Duration of Camp: 3 days, 29 April'98 to 1st May
Place of Visit: Kudawale, Dapoli
Number of Student: 9
GRA summer camp (April 98) was a memorable experience to us (a group of nine IIT students) and gave us a new kind of perspective of the development. Kudawale is a small village in Dapoli tehsil with a population of about 1500, a typical village in Konkan region with 12 wadis & with a school upto 7th standard with about 200 students.Mr. Dilip Kulkarni (Dip.in Mech. Engg., had job in TELCO) has settled there for last one year. He had worked as a full time worker for Vivekananda Kendra for eight years, then settled in village Panchnadi (Tal.-Dapoli) in 1993 with his family, with few other families. There basic aim was to have a group of 10 families living on the piece of land of 20 acres & accomplish most of their needs using that piece of land, but that scheme was not successful. Mr. Kulkarni is a writer by profession & until today he has written 5 books on the developmental and environmental issues and also books on vedic mathematics.
We reached his home on the morning of 29th April. He had prepared a timetable for our camp. Details of what we had in the camp :29th April, 9.00-11.00 am : Concept of Development (a discussion session) : As per his view, the current concept of development is purely based on economic considerations. Material development with exponentially increasing exploitation of natural resources is the root cause of today's environmental & social problems. Today, consumption is the parameter used to measure the development. So consumerism is also one of the cause of today's problems. Consumption should be within nature's capacity i.e. man should not consume more than the nature produces for him. Also, it is the pollution which breaks the cycles in nature to create imbalance. The ideal development should be on three levels i.e. individual, societal & natural ( vyakti, srishti, samashti ).
2.00-4-00 pm : Practical problems faced in development process: & details of discussion with native people, in the same evening:
There is a need of peoples' education & awareness about their day-to-day issues in this modern age of democracy. So the development starts from individual & the consciousness of society from this basic unit can be the way towards development.
In Konkan region the problems are like :
1. Lack of motivation among people of Konkan to do work for their own development. People are used to their poor conditions. Their is a lack of motivation among them due to frustrating natural conditions. You need to work hard to live prosperously in konkan region,
2.While in Mumbai you can get a smaller but regular source of income. So, many youths come in Mumbai for employment rather than working in their farms. Today lot of such land isn't under cultivation and is left barren.
3. Also the youths who learn more aren't interested in living in their village neither are they interested in continuing the farming. The opinion of students was that if it is wrong that the learned youths leave their village, then it is also wrong that the conscious students in IIT leave the country for better job.
4 Small scale agriculture is not affordable today due to degradation of land because of wrong use of chemical fertilisers. It was found that some 300 villagers are today in Mumbai for employment.
5. Current El Nino effect & the increasing pollution are the causes of reduced production of mango & cashew. It is estimated that only crop of cashewnut in konkan can sustain the economy of whole Maharashtra.
6. Labour, today, isn't cheap. For a farm-work of 4 months, one has to employ a labour for whole year with daily wages of Rs. 25 & two time's meal.
7. While the govt hasn't hiked the grain prices as they should be and some part of grain is taken by the govt. compulsorily every year including the dry season (for PDS), thus causing an obstacle in the development of farmers. (Even in dry season the govt. takes equal amount of grains as in normal season despite of a large difference in production.)
8. Also, the government bureaucracy, red-tapism & corruption are always problems for getting work done.
In the evening, we went to see a nursery developed by Dr. Desai (Virar) in the same village. It is a land of 60 acres developed by him in last 3 years. There is a lot of tree planting of mango & many other local species like karavanda etc. with a nursery of especially mango & other local fruit trees.The development of project is very interesting. The basis of natural farming is used as far as possible. For the natural fertilizer, the goattery & piggery is also started in the same area which is also developing fast. For the protection of that area, the stones are taken out from the same land by developing a stone quarry. Thus, it has become a project to promote agriculture & also a source of income for local people.
The next day morning we had a small work experience for an hour in which we developed a place outside the house for garden. After a breakfast, the topic of discussion was 'Development, environment & Technology'. There was a consensus on the points that for rural industries the technology should be cheap, adaptable & the production process should use the local raw materials so that transportation cost can be minimised, where the decentralisation is also necessary. While view of some of the students was that today's trend is of big firms with mass production & today's development of science has enhanced quality & reduced cost of production.
After that we visited the Devrai (jungle of God) of the village with a variety of flora & fauna. The rule of that jungle is that no one is permitted to exploit that jungle in any way, so that the natural condition in that area are maintained as they are. Even while wandering there we came across the polythene bags & pieces thrown in the way & one of our campmate collected all the polythene pieces that he came across. We realised the intensity of the silent invasion by the plastic in our life.
In the evening, we met Mr. Dilip Vichare (an Agri. Consultant in Dapoli) who told use about the agricultural scenario in Konkan region & the things that need to be done. He had a strong objection to the govt. agri. policy which is one of the reason why the farmer in Konkan region is vulnerable. He proposed the need of farmers with innovativeness & experiment oriented viewpoint. He told us about his experiments in natural farming.
After dinner we met Mr. Mahajan, an owner of a small industry in neighbourhood, 'Mahajan Beverages', which has a market in nearby 2 tehsils. It was one new type of industry that we got to see. Along with conventional flavours in cold-drinks he has also introduced flavours like kokam & karavand. On the next morning, we also went through his industrial unit of cold-drink production & bottling. He also told about the problems he had faced due to red-tapism.
On the third & last day of camp , in the morning we had a Shamanubhav session in which we prepared a channel for water near the house. Meeting & hearing of the experiences of Mr. Mahajan was also a good experience.
Overall the camp was a great experience about the trends in development & an on hand experience of the problems faced by the villages in konkan region.