Culture and People / Rural India

Where people have no fear…observations based on Rural Gujarat, India

Where people have no fear…observations based on Rural Gujarat, India

Works takes me to small nook and corners of our huge country. And the need to capture nuggets of information called ‘consumer insights’ required in depth interaction with the people. Currently my focus in on Rural India, more specifically the farmers and their needs for mechanization in farming practices.

Recently visited many villages in Gujarat covering the district of Rajkot (Chhandli, Kalipat, khadha dhar, hadmadiya, Gauvridhar, barvan, Pipariya), Junagadh (Vadal, Makhariya, choki, Nani Parvadi, Zapadhar, Majevdi), Jamnagar (Eatara, Falla, Dhroll, Kharva, Khimarana, Manekpar), Surendranagar (Zapodar, Muli, Halvad, Dhavana, Shivpur). And here are some of the observations based on our experience.

  • Infrastructure wise Gujarat seems to be one of the best state across India – looking at infrastructure both at Urban and Rural areas – including some of the top cities/ Urban Areas.
  • Even remote areas in Gujarat have roads which were nicely maintained. One hardly feels the bump on the roads even when travelling in Rural areas – so common to experience them on the roads of Delhi  NCR.
  • The best Electricity distribution facility one can see in the whole country. People hardly face power cut at home, both Urban and in Rural areas (compare this with the 4-6 hours daily power cut in Delhi NCR region, which makes life so much dependent on Inverters / generators for power backup at home and in officers)
  • In villages, we observed woman’s using Induction cooking (hot plates) making their kitchen smoke-free. They cook everything on it, including Roti (Indian bread) directly on the hot plate. They do not need expensive LPG for cooking – which is anyways difficult to get in the villages. In fact these villagers have directly jumped from wood based stoves to electricity based cooking method, leaving their cousins elsewhere in the country behind who are still stuck with the LPG based cooking methods. LPG is not only expensive. There is a huge amount of subsidy being spent on it by govt., creating a big hole in govt. budget.
  • Also observed in some urban areas of Gujarat people  customizing LPG gas kits for 2 wheelers (only in those areas where LPG is easily available).
  • Gujarati farmers are more open to use new methods & means in agriculture.
  • Innovation & adaptability is so much there in the blood of Gujarati farmers.
  • The Gujarati farmers are advancing with farm mechanization – use of tractors, tillers, harvesters etc.  is on a high swing.
  • Farmers in Gujarat are now focussing on producing cash crops (Cotton, Ground-nut, etc.) to earn better money for the farm products. Use of BT seeds is very much prevalent.
  • Gujarati farmers are also trying better utilization of their land by cultivating multiple crops in the year.
  • With reducing crop cycles– demand for farm labor is increasing. Shortage of Labor (due to NREGA) is resulting in an increase in farm mechanization – farmers buying tractors & seed drillers, automatic pumps for spraying fertilizer & pesticide – so that the dependency of manual labor reduces. The easy availability of loan & subsidies for farm mechanization is also helping the farmers in Gujarat. With the help of Govt. subsidies farmers in Gujarat have also installed small wind mills in their farms for irrigation.
  • We also met some farmers in Gujarat who have also customized, designed, even manufactured tractors and other agriculture implements based on their specific needs & requirements.
  • Even in those areas where the electricity is regulated for farm/irrigation usage, it is in a highly planned manner, so that their is no inconvenience to the farmers.
  • Due to the geographical conditions, water is not so abundantly available in Gujarat as it is in some of the other states in the country, there is high dependency on rainfall for better crop production. But farmers are showing high interest in water harvesting , use of drip water irrigation.
  • Truly believing in joint family, Gujarati share their resources.
  • Even Gujarati woman seems to be getting a much better deal in terms of their say in the family matters.*
  • People serve Tea & even milk (shamelessly requested by one of our team members since he doesn’t drink tea) in plate served through the kettle, which indicated the characteristics of optimal utilization of scares resources .
  • Nicely maintained comfortable Buses (run by private entrepreneurs) are regular means of transport within the state are a joy to travel in. Need them so badly in other cities where the condition of interstate buses is really bad (just try any UP/Haryana Roadways bus and you
    would realize what I am saying)
  • Gujarati people are proud of what they have – steel utensils/ Crockery on top shelves in their living room, a Jhoola (Swing) from the ceiling for kids to have fun. I remember similar experience of my south Indian friend whose father insisted that he will marry his son in a family where they are not ashamed of using plastic chairs in the living room. The son, an IIM-A graduate, shares father’s ideology and is now a top executive based in Mumbai with a Indian modern retail giant in.He is the most intelligent person I have met personally in my life and also a true inspiration for all those who know him.
  • Most of the Gujarati farmers want good education for their children, do well in their life – whether they want to work in cities or come back to the farm after studying agriculture. Met with a farmer whose son has recently complete engineering degree in Agriculture and come back to take up their farming activity to next level.
  • Saw a lot of people in the cities & villages chewing Maava, but didn’t saw them spitting everywhere to leave a mark of their presence (hate the fine art of spitting which is so evident in any staircase wall in many cities)
  • Co- operative societies (known as Mandali) are run by members from villages & provides Micro finance to villagers at lower interest rates and low tolerance in due payment.  Observed that farmers are very confident about getting/repaying loan for agriculture & activities.
  • High on patriotism – the love of Gujarati people for their country colour visible all around. Most of the farmers have painted their houses in Indian flag colour; they have even painted fencing polls of their fields in tri India Colour.
  • The safety & security can be felt everywhere – on the road, in the market place, malls, religious places. I was truly amazed and kept asking people, even the taxi drivers about it and they were so cool about it – ‘Yahan par koi dar nahi hai’ (‘there is no fear here’).

