Monday, December 24, 2007

Aloo, resident of adivasi village

Aloo's village is on a plain table land on top of a hill belonging to western ghats. The mumbai local can take you to within 4-5 Kms from his residence. He was inducted into services when in Nineteen Seventees there was labor shortage and then scouts would be sent to nearby Adivasi villages asking if anyone was interested in job. His wife passed away sometimes back and now his complete salary goes for the welfare of his two sons.
The eldest with his wife just came back from jungle after cutting wood for their fuel needs. The son only had a blue short and a muscular body drenced in sweat. The wife had skirt like saree and a blouse. That is the standard dress for a normal adivasi. Only thing that distinguished them from us was their instant happiness. They were glad and unihibited in interacting with us. The smile baring all teeth while talking was a glowing tribute that man can be happy in most isolated of places even if he was just returning from cutting wood.
Most of elders go to jungle in day and the youths go to various services in mumbai city. there are few who go to Dadar to sell leaves in bulk, sometimes in Monsoon they carry crabs to market of Kalyan. The ladies travel many kilometers to carry and bring home water and some have bullock cart especially designed to bring in a small tank of water. About 20 people can sit in a single jeep to reach to their respective villages. All houses carry the same pattern and have wooden roof with a opening that is closed by conical array of ghaprels (mud tiles). Their tea has special flavor of a grass that they put while they boil it. Their language is similar to but unlike marathi. The truck driver did not take money from us after he dropped us back to the highway.The truck ride gave us most spectacular view of nashik highway and surrounding hills .They are simple adivasi.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Government policy on rural tourism

Government can bring out policy for promoting rural tourism and help it reach all deserving villages.

  1. Ensure that villages are not discriminated based on history,geography,demography,religion or natural location. Build a belief that every village has got the potential.
  2. Ensure that any village can be converted into a tourist destination without any administrative hassles.
  3. A single form/application from any social entrepreneur should take care of recognizing that village as a tourist destination, form necessary trusts for financial transactions.
  4. Ensure that most of the funds is managed by village self help group/cooperative/trusts.
  5. All revenue generated directly or indirectly through rural tourism should be tax free.

Please add to the list. I am not good at policymaking.

Be Sensitive to rural folks

Suppose you are developing the concept of rural tourism for a village. You start getting enquiries for weekdays trip or for bulk booking say 50+ people or for overnight stays. Now what will you do? You only thought that the village could be a weekend destination with 10-15 people per day but its not.

I would recommend that you discuss the same with your local connect and lt him have a internal discussions with various stakeholders in village and come back with his commitment. Show him the stretch goals but do not enforce them. Its their village and they know best as to how much capacity they can build and how much timeoff they can take from their routine farming tasks. Its their business to decide how much they want to take/make? Its not easy for them to accept money in return for the hospitality they provide, they treat it as their duty and do it out of pure love.

You may want to go beyond tourism development and will get an urge to develop village. Resist your urge and allow the problems to be initiated by the villagers ; participate actively in discussions but be careful about promising solutions. Promises are easily broken, politicians do it all the time. Instead come back and spread the problem description amongst your network and seek help from people who might have resolved similar problems before. Connect the villagers to such people and allow them to resolve local problems. Do not become government, judiciary , politician or a pure businessman.

Be consistent in your approach.

Let me know your experiences with the rural folks.

village as a tourist destination - What you can do?

  1. ASK -- Talk to people who may have links to nearby villages. People who touch your daily life like your security guard,drivers,housekeeping. They may be working in your residence, in your apartment complex, in your neighborhood, at your workplace. Tell them that you would like to spend a day in their village with them.
  2. VISIT -- Visit them based on their convenience and walk around their village. Enjoy local hospitality. If possible try to have your local connect arrange for breakfast/lunch. Take photographs and video of the place with their permissions.
  3. SPREAD -- Write about your experience in blogs and post photos and videos at web sites. Talk to your family friends and workplace colleagues and arrange another trip with a combination of them.
  4. EMPOWER -- Let your local connect start arranging the trips and taking care of everything from transport, to food and acting as local guide. He can make more and more people from village participate in succeeding trips and spreads the goodwill. Urban people need a good toilet and a clean place to eat, you can ensure presence of both.

What you gain out of it? Or why should you do it?

You will be sensitized to the human side of your local connect, the villagers and various people who encourage the cause in your workplace and in your friend circle. You will become a social entrepreneur and you will create social entrepreneurs through your local connect and through various people that you meet during the journey.

Remember, it’s a beautiful countryside out their. See it and show it to the world.

Just hit the roads and get moving. We did it and you can do it too.

Recommendations financial transactions

Divide the money into three parts.

  1. One for the cost associated with the trip, the cash payment is made to stakeholders on the day of trip itself.
  2. Two for creating a corpus for the village, could be through trust formation with directors being village stakeholders.
  3. Three for creating corpus to develop less privileged villages wherein directors could be from same village or a collection of villages that have successfully promoted rural tourism.

Recommendations for local connect and village

  1. Local connect can have mobile and email connectivity.
  2. Village can have a good toilet.
  3. Village can have a clean place for eating.

Do you have any other recommendations or success stories to share?

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