Degradation of Uttarakhand Hills- it's People,Land and Agriculture

Farmer_with_Bullock

Himalayan regions, in particular the hills of Uttarakhand, haven’t seen their share of development for many years despite high hopes from their natural resources. The development inequality between plain and hill regions have reached so high that 1,048 odd villages in the hills have turned into ghost villages and the number keeps on increasing with each passing day.

According to 2011 Census, the population of two major hill districts fell by 17,868 persons between 2001 and 2011 leaving 1,048 odd villages uninhabited “ghost villages”. The other 8 districts in the state have a similar gleam condition of out-migration from their villages. A villager leaves his village and family behind for a better living condition but in vain.

It would be totally incorrect and absurd to say that nothing has been done to check skewed migration. In fact, the government is too concerned with this problem that it formed a separate committee and is even thinking to form a separate ministry for the problem. Now, this committee would solve the problem is far from the truth as far as the probability of you being eaten by a tiger right now. Why? Because the solution to this problem can not be a direct one as it is an effect of the inefficient working of the existing ministries at its root cause. The responsibility of the government in this case would be to run their existing ministries in perfect order. This may sound very simple for such a huge problem, indeed it is.\

the government is too concerned with this problem that it formed a separate committee and is even thinking to form a separate ministry for the problem.

Now, if the committee is there to find out the problem, outside of their governance problem then lets make it further simple for them, it is under-development. But, we have so many developmental programs already running to solve the problem! The answer once again is inefficient programs. All the problem boomerang on the government.

Truthfully, we are not either or against the government. Ideally, we consider it outside the responsibility of government, which should extend to regulations. But, in a welfare state like ours the responsibilities encompasses more than regulation. This is usually done by implementing several welfare policies and programs in their own capacity or with other developmental agency.

But, the question is which model of development are we considering for implementation? The models successful in Gujarat, Maharashtra or any other state? If we are trying to follow them, in fact we are, then lets be prepared for failure. Why so? Simply, because the environment, land, people and conditions are not in whatsoever way similar to the ones mentioned earlier. We have difference with forests, terrace land, cognition of the people respectively. So, Logically everything is ought to change- the developmental models, approaches and programs.

everything is ought to change- the developmental model, approaches and programs.

All the developmental models that we see all around us is a "hammer and nail" problem for mostly every developmental agency whose hammer is money or more appropriately put, capital because that is the fuel for everyone unless they were hit by their hammer with unsustainable ways of development. To understand it more clearly look at the following scenarios:

    • When there is no proper healthcare, build a hospital, but you find any doctor to run it.
    • When there is no proper education, build schools, but you find competent enough teachers to teach in it.
    • When there is no proper agriculture, give away seeds freely to sow, but no proper marketing or price after its harvest.
    • When there is no livelihood, build ITIs and Vocational schools, but the graduate won't find proper job in the marketplace

    Let me caution that these are not just scenarios to make you understand the problem and its solution the developmental agency are trying to implement, but are indeed real policies and programs by our government and developmental agencies, international or national. What make them think do it repetitively is the huge amount of money, I mean, Capital which make it their hammer for every problem.

    Now, the problem in hand, which is "Migration", is not itself a problem. What?!! Well, as explained before it is just an effect of the cause, which is under-development. And to solve it, the cause needs to be addressed rather than the effect. Ideally, an all-round integrated solution would be needed in place, but with our limitation we need to tackle the most appropriate and effective cause, i.e., Agriculturewhich we have inferred from the different data and grass-root experiences.

    Agriculture, which employs over 70% of the rural workforce in these hill districts could not fetch farmers minimum wages and profits, which is one of the reason for their out-migration apart from no proper healthcare, education and other services. A typical hill farmer here holds a small land and is surrounded by forests making it vulnerable to wild animals. Despite facing such issues a farmer is able to produce crop for feeding his family of 4-6 people and a surplus, if possible, for selling. Now, the problem is low price for these crops in the local market and no outside market linkages earning him/her an income of INR 20,000 – 40,000 a year. What about other industries? Well, most of them avoid the area because of heightened cost of operations and marketing, even with government incentives.

    Agriculture, which employs over 70% of the rural workforce in these hill districts could not fetch farmers minimum wages and profits, which is one of the reason for their out-migration apart from no proper healthcare, education and other services.

    Agriculture, but how? Isn't everyone doing it? Yes, some of the organisations are doing it and doing it fantastically like SOS Organics, which flashes into mind instantly. They have done it as Private Limited Company, among other other fairly advantageous Non-profits with the backing of huge hammer. But, with agriculture the other problems of healthcare, education still exists. And, without them proper agriculture will become the tipping point for out-migration further.

    What is the answer then? Apparently, Social Business. This is a new form of business where all the stakeholders are taken care of unlike traditional business and at the same time give ownership to the beneficiary/customer/ partner into the business at their own level. And, aardraais a social business, indeed.

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