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Changes in Villages

Villages in Haryana taking which discretion:

The villages in Haryana may look similar in outward appearance but inwardly they have unusual features and individuality that can be discovered in meticulous in details only if keenly observed. There is a rationale to be noticed as to why the village communities shaped their living landscape in a different way and ventured into more plausible manners in regard to cultural and artistic endeavors. Until two decades ago when Rajkishan Nain and this author carefully drafted the research protocols and launched themselves into studying and documenting the cultural histories of individual villages in Haryana there was a virtual drought in the field. It was a disappointing revelation that information about the evolutionary facets of village communities in Haryana was never scrupulously investigated and documented even during the British regime in spite of the fact that Baden Powell and.
Women fetching water from well in greenary

As could be noticed elsewhere, village communities in Haryana too are prone to change due to pressures from within as well as outside. But the rate at which the village communities have let the outside influence penetrate the social set up was slow until 1965 but got accelerated in the mid-nineties of the 20th century. It may be interesting to note from socio-cultural and economic point of view the tremendous changes in the lifestyles of the people inhabiting the village communities in modern Haryana. The way the people now dress, sing, hold and organize socially important events and assemble for community celebrations, solemnize marriages, receive education, carry on agricultural operations, establish and maintain social relationships, move in society, feed themselves, build houses, educate themselves and utilize community and personal resources reflect on the transitional status of the rural society in Haryana.

Until the linking of all villages with metalled and motorable roads, making provision for safe drinking water and simultaneously connecting them to electricity supply lines reaching almost every hamlet, the village communities lived in peaceful and splendid isolation in their own customary styles. The architects of these major changes were Shri Bansi Lal, Smt. Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and now Shri Bhupinder Singh Hooda. In fact, the period from 1950 to 1970 can be taken as immensely important by research scholars in all the intellectual disciplines for undertaking in-depth and comparative studies about village communities in Haryana. An opportunity for launching contemporary and scholarly studies and documenting the changes can now be launched with appropriate initiatives and public funding. During this period the vestiges of most of the social practices, cultural ethos, religious events, economic activity, trading secrets, language and linguistic patterns, art & craft forms, food habits, lifestyle, learning modes, religious and medical scriptures, handwritten documents or manuscripts, traditional records, agricultural practices and manufacturing patterns, kinship relationship, travel modes, household apparatus, style of abodes and community buildings, geographical features, meteorological parameters in addition to the fauna and flora of yore could have been found unspoilt and in pristine shape. It is now recognized that villages communities in Haryana have transformed, albeit slowly. This transformation has not been easy or spontaneous but very sacrificing and painful. Although modernity won over tradition, but the loss on socio-cultural front was immense in comparison to the other areas. Should not we assess the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages that accrued from this change? Therefore Haryana is not all about amniocentesis i.e. aborting the girl child in the womb, bride beating and burning, child marriages, wine drinking, illiteracy and agriculture but also for arts and crafts, folk songs and dances, beautiful and glittering costumes, magnificent structures, brotherhood patterns besides computer literacy and rapid strides of growth and development of modern vision for the future.

From earlier times, people have moved from rural to urban areas in search of a better life; some prospered while a large number perished or led a miserable life. The upsurge in migration from rural to urban areas was particularly noticeable in the decades beginning 1970. There were no valuable leftovers for them in retrospect except ethnic roots, ancestral linkages and the debris of inter-community or kinship tensions that also melted down in the third and successive generations to occasionally raise their ugly head as incidents of ‘honor killings’. The so called ‘progressive people’ sold their ancestral land and domestic property to lose the umbilical cord with their parental place. For many, the promised cities deceived them.

‘People in the cities are highly mobile and crafty whereas in rural areas simple, ignorant and hardworking’ - was a common belief until exposed by social scientists in a few landmark, longitudinal studies. I do not mean to say that villages are all heaven and cities all hell but the feeling of togetherness in a village community or group of migrant ruralites was always greater than the urbanites. There were some genuine efforts during the British Raj period to study the socio-cultural structure and tribal affiliations of the people of Haryana that was duly reflected in the District Gazetteers* and many other official and non-official documents compiled or written by the British officers posted at various places on official assignments.

