Back To The Soil
I was listening to the story of Dr. Parameshwara Rao of Andhra Pradesh who took initiative in establishing a rural development organisation, namely Bhagavatulu Charitable Trust (B.C.T), and struggled very hard to give a shape to the organization and its programmes. Dr. Rao had studied both in India and in America, and secured his doctorate abroad. To the astonishment of his professor in America and to the shock of his relatives in India, Dr. Rao, instead of accepting some highly remunerative and prestigious position in some Institute of higher education in India, decided to stay in the villages and work with the villagers for total development of his people. He has struggled for quite some time in efforts to convince even his close relatives and friends about the inevitability of the enlightened people's involvement in rural development.
While I was listening to Dr. Parameshwara Rao, Mr. S.R.Hiremath of Karnataka figured in my mind. Mr. Hiremath, who was born in a small village in Karnataka, studied engineering, went to America to acquire higher degrees in management, started working there itself. While he was studying there and getting acquainted with American culture, particularly the achievement-oriented attitudes of the Americans, he wondered why India could not achieve the development targets in spite of so many development plans and declarations of determination to establish a welfare state. Though he married an America-trained social worker and had a son and a daughter, and had a highly remunerative career, he decided to return to India and to stay in backward villages and to work for their development. With the intension of mobilising international support-both financial and moral-for rural development in India, he worked for the founding of India Development Service (IDS) and created in the minds of the enlightened a favourable attitude towards India's development. He returned to India along with his wife and children, studied various development projects by going round India, held discussions with intellectuals, educationists, politicians, businessmen, bankers, journalists and various other professionals that he could manage to meet. After making certain exploratory visits in Karnataka, he and his team chose the Medleri cluster of villages in Ranibennur Taluk, Dharwad District, and settled down there for taking up development programmes.
Dr. Rao of Andhra Pradesh and Mr. Hiremath of Karnataka stand before my mind as symbols of spirits awakened to the need of the hour that is the total development of the Indian subcontinent.
Needs of Developing Countries
The developing countries by and large, have declared their aspirations to build themselves into democratic socialist societies which is possible only when radical social changes are effected and the people at large get involved in the process of development. The development process involves the identification of the basic needs of the people, and designing as also implementing development plans. The basic needs of the people of these countries are clear as daylight. As Professor Gore has identified, the developing countries have these basic needs: gainful employment, removal of poverty, purposeful educational programmes, preventive health services, population control, etc,. 1
Though the concept of needs is relative, certain physical and social needs become basic for human beings to lead a tolerably happy life. The term 'basic', as Prof. Gore considers, "recongnises a certain primacy and immediacy of certain needs, it presumes a certain distinction between the short-range and the long-range perspectives in the fulfilment of various needs. It assumes that the developmental process is gradual and one that widens in scope and gains in tempo at later stages in the time-sequence. In terms of this perspective, there are certain needs which must be met here and now and others which can be met later when greater resources have been generated." 2
Need for Structural Change
Social development which subsumes rural development is to be distinguished from the concept of social welfare as it is aiming at a total change brought about as a result of conscious and deliberate intervention with the instruments of policy and planning. In the words of P.D. Kulkarni, "Social Development is a process that seeks to recreate a system which opens up fountainsprings of life-force operating both in individuals and in the community. It leaves behind the conventional concept of 'adjustment' of the individual to a given situation, but tries to create a new and more congenial situation which can make a progressive equilibrium between the individual and community possible. The new situation may comprise a new set of values, attitudes and practices and different, more suitable and efficacious "institutions", that is, structures and organisations, to translate those values into practice." 3
While imagining the enormous task of creating a new system in the place of traditional hierarchical structures and to meet the basic needs, certain fundamental questions arise in our minds. Who could be the proper persons or institutions that could take up this onerous task? Could governmental organisations achieve the ends or non-governmental ones? Who could give leadership to the movement of bringing about radical changes? Those who are western-educated or those educated only in India? Could organisations such as IDS and BCT, which are found operating in different parts of India, really make a dent in the area of development as they are very few in number and mostly not very well organised and meagerly supported?
Role of Intelligentsia
My aim is not to answer all or any of these questions, but to pose them before enlightened readers who are likely to get interested in the constructive programmes, and also before those who are, by and large, apathetic towards the pathological conditions of India. This brings us to the role of the educated in the developmental programmes as I consider that the problem of non-participation of the general mass is not as serious as that of the apathy that the elite have towards the basic needs and serious social problems that India has been suffering from for centuries. Though I am not a pessimist, I feel that unless and until the enlightened or the intelligentsia associate themselves with developmental programmes, there is no possibility of establishing democratic socialism in India.
Back to the Village
Gandhiji was right when he called upon the awakened to return to the villages to work so as to create an atmosphere in which benefits of development would filter down to the villages. Gandhiji is even now right. This is what I have learnt from the experiments that Parameshwara Rao's and Hiremath's have undertaken in the area of development. (1981)
Dr. H. M. Marulasiddaiah
'Esha Krupe' No. 62, Manjunatha Colony, J.P. Nagara, Bengaluru-560068
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