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                                      A. K. Sharma
                       Humanities and Social Sciences Department
                            IIT Kanpur, Kanpur – 208 016

In year 2007 Banwasi Seva Ashram thought of initiating a dialogue with the youths. The
purpose of the dialogue was to understand issues in rural development, specially the
problems of youths, and ways of solving them. I and Dr. Clymes Augustine were
approached to conduct a scientifically designed study on the problems of rural youths
with participation of voluntary development organizations (VDOs) associated with the
Ashram. Although we were aware of the risk of involving VDOs in the exercise - as they
are not trained to take up research activity - it was thought that this will not only generate
data without requiring financial resources this will also empower them to conduct such
exercises in the future. Thus I and Dr. Augustine prepared the questionnaires and they
were supplied in sufficient quantity to VDOs working in UP and connected with the
activities of Ashram. A number of VDOs participated in this.
During September to October 2007 the VDOs filled the questionnaires and conducted
focus group discussions (FGDs) on various issues ranging from employment to
environmental protection. Then they sent the filled in questionnaires and reports of FGDs
to Ashram.
Participant organizations
The following VDOs participated in the study:
               1. Banwasi Seva Ashram, Districts – Sonbhadra, Mirzapur and Banda
               2. Gramin Mahila and Bal Utthan Samiti (UP), District – Ghazipur
               3. Jan Vikas Sansthan, District – Jaunpur
               4. Laxmi Seva Samiti, District – Balia
               5. Bhagwan Manav Kalyan Samiti, District – Mau
               6. Gramin Vikas Prayas Samiti, District – Mau
               7. Gramin Vikas evam Punarnirman Sansthan, District – Azamgarh
               8. Tarun Chetna Sansthan, District – Pratapgarh
               9. Yuva Manav Seva Sansthan, District – Pratapgarh
               10. Lok Jagriti Sansthan, District – Ambedkar Nagar
               11. Bundelkhand Seva Parishad, District – Chitrakoot

               12. Savitri, District – Ghazipur
               13. Purvanchal Augyogic Seva Sansthan, District - Ghazipur
Participating VDOs sent the data collected through questionnaire method, FGDs and
narratives, to me in December 2007. Dr. Ragini Prem and Shri Brahmajit Bhai came to
IIT Kanpur to discuss issues pertaining to the project. On an earlier occasion, I and Dr.
Augustine had worked among the tribals of Sonbhadra in year 2005-06 and interviewed
them to learn about education, development, environment and related issues. This helped
me in interpreting the narratives.
Major findings
At the outset, I must say that I was not very much satisfied with the data. As feared, we
found that due to lack of experience and proper training the VDOs could not produce
rigorous data on the issue. The data were fuzzy, incomplete, not in standard form and
varied in style. Yet, it revealed many things about the problems of rural youth in UP. I
started reading narratives of development obtained from Ghazipur district. I found that
there is an immense potential in the narratives to understand the issues in development.
They also strengthened my faith in Gandhian theory of development. I expected some
differences between the districts and that came out to be true. Yet, the major issues are so
common that one can talk about them based on data from any one district. Purvanchal
Audyogic Seva Sangh had organized meetings of youths on unemployment problem and
approaches to its solution at selected Gram Sabhas in groups of 15-16 youths in the age
group 18-40. In district Ghazipur following Gram Sabhas were included: Bhatt Sarai,
Patar, Gosalpur, Tajpur and Bharauli Aula. All these narratives were sent by B. K. Singh
of Purvanchal Audyogic Seva Sangh, Bharauli Aula to Secretary Banwasi Seva Ashram.
The first narrative was from one Anwaruq Ansari, aged 35, from Gram Sabha Tajpur:
   I did B.Ed. after completing M.Sc. from Allahabad University. I have been
   unemployed for last two years. I have not been able to get any job so far. The
   family lacks money so I am not in a condition to do any business. Family income
   is 12,000 per year. We have our own house but we do not have agricultural land.
   My brother is in service and he only maintains the whole family.
After reading the above I started wondering why most people in villages think that they
must educate their children and education would fetch them a decent job. From the same
village Jayanul, 21, has done B.A. He wants to do B.Ed. but he says that the college is
asking for 50,000 rupees. He is not able to do B.Ed. due to shortage of money. He wants

to become self employed through employment oriented education and training. What will
happen if he takes loan and does B.Ed. He has to pay back the amount but if he does not
get a job like Anwaruq Ansari did not get what would he do? The case of Anwaruq
Ansari raises the issue: Why is it that even after doing M.Sc. and B.Ed. from a known
university one is not able to get a job? What is the fate of those who are able to go up to
high school or intermediate level only? Nisar Ahmad, 30, from the same village, is
unhappy because he could not study beyond intermediate level. They have a bangle shop
given to them by ancestors, which is presently run by his mother. Since he did not have
money he could not study more. He is trying for job in vain. Family is financially weak.
There is no agricultural land also. And if job is not the purpose of education then for what
other purposes people should go for education.
All the Gram Sabhas included in this study are of mixed castes. The major castes are
Brahmin, Kshtriya, Yadav, and Chamar. There are some Lohar, Teli and Muslims also.
The money income of the whole family varies from 8,000 – 20,000 rupees per year. In
Bharauli Aula some earn up to 25,000 rupees per year also but their number is very small.
Most people depend on cultivation and labor. Average land size is 2-3 bighas and nearly
60 percent of it is irrigated. This land is bare enough for survival. There are a few are
traders and technicians. When a question is asked who is responsible for their present
state the spontaneous answer is “government”. When the next question is asked regarding
what they can do the answers are dharana, gherao, protest, march, and struggle.
A cursory reading of narratives revealed that there are significant differences in narratives
and stories of people belonging to different castes.
Narratives of Brahmins
Vishal Sharma, 28       Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   We have an ancestral house and three bighas of agricultural land. It is enough for
   maintenance of the family. I have completed postgraduation but so far I have not
   got a job. After postgraduation I did B.Ed. Even then I did not get a job. I think
   that I should go for job only because for self employment one needs money which
   is difficult to arrange. The total income of the family is around 12,000 rupees per
   year. It is very difficult to get a job but I am still trying.

