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What about the outskirts?

What are some of our earliest recollections of visiting a village? Is it our vehicle struggling to make its way through the potholes?  Or the soothing sight of the endless stretch of rustling green paddy?
|| By Shaily Mishra

Is it the content faces of the village folks occupied with their doable goals or our tightly withheld jaw-drop gazing the countless stars in the open sky? Village seems like a far time acquaintance filled with speculation, reminiscences and tranquility. But, are we equally compelled to get transfixed when a news or a story from rural India pops up? How much bothered we felt ourselves after watching a fleet of migrant laborers stuck in Kashmere Gate Bus Terminal or after reading the news notification about 16 exhausted migrants who fell asleep on tracks and were run over by a train?

Maybe, it’s the very nature of news to be held responsible, as the fundamentals of news states that proximity, prominence, and oddity are the prerequisite essence of any news to be felt relevant to us. And, villages mount on the brink of our imagination of geographical boundaries, with their unschooled populace and rather too simplistic stories in front of our sophisticated jargons of jeopardy. All the while the caste and feudal system, fueled with an oppressive patriarchal grip, stagnates the Indian rural households and forms the genesis of any conflict. Though the middle cinema of the 1970s opened a valve to the exhibition of rural plight and pleasure, it’s rejuvenation seems futile with celebration of nationalist, pro-industry, glamourized version of India. This has created a safe milieu for cultural imperialism to spread its wings, pulling us further away from the grassroot realities of the Indian diaspora. It comes as no surprise that the suburbs of America seems more closer than the villages in the outskirts of the city we dwell in.

The Indian lyricist and screenwriter, Varun Grover tweeted that as a city-kid we do not only take access to food, electricity, water, love and care for granted, we also grow up believing by the virtues of our multiple levels of privileges that we have actually earned it. This is one of the many subconscious reasons behind our nonchalance towards news from the rural heartland. For downtrodden daily wagers, the option is unambiguous, either to die of hunger within the walls or die of scaling the same. And, in the center stage questions circumscribing PM Cares Fund, an initiative that seemed to smoothen all the future irregularity of Covid19 in India, is no strange because people are still speculating of its appropriate usage with their bated breath. Questioning the authority for accountability of its actions should never be taken with personal sentiments. As nevertheless biases in any sphere of life only brings misery for the rest.

Villages are significant, no matter how far we might have moved away from it or no matter how minuscule its traces are present in mainstream or high culture media texts. Having faith and boosting the spirit of those abiding by the lockdown and those risking themselves to ensure its smooth rollout is worth applauding but esteem can be sufficed once basic physiological needs are met. This is what Maslow Hierarchy of Needs model had to say, one of the foremost models taught in advertising, now wholly shrugged off by the far-right governments that heavily rely on them. The jingoism shall thrive and those starkly affected by the lockdown might still hail the government’s inability as an unintentional amiss, but questions raised have to be barred from hostility and skepticism. At least amid this crisis, criticism has to be absorbed and reverberated in an unconventional way to facilitate redressal of grievances of everyone, migrant laborers, villagers, everyone.

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