The last few weeks have been an enriching experience for me. Although, we did have field trips and training in our Masters program at TERI, nothing quite prepares you for the surprises the field throws up at you. These rapport building exercises have helped me understand some aspects of life in Peri Urban areas. The reality of life in such areas is quite contradictory to what I had thought it would be.
I had notions that these areas would be far more developed than traditional villages, although that might be true for certain areas in the village, like the ones which are dominated by the land holding class and have seen a incredible rise in disposable income.
The visit I made to Budheda, gave me a firsthand experience of what vulnerability and uncertainty actually means to the locals in daily life. Budheda, one of our principal study villages, relied on waste water from the Gurgaon waste water canal to irrigate crops.
The irrigation of crops from waste water, although having its own flaws, did allow some respite to the farmers from untimely rainfall. The waste water supply in the canal has been stopped, and the lack of rainfall this summer isn’t helping the farmers cause either. The perspective of certain people, I spoke to in the field was that this supply should not have been stopped during these months, as this is our main time to grow Bajra.
A person, I met told me, that people who had access to water sowed bajra in the end of June, but I did not, it’s better to be unemployed than to be in debt, he said this because, now in end August it has started to rain more than it should. People without the ability to sow are vulnerable, but even the people who have the initial ability can’t protect themselves from untimely rain.
In Jhanjhrola Khera during early July, people said that “ iss baar toh barish hi nayi hui , Bajra bhi ugana mushkil pad gaya hai” ( It has not rained at all this time, even growing Bajra has become difficult).But now as seen in Budheda , they might be a victim of untimely rain.
Listening, interacting with the villagers, gave me an insight into the neglected shadow of the city.
While, Gurgaon city barely 35 minutes from the village, is pegged to be the millennium city of India, the lands of Jhanjhrola khera, Budheda are totally dependent on rain for agriculture.