The idea of development

So I am just going back in time a bit and jotting down some thoughts that came to me before and after I joined this fellowship .

Back in June this year, there I was, working as an HR Business Partner – fancy term I know, but not very fancy work! I wasn’t getting what I wanted at the end of the day – any kind of self-gratification or satisfaction. I know most jobs are that way and our generation is really spoiled for choice, but that’s probably a topic for another post.

I resigned without further ado and thought of possible options.

Waste management? Waste management is really the need of the hour in Bangalore and I was super enthusiastic about it after doing a few spotfixes with The Ugly Indian.

Study further? Hmmm… Going back to college did seem inviting, but what did I want to study?

Join some NGO, different role in HR, write UPSC exams (I even signed up for this), teach at a school, join politics(!)… the list was endless and the thoughts, utterly confusing!

All of a sudden, one day, Anand told me about this SBI Youth for India – rural development fellowship and I thought THIS IS IT!
It gives me a platform to work with an NGO – with the freedom of creating my own project but leveraging the expertise of the NGO. Wow! It seemed too good to be true. After a bit of coaxing my anxious parents (“You’re going to have to stay away from your husband! Oh no!”) and Anand’s cool parents, I applied, got through and was on my way to Ahmedabad for the orientation. I’ve written about it here already.

So when I got the fellowship, my thoughts were varying from:

Wow, I’m finally going to be able to actually LIKE what I do!

I will make a difference to people’s lives now.

I am going to transform villages and feel good about myself!

Let’s go bring some villages on the path of development!

Now, as I am visiting villages, the biggest question I have is :

What really is development?

These people in the remote tribal villages of Odisha seem to be far more developed than any city! Let me try to convince you through some observations I made.

Clean, really clean villages. Every single village we visited was spotlessly clean.

Village in Kalahandi district???????????????????????????????

Welcoming strangers with warm smiles. When did you last smile at a stranger on your street?

These people in the picture were so happy we visited their far-flung village; they thanked us wholeheartedly and said nice things to us, which we really didn’t deserve! Varun even wrote a beautiful poem about it here.

IMG_20141117_163557~2

Sharing food with strangers; when was the last time you welcomed strangers with food?

These kind people shared the roasted corn cobs from their farm with us. Yum! Never before had I eaten three whole corn cobs by myself!

IMG_20141118_101426

Time on your hands for yourself, family, friends, laughs. Let’s not even talk about the luxury of time in cities!

Time for some farm fresh Ganna

Time for some farm fresh Ganna

Clean drinking water , straight from the tap, in your toilet, bathroom and kitchen! Can you say the same?

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Lovely beautiful sights everywhere! Sigh…

???????????????????????????????

Happiness, peace, love, respect. LIFE! What more does one want?

I am not saying let’s all live in villages nor am I saying there are no problems in villages. There’s so much to learn from the simple life in villages, something our forefathers had the fortune of experiencing even in the cities we are presently in. Ok, I am not going to get preachy and talk about being content with what one has, etc.

I just thought I would leave you with this question: Does development mean creating more cities and towns?

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8 thoughts on “The idea of development

  1. I read somewhere that, a really progressive society is not one where everyone drives their own car but where everyone uses the public transport… to me this means less pollution, less draining of natural resources, feeling of equality amongst all etc.
    Likewise development should aid in building such a society where equal, effective & efficient opportunities to lead life responsibly, are made available to one & all.
    Our s

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  2. I read somewhere that, a really progressive society is not one where everyone drives their own car but where everyone uses the public transport… to me this means less pollution, less draining of natural resources, feeling of equality amongst all etc.
    Likewise development should aid in building such a society where equal, effective & efficient opportunities to lead life responsibly, are made available to one & all.
    So for me, if I find no difference between urban and rural areas in terms of the standard of living & available amenities, that would be a truly developed society.

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    • Rash @ Idlephilo When you say same level of amenities and standard of living- we will have to define what you mean by those terms. You might have to change the definition of standard of living if we want it to be comparable in cities and villages.

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  3. Development surely does not mean creating more of the Hellish cities we have experienced living in.. B’lore, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR! but generally speaking cities do signify development.. well planned cities having basic amenities (especially public places and schools / college with playgrounds) and services which can be accessed by citizens of all classes..
    The reason cities / urbanization are considered to be epitome of development, I think, is due to the increased productivity and networking a city provides.. I personally hope India has more and more large well planned cities..

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  4. Ultimately productivity is required. Until machines do all works for humans, we need to work. If you can be productive around average productivity of mankind, then whether you do that in village or city is immaterial. A villager can earn around per capita gdp of india that is 1000 to 2000 US dollars an year then it is well and good.

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  5. That was really thought provoking. Any intelligent person will come to the right conclusion. What is the right conclusion depends on their frame of reference. Growing up in a city and living there most of our life we seldom think of bare necessities of life, and assume that television, iPod, smart phones, computers, car, sofa, refrigerators, washing machine, dish washer, vacuum cleaners, if living in USA or UK, or servants who perform these tasks in Indian cities are needed. Materialism is the bane of city living, it can never bring happiness, as we quickly get what we seek, there is another need waiting around the corner some not even invented!! Your blog clearly shows that villagers are smiling with what they have and share their food with strangers without any expectation.

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  6. Thank you all for your comments. I know I did not touch upon everything when I wrote the post, was just overcome by emotions and wrote it !

    I do agree with most of you all have said.
    Development has to be about first having basic necessities met- food, shelter,health, education- so you have houses, schools, hospitals .
    Then comes productivity- which seems to be the most objective way of looking at it

    My dilemma was more around consumerism and the unnecessarily complicated life in cities- where we are sucked into all these new needs which we never knew we needed- and we want these people in villages to also need those new needs (like Seshadri mama has pointed out above! )

    But then the other question is – Who are we to decide what is good and bad for them?
    Just because we now think consumerism is bad, should we deprive them of the banes/pleasures of it?

    This is my dilemma.

    As of now, to me development means – dignified life with basic necessities met along with the ability(awareness/info etc) to make choices.

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