Other related stories

*We Met with a farmer who said that his elder sister (now married and managing her own family) is his role model & Ideal of life.  She was the one to inspire the younger brother/sister to study, do some work or start business – not just depend on the limited family farmland for everything. The person worked for 10 years in a factory and then came back to work on the family farm when their father was too old to manage on his own. Their younger brother did even better saving good money after working few years in City, came back to village & bought two tractors (one big & one small) and a range of agriculture equipment – both the brother are now not only use these tools to farm their own land, but they make more money by renting out these equipment to other. I felt  so good to be sitting with them & observing it all when the farmer was praising his elder sister, his father also sitting nearby & nodding saying that it was the very important since their land holding isn’t very large.  The girls in the family were getting ready to go to the school in the 2nd shift, waiting for the ‘Chakda’ – a ‘jugaad’ autoriksha converted out of old bikes.

**A Gujarati farmer talked about taking a 5 Lac rupee loan to re-construct his house – it  was nice and comfortable house, with use of marble for flooring & tiles on walls, nice & clean toilets – but we were surprise to see that there was no main door or the doors to the rooms & kitchen. The farmer just  laughed and said they feel so safe & secure that the door is not the high priority – they will put it up once they get some money after the next harvest. Compare it with the law & order situation & the atmosphere of fear under which the people are living in other places in the country – the doors are installed even before the construction of the house is complete – otherwise neighbours steal the bricks and construction material!

52 Facts about Gujarat

(Tweeted by @InfoGujarat on Gujarat’s foundation day (May 1st 2012)

