Students’ Questions

Following the Environment Awareness Workshop in June 2016 SARA Centre’s programs have already begun showing some positive results. The participating students were invited to ask questions that came to their minds as a result of what they had learnt during the workshop:

Morphing Lifestyles

Industrial Impacts

Indigenous ways of farming replaced by pesticides, herbicides fertilizers have made the land dependent on chemical use, greatly impacting soil health. Because of the terrain and labour shortage increased dependence on chemicals is imminent. However lack of education and awareness about chemistry and chemical impact on ecology impacted the soil health of the region without any scientific checks and balances.

Government apathy and dysfunctional policy – civic authorities such as departments of environment, forestry and agriculture seem to be immersed writhing a culture of servitude to industrial clearances and licensing, rather than that of direct environmental conservancy as such.

Industrial influence in the area, monoculture tree plantations (a.k.a. Green deserts). Govt leased land to paper mills, timber industry which led to growing of acacia and eucalyptus – affecting water table, ecosystem, bio diversity, and impacting lifestyle.

Snapshot:

10 billion non indigenous trees (e.g, Acacia and Eucalyptus) were planted farm-forest between 1980 and 1988 between 5 million hectares of land , about 60% was eucalyptus. Source: ‘Paper Chase’, Down To Earth, 1995

Societal constructs

Being a primarily agricultural society, orthodoxy, caste system and socio-economic disparity is prevalent in the region. As such, there is no community feeling between classes of society that suffer the caste system and its many dogmas. 

There are few opportunities for bringing classes of people together, besides the medium of local theatre such as Yaskshagana, and other such local cultural market place events.

Forums  and platforms for public debate are few and far between, therefore the sharing of discourses as such is fragmented. No existing community or visitor centre has yet been established. Some examples of concurrent themes prevalent in the region that lead to social imbalance.

Vulnerable Guardians

Loss of Identity: vulnerable guardians of the earth – WHO IS THE ‘FARMER’?

Once seen and hailed as the guardians of the earth, farmers are today undergoing an imposed identity crises of sorts. The very term ‘farmer’ has been subject to repeated degradation and misinterpretation through centuries – first under the Mughals; then the the British; and henceforth post-independence – under the rise of Industrialisation.

It is no news that over time the bulk of so called land reforms, settlement acts, tenancy acts, agricultural subsidies and such governance tools – have often proven to be failed projects, succeeding only in mass displacement, disenchantment and even suicide in the farming communities across the country.

There must be certainly a real disconnect between the intellectual class of policy makers and the rest of the populace – that under all sorts of leaderships the journey of farmers has been ever regressive, and has taken them from being landowners to crop growers; to landless labourers; and for many disenchanted poor it has led to the suicide solution over and over again.

Today the terms ‘farmer’ and ‘suicide’ seem destined to be interlinked! This forces upon us the question that – who is really a farmer today? It has become easy to confuse ‘farmer’ with the terms such as ‘peasant, rural, illiterate, ryot or labourer’ and what have you!

Needless to say, that pretty much the very need for technological, industrial and scientific modernisation of the nation itself is turning out somewhat to be to the detriment of the identity of ‘ the farmer’. One shudders to think what’s next?

Mainstream vs Fringes?

What is the mainstream of Indian economy and what are the fringes? Is it industry, technology or agriculture?

Relentless rural to urban exodus: despite it being a predominantly agrarian economy there is a concerted moving away from agrarian lifestyles across the country. Today, young men and women from rural agrarian backgrounds continue to become more and more inclined to move away from farming towards other so called ‘modern’, ‘profitable’ and, or ’lucrative’ walks of life, continually intensifying the relentless exodus into urban centres. With the current national focus on technological advancement, modernisation and consumerism – farming and agriculture are truly appearing as somewhat of an undesirable choice for many youths under the increasing influence on modern media such as computers, the internet, smart phones tablets etc.

Although advancements in modern media, information technology, travel and exploration;  are vital for the exposure, development and empowerment our youth – moving away from the ‘rural’ often seems to be becoming more and more inviting and viable for disenchanted rural youth, and these influences therefore, act as a one way ticket with no or little scope for returning to origins. This fact lays bare the irony that in a predominantly agrarian economy, where the mainstream of the society is in fact farming and rural life, agrarian lifestyle is imminently appearing to be on the fringes of society.

India is currently witnessing dramatic changes in the way environment and ecology are being perceived. Factors such as globalisation, technological and industrial advancement are catalysing rapid lifestyle shifts in the farming communities – a fact that increasingly brings into question what truly is the ‘vernacular’ as we have typically known it. Modern technology and media have indeed revolutionised communications an information technology – but how much of it is actually focussed on the development of much needed infrastructure and innovation that the agricultural heartland needs? In these times of global environmental threats such as global warming and climate change; amidst rapid disappearance of forested lands; and industry regulated agricultural practices that continually threaten biodiversity – it has become a matter or urgency to enable the re-invention and re-instatement of agriculture as the mainstream of the country.

Who or what will enable us to leverage modernisation and technological advancements in a way that enables talent retention in the region, is therefore certainly a matter of speculation these days?