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Weekly Pullouts » Himachal Tribune

Posted at: Oct 6, 2018, 12:30 AM; last updated: Oct 6, 2018, 12:30 AM (IST)

Changing socio-economic profile of a village

Engg college in Massal settlement has enriched quality of life
Changing socio-economic profile of a village
The engineering college set up in Massal village.

Mary Parmar

The purpose of education is human resource development in its multi-faceted aspects; be it social, economic, aesthetic, intellectual or cultural, enriching the quality of life of the individual and the society.  But besides this, educational institutions also change the environs where they are situated. A case in example is Massal village near Nagrota Bagwan in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh where the socio-economic profile alterations are visible with the setting up of an engineering college.

Massal village lying at the foothills of the mighty, lofty Dhauladhar mountains is a typically beautiful hill village, which is witnessing fast changes in the socio-economic context. There is an increase in income generation and social equity, especially of the women, youth and other disadvantaged sections. Manual activities outside the homes especially by women had always been looked down here.  Such inhibitions are being shed now. Imbibing the concept of dignity of labour cutting across the caste boundaries, which had its strong hold on the village community, especially among the upper castes, can be witnessed now.

There is a change in the pattern of earning livelihood and to some extent, it is curbing migration of the youth from the village. The women are providing food to the paying guest house students and also catering to the demand for snacks, refreshments, etc. Poultry farms are coming up, local fruits and vegetables are being put to optimal use.  Setting up of beauty parlours, saloons, Photostat, books, magazine and stationery shops is being witnessed. On the part of the administration, infrastructure development, roads, communication, water, street lights, etc, are being taken care of to some extent.

The old people whose wards have gone in search of livelihood outside the state and country are finding company of the young ones by renting out rooms.  Besides an augmentation of their income, it is a healthy way to fight depression and loneliness.  A wisp of changed air with the latest trends in dresses is being worn by the young in the village than the usual salwar, kameez and chunni.

Areas of concern are also there.  Along with growth and expansion, problems too arise which need to be taken care of at the initial stages itself. With an uncontrolled and a haphazard increase in the number of concrete structures, the greenery and green spaces have started to deplete.  The locals are finding it more lucrative to establish small businesses instead of agriculture activities, which otherwise too are not profitable due to the stray cattle and the monkey menace. The farmlands are giving place to concrete houses to set up paying guest homes and other small commercial establishments, but not in a planned manner. Roads are being widened and destabilisation of the hills is taking place.  The village would no longer remain a village in the long run. Thus a proper roadmap is required for its development, for which proper planning is needed right now.  Thereafter, little can be done. There are many such examples from which one needs to learn a lesson.

Care has to be taken to prevent the degradation of the social, cultural and ecological environment. The imposition of limitation and constraints on activities, resulting in degradation, destruction and pollution of the environment in this eco-sensitive area has to be exercised.   The disposal of garbage wastage has to be taken care of.  Littering along the roads is being witnessed. The scattered, empty liquor bottles, fast-food leftovers and empty snack packets bear testimony to the fact that liquor and drugs have taken hold of the youth. 

A broad and long-term perceptive vision is needed. Cooperation and coordination between the different administrative agencies is also needed because there are extensive forward and backward social and economic linkages.  The onus lies on the state government and the local administration and the village panchayat in particular. ‘Vikas mein Jan Sahyog’ should be the mantra to develop Massal into a model village for which there is a vast potential.

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