  1. More than 2000 festivals are celebrated in Gujarat- State is known as ‘the land of fairs &  festivals
  2. Gujarat has the highest rate of eye donation in India. It contributes 25% of total eye donations in the country
  3. The Government of Gujarat was the first state government in India (and Asia) to set up a separate Department of Climate Change
  4. Gujarat has the longest coastline of any state in India- 1600 kms – representing nearly a quarter of India’s total coastline. The coastline is so long because it extends into the Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Khambat geographically
  5. Some of the finest ‘Aari’ embroideries are still being produced by thousands of women artisans in Kutch. The embroidery was historically carried out for royalty and wealthy families by the women artisans of Kutch.
  6. There are more than 100 step wells in Gujarat,the largest being Rani-ki-Vav (Queen’s Well) built in the 11th century at Patan.
  7. Ahmedabad gained the nickname ‘the Manchester of the East’ on account of its booming textile industry.
  8. Gujarat has an integrated state wide gas grid with an extensive transmission of almost 2200 kms
  9. India’s first “Nari Adalat”- women’s court was set up in Gujarat
  10. Ahmedabad’s Civil Hospital is the largest hospital in Asia
  11. Ahmedabad is one of the few cities in the world which houses famous buildings by both Le Corbusier & Louis Kahn
  12. Gujarat is home to the world’s largest ship breaking and recycling yard in Alang, near Bhavnagar
  13. 8 out of 10 of the world’s diamonds are processed in Surat,Gujarat-the Global Hub of the diamond cutting and polishing industry
  14. The Greater Flamingo is the state bird of Gujarat
  15. Gujarat boasts of one of the best road networks in India exceeding 74,000 kms. Over 95% of this road length is surfaced
  16. Gujarat’s rich literary history can be traced back to the year 1000 AD
  17. There are 21 sanctuaries and 4 national parks in Gujarat
  18. Indulal Yagnik, the architect of the Gujarat state, is fondly referred to as Indu Chacha all over Gujarat
  19. Gujarat is the exclusive natural habitat of lions outside Africa
  20. Gujarat is the1st state Govt to start chess programmes in schools
  21. One of Ahmedabad’s claim to fame is its kite-making industry.There are more than 20,000 kite-makers in the city
  22. A Special Economic Zone(SEZ) in Dahej,Gujarat was named one of the top 25 SEZs in the world by fDi bimonthly magazine in 2010
  23. Gujarat is the first state in India to introduce state transport buses that run on bio diesel in 2005
  24. The Mango tree is the state tree of Gujarat
  25. The geometry of the Kankaria lake situated in Ahmedabad is a polygon with 34 sides
  26. At a height of about 2000 feet, Palitana in Gujarat is the only place in the world with more than 900 Jain temples
  27. The world’s third largest dinosaur fossil site can be found in Rayoli, Gujarat
  28. There are about 46.1 million speakers of ‘Gujarati’ worldwide, making it the 26th most spoken native language in the world
  29. The Zoroastrian (Parsi) community reached the coast of Gujarat in 10th century AD. Sacred flame symbolising purity which the Parsi community brought with them still burns at Udavada in Gujarat
  30. Ahmedabad’s Bus Rapid Transit System was awarded the best sustainable transport system in the world by the ITDP in January 2010
  31. Gujarat was one of the first Indian states to have a dedicated Port Policy (1995) &  a Shipbuilding Policy (2010)
  32. Mt Girnar is the highest mountain of Gujarat with a height of 3,383 ft
  33. Even during the worst years of recession, Gujarat registered double digit industrial growth
  34. The Champaner-Pavagrah Archaeological Park in Gujarat has been recognised by UNESCO as a “world heritage site”
  35. Junagadh district of Gujarat is the leading producer of groundnuts in India
  36. India’s first Marine Wildlife Sanctuary and first marine national park were created in the gulf of kutch off the Gujarat coast
  37. The state is home to major sites of the Indus Valley Civilisations such as Lothal and Dholavira.
  38. Dholavira is the site of the world’s oldest reservoir while Lothal contains the ancient ruins of the world’s first dockyard.
  39. The first capital of Gujarat was Ahmedabad; the capital was moved to Gandhinagar in 1970
  40. The Samras Gram initiative of Gujarat is aimed at promoting grassroot village development & to avoid factional conflicts
  41. Amul brand managed by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd is jointly owned by 3 million milk producers of  Gujarat
  42. Percentage of working days lost in Gujarat due to industrial strife is 0.42 per cent, the lowest in India
  43. Gujarat is 1st state of India to comeup with Single Window Clearance Act in govt departments
  44. Pipavav port of Gujarat is India’s first greenfield port to have been established in the private sector
  45. In December 2011 a leading market research firm IMRB declared Ahmedabad as India’s best mega-city to live in
  46. The Rann of Kutch covers a large portion of Western Gujarat, famous for its white salt desert, rare ecosystem, fossils & wildlife
  47. Tata Motor’s Nano, the world’s cheapest car, is manufactured in Sanand, Gujarat
  48. Gujarat is home to some of the most prestigious educational institutions of the country including IIM-A, CEPT,NID,IIT,NIFT,etc
  49. The world’s 1st canal-top solar power project has been set up on the Narmada canal at Chandrasan village of Gujarat
  50. Gujarat’s Khel Mahakumbh 2011 has been recognised as the Single Biggest Special Olympics event
  51. Gujarat is a safe state with low crime rates. Gujarat has one of the lowest crime rates against women among all Indian states
  52. In the near future, Gujarat plans to make Gandhinagar the first Indian city to run completely on solar power
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