Avinash Sharma, 20 Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   We have four bighas of agricultural land and an ancestral house. The whole
   family is dependent on this. I have done intermediate but due to lack of a

   technical degree I could not get a job. I partly engage in agriculture. After
   professional education and training I want to do a job oriented course so that I can
   become self employed and also engage my unemployed brothers by taking a loan
   from bank.

Rajesh Sharama, 28 Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I could not go for a job oriented course after intermediate for which I repent. If
   one can get a technical training he can get a job or become a self employed person
   also. Our annual family income is 10,000 rupees. I could not do a professional
   course because I kept on trying for a job in defense services. We have three
   bighas of agricultural land.

Amresh Sharma, 25 Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
  I could not go for further education because I was trying to enter defense service.
  I could also not go for a job oriented course. Now I have a desire to get
  professional training and become a self employed. We have five bighas of
  agricultural land. It takes care of food and water. Annual income is 11,000.

Sonu Sharma, 18       Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   We have been doing faming as our ancestral occupation. My own agricutltural
   land is four-and-half bighas. I could not study further due to continuous efforts to
   join defense. Annual income is 10,000. I could not get into defense service
   because it was difficult to arrange 3-4 lacs from our house. There is too much
   corruption. If people enter by paying money what will they do? Why would they
   not use unfair means to earn money? How can one remain honest if he has to pay
   as much as three lacs even for small jobs? I am planning to have technical training
   so that I can start my own work. However, there is a delay because of lack of

Dharmendra Sharma, 19        Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I could not study further because I started trying for defense service after high
   school education. I could not enter the service due to lack of money. The family
   members could not arrange 3 lacs for bribe. Now I am planning to go for self
   employment after getting some technical training. I am waiting for time and
   opportunity. We have five bighas of agricultural land and an annual income of
   12,000 rupees.

Deepak Sharma, 20 Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I am graduate and am planning to go for B.Ed. I have also done training for
   mobile repairing. The family has four bighas of land. Annual family income is
   11,000. I am planning a mobile repairing shop but for this I need money. This is
   why I am not able to do anything.

Ritesh Sharma, 18      Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
    I am studying. After intermediate I got admission into B.A. Simultaneously I am
    trying to get into service. The family has four-and-half bighas of land and an

   annual income of 11,000 rupees. I will think about job only after graduation. I
   want to do computer course also so that I do not have the sarpdansh (snake bite)
   of unemployment.

Dharmanath Sharma, 21         Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I had to involve myself in farming after high school because there was no one in
   the family to take care of that. The family has five bighas of agricultural land.
   Annual family income is 12,000. Side by side I want to have a secondary activity
   so that I can raise my income. For this I need technical training and money.

Sonu Sharma, 20       Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   We have the family background of agriculture. The family has four bighas of
   land. Due to the aim of joining army I could not study further. I kept myself
   involved in physical fitness activities. The family income is 10,000 per year. I
   want to go for technical training and self employment.

Deepak Sharma, 21 Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I could not study beyond intermediate because I was preparing for joining army. I
   could also not get any technical training. The family has five bighas of land and
   an annual income of 10,000 rupees. I desire to go for technical training and self
   employment. This is the need of the hour also.

Banti Sharma, 22       Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I am doing computer course after graduation so that I can become self employed.
   This is the call of the day. My family has four bighas of land and annual income
   of 11,000 rupees. After completing this course, if I get opportunity, I may go for
   opening a computer training centre. For this, I will have to arrange for money, so
   that I can provide training to unemployed youths.

Narratives of Thakurs
Chhotelal Singh, 32 Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I had to involve in farming after intermediate as I was the only male person and
   the oldest member of the family. I have 10 bighas of own agricultural land and the
   annual income of the family is 20,000. I want to start a supplementary occupation
   so that I can add to agricultural income. For the supplementary income one
   requires capital.

Dinanath Singh, 31 Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I own five bighas of agricultural land. Annual family income 10,000. I could not
   go for higher education after completing high school. I am looking for an activity
   to supplement agriculture. Due to lack of capital even farming is not done
   properly. We cannot get good income due to lack of working capital. We do not
   have Krishi Seva Kendra (KVK) here. Agricultural cooperative societies have
   become centres of corruption and they are exploiting farmers. We are foolishly
   using the traditional agricultural practices, and old seed and fertilizer

Ajit Singh, 35        Gram Sabha: Patar
    Both of my parents have died. After graduation job has not come to me till now.
    We are somehow managing our affairs with agricultural income. We have ten
    bighas of land for the whole family and annual income is 16,000 rupees. To do
    anything one needs capital and that I do not have. I am compelled to sell some
    part of my land every year. I do not get job due to lack of professional training. If
    I have professional training then money can be arranged somehow. I reject
    modernization of agriculture as modernization of agriculture is not possible in our
    type of system. Our farming is different.

Bhim Singh, 34       Gram Sabha: Patar
   With continuous division of the family land I am left with only three bighas.
   Despite graduation and clearing “physical test” I could not get a police job.
   Twelve years before they had asked me to pay two lacs rupees for job which
   could not be given by my family. So I did not get the job. Since then I have been
   bearing the dans (pain) of unemployment. Annual family income is only 9,000
   rupees. I wish to establish household industry but hesitate due to shortage of
   knowledge and money.

