On a recent trip to Hyankanuru Learning Spaces, I put forth a question to the students which most of us have been asked as children, "what do you want to become when you grow up?" The answers I got were the same as most of us gave: teacher, doctor, soldier, nurse, engineer and cricketer. Some exceptions were politician, train driver and a horse trainer.
I heard an answer from Kavita, a girl studying in the 10th grade who said she wanted to be a farmer. I followed it up with her, while the others ran off to play cricket and Frisbee. It could have been innocence or sheer excitement at wanting to say something different from your peers; but her answer was rooted in logic, observation and hope for a better society, something adults lose track of in the daily grind of life.
Kavita says that farming is the key to India’s future. She’s learnt in school that India is an agricultural economy and a large part of the population lives in its villages. She has also heard from the village elders and seen that migration towards cities, and weak government policies are driving the youth away from farming. Determined to keep the community together, she sees a pattern within her village: the young adults leaving their homes and family ties being severed.
She wants to bring glamour to agriculture and thereby, hopes to make it attractive to the youth.
She wants agriculture to be as respected as medicine and engineering, and farmers to be paid on par with those in IT. “How do you suppose that will happen?” I asked her. After a long pause staring at the ceiling, “I don’t know yet, but I will Google it!”
She adds that her father is surprised that Kavita knows so much about farming which never came through him or from her grandfather. Technology not only strengthened the bridge between generations, but also made it grow. Now, she says, that they have a small bio compost pit at their home, something that her parents agreed to after much haggling. The manure is used for the small vegetable garden that is part of the field her father works and is looked after by Kavitha and her younger sister.
Behind the smile which broke out at this instance, was also determination in her eyes. She sees hope in us going back to our roots, and it is vital that we nurture it.
It is a young root and nourishing it will take some time, but it will hold the soil around and the plant above firmly.