Article by Rajender Singh Bisht
With tears rolling down her eyes, Neelam bade adieu to her ancestral home in Dhraug a tiny hamlet located in the pristine Himalayan district of Champawat in the state of Uttarakhand. Dhraug village in the proximity of the iconic Barahi Dham of Devidhura is known for hosting the annual “Bagwal Mela” on the eve of Raksha Bandhan during the month of August. According to the 2011 census of India, Dhraug had a population of 500 and is in dead silence since then as only a handful people are left there.
A decade back, the village beamed with life as the inhabitants were contended with their simple life, although no major development followed in the area. The locals kept themselves busy by indulging in agricultural activities all round the year. The village had a rich tradition of working in each others field during sowing and harvesting season. This mutual relationship was not just limited to the agricultural fields but it also extended to marriage processions, festivals, funerals. People shared their resources among each other and there was love and respect for each other.
Over the years the people started moving out in search of employment and some were recruited in Indian Army. These people migrated to other cities and were deeply lured by the materialistic benefits. They then inspired the youth of their age and even the younger ones to migrate for odd jobs in the cities. Thus began the surge in the tide of migration. Most of these youngsters were primary or secondary educated and hence were employed in menial jobs. But there was no looking back and they were now trapped in the concrete jungles, looking for better opportunities.
Back home as more and more men moved out in search of jobs, the onus of agriculture fell on women. This was in addition to her burgeoning responsibilities of family and animal care. Children were studying in local government schools, where teachers hardly showed-up. Owing to which, the students and their studies were in a miserable state. Due to the dismal scenario, the kids were either motivated to join Army or become drivers. Witnessing such atmosphere, the conscious brains i.e. the well-off families especially those hailing from Army background began settling in cities like Haldwani and Dehradun. And those engaged in menial jobs returned to their villages and after getting married, they too settled in the cities where they worked.
At present there are only few people living in the village, rest all the houses are lying vacant with locks hanged on the doors. Those who are staying are either drivers or are doing some odd jobs in village’s vicinity. Most of the time these people remain wasted under the influence of alcohol. The women on the other hand are preoccupied with their perpetual household chores. The village only becomes alive during the festivals of Navratri and Raksha Bandhan. The young kids living in the cities visit their villages. They consider such visits as a tourist and are hardly able to connect with the social and cultural ethos of their roots.
In the recent times, the government is promoting several policies and developmental programmes to enhance the socio-economic development of village and its people. The agricultural, infrastructure and other government policies have started percolating to this part of the world but to the locals, these all are of least importance like any other part of India, as agriculture is losing its charm over this part of the world.
Dhraug now has a handful of the people left in the village. Asphalt roads have formed a big maze around the village but there is a stark silence in the ambiance. Very few people commute through these roads. This calmness in the village does not signify peace and tranquility but it defines the great pain and misery of its residents. The locked houses are longing for their owners to return back and unlock the reminiscence of ecstasy and happiness. The aged eyes are gazing at the calm roads, hoping that someday their loved ones will come back. For one last time, they want to hug their children and play with their grand-kids.
Even though Dhraug is resource rich but its people are too naive to recognize and to aggravate it, they are blinded by the glamour of western driven urbanization. With very few people to continue the cultural legacy and the clock is ticking slowly, Dhraug’s rich history is on a verge of diminishing.
Rajender Singh Bisht