Narratives of Banias
Shiv Shankar Prasad, 24      Gram Sabha: Patar
   In the family we have 0.5 bigha agricultural land and annual income is 10,000. I
   have been wandering here and there for job after completing graduation. I am
   constantly suffering from inferiority complex and carry a feeling of revenge
   against society and government. I am sad. What is the purpose of such education
   that after completing it also one lives in darkness? If in place of this type of
   education we impart technical education then the problem of unemployment
   would not exist. Government should aim at providing job oriented education so
   that after completing education one is not wandering for a job. Even today I am in
   search of vocational and professional education so that after completing it I can
   start my work.

Narratives of OBC
Ram Chees Yadav, 22          Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   We have five bighas of agricultural land. Annual family income is 10,000. I could
   not study beyond matriculation because along with farming I also involve in
   animal husbandry. As a result of this I do not have to buy chemical fertilizer for
   agriculture. I go for common and traditional farming.

Pradip Yadav, 30     Gram Sabha: Patar
   I could go up to intermediate. Since then I have been unemployed. The family
   owns two bighas of land. Annual family income is 12,000 rupees. Along with
   agriculture we also engage in animal husbandry. If I get the opportunity to get
   education and training I will establish household industry by forming a self help
   group. Banks do not give money even to self help groups here. Government
   policies are responsible for this. At government level proper arrangements for

   technical training should be made so that after finishing education one can go for
   training and self employment.

Santosh Yadav, 31 Gram Sabha: Patar
   In the family we have only two bighas of land. From this we can feed ourselves
   and survive. Animal husbandry helps in meeting other requirements. Annual
   family income is 12,000. I am compelled to do farming even after high school
   education. I kept on looking for a job but did not get it. Now if I get money I
   intend to buy five buffaloes and sell milk.

Shekhar Yadav, 28 Gram Sabha: Patar
   I wanted to join army after finishing intermediate. Since due to shortage of money
   I could not bribe authorities I could not get selected. Now I have passed the age.
   Now if I get money I will buy four buffaloes and sell their milk. This will help in
   improving our financial condition. The family has one-and-half bighas of land and
   two buffaloes are supplying milk. We sell this milk. The family income is 11,000
   rupees per year.

Sandeep Sharma, 26 Gram Sabha: Patar
   We have only 0.2 bigha of land. With this land we cannot arrange for even a
   month’s food. One brother is in job. Annual income of the family is 8,000 rupees.
   If I can arrange for money I can do the work of making agricultural implements at
   home only. Somehow I could go up to intermediate. The family members did not
   agree to pay for education beyond that.

Raju, 25       Gram Sabha: Patar
   My father is in a private job. He meets the family expenditure. In the name of
   agricultural land we have only 0.2 bigha. Little bit of food grain is produced on
   that. Annual income of the family is 12,000 rupees. I am unemployed because I
   do not have any technical training. I want to have technical skills so that I can
   work somewhere or become self employed.

Narratives of SC
Radheshyam Rai, 24 Gram Sabha: Bhatt Sarai
   I could not study beyond high school. We do not have agricultural land. The total
   family income from labor is 8,000 rupees per year. I want to start my own work
   but I am not able to decide what I should do. I need technical education and
   training as well as capital so that I can become self employed.

Amarjeet Ram, 26      Gram Sabha: Patar
  I could somehow clear intermediate examination. I do not have capacity to study
  more. So far I could not get a job. Land that I got from the government is only 0.5
  bigha. My brother works as a labor outside. I also do labor. I do not get the work
  daily. I get only 10 days’ work in a month. Annual income of the family is 8,000
  rupees. If I can get some training then that will help me in getting a job.

Deepak Ram, 25         Gram Sabha: Patar
   I work as a labor after completing high school in arts subjects. I used to go to
   Surat for work. Since I did not have any skill I could get the work of a loader
   only. After working for 12 hours a day in that job I used to earn only 2,200 rupees
   per month. I left that job and came back as there water did not suit me there. I was
   always sick. At home we have 0.5 bigha of land given by government. In this we
   can somehow get little bit of food. The family income is 8,000 per year. After
   getting some skill training I can go for a job that can fetch better rewards. So I am
   trying for this.

Sonu Ram, 24          Gram Sabha: Patar
   I work as labor after getting education up to middle level. I have my own 0.5
   bigha of agricultural land. Annual income of the family is 8,000. I do not get labor
   continuously for a week. It is difficult to maintain the family in this age of
   inflation. I wanted to go to Surat but I did not go because I did not collect the
   money for fare. If one gets some skill training he can get a good service in Surat. I
   am sad that I did not get technical education.
   Shree Ram Rajbhar, 35 Gram Sabha: Patar

Suresh Rajbhar, 30 Gram Sabha: Patar
   Agricultural land is only 0.5 bigha and the family income is 8,000 rupees.
   Somehow we are surviving. I am educated up to matric. My family members
   think that matric is like engineering education but this much of education only
   makes you literate. I work as wage labor. I want to learn electrician’s work. If
   someone can arrange for my training then I will be obliged for my whole life.
   Without getting skill there is no meaning of education. Government does not do
   anything for the poor like us.

Ram Bachan Ram, 32 Gram Sabha: Patar
   I have only 0.3 bigha of cultivable land and the family income is 8,500 rupees. I
   could not study further after passing eighth standard examination from Tajpur
   Junior High School. Since then I have been doing the work of a laborer. I do not
   get work everyday. If I had technical skill I could have got job in any city. I
   migrate to Bihar with whole family for cutting the paddy crop. We stay there for
   one month and when we return we have food for four months. If we had this kind
   of work for the entire year, there would be no problem of any kind but one can get
   this kind of work only two or three times a year.

