A common question posed by those planning to stay in rural India, especially in the state of Jharkhand, is ‘villager tier’.
The phrase has come to be a buzzword in the tourism industry, with a range of organisations and individuals claiming to offer their services for ‘the villager’.
This is a common misconception, says Amit Jha, a member of the tourism advisory council of the NGO Gaurav.
He says, ‘In fact, the word villager does not mean ‘villagers’.’
The word village does refer to a group of people, but not necessarily the same person, which is the definition of the term.’
Jha adds, ‘The villager is a small group of farmers or herders who come together in a village to live and work together.’
The term ‘villagery’ was coined by the Gujarati author, Satish Chandra Bose, in a short story about a group living in a single-room cottage.
He later changed it to villager to make it more inclusive.’
As of now, the term is only used in tourism context,’ he says.
The word villagery, which also refers to the term ‘urban dwellers’, has spread through the industry, and its use has become ubiquitous in various marketing materials.
Jha says, as a result, people are now more inclined to use the term in the context of rural tourism, and to use it to denote a group.’
There are a lot of people who are trying to understand what it means.
The term is a very complex word, but it has become quite common among people.’
Jhanas villager schemeIn a bid to make things more inclusive, Jha says there are several schemes in place that aim to address the needs of the villager.
Some schemes have offered the possibility of working in the countryside for free, while others have offered opportunities for people to earn their livelihoods in the field.
Some offer a free school education.
Others offer a ‘guru’ (a leader or teacher) and a ‘prahva’ (an income-sharing arrangement).’
We are actively working with our government partners to make the scheme work and make it sustainable, says Jha.
‘The scheme will also give the villagers a better understanding of what it is like to live in the villages.’
A villager-only schemeIn the past, there was a villager only scheme.
A village in Jharpur in Haryana, which was originally established to facilitate the migration of cattle to Jharsa, became a village for all farmers after it was granted a green certificate by the government.
However, this has not been able to sustain the scheme and the cattle are still not allowed to move there.’
A lot of farmers are leaving the villages, so the scheme is no longer viable,’ says Jhanas son, Suresh.
‘I think it would be better if it is made available to all farmers.’
Suresh’s father also wants to continue the scheme, but is worried about the farmers who have moved out.’
In the village, the farmers live with their families.
The government will not provide the income-share scheme, and the farmers are not even allowed to live with the same family for the next few years.’