In and around Bhamlada

The people of sub-mountainous
region Dhar Block and I

The hilly area in Dhar block in an around Bhamlada, some aspects of the present and the future

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The hilly area in Dhar block in an around Bhamlada,
some aspects of the present and the future

I am about to write about the possibilities and problems of this sub-mountainous area that borders Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir in India.
The area falls in Dhar block, and is mainly a rural area with hills and woodlands.
The value system is changing fast all over India and rapid economic growth is creating a new social structure on a nationwide scale.
This area, that was dubbed a "backward area" is experiencing the winds of change too, in negative and positive aspects both.
New possibilities have to be taken into account when we try to form some idea about the future in context of the present situation.
The importance of the human factor must never be overlooked or underestimated when we assess the situation. The problems and possibilities that I am writing about this area affect not only this area but other places too. In this era of globalization, even a remote rural area is directly connected with and influenced by many global situations such as climate change.
Television and news papers have been able to bridge the information gap between the urban and rural people. Incidents that take place not only in different parts of India but in other far a way regions of the world influence the social psyche here.
Information technology has spread here too with the connectivity through mobile phones and internet.
This has created a new outlook towards living and lifestyle in negative and positive aspects both.
New hopes for a different future, with better material facilities are transforming the society in a rapid way and many of the younger generation are thinking of working in areas that their forefathers had never worked.
Frustration and despair are the side effects of such a situation too for those who have their hopes unfulfilled.
The global phenomenon of the conflict between hope and despair in the process of establishing oneself financially has become quite common here too.
Frustration and despair have affected those who have not been able to "make it" or to reach the level of material success hoped for.
Many of the old values are being phased out while a new lifestyle is gaining popularity.
Unscrupulous mentality with a tendency to cut corners in different aspects of social life on a daily basis in common.
Time honoured notions of work and satisfaction in rural agriculture based life is being destroyed by the lure of the consumerist life-style.
This results in moral degradation in many of the frustrated youth who often get involved with multiple social evils.
As money has become the dictum of "success" and the ancient wisdom of ethical values is eroding fast, unscrupulous methods to grab more money are being adopted widely.
This situation is creating serious trouble and may cause a devastating situation that will definitely adversely affect the social, economical and the ecological balance.
Corruption, in different levels of administration as well as amongst the local population is the biggest obstacle to the path of progress.
Whether the money sanctioned for the development projects are being utilized properly or not is a matter for serious enquiry.
Most of the local self governments or panchayets are centers of narrow village politics that is overshadowed by bigger political pressures fuelled by a corrupt system.
Irresponsible attitude of the members of local self governing system who are often uneducated and ignorant about the need of being honest is common.
So, often the government projects are not implemented properly and the money gets into wrong hands in many cases.
Higher pay scales in government employments, government grants as well as certain shady ways of accumulating money have led to greater financial gains. An increase in the buying capacity is evident in this area and new shops selling consumer goods are being set up fast.
I have noted that higher pay scales do not mean greater work efficiency necessarily and there is a tendency to render slipshod service or extremely poor service in many government institutions.
There is very little accountability in the case of government servants and the common people are often forced to accept this situation.
This situation is not an isolated phenomenon but is quite common all over India.
Unless the people concerned in general change their attitude for the better and understand that real development comes only through sincere and hard work, the situation is likely to get worse.
It is thought commonly that to get important work done in any government office, in many cases one has to pay bribes.
Degradation of social psyche is a problem that can be overcome only by the spread of social consciousness in a positive manner.
As this is the vital aspect of development, we have been spreading social consciousness in many ways, especially through healthy cultural programmes.
My work with the children of this area have shown that the rural children here have a liking for art generally and this "liking for art" can be an important factor for cultural development in this area in future.
Our work involves art exhibitions for the village dwellers, workshops of art for rural children and projects to documents the land and people here from the angle of social anthropology.
Many people here are becoming internet conscious and are viewing the cultural developments of this area with a certain amount of interest.
The dimensions of life widen when healthy artistic activities spread in any society, and the new generation finds a new meaning for life.
People become more conscious about many social evils such as smoking, excessive drinking and become aware of different ecological calamities caused by pollution through our programmes about such problems.
I am certain that only a society with a proper and healthy attitude in general would be able to reap the benefits if Dhar block becomes a tourist center in future.
Only better consciousness for a clean area with proper garbage disposal will lower the pollution level or else garbage dumps will keep piling on disfiguring the landscape.
Material affluency alone do not connote progress. Many new modern style houses have been built recently and the increase in buying capacity has created a construction boom. Quite a few private schools have been set up. Yet the level of social consciousness and civic sense is still low.
Respect for local flora and fauna in context to the ecological balance has to be tought to the people here or the woodlands will dwindle to just a few patches.
Negative and evil elements try to create problems in the efforts to create a better society through healthy culture, yet we push on, with the vision of a better world.

by Prabal Pramanik

 

 

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A old style house at Bhatwan

 

 

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Baldev Singh, a local folk musician at Batoli

 

 

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The hills from Bhamlada at sunset

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