Vikash Ram, 23       Gram Sabha: Patar
   By giving tuitions, I have somehow finished graduation. Even now I teach
   children and maintain my family from the money earned from teaching children.
   If I had money I would run a coaching institute or school but I do not have
   money. In the family we have 0.2 bigha cultivable land. Annual income of the
   family is 10,000 rupees. If the financial problem is solved I can maintain my
   family better.

Similar narratives were sent from other Gram Sabhas. When I looked for patterns I
found the following narratives quite interesting:
Krishna Mohan Singh, Kshtriya, 20 Gram Sabha: Gosalpur
   I have done intermediate. We have two bighas of agricultural land. I am
   unemployed. I have taken training of pipeline refinery. I am preparing to go to
   Saudi Arabia. I am waiting for visa. Indian social system is rotten. Nobody
   can progress here. Corruption has crossed all boundaries here. We are an
   ordinary family. We are managing somehow in an annual income of 8,000

Vivek Singh, Kshtriya, 23    Gram Sabha: Gosalpur
   Our family has five bighas of land. Our annual family income is 9,000 rupees.
   This supports a large family. I have done high school and could not study
   further due to lack of money. We have not been able to get guidance that
   could help us in planning. If we had continuous and appropriate guidance we
   would have done something and not become burden on the family. My family
   members also treat as though I am a burden on them and they do not behave
   properly with me. What is my fault?

Vimlesh Sharma, Blacksmith, 23      Gram Sabha: Gosalpur
   I am involved in my ancestral work of blacksmith. If I have money I can buy
   iron, make agricultural implements, sell them in the local market and earn
   livelihood. But we have only one bigha of land. Who will give us money? So I
   am dependent on the ancestral work. I am very sad with the corruption in
   government machinery. If you want loan from a bank they want commission.
   Actually they deduct commission before they give you money. Even then they
   keep holding decision. They give loan only to those who are not needy. They
   do not give loan to people like us. They do not talk to us frankly. They think
   that those who want money are thieves. All government schemes run on
   papers. The reality is that nobody is a saviour of the poor. They help only
   those who have enough money. We are managing somehow in an annual
   income of 12,000 rupees.

Gulab Sharma, Carpenter, 22          Gram Sabha: Gosalpur
   I am carpenter by caste. But I cannot do my business properly due to lack of
   capital. I work as wage labor. If I have 20,000 rupees then I can do my own
   business. I can make furniture – wooden door, windows, tables, chairs, sofa
   sets, chauki, and beds – and sell them in the market. I am a good craftsman
   but am surviving somehow due to lack of money. We have nearly three bighas
   of agricultural land and our annual income is 12,000 rupees.

Ramesh Ram, Scheduled Caste, 22 Gram Sabha: Gosalpur
   I could complete high school somehow. I come from a landless labour family.
   I as well all my family members are daily wage workers. We do not get work
   everyday. Wage work is hardly available for 10 days in a month. We lack

   guidance and direction for self employment. On paper there is no shortage of
   facilities. We dream of welfare of SC now because as we think that we have
   our own government now. However, politics is all about votes. There is no
   one to support the Harijans. Everybody wants to appease the SC but nobody
   helps them after coming to power.

Bechu Ram, Scheduled Caste, 26         Gram Sabha: Bharuli Ala
   I am a Scheduled Caste candidate and have completed B.A. I come from a
   landless labour family. I as well as all my family members are daily wage
   workers. We do not get work everyday. Wage work is hardly available for 10
   days in a month. We lack guidance and direction for self employment. To
   show on paper there is no shortage of facilities, we have lots of hopes from
   Mayavati government because we think that this is our own government, but
   this is all the politics of vote banks. Today there is no one to support we poor
   people. All parties talk of helping the poor but in reality the poor people have
   no one their own. All are pursuing their own agenda (apna ullu sidha kar rahe

On the basis of the above narratives the following broad conclusions can be drawn:
   1. Capitalist form of development cannot meliorate the problems of the rural
       poor. It misguides them, creates false hopes and misdirects them. People are
       not able to understand the logic of modern development. Those illiterate think
       that if they were somewhat educated they would have got something. High
       school pass think that if they had gone for higher education things would be
       different. Yet there are graduates and postgraduates in science subjects (also
       having a vocational degree) who are still unemployed and are not able to plan
       their future.
   2. Most of the rural people are dependent on agriculture. They do not enjoy a
       good standard of living but they survive somehow. They are not able to see
       how they can improve upon the existing agricultural practices. KVKs have a
       limited reach and the farmers are hardly benefiting from them. They have to
       do something to get better returns from small size farms. They experiment and
       learn from their own experiences. In many cases family and kinship
       institutions are the only institutions that come to their help in distress.
   3. Animal husbandry is viable and useful supplement to agricultural production.

