Ashok, the son of an abusive alcoholic father wore the school uniform for the first time in his life. Though it was his fourth year at the local government school, he had never had the privilege of wearing a uniform like the kids of the neighboring Christian convent. As he walked past the Hindi speaking labors returning from work while he was at the local playground ready to attempt the helicopter shot. He had picked it from the previous night’s champions trophy highlights. He had the courage and determination and idolized the legend M.S. Dhoni. He had heard the older men from the village talk about the good times that would change the landscape and economy of the village. Make lives better. The government was planning to buy the lands of the villagers and they also promised to pay handsomely. They paid better than the market value, is what the neighboring villagers who had already sold their land told. There was a new private school in town now. Colorful uniform, yellow school buses to pick and drop kids. English and discipline are the pivotal factors that made them different from the local government schools. The villagers who had turned rich overnight by selling their fields to the government had the money to send their kids to these schools.
There was an industrial area being set up at Kesurdi Maharashtra this year. Ashok had just finished his school and was looking to acquire skills which could land him in a respectable job around his village. The signboards of the MNCs displayed all over the area motivated many youngsters from villages including Ashok to study well and not quit school early which was common in the region.
After the demise of his drunkard father the previous year and his family being landless, Ashok’s mother was earning as a daily wage agricultural labor in the nearby fields. Ashok would deliver newspapers in the mornings and also supply packaged drinking water to the houses of officials working for the MNCs.
The government was eagerly developing the industrial areas, and the lands were being bought at four times the market value. The agenda of development was real.Or was it?The fields were all sold to the government and the owners were promised jobs as goodwill. One job for one family. Considering the educational qualifications of these land owners, They were offered the job of watchmen, industry help, and similar other back-breaking jobs.The fact was no land owner wanted a job. Why would a poor man who worked in fields all these years and turned rich with the stroke of luck want to do menial jobs again? The trade-off was definitely unfair. Money isn’t the solution always. These people will never know to use the money for the future good. How can you expect them to understand portfolio investment? Financial literacy was something that could uplift them. Making them part of the development scenario was another. However, all they did was build a house. A BIG house. Buy a car. Send their children to the new fancy convents. It wasn’t astonishing to see three new franchises of kindergartens that had popped up in the locality. Now that the village was financially sound, at least for few years, the continuous flow of money was taken for granted. Once the money is gone, every big house would have a landless and unemployed family, with a car. Although Ashok was an intelligent student at the school. He had to start working soon. His mother was not getting any field work as the fields were now allocated to industries. He had taken up an I.T.I course in a neighboring institute which would assure him a job in the industry. His dream of hitting a helicopter shot remained a dream as all the playgrounds were now acquired by the industries which were here to create a better livelihood for the locals.
Development was the agenda
The kids and youth now did not have a place to play after work and school. Weekends were to be spent in front of their television, watching foreign athletes achieving big at the Olympics. Survival was in question for Ashok now. The jobs in the many industries around his village were never intimated to the locals. Hiring took place at a far off place, generally in Vidarbha or Bihar. Discrimination was visible. Industries felt laborers from these places expected fewer amenities. That saved costs for the industries. There was a new residential area across the railway tracks with tents or tin sheets housing the migrant workers.
Open defecation had increased
Laborers from the far off lands came with a new habit of alcoholism and ganja. It was the elixir for the truck drivers and laborers who indulged in back breaking jobs. The wine shop selling liquor was in the next village and had started franchising now (of course illegally). The milk booths, bakeries, and houses on the corners stocked liquor. Every petty shop on the street sold liquor. Jobless adults, frustrated youth, women and the confused children could now buy alcohol on the streets, at every corner. As Ashok looks around the village which was supposed to be an epicenter of growth and development, the social problems had taken a front seat which were palpable. Companies never posted the job openings to the locals.
The companies quoted the age-old issues like ‘possibilities of labor unions’ being formed, the ‘grouping of locals inside the industry may cause conflicts’ and the ‘production output may reduce’ as excuses for not giving the jobs even to the deserving lot.
However, youth like Ashok have lost hope, the hardships they faced while attending school in all the adverse conditions with the only aim of securing a respectable job in their area will never be fulfilled. Many seniors who had migrated to cities like Pune and Mumbai returned as the living conditions of industrial laborers are pathetic. The money they earn was never enough to save and send a share back to their family in the village. The CSR initiatives of these industries in the village have never delivered their promises. The uniforms provided to the government schools did nothing but gave wings to the dreams of the ignorant kids. However, the dreams are then crushed mercilessly by the same companies, trampling over their ‘dreamy ambitions’ and not considering qualified local youth for jobs.
The company that promised to provide clean drinking water to the village just lifts water from the nearby stream and pumps it to the taps. After seeing the muddy water which stinks, Ashok feels that the company has cut costs by not filtering it anymore. Cost cutting in the departments that does not earn revenue for the company has always benefited the company. Right? The stream from which the drinking water is lifted has drainage and industrial wastes also flowing into it. Though these issues were present since the last century, maybe these MNCs haven’t found a solution for this yet.
Are they testing the immunity of the villagers?
Noise pollution, sound pollution, air pollution, and land pollution from the industrial disposal is increasing every day.
Dusk is the most productive hour for all these factories.
The air turns cloudy and hardly anybody in the village has seen a star or the moon in the recent times. Locals start experiencing breathing related issues as early as 35–40 years. Leading to chronic illness and dependency. The companies are on the task of developing the nation at the cost of such villages all over the nation. Such development scenarios have forced youth like Ashok to leave the city, live a disadvantaged and pathetic life of a landless labourer, leaving their parents at the mercy of “Development”.
Thus, we understand the importance of a GOOD CSR, which is meant to develop and uplift in the real sense and is not working under the veneer of ‘phony development’.
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