In the post partition era, the documentation efforts could not even be equalized lest undertaken on a large scale by later scholars. Of course, there are various State govt. agencies doing some sporadic studies, compiling data or updating the information, but the scenario is far from appreciation in spite of an explosion of IT and the easily accessible Internet services. The websites of the districts of Haryana do not have a single line on the natural and social histories of village estates, not even of selected village estates. Even the universities of Haryana, called seats of advanced learning and responsible for generating new knowledge, could leave little or no impact on village communities in their respective constituencies or even their neighborhoods ever since their establishment. It was only through the efforts of some enthusiastic individuals that a few valuable research studies or enquiries relating to the social and cultural life of the people of Haryana could be set up and completed. But none of these studies could reflect upon the intricate fabric of village communities, their cultural and historical evolution, life of the peasants, artisans, supporting communities (now called Dalits), philanthropic activities, trading community, economic interdependence, indebtedness, self-reliance through cottage industries and general wisdom of the people. More so, no scientific studies were ever carried out in the village communities to learn about the level of existing knowledge about traditional science and technology; not even during the two great movements of the eighties and nineties i.e., the Jan Vigyan Jathas and Saksharta Mission or The National Literacy Movement. The achievements enumerated by a couple of agencies in both govt. and NGOs sector are ridiculously of low levels. These nationwide movements almost neglected the village communities and to claim that the twin movements were successful is a myth. There are no survey-based impact-assessment documents with the sponsors of these movements to either qualitatively establish or quantify that the people in the village communities of Haryana were really a transformed lot thereafter; that their lifestyles practices might henceforth be guided by scientific temperament; that they have become one hundred per cent scientifically literate or their understanding of modern science has enhanced, is an absolutely counterfeit claim put up by organizers, which evolved themselves with vested interests such as continuity for regular employment and inflow of funds. In case, an honest investigation was carried out as to how the activists associated with the twin movements could acquire false sense of attaining a desirable level could be amazing even to the sleuths who always sought the big, bad guys. Regrettably, not even a single media study was planned to assess the impact of these movements on the minds of the people immediately after the conclusion of countrywide Jathas. These activists, in fact, wanted to first make some opinion leaders who in turn would not only provide a frontal access to the but also cultivate like minded people to achieve subtle ‘political motives’ connected with social equity but otherwise leftist philosophy. To their dismay, the village community in Haryana was found to be more mature and ascetically conservative than perceived. The activists failed miserably but not before millions of rupees were drained down in the name of literacy and popularization of science. Nevertheless, the various modes and blown up objectives had fundamental flaws because they had little understanding of the Indian cultural psyche.

Like elsewhere in India, the village communities in Haryana are deeply rooted in Vedic culture. They could not be brainwashed. No alien political culture and philosophy of whatsoever attraction could transform them. The village communities in Haryana have unique cultural and political philosophies remotely but firmly connected to the benevolent Kings like Veer Vikramaditya, Raja Bhoj, Raja Harishchandra, Raja Harshvardhan and of Raja Suraj Mal of Bharatpur. Earlier it were Lords Rama and Krishna who had deeply influenced the psyche of the ruralites in Haryana. When it was well known that the classics like The Ramayana and The Mahabharata have a profound impact on the village communities of Haryana, nothing short of the stature of Swami Dayananda Saraswati and later Chaudhary Chhotu Ram could change them. In free India the village folk of Haryana do not recognize any icon other than Chaudhary Chhotu Ram, the hardy Jat leader of the nineteen forties who rose from a simple village lad of Garhi Sampla to become a formidable Jat leader in the pre-partition Punjab.

Modern science and technology came much later in Haryana. It is more in the form of tools and products rather than in the shape of knowledge produced by institutional research and development. Some research activities are being carried out in a low profile at the Agricultural University at Hisar and a few centrally funded Institutions but no other State funded institution can be identified that has a strong R&D base. Even the teaching standards in many institutions of higher learning in Haryana are of mediocre quality. Outstanding publications in reputed journals by Haryana based authors have never been seen in great numbers as highlighted in a survey of the universities in Haryana carried out two years ago by The Tribune newspaper published from Chandigarh.

The above explanation substantially contrasts with the ancient standards of research in this land of plenty. Although we have a long list of outstanding innovators, developers and teachers who did original research work in ancient times in the disciplines of grammar, literature, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture and developed tools and articles for daily use, yet not a single name appears to mind who recently attained a status worth mentioning. It should be understood that unless a society cultivates, nourishes and encourages innovators and researchers capable of generating new knowledge, it cannot endure. Institutional excellence for doing this kind of work is a rare commodity nowadays in Haryana. Unfortunately, the political masters in Haryana lacked advanced vision and never seriously pondered to pave way for its development. They kept themselves engaged more in providing infrastructural services to the people in the name of development by intriguing grants from the Central govt. or from International bodies. People could hardly realize the trap of debt left behind by every popular successive State government. Even the Universities of Haryana where centers of excellence could have been developed were made a playground for petty politics. The universities have failed to establish connections with institutions of excellence both at home and abroad.

Before the advent of modern tools of management, administrative systems and research capabilities in all spheres of life, people in Haryana or elsewhere in the country were using time tested, obsolete tools and. However, research proved otherwise. Take for example the area of agriculture and associated practices where the traditional seed varieties were used to raise crops. The technology of Persian wheel for raising water from a well for irrigating crops was in vogue. All the tools of harvesting were locally designed, crafted and manufactured. Natural pesticides and insecticides like the neem and guggul were used instead of synthetic pesticides. Neem leaves were used as repellent whereas guggul for fumigation within the houses. The neem seeds were used as manure in those fields that were infested by harmful termites and other worms. In the case of domestic architecture, the traditional village communities in Haryana were wiser than modern architects and designers. The traditional village communities used time tested, culturally viable and environment friendly technology in building houses as evidenced from thousands of Havelis dotted the countryside of Haryana.

