservation of Nature.
2. Gift: society, parents, guru, kin-kith etc help us in many ways. Give them gift in gratitude and to restore their losses (this is not charity).
3. Penance: we use our body – mind, intelligence, limbs – in daily actions. We must restore the loss of energy and remove impurities etc.
Society and our body are not outside of Nature. Similarly, these three actions are Yajnas, Sacrifices. (Ref: Gita-Pravachane, Chapter 17). This interpretation of “Social Commitment”, on the part of an individual and the collective, may sound non-conventional to the believers of Gita.

A PYRAMID, TAJ MAHAL... To build these artefacts does the money come from a government mint? All the wealth that humans use basically comes from the Earth. We only process it. However, all the living-beings have equal rights to the Earth. The artefacts mentioned above indicate 'feudalism' of persons, caste or class. Unfortunately today this is repeated even by democratic nations.

THE LAND IS NOT ANYONE'S PROPERTY. None, neither the State nor a person, has ethical, moral right to own land. In its history of 5000 years, how the civilized society mutilated this land!

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT'S OBJECTIVE must be “Janata”, the People: only the People are "Means & Goal". All planning, projects, laws… their making and implementation processes should be guided and materialized through the People. Government and other institutions are only facilitators and accountable to Janata.

GOVERNMENT and other institutions are merely tools, faceless entities. Their primary duty is to the People, to protect their primary autonomous functions — Work, Leisure, Health, Learning and Propagation — and according to changing situation prepare development projects and make them available to the People.

Need for right education
"FOOD-SHELTER-CLOTHING are basic needs", a million times they – expert, planner, politician – must have chewed this old dry bone on the public platform! These celebrities royally forget a fact: Even animals have this knowledge by intuition.
Leisure - Children exercise their autonomy

Peasants and Adivasis don’t Need Entertainment / Leisure Industry.

SRISHTI, MOTHER NATURE, gave all the living beings — plants and animals — an ability and autonomy to fulfil their needs for survival. For this purpose she also provided them with five autonomous functions: Work, Leisure, Health, Learning and Propagation. Srishti, also, does not give any authority to manipulate over these functions to any human or supernatural power or institution.

THERE IS NO NEED TO REPEAT HISTORY time and again. History is before us by its litter everywhere. Question is, is there any remedy to the problems created by the history? Whether we correct root cause/s of mistakes, or find new technology, or carry on status quo policy to make superficial changes, or import a readymade foreign technology? What for creativity / originality then?

People-conservation and Social balance
INDIAN FARMERS continue to commit suicides. About 300 million people are bellow poverty line (BPL). There is no reliable count of how many are living in sub-human conditions in the slums in cities. In the 21st Century of Gregorian calendar, there are 400 million illiterate Indians in the Age of Computer-literacy. How could this 'Janata' face the forthcoming annihilation from 'technocracy'?

Learning by Sharing
The urchins here give a Fundamental Lesson in Learning. By this indigenous method the whole India will be literate in five years. People's Need is Access to Resources.
New Education for Six Lakhs Villages
HOW TO DECIDE WHAT IS RIGHT EDUCATION FOR 900 PLUS MILLION PEASANTS? Who should be given priority, between Industry and Trade (organised sector), and peasants (unorganized sector)? About 90 crore people (not population) live in six lakhs villages. Which institution or media can give reliable facts about their despair in areas of food, water, education, health, agro-produce... and income? For this reason “Decentralization of Power” is an urgent need.

PREVAILING EDUCATION SYSTEM is being run for 60 years by making superficial adjustments time to time. There is no fundamental change. To bring a change following points must be attended and documented in details.

Survey of local conditions in six lakhs villages
THE SURVEY must be carried with villagers' participation at local level. Such a survey, not only becomes a part of people's education, but there is essential transparency. This must not be a sample surveys done by statisticians. The Census Surveys are insufficient.
1. Environment: natural, social, economic, educational, political etc. all aspects of environment;
2. Ecology: local language and vernacular, and their mnemonic knowledge, folk arts, the life-supporting skills in practice, traditional knowledge and tools used for living;
3. Energy: Climate, human-energy, animal-energy, bio-energy, mineral wealth, plant wealth, such as food, plants for oil-insecticide-medicine-aroma-building-colours & dyes-fibres-spices & condiments etc. Plants from land and waters, from algae-grasses to vines to giant trees;
4. Geography: location and regional linkages

Subjects for Rural Education
SUBJECTS AND TOPICS should cover all related areas that influence, affect, help that are relevant in the present situation of villages.
1. Water and land conservation, Farming & related topics, Animal husbandry, Biotechnology: (Remember that rice was domesticated 10,000 years ago, when civilised societies, cities, nations, and the word, biotechnology did not then exist.)
2. Development of Alternative Energy Sources that are used by the peasants, marketing, commerce;
3. Local self-government, land revenue, Land Acquisitions Act(?) etc. related laws;
4. This education should have field orientation;
5. Access to young and adult of all ages, genders, timings & batches suitable for peasants.
Buildings – Schools buildings – should be built in local vernacular technologies, using local materials, maintained and repaired by the locals, and not by the Public Works Departments (PWD) or third party such as contractors.

HOW MANY OF OUR 'CITIZENS', though they may have migrated from rural area in the past, know intimately any 'village' and its ‘Janata’? Many may be well versed in world geography, yet their personal world remains flat – two dimensional. The Sun and the Moon, however, move tirelessly around the Earth and meet each of our godforsaken villages, day and night.

THE VILLAGES must have their rightful share of resources of the nation. Their major stumbling block is education. If this is not restored to the People, the so-called 'progress', praised by others, mostly by the vested interests, may prove merely a 'pseudo-progress'.
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Related Posts
1. Politics of Literacy in India : Challenges of 21st Century
2. Farming: Politics of Education in India
3. Letters and Numbers, plus ‘Things to Make'
4. Work-Leisure-Health-Learning-Propagation

© 2011 Remigius de Souza | Mumbai

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