Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lack of scientific knowledge leading to social problems in India...an incident

…………….My stream of thoughts go their meandering way till they reach my village folks fights and court cases!


This summer, as usual, we spent some weekends, driving around, soaking up the sun, enjoying the cool breeze(the  ac  in the car does not work, so we have to keep the windows open!) and stopping to take photos of anything which caught our fancy.
And ever since I have travelled  across  Canada and the US, the barns and silos  on the farms have caught my attention. I love the red barns in their various conditions…..falling down, new, old, semi-wrecked or totally wrecked. I have been photographing them and also reading about them on the internet. (…mostly on Wikipedia  which is  my latest GURU and probably will remain my Guru of Gurus, till I die !)
…When I read about how the cattle feed are stored in these barns and silos, read about the poisonous gases formed in the silos with the tons of feed in it and also read about the spontaneous fires in silos, I thought back of what my dad had told me recently.

My dad had told me about a huge fight between two neighbours in my village in India. The haystacks of one family had been burnt completely one night; this family had immediately suspected their ‘enemy’ i.e. his neighbour/relative with whom this family had a long feud.  The family whose hay-stack had burnt down, attacked the other family and accused them of setting their hay-stack on  fire. The other family, were furious and vehemently denied it;  the fight became violent and the head of the house of the accused family had to flee police arrest.
My dad knows both families and got a chance to talk to the man who fled from arrest. The man vehemently denied setting the fire and had proof that he and his family were no where near the hay-stacks when it burnt down .
In the light of this scientific knowledge from the internet, it is so easy to prove that the fire was not caused by a person but by spontaneous heating and combustion.
But who is to tell the family who lost a year’s worth of cattle feed in the fire, who are presently are seething  with rage? Even if one tried to explain, they are in no mood to listen. This fire is the last straw in a life-long series of fights over so many petty issues between the two families. Their belief that their ‘enemy’ set fire to their hay-stack is a culmination of so many factors…the long drawn enemity, lack of knowledge of science, lack of education, lack of trust, past memories of past ‘mischiefs’, etc. 
So many such incidents happen in Indian villages every year. I hear so many of them, though I am not a villager and have limited information about the goings on in my village.  Imagine, the full extent of such events happening daily in the millions of villages in India!
Unless, villagers have access to scientific education, which is of practical use to them and highly relevant to their lives and work, these 'social' problems in India will continue.
Due to lack of scientific knowledge, the number of avoidable tragedies I am seeing in Indian villages is phenomenal. The superstitions are another set of beliefs which prevent my villagers from progressing.
In my next blog entry, I will try to write about the tragedies in my village  caused  by  illiteracy, poor access to scientific information and presence of superstitions. I will be writing only what I have observed. I am sure there is a lot more problems out there, which I am not aware of as I am not living in a village and not privy to all that happens there.

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