   4. Family institution is under transition. A process of transition from joint family
       system to nuclear family system is on and is a major cause of individuation
       and alienation.
   5. Decay of allied rural activities is a major cause of unemployment among rural
   6. Old skills are not in demand or cannot be pursued due to lack of capital, raw
       material and training. For new skills people lack financial resources,
       opportunities and support.
   7. Nobody mentions about women in any thing they are doing or they want to
       plan. Women are still supposed to be associated with family, i.e., with bearing
       and rearing of children.
   8. There is no faith in the political system. Most people are unhappy and
       frustrated but there is no thinking as how to change it.
   9. If an early solution is not found the situation may lead to chaos and become a
       breeding ground for anti-social activities and Naxalite activities. Sonbhadra
       district has already had a sizeable presence of Naxalites.
   10. Community is dead. It is replaced by state. Everything, good or bad, is
       attributed to government. People have lost willingness to sit together and think
   11.The theory of self help and self rule need to be revived; there are many things
       that the rural people can collectively do to improve their situation.
Focus group discussions
Gram Nirman Kendra, Jugail, organized a focus group discussion among youths of two
Gram Sabhas: Jugail and Kharhara. Both men and women participated in them. It was
ensured that there are participants from all hamlets (parts) of the villages: Jurgail, Jorva,
Bhitari, Bhaisora, Sarpia, Akladar and Pursev.
In the focus group discussion a total of fifteen people participated. All of them were in
the age group 18-40 years. 10 of them were men and five were women. Education wise,
five were illiterate, one was literate and nine were junior high school or high school pass.
Caste wise, 10 belonged to ST, two to SC, one to OBC, and two were Muslims. Twelve
of them were dependent on agriculture, two on tailoring and agriculture, and one on shop

and agriculture. The average income of the participants was 8,813 rupees per year.
Average size of landholding is 3 bighas on which they can produce up to 3 quintal of
food grain. The average size of household is about 7 implying a per capita income of
1,259 per year.
Fifteen youths participated in Kharhara. They were drawn from Deokhar, Paligarh,
Gaurghatti, Hardahava and Sirgidar. All the fifteen people who participated in the focus
group discussion were in the age group 18-40 years. 10 of them were men and five were
women. Education wise, six were illiterate, and nine were educated. Occupation wise,
one was Shiksha Mitra, one rajgir mistri (mason), one kaleen (carpet) maker, and 12
were landless laborers. The average family income of the participants was 13,400 rupees
per year. Average size of landholding is 5 bighas on which they can produce up to 5
quintal 20 kgm. of food grain per year. Most people in the village are below poverty line.
The land is uneven and unirrigated and most people are dependent on agriculture. Every
one stresses the lack of irrigation facilities as the major impediment to agriculture. During
discussion all developmental issues were discussed. The major findings are as follows:
Economic issues
When they were asked to discuss the issues connected with all round development of the
village they started talking about economic development. In general the participants
expressed that there has been some economic development in their area and that has
raised their standard of living. However, the major benefits of development have been
confined to relatively better off sections of society. The poor have not benefited from
them. Either the government schemes intended for those living below the poverty line
have not been implemented properly or the poor people are being exploited due to
ignorance and lack of awareness. The major economic problem of the area is lack of
irrigation facilities. To quote Ramdhani Agariya:
   90 percent people in this region are dependent on agriculture. Agriculture is
   dependent on rainfall. Shortage of rainfall implies shortage of agricultural
Another person explained:
   If there is any employment in the countryside it is agriculture. Agricultural
   activities are possible only when the farmers have autonomy in water.
   Government should particularly think on the issues of farmers. Moreover, the

   farmers should not remain totally dependent on government. They should also
   take up watershed activities on their own.
Some participants expressed that in the Gram Sabha Jugail as a whole the total
agricultural production has declined. For food grains people are becoming more and more
dependent on market. Their production level is suboptimal. Further, due to reduced
production, the number of animals is also declining. Parasnath Jugail said:
    Earlier one farmer used to keep 20 animals. Now their number has declined to
    only 6-7.
Fateh Mohammad said that fashion is leading to problems of price rise. People are
bearing the brunt of unemployment, inflation, and evils like gutka.
Same was the response of youths in Kharhara. They too gave maximum importance to
unemployment. They said that the problem of unemployment is becoming more and more
serious day by day although many things are possible. Cottage industries can be
Youths are not happy with loan. They said that loan is killing farmers.
Education comes out to be the most important social issue. In general in the villages
under study overall level of education has gone up during the last ten years. More people
are literate. School enrolment rate has gone up for all ages. In 1995 there were several
tolas (hamlets) in Jugail where not a single person was fifth pass. Today there are high
school pass in all tolas. Ten years ago in the whole village there was only one woman
who was eighth pass. Now in all the hamlets there are women who have cleared 8 th- 10th
standard. Yet, there are causes of dissatisfaction. In Jugail the school has 650 children.
Only one teacher with the help of three Siksha Mitras is running the school. “The school
requires 16 teachers.” Moreover, there are only four rooms for all the children. Some
people are particularly worried about girls education. “Government talks of gender
equality but if you visit a school you will find the number of boys is much higher than the
number of girls.” There are many people who still think that women are paraya dhan
(i.e., others property for safekeeping), and therefore they do not take much interest in
girls’ education.
It is notable that there are diverse perspectives on literacy. While Bitai Devi is ashamed
of being illiterate, another illiterate woman, Sita Devi is not sad. She says that social

wisdom is more important than literacy. Chandrika Prasad is proud of the fact that they
are a family of poor laborers but they have given education to their children.
Other social issues
Interestingly, there are more differences on social issues: whether they have better social
relationships these days as compared to what was the situation earlier and whether the
village is more integrated. So while Sahjadi Devi says that as compared to past there is a
fall in goodwill for others, Zarina Begum says that goodwill and brotherhood have
increased. According to Hemshah, Pusrev, social issues are secondary. Their village is so
backward that one cannot take even a bicycle there. People are worried about lack of
connectivity and remoteness of the village. The problem is that one has to pass through a
high hill and the road to the village will have to pass through the hill. So on the one hand
people want connectivity and on the other they want to preserve the nature. Both the
things cannot happen simultaneously.
    At the present moment rivulets are converted into drains, jungle into villages,
    villages into towns and towns into large cities. You can imagine what the large
    cities would soon be converted into.

