Thursday, May 19, 2011

Unraveling local parlance in Peri-urban Gurgaon

The peri-urban villages in Gurgaon continue to be repository of learning and experiences. The primary source of this learning has been people themselves. Among many such learning opportunities, one has been an introduction to the local/village parlance. From the perspective of research, sometimes they impede understanding of the information/data generated, however, most of the times they enrich and enable better understanding of the village issues in general and water issues to be specific. Overall, an understanding of the local parlance is very important for our research and thus merits a special mention as part of field experiences. This blog post will try to unravel the mystery behind the local parlance! 

One of the most common terms used by the villagers is ‘Jheel’. A neophyte would imagine this as a water body! However, only with further probing and fieldwork, it was realized that it meant ‘a low lying area’. So, when someone says that his land is in ‘Jheel’, it simply means that his land is in a low lying area and thus is prone to water logging. Another set of frequently used terms are with respect to specifying the area of land. These terms are Kila, Kanaal and Marla. One Kila land is equal to an acre of land. Further denominations are as follows – 1/8th of a Kila is equal to 1 Kanaal which in turn is equal to 20 Marla. When it comes to water, the villagers use the term ‘paani kood gaya– which simply means that the water has reached.

The exposure to local parlance can be considered to be incomplete without visiting the office of local Patwari.  It was during one such visit that we were exposed to barrage of local terms like – Rakba, Kaashta, gair-kaashta, Chahi, Chiknot, Narmot, etc. Rakba means the total area of the village; Kaashta means the total agricultural land; gair-kaashta means the total non-agricultural land; Chahi means area of land irrigated by water; Chiknot and Narmot stand for soil types viz. clayey soil and a type of soil which is neither sandy nor clayey, respectively. As if the sudden exposure to so much of local parlance was not enough, a visit to the block office further increased our exposure! When asked about availability of the village maps, the Tehsheeldaar mentioned about two types of maps – Akseejara and Masadi. Akseejara is a village map prepared on cloth and is big in size. Masadi on the other hand is a smaller size map made on paper.

Apart from the terms mentioned above, there are many more terms that one gets to hear in the field, which belong to the local parlance. The difficulty in understanding these terms may impede ones ability to do an analysis. However, with continued effort, proper understanding of these terms not only adds value but also beauty to the research!  

Monthly update (May) – Gurgaon project

One of our team members, Mr. Pranay Ranjan participated in the ‘Second Evaluation Conference – Impact Evaluation Praxis’ organized by Sambodhi. Some of the speakers in the conference were – Dr. Howard White from 3ie, Dr. Amitabh Kundu from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dharmendra from Sambodhi and Dr. Aradhna Aggarwal from University of Delhi. The objective of the conference was to enhance understanding of the theory and practice of impact evaluation, to sensitize on state-of-art methods of impact evaluation and to initiate dialogue on evidence-policy interface. 

The Gurgaon team members also met Mr. Indranil Niyogi from Sambodhi to seek his guidance in firming up the questionnaires of Gurgaon and Hyderabad team. The Gurgaon team will meet Sambodhi members once again during the next week.  

The Gurgaon team was joined by Mr. Anjan Chamuah on 16th May. He is a student of Master’s in Development studies from IIT Guwahati. He will be involved with the household survey for next two months. 

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