It is not that all the new systems that modified the lifestyles of the village communities in Haryana left an adverse impact. No doubt the village communities selectively identified items and technologies that changed their social and economic status e.g., new hybrid seeds, pesticides, insecticides, tractors and farm implements for mechanization of agricultural operations, sprinklers for irrigation in the desert and arid areas, new modes of transportation like the ubiquitous two wheelers or cars and jeeps or new and stylish clothes. The change was brought about not only due to enhancement in agricultural income but also from other sources like earnings from service, poultry and pig farming and selling of agricultural land. Village communities learned two good things; to earn favour through active politics and ensuring higher education for their children, for they understood that by doing so they can earn a higher position, prosperity and status in society. It also helped them to see their sons, daughters and wards commanding some authority in the official hierarchy of the administration of both the Central and State governments. This rogue vision has spoiled the village communities as all modalities for personal gains were picked up but as soon as they felt discarded, collective opposition was manifest. In this degenerating milieu many upcoming families severed links from village communities to become wholly urbanized. It becomes pertinent to seriously consider this change in lifestyle and attitudes and devise means to prevent casualties in its wake the cultural heritage of our village communities could be preserved.

Take for example the wall paintings that still adore thousands of cornices, walls, niches, ceilings, corners and pillars of the old buildings in hundreds of villages, towns and small kasbahs of Haryana. No scholar or photographer has ever thoroughly investigated and described this treasure of art history and published exhaustively. The images and scenes on the walls were once the proud heritage of the village folk. The cultural transformation in recent decades has been mainly responsible for wiping out these symbols of heritage from even our memories. The physical damage is so intense that only a major effort can save them. The village ponds were scenic and the surrounding splendor was enhanced by Shivalayas, masonry quays and artistically laid shelters. The village chaupal-building was nothing short of a beautiful edifice decorated with wall paintings. But with modernity entering every sphere of village life the old symbols of the rich cultural heritage in village communities came to be neglected. The village communities in Haryana nowadays are in a dilemma in search of a better and secure future in the shadow of politicians. The rural folk in Haryana, more so in a 150-kilometer radius of Delhi, face this dilemma even more than the ‘remote’ southwestern regions of the State.

Jai Dada Nagar Kheda Bada Bir

Author: Ranbir Singh Phougat

First Edition: 09/06/2013

Publisher: NHReL

  • * District Gazetteers and Settlement Reports were compiled and written in 1803, 1834, 1840, 1864, 1879, 1883, 1904 and 1910 AD. Some of them were recently re-printed

Art & Life Topic Box
The list of issues/topics published on Nidana Heights till date under site' Art & Life section. Item are enlisted in alphabetical order:

Art & Life:

Articles in English:
  1. Changes in Haryana Villages
  2. Art of Haryanvi Kumhaars
  3. Woodcrafts in Haryana
  4. On trail of Rabaris
  5. Fading Frescoes of Haryana
  6. Crumbling Heritage of Haryana
  7. Kuans-Baolis of Haryana
  8. Saanjhi Ri - The folk art
  9. Salvaging Symbols of Haryana
  10. Magnificent Masonry Tanks
हिंदी में लेख:
  1. हरियाणवी भित्तिचित्र कला
  2. हरिगंधा लोकवार्ता
  3. हरियाणा का लोक-इतिहास
  4. हरियाणा की धर्मशाला-परम्परा
  5. हरियाणा की आहार परम्परा
  6. हरियाणवी बुनकरों की धरोहर
  7. संस्कृति के वाहक
  8. हरियाणा की धाड़ संस्कृति
  9. प्राचीन भारत को जाट/जट्ट की देन
  10. परिवर्तन के आयाम
  11. ग्रामीण लोक-इतिहास
NH Case Studies:
  1. Farmer's Balancesheet
  2. Right to price of crope
  3. Property Distribution
  4. Gotra System
  5. Ethics Bridging
  6. Types of Social Panchayats
  7. खाप-खेत-कीट किसान पाठशाला
  8. Shakti Vahini vs. Khaps
  9. Marriage Anthropology
  10. Farmer & Civil Honor
NH Banners & Messages
“Say no to Dowry”
Eliminate this sex inequality!
Human purchases vegetables, cattle even all routine courses in hand to hand give and take deal then why this blunder mistake in marriages that only girl’s side will pay and that too in double costs in terms of daughter and dowry both? Lets stop this male dominance and female discrimination. - NH
“Adore the girl child”
Say no to female foeticide!
If you can’t bear the birth of a girl child in your family, you should not expect a bride for your son. Invaders are gone, lets bring  back our divine period of Vedic times for our females. - NH
“Lead the Change”
Keeping the system of discussion alive!
Moving with time and adapting the change is the only key to sustain civilizations. - NH
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