Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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What has happened to our villages?

I live in a small district headquarters town in central Odisha, which is surrounded by villages. I have seen in the last 18 years that I have been living here how villages are getting deserted. People from villages are migrating to the towns- for various reasons, which range from logistical to psychological- for earing better livelihood, for education of their children, for better medical facilities to just be counted as an urban dweller. The quality of village life- despite improvement in infrastructural facilities like roads, electricity, piped water supply- has gone down, is going down. Every time I visit nearby and far flung villages- I see people either trying to shift to urban areas or at least pushing their children to live in urban areas. I see a general sense of dissatisfaction with their life in villages and desperation to move out. Why so?

Manoj Das, one of the greatest writer and thinker of recent times used to edit a magazine titled The Heritage. In January 1989 issue of this magazine he had written an editorial on this, which is prophetic:

“What has been the biggest loss to India during the recent years? I do not know the answer our readers would give to this question. I expect several answers and not one. Let me share with you the answer I would readily give. The biggest loss has been the destruction of India’s village.

The village is neither dead not in a coma. It has just been driven crazy. Its harmony, serenity and beauty have disappeared or is fast disappearing, giving way to a bizarre life style marked by ecological ruination and exploitation of caste sentiments by politicians, intrusion by commercial enterprises-ranging from arbitrary establishments of factories to opening up of liquor shops.

Let it be emphasized that the extension of technology and new amenities to the village (including electricity) are not at fault. That was necessary and the village has got it as a matter of its right. It is the demoniac hunger for false prosperity and lack of respect for the rural grace, along with an inability to see the consequences of certain kinds of developmental activities on the part of the entrepreneurs, planners as well as the villagers themselves (at least some of them) that have brought about the sad state of affairs.

If the village has lost, who has gained? Is it the city? The answer, unfortunately, is No.”

Why cities have not gained? Because, the migration from rural areas to the urban has been too fast and too large. Infrastructure of no city in this country could match the migration. And we were not prepared for this kind of migration. Result: the cities are bursting at the seams.  Most of the rural migrants are economic refugees and concentrate in slums. That is why when urban areas are growing in people terms it is fastest in the slums. Look at any city in this country, slums are growing.

We need to plan realistically to cope with the situation.

 

Adventure

2018 has been declared as the ‘Year of Adventure Tourism’ by Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry in addition to the Adventure Tour Operator Association of India (ATOAI) has decided to promote adventure travel via maneuvering activities to rejoice the year of adventure tourism.

My take on this is simple. India has always been a unique place, where adventure is built in everyday activities.

What do we mean by adventure? Dictionary says it means an unusual and exciting or daring experience, an act fraught with danger.

Now in India adventure is built in with all activities. Even the simple act of walking or driving on the road could be a daring experience fraught with danger. Consider the number of people dying of road accident. A Report on Road Accidents in India 2016, published by Transport Research wing under Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Government of India, has revealed that at least 413 people died every day in 1,317 road accidents in 2016. As per the data cited in the report, the country recorded at least 4,80,652 accidents in 2016, leading to 1,50,785 deaths. Road accident happens to be the ninth out of 10 top causes of death in India.

Take another simple act of getting drench in the pouring rain, which many young men and women at heart would consider to be a pleasure. This can also be considered as adventure as lightning can strike. Statistics tell us that lightning is the leading killer among natural disasters in India. In 2014, at least 2,582 people died in lightning strikes.

So, there is a need to promote India as a land, where adventure is built in with all activities, however mundane that may seem. That probably would attract many tourists from across the world.

Oil-price

Immediately after the recent Karnataka election, oil prices sky rocketed. There was rise in the prices for 15 times in quick succession before the respite came. Prices came down- by one paisa. There was rage in social media with people posting the photograph of one paisa coin which had been withdrawn from circulation and demonetized on 30 June 2011. I think, it was in a way good, for people had forgotten how one paisa looked like. They could refresh their memory.

Tailpiece 1

PM Modi is single

Odisha CM Nabin Pattnaik is single

UP CM Yogi is single

Rahul is single

TATA is single

Salman is single

Baba Ramdev single

Sri Sri Ravishankar also single !!

Now I am searching for that idiot who said, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman”.

Due to those idiotic words many got married.

Tailpiece 2

The wife checked her husband’s phone and found these names:

 

– The tender one

– the amazing one

– Lady of my dreams

 

She got angry and called the first number to find out that was his mother. Then she called the second number on which his sister replied. When she dialed the third number her own phone rang !!!!

 

She cried until her eyes got swollen because she had doubted her innocent husband, so she gave him her whole month’s salary to make up for her sin.

 

Husband took the money and bought a gift for his girlfriend whose name was saved as “Electrician Gopal”

 

Be smart be safe

(Courtesy: Social Media)

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Journalist turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal , a Central Odisha town. He also writes fiction. English translation of his Odia novel Shakti and compilation of his column Window Seat will be formally released during Kalinga Literature Festival, June 8-10 in Bhubaneswar . [email protected]

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