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There is only one goal. That is to be whole again.

There is only one goal. That is to be whole again. How human beings live and work determines whether they remain whole or are split. ...

9/28/17

Chottu is 15 years old. He lives in the boardinghouse for mostly foreign tourists that we are staying at on our visit to Jodhpur, in Rajasthan.

He is married. His wife lives with his extended family back home in the village. He owns agricultural land in the village.

So what's Chottu doing living in a boardinghouse ten hours by road away from home? He is a servant, almost a slave. He works night and day every day of the week cooking, cleaning, serving, visiting his family once a year.

This is a very common problem. Granted Chottu's land is not very productive. However it is productive enough to feed his family. But his family is not interested in simply growing food on the family land and living off it.

The problem is that the prevalent industrialism has created a lifestyle for his family in the village that can be lived only with the means of cash. Young men from all families are hence sent far away to the cities to work as indentured servants, almost slaves, so that the families can have cash to support their cash-based lifestyle.

It is no longer enough to approach the problem as a production problem, the way E. F. Schumacher brilliantly did fifty years ago. He came up with the idea of intermediate technology - agricultural methods that would be small and simple but far superior to the old ways. For if today somehow Chottu's family was equipped with such intermediate technology and was able to grow crops such as juwar and bajri, the sad thing is that in all probability they wouldn't know what to do with these grains.

I was fortunate to have grown up in India at a time when my grandmother would prepare bhakri - unleavened bread made from local grains such as juwar and bhakri and stubborn enough to be the only boy in the history of our school who insisted on studying traditional cooking as an elective.

However when Krista and I tour India now we rarely find anything other than mass produced wheat flour anywhere. Even when we are occasionally able to find other grains and a stone mill to grind them in, only the very old know how to prepare breads (like bhakri) made with anything other than wheat.

So the problem now is a lot more complicated than it was a generation ago. Cash is a lifestyle that creates a vicious cycle of enslavement of young men who are torn from their families, while the families live a life increasingly disconnected to the earth.

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