At the social plane, two contradictory things are happening side by side: decline in
untouchabiltiy and rise in casteism. Everybody recognizes that the social and
psychological distance between neighbors is increasing. The village society is facing a
number of social problems. The major ones are: untouchability, child marriages,
population growth, gutka addiction, drunkenness, and other forms of addiction. During
the discussion people calculated that every day a youth spends five rupees on ten gutkas.
Thus he spends 150 rupees in 30 days and 1,800 rupees in a year. There is a need to raise
awareness of harmful effects of gutka and prevent this.
There was a consensus that social problems are on rise. There is less peace, less unity and
less social integration. There is a need for uniting people and reestablish the tradition
(i.e., restore the social order).
Political issues
On political issues there was consensus that today’s leaders do not unite society. They
rather divide society. They are dividing society in the name of religion and caste. They
cannot see all people sitting together. This would spoil their interests.

Some people like Hemshah, Pusrev, connect politics with development. Hemshah says:

    What can we talk about religion? Our village has neither road nor electricity. 40%
    people of my village have not seen a train. We only vote. We have no interest in
    elections for village, Lucknow or Delhi.

In Kharhara Ramapati Gaud says that government has deceived them by giving the
status of Scheduled Tribe (ST). With ST status they have been isolated from elections
at all levels - from Gram Sabha to parliament. Even the simple things like ration cards
are not made for them.
Roop Narain, Deokhar, says that the government belongs to capitalists. Capitalists
manufacture liquor and take contracts. When a poor person prepares his own liquor from
mahua he is sent to jail. This shows that if you have money you can take contract even of
illegal things.
Health and environment
Lack of health facilities is a big problem for remote areas. There are villages where even
untrained doctors or quacks are not present. Lack of potable water, lack of nutritious diet,
and lack of green and leafy vegetables are reported to be the major causes of health
problems. There is not a single primary health centre in the entire area. People believe
more in magic and witchcraft. When sick, they approach an Ojha. Every year two-three
persons are believed to die because of magical practices. In the discussion people
accepted that illiteracy, ignorance and superstitions are harmful for health. Government
has failed in providing primary health services in the remote and tribal areas which are
basic to development.
There has been a severe adverse impact of industrialization in Mirzapur and adjoining
areas. Rihand dam and chemical and cement factories here have not only raised the level
of pollution, contributing to rise in morbidity, they have also given rise to fall in primary
products – agricultural yield and forest produce. At one time this region produced a lot of
chiraunji but now there is absolutely no production of chiraunji. Other fruits and forest
produce have also declined significantly. Thus more and more people have become poor.
Everybody said that people are themselves destroying environment. Everybody is
exploiting nature. Common use of plastic, expanding industries, increasing use of

herbicides and pesticides, chemical fertilizers, clearing of forests and shortage of rainfall
are causing pollution. Since people are destroying nature, all sections of society have to
come together to protect environment.
The above FGDs show that people recognize that human activities only have been
responsible for adverse developments in society. They also recognize that for good life
economic independence is the most important thing. For this they have to establish small
and allied industries, and create employment. People also recognize the need for
cooperation, educational work, correct political thought, independence and preserving
environment. It was also vivid that although government talks about women’s
development a lot but it does not take appropriate measures for that: mere giving
representation to women in village planning bodies is not enough though it is an
important step towards women’s empowerment. For development and gender equity
women have to come forward. Yet, among all the activities required for development of
rural youths technical and educational achievements would prove to be the most helpful.
They have to be combined with organization skills. At the moment there is a lack of basic
education facilities in the villages. Something has to be done about this.
Conceptualization of development
Reports showed that the village youth conceptualized development in various ways. For
them development meant: employment, economic development, transport and
communication, social harmony, sustainable development, equality and justice. Thus the
conceptualization of development is not different from what it is given in dominant
discourse on development. Yet, due to poverty, unemployment and diffusion
development was conceptualized primarily in terms of employment and income.
Major problems of rural youths
The most important problems before the rural youths are:
         A     Lack of income
         B     Lack of education
         C     Population growth
         D     Lack of guidance
         E     Lack of technical training
         F     Lack of capital

A. Lack of income
The average income of rural families is abysmally low. People are just at the Malthusian
(subsistence) level. Gram Nirman Kendra Govindpur reported an annual income of
family from all sources as 14,567 rupees per year. The average land size is 3.5 bighas.
63.33 percent of all the families in Govindpur have fully or partly irrigated land. In rural
areas situation varies from one village to another, one block to another, one district to
another but regarding economic condition what is true for Govindpur is also true broadly
for most villages in Budelkhand and Eastern regions of UP: there is a shortage of capital.
B. Lack of education
Education not only helps in getting employment it also improves self esteem,
communication skills, empathy, orientation for future, critical thinking and general
awareness, and provides information about opportunities though education is not a
necessary condition for any of them. It appears that people recognize the importance of
education and youths are able to get education up to a level they can afford depending on
facilities available locally and their economic condition, but education seems to be
wasted. It has made them look for a job in government or private sector only. It has not
promoted self employment. It has not made people think for themselves. Overall,
although education is identified as a problem but it does not seem to be helping in
improving their lot.
C. Population
Due to demographic transition taking place in the region, population is rising. Not long
ago the average family size in UP was above 8 children. During 1980s, thanks to
awareness and family planning programme family size started falling. Yet, the typical
family size in a rural household in the region is 4-5 which implies a household size of 6-
7. Nobody explicitly mentions population growth as a problem. It is taken to be a natural
phenomenon. Yet the adverse consequences in terms of division of land are recognized.
D. Lack of guidance
Rural youths lack guidance. There are many problems that rural youths face and they
require different solutions. There is no one to guide them.
In tribal areas the issue of land rights also came up. Forest laws created enormous people
in the tribal belt and deprived them of ownership right over land.

