Nobody can deny that with the growth of cities the villages have been considerably neglected. Ever since the light of Western civilization came into our country we have been developing a craze for city life. In the beginning of the British rule in undivided India most of the people used to be employed in the cities for various jobs but now-a-days the people are attracted to the cities for the comforts and luxuries of life which they cannot enjoy in their village homes. Under these circumstances we must try to improve our villages.
The importance of the movement known as ‘Village Uplift or ‘Rural Reconstruction cannot be over-rated, considering that Pakistan is an agricultural country and four-fifths of its population lives in villages. Many economists and politicians are of the opinion that Pakistan should concentrate upon reforming its villages before striving for achieving self-government. They are, no doubt, right for the happiness of the villagers is obviously “the happiness of the greatest number.”
In Punjab, Mr. F. L. Brayne was the first official to think of village uplift. While acting as the Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon he studied villages at first hand, was grieved and shocked by the deplorable conditions obtaining in them; and set about earnestly to reconstruct them. He brought home to the people of that district the importance of sanitation, education and of scientific agricultural implements. His experiment met with a great success and within a short period Gurgaon made an amazing progress.
First of all, he emphasises the value of education. According to him, ignorance, more than anything else, is responsible for the backwardness of the peasant. Steeped in age-old ignorance, the peasant does not know his own interest. If he ignores the laws of health and sanitation, runs into enormous debts, or follows ancient methods of agriculture, it is because he lacks enlightenment. The remedy suggested is hat primary education should be made compulsory for both boy: ai girls. Adults should be educated through such modern device as die radio, the cinema and the magic lantern.”
The second item on the programme is health and sanitation. The villager is content with passing his days in unhealthy surroundings. He does not care much if streets of his village are dirty or if houses have no arrangement for fresh air. He allows dirty water to collect in pits and ponds situated in and about the village, with the result that they attract mosquitoes who spread malaria and trouble. Thus the villager is to be exhorted to keep his houses and streets clean by throwing the dung hills and rubbish into pits. He is to be warned against the harm that mosquitoes do and is to be advised to use quinine and cheap mosquito nets.
The third thing that a peasant is required to do is to improve his agriculture, Agriculture is the main profession of the industry in the village; and, of late, it has fallen into a rut. The peasants can make it a paying profession by using scientific, implements, by importing hulls of excellent breed, by using better seeds, manures, and plows. They can increase their income by combining agriculture with such industries as dairying, poultry, gardening, and sugar-making.
Lastly, the peasants are advised to shake off a number of social evils from which they suffer. It is seen that they spend money lavishly on marriages and births and are prone to be extravagant when they come by money. In some districts they are excessively given to drinking. Almost everywhere they are enamoured of smoking and idling away their time. They are over-fond of litigation. They commit murders over trifles, and resort to the court so often that they pay the best part of their income to the lawyers. They make their children wear heavy ornaments, oppose female education with the fury of a fanatic ; and incur debts which they know not how to clear. The peasant, thus, is to be advised to get rid of all these evils.
There is no doubt that if the peasant acts upon these suggestions, he is bound to prosper. He would be able to lead an infinitely better life. if he makes whole-hearted attempts to improve his home and his farm. Only is that case the village will deserve the description given to it in the proverb, “God made the country and man made the town.”