Raghavendra P Tiwari
RURAL Bharat has undergone tremendous changes since my childhood days. It has witnessed a large-scale exodus to cities, resulting in congestion, pollution and an unhealthy lifestyle. Rural areas and forests are shrinking to make way for cities and towns. Nature-friendly rural practices of livelihood are taking their last breath. We have forgotten the wisdom enshrined in William Cowper’s statement, ‘God made the country and man made the town.’ Thus, rural Bharat is struggling to free itself from the clutches of India.
It seems that we are hell-bent on destroying the traditional knowledge base, wisdom, morals and ethics of our ancestors. We no longer believe in the nature-centric attributes of the Sanatan culture and a civilisational discourse. Macaulay’s ghost must be laughing at us as we are now Bharatiya only in the colour of our skin and the blood coursing through our veins. When it comes to our dresses, food, actions and value system, we have become westerners.
Resultantly, villages no longer resemble the traditional Bharatiya villages in terms of infrastructure, lifestyle, utilisation of natural resources, social structure, morals and ethics. Humans interact more with machines than with relatives as the joint family system has become passe. Aged parents are left in the lurch. Relationships are weighed in terms of gain and loss. The consumption of alcohol and drugs has increased. On the whole, it is a civilisational downfall.
A coexistential frame of mind has become isolationist. ‘Less is more’, the guiding principle of the Bharatiya culture, has been replaced by ‘More is less’ — the western value system. Natural resources are being exploited limitlessly to satisfy greed. Temperatures are on the rise and we face the wrath of climate change, manifested in floods, droughts, cyclones, forest fires, land subsidence, glacial melt and sea-level rise. Consequently, Mother Earth is wounded and becoming inhospitable.
In spite of all this, we proudly proclaim that rural Bharat is seeing an all-round development. These situations compel us to revisit the extant development discourse. And we should mend our ways — the sooner the better. We need to reaffirm our ancient faith that all living and non-living entities are the creations of the Almighty, possess divine energy and are an extension of the self and thus interconnected. This faith system helps promote a coexistential mindset and a civilisational discourse in accordance with ancient culture. Humanistic education emphasised by Education 5.0 and the ancient Gurukul system of education will help develop the necessary skills and a holistic worldview for ensuring the longevity of our civilisation. To conclude, I quote Pete Seeger: ‘I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other.’
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