E. Lack of technical training
For finding a productive work or gainful employment technical and professional training
is quite important these days. It is more important than education. Traditional education
does not add to people’s market value. It is technical knowledge in relevant pursuits that
can enable them to become productive.
The report from Jaunpur says that the status of education in the Muslim dominated areas
is dismal. Boys and girls do not study. Girls want to learn tailoring. Boys want to
establish household industry.
F. Lack of capital
Due to low income the youths lack working capital to start a business or industrial
activity. In some cases a few other problems were also mentioned. For example in
District Chitrakoot where participants had somewhat higher income, among the major
issues causing poverty and widespread employment they also mentioned corruption and
presence of multinational companies. At several places dying of traditional arts and crafts
and household industry were also mentioned. The reasons given behind the destruction of
arts and crafts are: non-availability of raw material, reduced demand for products,
competition with new products (for example the earthen pots have lost their attraction
due to competition from plastic products), and modernization.
Approaches to Development: Alternatives
In view of the problems raised earlier, this section presents the approaches to
development as suggested by rural youths. If I weld them into one model I can argue that
Gandhian model of development seems to be the most appropriate model of action in
rural UP. According to rural youths of UP the issue of development is basically the issue
of providing employment. In the given socio-economic milieu they have identified the
following ways of providing employment or reducing unemployment:
         -   Government job
         -   Private job
         -   Improvement in agriculture
         -   Improvement in irrigation facilities
         -   Education
         -   Dairy development

         -   Furniture industry
         -   Allied industry, arts and crafts Providing capital
         -   Helping in opening general merchant shops
         -   Technical/professional training
         -   Business in pigs and other animals
         -   Guiding migrants
         -   Organization
Government job
Government job is prefered by everyone. It is seen to be secure, it brings money, power
and prestige, and in most cases it means urban living. People in government jobs can
provide further education to their children. Here it is worth mentioning that because of its
attraction everyone wants a government job. In certain castes and families in which
someone has already served in police or defense services they want to go for such jobs
only. They keep on preparing for this for a long time without realizing that they have
only a small chance of getting into “force”. For most this leads to frustration. There is a
need for counseling of such youths.
Private job/service
If government job is not available private job may be preferred. It does not have security
but if has good income it also fetches social rewards and people in private jobs with
regular income can provide better education to their children. For most such jobs one
needs connection, guidance and technical training. So the hunt for jobs mostly results in
Improvement in agriculture
Agriculture is a traditional occupation. Most villagers in UP survive on agriculture. There
are many, mostly from lower castes and lower classes, who are interested in expanding
agricultural activities. If they can be supported for buying more land they would prefer to
do this. Yet, most people engage in agriculture without realizing that this can also be seen
as a business and it is possible to invest in agriculture and reap benefit in the form of
increased productivity. It may be noted that there are youths like Ram Bhavan (Gram
Sabha Salempur, district Ghazipur) who work as labor in brick kilns but they want to
change to agriculture. Ram Bhavan does not have enough money and experience of

agriculture. If he can get some money and agricultural training he wants to establish as a
farmer. He wants to buy land and grow sugarcane.
It may be noted that agriculture is under double pressure: one due to population growth
and another due to death of traditional arts and crafts. Oil spillers, potters, smiths,
carpenters have lost work due to change in life style and industrialization. Fieldwork
shows that at several places the land that has been distributed among the Scheduled Caste
(SC) families is not so fertile. Moreover, due to lack of confidence, lack of capital, lack
of information and lack of initiative the productivity in SC families is rather low. There is
a need for information dissemination among such families. Kisan Vikas Kendras can play
a vital role in this.
Improvement in irrigation facilities
For melioration of agriculture we need improvement in agriculture facilities.
Deforestation, industrial development, urbanization, increased extraction of ground water
for cash crops and government policies have aggravated shortage of water in one time
water abundant areas. This aspect of development has to be looked into. Approaches have
to be developed to water management at region or zonal levels. In the rural areas
watershed programmes could prove to be immensely useful.
Everybody recognizes the importance of education. People have started realizing that
they can change their situation. If they want to improve their condition they must be
educated. Yet lack of schools, especially after middle level, is a major problem.
Technical/professional training
In the survey most youths recognized that mere educational degree is not enough. As one
respondent stated, the modern education is “powder education”, i.e., education that only
teaches one to appear to use “powder” (cosmetics) is of no use. It has to be replaced by
technical or professional education.
For getting a good placement one must have some technical or professional education. In
District Mau during focus group discussions (FGDs) of youths belonging to different
castes such as lohar, swarnakar, pandit, teli, kayastha, pasi, mehtar and others it came
out clearly that people attribute poverty to lack of education and lack of professional
training. If they have guidance and a small capital they would like to go for self

