By Paul Pereira, Orlem
Whether or not the impartial historian of the near future
will regard Mahatma Gandhi as an inspired statesman or merely an astute and
sagacious politician is a matter relative to which Mahatmaji himself is supremely
indifferent. Any yet, in any investigation of current conditions within this
great imperial peninsula, there emerges the undoubted fact that this dynamic
leader has well and truly placed the village on the map. As a result of this
marvelous mans propaganda we find that village uplift village industries and
stock improvement, plus rural dental and midwifery services are major topics
for learning editors. From his Excellency the Viceroy down through provincial
governors to those learned seigneurs who happen to preside over Local Boards,
we find an almost irritating desire to land the agriculturist as being the true
salt of the earth. Why, in the more advanced of the Native States we find
As I write these lines I learn that here in
Aid to the ryot is indeed a most pressing problem of national magnitude, but it is essential that such assistance should be upon a national basis, intelligently conceived, broad in this scope and above all adequately administered; for all these things ample precedent can be found within our own times.
One of the first steps to be taken by an enlightened and humane executive is in the direction of extortion and oppression by that curse of our national life the money usurer. To establish agricultural banks is a step in the right direction, but here again we come up against the problem of administration. To erect a bureaucratic banking caste surrounded with rules and regulations and entirely divorced from all humanitarian considerations in their operations will be fatal. In at least two of the major Australian States there exists an Advance to Settlers Boards. The Government of India could study with great profit the organization and the conduct of those Boards.
In what particular manner can immediate aid be extended to the Man on the Land ? The most crying and urgent need is in the direction of communications. This in turn resolves itself into two parts, both equally important roads and transport. The slow moving bullock wagon traversing untended tracks is today the main method of marketing agricultural produce. Briefly, we are in the middles ages as regards reaching any market. Why, f the revenues of this Presidency were bonded for the next half century to provide adequate means of communication such action would be justified. It is perfectly clear indeed it is elementary that the countryside cannot advance while roads and transport remain in the present condition of chaos. Such betterment is absolutely fundamental to any adequate, permanent or substantial improvement in that most interesting primary unit of our national life The Village.
As these lines are being written my attention is directed to
the proceedings of the annual meeting of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce. It is
indeed most heartening to read the inspired words with which our illustrious
Governor deals with the great question of communications. His Excellency Lord
Brabourne definitely declared that the matter of railway dividends was quite
secondary to the greater question of rural rehabilitation. Our Governor must be
quite well aware of the magnificent road services established throughout
The villager is and uncomplaining soul. Indeed, his patience, his resignation, his indomitable optimism well might challenge credulity. He demands so very little and let us remember that upon his ill paid labor and ill-requited industry the nation, in the final analysis depends. The Man with The Hoe is long last receiving some small part of the consideration that most certainly is his due. There is one further factor in village life that is also obtaining a slight recognition and that is the development of cottage industries.
The fame of Indian designers and workers is known and
recognized around the civilized world.