January 15th, 2011
The Shodh Yatra was undoubtedly one of the most powerful learning experiences of my life. It is difficult to imagine what a rural lifestyle in the developing world actually looks and feels like until you go there and walk from village to village,...
January 13th, 2011
Hi everybody. Unfortunately, I have not had internet access except for short periods of time in internet cafes, so I am afraid I have not had the chance to post anything nor will I be able to until I return to the USA on Jan 18. Look for content...
The technology of rural india - joining the 26th Shodh Yatra
Tomorrow I will embark on my first of three flights, to be followed by an 8 hour car ride, all to reach the tiny Laitkynsew village, near Cherrapunji (Sohra) in the northeast state of Meghalaya in India. I will be joining the 26th Shodh Yatra, an bi-annual walking journey in a remote part of India, orchestrated by the organization SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions).
In SRISTI's own words, the objectives of the Shodh Yatra are
- To learn about the experiences of the farmers engaged in organic farming and inform other farmers about the same.
- To encourage the curiosity of the children about variety in organic farming and to discover the knowledge of bio and crop diversity among rural people.
- To meet the people who solve their problems through their presence of mind and inborn ability, store their knowledge and felicitate them.
- To compile and disseminate the knowledge, which is fast disappearing and establish a dialogue between the old generation and future generation
My involvement with this journey comes from my interest in using biotechnology to benefit rural communities. The Shodh Yatra is a great way to put this idea to the test. I want to find out what agricultural techniques are employed by the local Khasi tribespeople and what, if any biotechnology they use (perhaps even unwittingly). I want to put the rural traditional farming techniques of the developing world in dialogue with modern farming techniques of the developed world, which are heavily influenced by biotechnology. There are likely to be pros and cons to using biotechnology, but I believe that any future application of biotechnology can be enhanced by first understanding how the local agriculture is done there now.
I will be interviewing people who I meet about their agricultural practices, as well as any other practices related to promotion of biodiversity. I will also be documenting the overall pace and narrative of the Shodh Yatra, as well as the other people joining the journey. This footage will be compiled into a film after I return home.
I will be blogging as much as possible throughout my travels in India, so more to come!