employment. They are ready to provide active support to any employment oriented
Dairy development/business in pigs and other animals
Animal husbandry, sheep farming, goat herding, murgipalan (poultry farming), etc. are
some activities which can be taken up by rural youths along with agricultural activities if
they can be given small financial help and training. These are the activities in which
capital requirements are less and risks are also less.
Furniture industry/Allied industry/Arts and crafts
A new thing that can be learnt from dialogues in different districts of UP is that there are
many youths who have started seeing the virtue of collective industry. Anil Pandit, age
25, a high school pass youth of Brahmin caste, village Hahvas of Ghazipur district, says
that in the rural milieu collective and cooperative efforts towards producing fisheries,
candles making, agarbattis, dari (rugs) and kaleen (carpet) making, soap making, oil
spillers for extraction of mustard oil, and collective efforts towards improving irrigation
facilities should be started. Ghazipur district has been known for dari making. In
Ghazipur there are some youths who want to go for ata chakki (i.e., a small unit to grind
In general, youths say that that rural non-agricultural activity, arts and crafts need to be
revived with availability of capital and guidance it can be revived. There are also some
who think that nothing can happen in the village. They feel that the only solution for
them is to migrate to city.
Providing capital
In all districts youths said that if they have some money and training they can go for
tailoring, candle making or some other activity. Traditional arts and crafts are dying but
are not yet seen to have become irrelevant. In particular, artisans believe that with a small
capital they can revive their traditional occupations. Capital is required for all types of
self employment activities. Even for opening a small general merchant shop they require
Helping in opening general merchant shops
In addition to agriculture and allied industry business is another activity that may be
promoted. It too requires specialized skills. Some youths who are first generation

shopkeepers may require various types of skills, including basic understanding of
accounts, purchases and sales, taxation, and communication skills. Government and non-
government organizations can provide training, and help them in getting loan etc. from
the banks for starting business.
Guiding migrants
According to the well known migration theory rural people are often pushed to migrate to
cities because of fall in productivity, poverty, lack of employment, social conflicts,
discrimination, exclusion, violence, and natural disasters. There is a need to provide
knowledge about destinations, and factors the migrants should consider before taking
decision to migrate. It has been found that migration has often impoverished them and at
the place of destination they have become more vulnerable than before. Even from the
larger national perspective migration due to push factors should be the last option to be
exercised by the rural youths.
Interestingly, few youths give importance to organization. This may be because of
declining community consciousness. The replacement of community by state has given
rise to individualization and politicking. On the one hand one is left alone to fight his/her
own problems, and on the other, to be effective he has to be part of some political faction
in the village. Yet, there are lone voices which see the need for organization.
Puroshottam, a Scheduled Caste, aged 35, District Ghazipur is intermediate pass. He has
one acre of agricultural land and takes two crops per year. He depends mainly on
agriculture but supplements his income from labour. He is looking for some technical
education. He gives special importance to organization. He wants to promote collective
spirit in the area and contribute to any collective effort towards establishing cottage
industry. For him mobilization of youths is quite important for development. There are
some youths who were earlier working in dari and kaleen industry in Bhadohi district but
for some or the other reason they have lost their job. They feel that they will have to
organize to fight the present system. If they act in a united way and pool their resources
they can even export their products to other countries and earn sufficiently.
One important lesson one learns from this exercise is that only a small number of youths
have started looking within. When I worked among the rural poor of Kanpur district,

about two decades ago, I found the same situation in Kanpur villages: the people in
general have external locus of control. Everyone would say that for their poverty
government is responsible and their condition can improve only if government does
something. Even today this is the case. To quote Brahma Dev, secretary, Jan Vikas
Sansthan, Pratapgarh:
         We discussed with both men and women among whom 80 percent youths
         blame the government for unemployment. 10 percent blame themselves.
         The remaining 10 percent blame their parents.
Yet, in areas where Banwasi Seva Ashram has been working many youths can see the
virtue of collective efforts and this is a very good sign. Although most youths in UP still
seem to be of the view that state is responsible for poverty and only state efforts can
remove their problems but in the Ashram areas there are many who have started
attributing poverty to their own efforts (including education). This is a welcome sign.
In sum, the problems of rural youths are multiple. First of all, they are dependent on
agriculture. Population growth, leading to division of land, and the fall in arts and crafts
have made the youth dependent on meager land resources and service. In absence of
capital and knowledge they cannot go for self employment. So they start looking for jobs
for which they have the minimum academic qualification. This has produced nightmare
in several lives. The other option is to migrate and that is turning the rural population into
urban proletariat in big cities. Lack of guidance, organization, capital and adequate
government support has made them alienated and helpless. The options are: migration,
Naxal activities, or acceptance of poverty. They are not able to understand their strengths
and weaknesses and act rationally.
The narratives show that the rural employment situation is very confusing and
frustrating. The present approach to development cannot provide jobs to youths in
villages. On the basis of analysis of the narratives the following conclusions can be
   1. Agriculture has to be taken more seriously than is the case today. At the moment
         it appears that the rural youths do not want to engage in agricultural activities and
         are looking for urban jobs. They have to be convinced of the importance of

   agriculture in their life. Certain government institutions like Kisan Vikas Kendras
   (KVK) should be strengthened so that the farmers have more productive and
   sustainable agricultural base: they learn innovations, produce more, and retain the
   productivity of soil. It emerges from the interviews that 2-3 bighas of irrigated
   land, if cultivation is done attentively, is enough for a family to survive.
2. Agriculture should be supplemented with allied activities. For this training and
   small capital would be required that can be provided by government institutions
   and banks.
3. Since the rural poor lack money to educate their children a way has to be found to
   combine education with earning wages or contributing to productive activities,
   right from the beginning. Technical and professional training has to be
4. The rural youths require organizational skills, moral education and critical
   thinking. Organizational skills will raise their esteem and give them confidence to
   act that they are utterly lacking. Moral education is necessary to prevent crime
   and deviance and look for sustainable ways of development. It is important to
   educate them about harmful effects of substance use. Critical thinking will make
   go for Westernization only selectively and will save them from becoming prey to
   the diffusion of Western values.


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