“Regeneration of Kedar Valley”

Indian economy has changed drastically over the past few years; people are more educated, earning better salaries. Per capita income has increased and the spending power has gone over the moon. But this is just one part of India; there are many places which are still untouched and need improvement. India is slowly modernizing but it is only youth who are keeping up to the global pace, there are thousands of villages and people living there still need to be educated in terms of technology and possibilities of better lifestyle and creating possible income out of what they already own.

Since 2013, after the disastrous situation in Kedar Valley in Uttarakhand, where a cloud busted and turned the whole area into an open cemetery and entire villages were swept with the drastic floods . There were dead bodies all over and it was heartbreaking to see vultures and dogs feeding on them. It is even awful to think about that sight, cannot even feel what those people went through at the time of horrendous natural calamity.

Since the disaster, there has been a tremendous migration from Kedar Valley, there is no employment, and people are moving out of villages to bigger town for better health and education. If this continues like this, a study says that until year 2030, 80% villages of Uttarakhand would be empty. Big cities would turn into slums just like Metropolitan cities.

The biggest problem would be of agriculture, everyone including the rural and urban community needs to eat. If youth keep escaping the village and renounce farming and agriculture, who will grow food for people? Not everyone can get higher jobs and not everyone would want to settle in cities. So how to stop exodus of young people?

The best solution could be by creating Self Employment!! There are many people who have chosen to stay back and opened their own computer, electronic or grocery stores. There are many more opportunities they can choose from.

“Musk deer do not know what they have and they wander around looking for musk”!

Those living in the villages own more land than people living in cities. They have access to open air and clean environment. Self-employment or business of any type can give them marvelous returns if they put a little mind into it. There are many avenues to earn these days if one shows a little interest and smartness.

  1. By creating rural tourism:- Since the private work culture is nourishing in India and loads of MNC’s have come in, people get frustrated of the extra stress and long working hours, since the earning power has increased. People look for excuses to take a break and a small vacation, even if it is for four days. Local tourism has grown tremendously. People can opt for Bed and Breakfast and refurnish their homes into a rental property and sell rooms on daily/weekly basis. They can make a lot of money. Even if one person is educated in the family and knows to work on the internet, he/she can manage online bookings. Since this B/B’s would be cheaper than the hotel, the chances of occupancy are higher. You will have to provide them with a clean room with clean bed and basic necessity and some local village breakfast to give them a feel of your culture. I’m sure if promoted well, this can turn out to a huge success.

kedar

Picture courtesy: Dinesh Semwal

 No, this is not Switzerland, this is Uttarkhand in India, often referred as Devbhoomi, Uttarakhand has it all. Snow capped mountains, Valley of Flowers, beautiful lakes, Himalayas as close as an arm. Uttarakhand’s (state located at the Northern India) beauty cannot be described in a few words.

2. By Educating Older Generation:- Since the technology is booming in India, economies has gone higher. The reason is Men and women both are working and per capita income has increased. According to our Indian culture once a person turns 50-60, they seem to think they are very old and they cannot learn anything new. They should not be earning anymore as they have done whatever they have. If your children are not living with you anymore, they tend to be depressed and somehow live their lives only waiting for the children to visit. They will have to be vigilant about changing India and the culture.

If we can educate them little bit about the technology and they learn how to use the internet, they can also run the Bed and Breakfast rooms and earn. This way, they will be occupied and they will have a regular source of income. When the whole India is modernizing, why not our elders? Even if one person in the couple learns to manage the bookings, the other one can handle cleaning and cooking or they can also hire someone to do it for them.

Computer knowledge would be really beneficial for them, just need to create a little awareness and change their mindsets.

Organic Farming:- Like every other fashionable stuff, organic food is also in fashion these days. Though it comes in very expensive packaging, people don’t feel offended paying extra with the label that comes with “ORGANIC”.

They can turn a small farming area to grow the vegetable and fruits, in demand and sell them to higher retail brands that sell Organic produces, this can also turn into a successful business other than their general produces of wheat and rice.

kedar-1

Picture courtesy: Dinesh Semwal

  1. Milk Products:- Countries like Switzerland earns millions with their milk produces (cheese, butter, milk chocolates). Maybe like them, we can create opportunities for people where they could make excessive amount of cheese or butter to sell in local/International market.

When we visited Grinderwald in Switzerland, it reminded me of my homeland in every tunnel, sharp turns, mountain terrains, landscapes or ecstatic nature, India is not less than anything. It’s just their systems are on track and everything is so well maintained. We lived in a small guesthouse run by an elderly couple; rooms were well equipped, clean and spacious facing the magnificent Jungfrau and its snow-capped Alps. Wife handled online bookings and housekeeping, while husband looked after the kitchen and the breakfast, I must say it was pretty expensive but this is how it is in Switzerland. Most of the guest houses, restaurants, cafeterias are family owned and run by elderly couples. It’s somewhat similar to our villages in India, where there are not many opportunities for young generations but it’s a terrific tourist destination.

  1. Selling Dried cow-dung/animal waste:- Another revenue source can be selling dried cow-dung /animal waste, chunks to larger factories.

 

  1. Selling handmade souvenirs:- Another opportunity could be selling handmade souvenirs, there are many traditional jewellery or clothing, that can be loved by tourists. This can also be a great source of revenue.

I’m grateful to Facebook for reconnecting me with my old friends from school and college. It’s wonderful that sitting here in Canada, I can reach everyone and keep in touch. While, chatting with my fellow classmate, Dinesh Semwal, I came across some real life facts that are unknown to us or maybe there is not everything we know. It compelled me to think over it again and again. Dinesh is a Journalist by profession, working with G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology; he’s a well-known RJ and a Social worker and has been working in the welfare of farmers in the state of Uttarakhand in India. He was always passionate about writing and wanted to do something extraordinary to touch the lives of others.

He has been closely working with Mrs Vandana Shiva, an Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author. He had an opportunity to meet a lot of local farmers in Uttarakhand region and understand their problems. He mentioned, most of the villages are only left with elderly people as there is a major youth migration. They are together working with an organization called “Navdhanya Sanshtha” and working for the “Regeneration of Kedar Valley” where there motto is create awareness in people in small village and educate them for their betterment.

It’s not going to be an easy task to change the mindsets of people in villages and could take a while but this is such a noble and remarkable job.Our society needs more people like them who are selfless and think about other people’s welfare. Hats off to you all!!!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks very much for such a wonderful article, iam very much touched. Its not only India that the youth are the majority of unemployed but i think its a global thing affecting mostly the third world countries like Uganda where i come from, Youth are more of idle than the elderly people making them to be more parasitic to the nation.
    Though Uganda like India is gifted by nature, more of the population are not taking the advantage of the nature to improve on their levels of leaving making a majority of the population to leave below poverty level.
    Once again i say thanks very much for your time to bring such a good educative article which i know will help to wake up the youth to do something profitable for themselves other than sitting
    Robert from Uganda

    Like

  2. Trilok Singh Negi says:

    Thanks Vanadana for writing this article. It is very impressive. Your concerns and suggestions are well recognized for the welfare of the people of hills in the Uttarakhand. There are serious challenges in our lives there ; unemployment, education, migration, sustainability, infrastructure, endangering local languages & cultural heritage etc. . The villages are empty now. Lots of people have been migrated to Cities & metros in search of employment & easier life. Your article will surely inspire lot of us to return and start doing something to turn around the situation. Thanks !

    Liked by 1 person

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