Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Three days and much to learn - Part 2

The women of Ramela

Back from the visit to the remote village of Ramela, Uttarakhand, we were keen to discuss our revelations from the trip with a local urban woman we had befriended.

The topic of discussion was how women did most of the work in villages in India and how it was not any different in Ramela. Most Ramela women were uneducated too, similar to other villages in India.

But even without formal education, they understood the importance of the forest cover surrounding their village and worked to protect it.

One village lady even explained to us how they only cut trees in the middle i.e. alternate trees, so that the ones on the sides could can act as wind barriers and hold the soil firm. Moreover, they usually cut branches for the firewood or collect branches fallen off dried trees, not the entire bark of the tree.

She said they had a rule, never to cut a young, green tree. And if they ever did, they plant two more in its place. Despite no formal education, these women were aware of simple lessons of afforestation and conservation.

Then why were those slopes greener the last time I visited Uttarakhand? 

The same village lady had an answer for me. She said the forest cover did not belong to the villagers, it was used for commercial purposes.

Private companies and/or the government collect the tree raisin to make bangles and other things to sell. For that purpose, they make slits into the tree bark every year to collect the sap. The procedure is repeated for the next four years till the tree dries up and is empty of any raisin to live on.

Murdering a tree by starvation.  

Almost every four years or less, a batch of trees is tortured and the mountain slope goes barren. It is also one of the causes of soil erosion which then allows rain water to create havoc on the village below, like it did that September, last year.

However, the men and women of the village did say the rules they followed are not followed by the women of the younger generation. According to them, the new generation of women did not care what happened to the trees or the mountains.

Hearing that, our local friend whom we were telling all this to, said, "The new generation of village women is educated. They just don't want to work. They find the easiest and fastest ways of doing things and that is probably why they don't think much about what happens to the forest cover. As long as their immediate needs are fulfilled."

Is education actually hampering sustainable growth? Can't be. They're just not getting the right kind of education.

What needs to be done?

  • Creating awareness among the so-called "new-generation women" about deforestation, soil erosion and its consequences. Education is more important than literacy. 
  • Hold companies/government accountable for the deteriorating forest cover of Uttarakhand. The least they can do is use natural resources responsibly and plant trees in their place, if they kill them. 
  • They can employ these villagers to plant trees in the region, if they themselves don't have the manpower for afforestation. It's give an additional source of income to the villagers and solves some environmental problems.
  • But it's never about the manpower, it's about the money. Who is going to spend money on restoring a land that they can destroy and leave with nobody to answer to?


  1. The older generation always knew how to cherish nature....the tribal people worship trees and the forest...they all are uneducated, they din receive modern education, din go to fancy schools and colleges, yet led a healthy and balanced's not educations fault but the systems...the increased deforestation has already lead to so much of destruction....our already delicate atmosphere is under all the more stress..we have unusual rain patterns...storms, earthquakes and what not...we are responsible for this...had we listened to our "not so educated" elders we wouldn't have faced these problems....but the problem of young age is that they know too much and understand too little :)

  2. Yes. But also, the 'education' these young women are getting is probably not teaching them about the environment. Or if it is, I want to know why they are not applying their knowledge like their older counterparts who didn't have a 'formal' education.


Please leave your comment here