A new stirring in rural Sind

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE villages of Sind are experiencing a new awakening. The people — both men and women — in rural areas of the province are developing a keen awareness of their deprivation and backwardness. Gone are the centuries old fatalism, complacency and submissiveness of yore. The people now want a change and more significantly they are prepared to work for it on a selfhelp basis.

Sindh24-13-06-1986
This might only be the beginning of a new stirring but it is a positive and a promising one. It certainly gives rise to hope that these, villages where time seems to have stood still, will no longer tolerate being consigned to the backwater of national life to stagnate in poverty and backwardness. Some of these hamlets are just a few kilometres from a city but lack even the basic amenities of life such as water supply, electricity, roads, hospitals and schools.

Mainly responsible for this change in attitudes is a new phenomenon: the young men of these villages who went to the cities for higher education are returning home. They might be only a handful but they are important for they have emerged as agents of change.

As students, they saw a better life mainly in Karachi and Hyderabad. But, when seeking employment they chose to reject urban comforts and come back to their birth places. Even if they take up a job in a neighbouring town, their links with their native villages are very close and strong.

Organised

What is significant is that this process of change is not a sporadic or scattered one. It is organised and quite widespread. Hence it can be expected to have an impact. Many of the young men who are stirring for the uplift of rural life belong to the Sind Goth Sudhar Sangat which was formed about five years ago and now has its branches in 120 villages. Working closely with the Sangat is the Sind Women’s Organisation which seeks to better the status of women.

Tando Kollachi is an epitome of this process. A village with a population of 2000, 80 kilometres south of Mirpur Khas, the district headquarters of Tharparkar, Tando Kollachi could have been expected to be like thousands of other villages in the province. Many of these have no schools, health facilities, water supply, electricity or roads. But Tando Kollachi is different: it has a primary school for girls which is to be upgraded, adult literacy classes for women, a public library, a clinic and a drug store. Water, electricity and roads, however, are still missing. The efforts of a handful of activists belonging to the Sangat have led to these changes. Behind them is a young surgeon, Dr. Hussain Baksh Kollachi, who says he has felt a deep attachment for his village since his childhood. Even when he left home to attend high school in another village near Umarkot and later to study at Liaquat Medical College in Hyderabad, Dr. Hussain Baksh kept his sight focussed on his home village.

When he returned home, this medical graduate made a start by setting up a health centre which is staffed in his absence by one of his sisters who has been trained as an LHV. The girl’s school was without a teacher. So another sister took over while yet another volunteered to conduct adult literacy classes. Now the Family Planning Association of Pakistan has helped set up a drug store so that the people of Tando Kollachi are no longer required to travel to Jhuddo, 20 kilometres away, to buy medicines.

“It was soon clear to me that if my village was to progress, I must raise the people’s consciousness and make them aware of their latent capability to change their conditions. The foremost need was to train them to formulate and express their ideas,” observes Dr. Hussain Baksh. This he has managed to do. His claim that 70 per cent of the people in his village can speak in a public gathering was to a large extent substantiated in the youth conference and women’s meeting organised in Tando Kollachi. Both were well attended — nearly a thousand participants from neighbouring villages had braved the scorching heat of April to register their presence at a forum so important to them. Organisation, participation and involvement were the keynote of these moots.

The speakers expressed themselves with confidence, fluency and force. They were supposedly the backwards rustics. But they were conscious of their needs and knew how to voice their demands for employment, education, vocational training, water supply, electricity and, above all, a four-mile stretch of ‘pucca’ (concrete) road to link their village with the main Mirpukhas — Naukot road. They did not have to be professional economists to know that without communications Tando Kolachi could not join the mainstream of development. There is also a growing realisation that progress is not possible if women are not integrated in the development process. The women’s conference was ample testimony to the emerging awareness of the female role in society. The speakers, who also included little girls of ten, forcefully denounced the subjugation and oppression of women. They displayed a perceptive understanding of their rights: health, education and training for income generating skills. Above all they spoke against the feudal set-up to which they attributed many of their misfortunes.

Tide

This trend, which is not just confined to a pocket or two, could be the beginning of ‘far-reaching changes. It is like a tide which is impossible to roll back. The demand for change has been gaining momentum with the spread of education and political consciousness.

Other contributing factors have been a revival of pride in the Sindhi heritage and identity, the growing urban unemployment which has denuded the cities of the charm they held for the educated youth seeking a job and the political consciousness which has come in the last few years. This neo-educated class is emerging as a catalyst and what is significant about it is that for the first time the traditional leadership in the rural areas is being bypassed. If this pattern is sustained, it could undermine the feudal system slowly but surely. The realisation already exists that the feudal leadership has failed to deliver the goods. Now the alternative is emerging.

