17 December 2012

First impression by Lee

First Impression of Bandhwari village

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world today. This is evident, as seen in the high growth rates of GDP every year, since 1991. While most parts of India may have experienced the effects of globalization and are rapidly modernizing, some parts of India, unfortunately, have yet to experience the benefits of modernization and India’s rapid economic growth. One obvious example to point out the limitations of India’s economic growth in improving the living conditions of all the citizens in India, is seen in the living conditions of Bandwhari village, which will be the main focus of our project.

Other than the obvious relatively poorer living conditions of Bandwhari village, as compared to other more developed parts of India, we also noticed that certain ‘universally accepted’  values, such as human rights and gender equality is still not visible, based on first hand observation of the lifestyles of the villagers. As we interviewed the women in the Bandwhari village, we realized that women perceive themselves as “property of other families”. Consequently, they often do not see the need of pursuing higher education and often has no say about their own marriage.

While caste discrimination may not be prevalent in this village, such traditional Indian beliefs of purity and pollution among different group of varnas have not yet being completely eliminated as seen in the lifestyle of the people in this village. This could be seen, based on how people of different varnas, live separately from each other and almost have no form of interactions with each other. For instance, the Harijans live in one corner of the village, while upper caste people live in other parts of the village. Outright discrimination by the upper caste to the lower caste may not be explicit, but the fact that different varna lives separately and Harijans having less privileges than upper caste (e.g. Harijans do not own much land and are generally poorer compared to upper caste) shows that the Indian traditional beliefs of purity and pollution is still an issue in the lives of the villagers.

Besides some form of discriminations among the people living in the Bandwhari village, some other logistical issues the villagers faced are:

1.) No vet doctors
2.) No proper latrine

On a positive note, the villagers were extremely welcoming to outsiders. Efforts were taken to make us feel at home, as seen in the tea they prepared for us and the great efforts by the villagers to make us feel at home. With that, we definitely have faith in making a social impact in the lives of villagers, in terms of improving their standards of living, as well as reducing some of the negative aspects of discrimination witnessed in this village.