Saturday, May 7, 2011

The city of hills and the sea - IV

How close and personal it is to save one’s own home? And how grossly defeated one would feel if he/she is not able to do the same? Are their actions justified if they revolt such a defeat and go to an extreme? If not, then why not?
I wonder if the American, British and all such people who go around to colonize the world would ever have a sound sleep in night with the realization of murder and uprooting of so many people across the globe for their insatiable greed of possession (Watch movies such as Blessed by Fire and Salt of this Sea and you will know what I mean)! They may celebrate the victory of killing Osama bin Laden today. But then isn’t it a picture half-shown as we all know who created Osama in first place? Back home in India, how do we deal with the issues of Kashmir and Naxalism? Did it not all start with the greed of possession by an external entity of homes (and in some cases, the very right to exist) that belonged to someone else?

I was reading “Don’t Urbanize me - Focus section” of Sunday Hindustan Times (01, May, 2011) and realized that saving one’s home may be extremely close and personal but at times that doesn’t really matter. What matter is where does the power lie.
Not very far from the reaches of the mega city of Mumbai, live a handful of villagers (well yes, villagers in true sense) in Vasai who are poignantly fighting the system against the proposed “development”. What kind of thoughts pop up in your head? Don’t they appear like nuts? They will be offered huge value for their land and a nice flat to live in. And they say they don’t want it!! Such crazy maniacs always create roadblocks in the pace of development, right? Wrong! Coz when you hear what they have to say about development, you will realize, they understand its meaning, in true sense. Development is not about taller buildings, hospitals that may exist only for name sake, schools that may not have adequate resources (human as well as infrastructural) and roads with more potholes than the vehicles on it. And it’s certainly not snatching away someone’s right to choose a profession and a style of life, in the name of it all. Development simply means a stage of growth or advancement, in any area one chooses to do so. And if the people from Vasai have chosen to develop in the area of agriculture, they have every right to this choice. More so, when the land in question is extremely fertile and very good for agricultural advancement. As far as the other development parameters such as Education, Health, etc go, they have it enough. And Happiness, the one parameter that most of us ignore, they have in abundance, in the lifestyle they have chosen for themselves. As Peter Dias, former Sarpanch of Mulgaon Village from the regions puts it, “Help us strengthen our agricultural economy and save our green cover, and we will show you that we want development too.” And when he says this, it makes more sense because he has headed a village which has won the district level competition for its quality agricultural produce in 1995.
The meaning which we attach to development is very relative. We need to understand that we all are different people and we all have different needs. The most ethical way to survive is to respect everyone’s individuality and not to encroach in other’s personal premises without their consent. Here, the people Vasai are in effort to save their villages’ individuality and identity from the encroachment of the political goons, corporations and builder lobbyists. I am not very sure for how long will they be able to survive this tussle, but I pray that they not only survive but win. Because if they don’t, it will be another sign of human moral degradation. And we, the people who are aware of their plight are to support them, coz if we don’t and they lose, we are destined to lose our wars too, sooner or later.
While I move towards the closure of this piece, I realize that saving one’s home is not just a personal fight. We need to support them in their endeavor, coz tomorrow it may be us on the other side and if we choose to remain indifferent today, others may choose the same tomorrow.

(Photographs used in the title image are from Vasai and are taken from - the sage , Harini Calamur, Serenity on Flickr)