21 October, 2020

The Forgotten Village

In the urban Indian's mind the village has been reduced to "a statistic"

The Forgotten Village
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Ashis Nandy, as usual, is quixotic, proactive and brilliant. In this expanded version of his 1997 Jerusalem lectures, he explores the mythical journey of the modern Indian between the village and the city. The magic of the city has always beckoned the Indian villager. It offers freedom from the bondage of caste and hierarchical authority and a life of reason, removed from the "primordial passions" of the village. A landless Dalit, seeking escape from the grind and the violence of the caste system, has good reasons to value its impersonal melting pot.

In the past, villagers used to travel to the city as pilgrims and acquired a certain status when they returned after visiting the city of god. The 19th century colonial economy saw the emergence of the presidency town. It exercised a different sort of pull on the village and reduced the importance of the old colonial cities. It also created a new divide of language and manners between city dwellers and their country cousins.

Mahatma Gandhi turned the tide in favour of the village in the 20th century. He offered up to the...
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