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Raiwadi is a small village of around 1600 souls merely 5 km from the tehsil headquarters of Loha in Nanded district. The 4 member assessment team threw up some very peculiar features of the village that set our mind whirring… there was a sense of déjà vu. We had seen and heard the same stories from Beed and Latur…. From the villages that were close to urban centres…

Most small urban centres throw up images of pollution, congestion, slums, lack of civic amenities etc… however, urbanization also means some other things… a more aware citizenry, better medical facilities, better education, more job opportunities, lesser distress migration for long periods, better access to markets… All in all urbanization could be good news… In many cases it is.

Then why the feeling of disquiet? We thought about it hard and long and tried to pin point the problems that urbanization is bringing in…. to the villages in and around these centres…

Most people (read males) from these fringe villages commute to these urban centres on a daily basis… they spend most of their time working in the town and are not much connected with what happens in the village…

Since these urban centres are often hungry for expansion, small farmers in these fringe villages find their land being sought after… few are able to resist the blandishments of builders and developers and end up selling their land… they get money which seems quite a lot, seen from a farmers’ perspective… in most cases this is the first time that they have seen so much money at one time.. what does not come with the money is the ability to invest it and use it wisely… the result… a burst of spending and prosperity followed by abject poverty… the money runs out and there are no assets left… very often the family does not possess skills to survive in these circumstances… farmers are reduced to landless labourers…

Politically active men in these villages find it convenient to reach the town and while away time at tea shops that dot the main road… they want to meet ‘important’ people, be seen with them and thus boost their own self esteem and image… one finds more ‘politically active’ men in these fringe villages than the more remote ones… once party politics  enters in the village, one can literally kiss the concept of unity goodbye… we have seen this time and again..

Many youth take to driving autos and jeeps as means of livelihood.. with sky rocketing prices of diesel and petrol, kerosene becomes a good alternative… there are no pollution control measures operational on Rural Indian roads anyway… one can suddenly see PDS kerosene been sold at Rs. 40/- per litre (no joke) to people who want it for silly things like cooking… and lighting up their homes…

Prohibition measures taken up by women (if 50% of the women voters in a village / town demand prohibition,  police are duty bound to close down liquor shops) often fail… one may close liquor shops in the village but it is so easy to get drunk in the town and then stagger back… after all the own community can rarely get mobilized enough to ensure prohibition in the town anyway….

People in these villages are reaping the benefits and bearing the brunt of their proximity to the villages… they have not learnt to balance these… a very different sensitization process may be needed for these fringe villages…

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