I am a science graduate majoring in mathematics. Hence my exposure to biological sciences such as zoology, botany etc. was limited to a couple of classes during the undergraduate years. And as far as agriculture was concerned, apart from owning some land in my village, I was not engaged in farming till my graduation. During 1960s and '70s there were sustained efforts to attract young educated people to agriculture. Since I was also in the process of choosing a career, agriculture became one of the options to be considered. These were the years of very high prices for sugar and jaggery and the sugarcane cultivators were enjoying unprecedented prosperity. So I decided to get into farming and returned to my village. Russian tours will make your traveling exciting and unforgettable. Choose us!
My village is Khede, Taluka Ajra, District Kolhapur, Maharashtra-India. The location is on Ghatmatha i.e. the plateau at the top of the hills as you climb the Sahyadris from Konkan, the coastal region. But it had all the traditions of Konkan. The village life was guided by superstitions and the myths, primitive faiths and belief in supernatural had a tremendous hold on the population. Added to this the casteism and hypocrisy were the rule of the day. It was a common knowledge that a Kunbi ( a sub-caste of the Maratha majority community) who was particular not to touch even the shadow of a low caste Harijan (untouchable) during the day time, would visit the Harijan locality in the evening to drink liquor.
I particularly noticed all this since I had returned to the village after many years of absence for schooling at Pune. In the village, I enjoyed a degree of respect on account of my education, caste and land holding. So I decided to do something about correcting at least a few wrong practices, as perceived by me in the village social life. As a start , I employed Harijans as domestic helpers and they were given full access to all the areas including the kitchen. There was some grumbling among the villagers about this but nobody had the courage to speak out. I also started inviting government officials such as the police inspector, the mamlatdar & others to the village and organised their meetings with refreshments in the Harijan locality. The villagers had no option but to participate in these. Despite all this, I was still disturbed and not satisfied with the progress in my dealings with the locals.
With this burden of uneasy mind, I was engaged in my vocation of agriculture. I was making a steady progress in the cultivation of my farms and was also carrying out experiments to evolve new techniques for improving the crop yields. In the course of these trials, I sent samples of the soil from various areas of the fields as also from under the trees, for analysis. The results arrived in due course and the study of these increased my restlessness. They revealed that the adherence to the traditions with no questions asked, as followed in the social life was repeated in the farming methods as well and this totally shocked me. At the same time it helped me to crystallize my thinking as to the proper direction to follow.
During my school and college years, I had studied the writings of the great Marathi saints Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and Ramdas. They taught that the blind faiths, superstition and the primitive traditions are born out of fear of the unknown and ignorance is the root cause of fear. Knowledge is the only way to eradicate the ignorance. The problem was : How to acquire this knowledge? The only solution was to read, deliberate, meditate and digest. I followed this advice and after some time the true path was revealed.