Source: Dawn 13 June 1986

A new stirring in rural Sind

By Zubeida Mustafa

THE villages of Sind are experiencing a new awakening. The people — both men and women — in rural areas of the province are developing a keen awareness of their deprivation and backwardness. Gone are the centuries old fatalism, complacency and submissiveness of yore. The people now want a change and more significantly they are prepared to work for it on a selfhelp basis.

This might only be the beginning of a new stirring but it is a positive and a promising one. It certainly gives rise to hope that these, villages where time seems to have stood still, will no longer tolerate being consigned to the backwater of national life to stagnate in poverty and backwardness. Some of these hamlets are just a few kilometres from a city but lack even the basic amenities of life such as water supply, electricity, roads, hospitals and schools.

Mainly responsible for this change in attitudes is a new phenomenon: the young men of these villages who went to the cities for higher education are returning home. They might be only a handful but they are important for they have emerged as agents of change.

As students, they saw a better life mainly in Karachi and Hyderabad. But, when seeking employment they chose to reject urban comforts and come back to their birth places. Even if they take up a job in a neighbouring town, their links with their native villages are very close and strong.

Organised

What is significant is that this process of change is not a sporadic or scattered one. It is organised and quite widespread. Hence it can be expected to have an impact. Many of the young men who are stirring for the uplift of rural life belong to the Sind Goth Sudhar Sangat which was formed about five years ago and now has its branches in 120 villages. Working closely with the Sangat is the Sind Women’s Organisation which seeks to better the status of women.

Tando Kollachi is an epitome of this process. A village with a population of 2000, 80 kilometres south of Mirpur Khas, the district headquarters of Tharparkar, Tando Kollachi could have been expected to be like thousands of other villages in the province. Many of these have no schools, health facilities, water supply, electricity or roads. But Tando Kollachi is different: it has a primary school for girls which is to be upgraded, adult literacy classes for women, a public library, a clinic and a drug store. Water, electricity and roads, however, are still missing. The efforts of a handful of activists belonging to the Sangat have led to these changes. Behind them is a young surgeon, Dr. Hussain Baksh Kollachi, who says he has felt a deep attachment for his village since his childhood. Even when he left home to attend high school in another village near Umarkot and later to study at Liaquat Medical College in Hyderabad, Dr. Hussain Baksh kept his sight focussed on his home village.

When he returned home, this medical graduate made a start by setting up a health centre which is staffed in his absence by one of his sisters who has been trained as an LHV. The girl’s school was without a teacher. So another sister took over while yet another volunteered to conduct adult literacy classes. Now the Family Planning Association of Pakistan has helped set up a drug store so that the people of Tando Kollachi are no longer required to travel to Jhuddo, 20 kilometres away, to buy medicines.

“It was soon clear to me that if my village was to progress, I must raise the people’s consciousness and make them aware of their latent capability to change their conditions. The foremost need was to train them to formulate and express their ideas,” observes Dr. Hussain Baksh. This he has managed to do. His claim that 70 per cent of the people in his village can speak in a public gathering was to a large extent substantiated in the youth conference and women’s meeting organised in Tando Kollachi. Both were well attended — nearly a thousand participants from neighbouring villages had braved the scorching heat of April to register their presence at a forum so important to them. Organisation, participation and involvement were the keynote of these moots.

The speakers expressed themselves with confidence, fluency and force. They were supposedly the backwards rustics. But they were conscious of their needs and knew how to voice their demands for employment, education, vocational training, water supply, electricity and, above all, a four-mile stretch of ‘pucca’ (concrete) road to link their village with the main Mirpukhas — Naukot road. They did not have to be professional economists to know that without communications Tando Kolachi could not join the mainstream of development. There is also a growing realisation that progress is not possible if women are not integrated in the development process. The women’s conference was ample testimony to the emerging awareness of the female role in society. The speakers, who also included little girls of ten, forcefully denounced the subjugation and oppression of women. They displayed a perceptive understanding of their rights: health, education and training for income generating skills. Above all they spoke against the feudal set-up to which they attributed many of their misfortunes.

Tide

This trend, which is not just confined to a pocket or two, could be the beginning of ‘far-reaching changes. It is like a tide which is impossible to roll back. The demand for change has been gaining momentum with the spread of education and political consciousness.

Other contributing factors have been a revival of pride in the Sindhi heritage and identity, the growing urban unemployment which has denuded the cities of the charm they held for the educated youth seeking a job and the political consciousness which has come in the last few years. This neo-educated class is emerging as a catalyst and what is significant about it is that for the first time the traditional leadership in the rural areas is being bypassed. If this pattern is sustained, it could undermine the feudal system slowly but surely. The realisation already exists that the feudal leadership has failed to deliver the goods. Now the alternative is emerging.

Source: Dawn 13 June 1986