In the dry, rugged landscape of Rajasthan, children faced a hot and dusty trek to school, families had a hard time reaching medical help, and farmers, most of whom rely on dairy farming for their livelihood, found it difficult to take their milk to market.
With the coming of the road, farmers earnings have increased, children can get a ride to school, and medical help is reachable more quickly. With the commute to town now being easier, city jobs are within reach, and families are receiving better marriage proposals for their sons and daughters.
Farmers’ earnings have increased
Before the road was built, farmers had to carry the milk long distances in the hot sun to reach the collection vans. Now, the vans come right to village doorsteps, raising farmer incomes. The rearing of livestock has increased.
“Earlier I would carry the milk containers on my back to the main road and often had to skip the trip altogether in bad weather. My earnings were miniscule. Now, a large refrigerated tanker comes every day to collect the milk. I sell 100 litres of milk a day on average, earning Rs.800 per month. And the milk doesn’t curdle”
Children find it easier to go to school
Without a road, children often had to walk through dirt-tracks or across fields in the extreme heat of summer. Exhausted, they found it difficult to concentrate on their studies. Now they arrive fresh at school, enabling them to learn more easily.
“On days when it rained or was too hot, we would just keep the children at home. It was impossible to walk in this weather. The teacher would also take the day off. Now the teacher too arrives on time as there is a direct bus from his village. ” Shiv Kumar Gujar, Village Karansar, Jaipur District
In the past one year, there’s been a 20% rise in the enrolment rate. More than half of these new students are girls.” Headmaster of a Primary School at Swami Ka Bas, Jaipur District.
Sadhna Jain rides her scooter to school from her home in Udaipur. She accepted a teacher’s position at Dedkiya Primary School after it became accessible by road.
Healthcare is within villagers’ reach
The primary health centre at Thooni Ahiran village now bustles with activity. Women come to deliver their babies, and complicated cases can be referred to the hospital quickly. Polio vaccines are easily available and children are being immunized regularly. TB patients are better monitored as they can now come to the centre every day to take their tablets in the presence of medical staff.
“Earlier, if a pregnant woman developed complications or was in pain, we would panic and ask our neighbors to do something. But, now that mobiles have reached our village along with the road, it’s easy for us to call the midwife or delivery nurse and ask her to come. With the road, she shows up soon enough.” Devi Meena, Village Kherpura
Town jobs are easily accessible
In large parts of Rajasthan, where arid lands and high unemployment have left people in extreme poverty, villagers migrate to towns to earn a livelihood. Where the road has been built, many can now commute every day to nearby towns to work.
“I take the bus every day to work in Udaipur. Here I can earn Rs. 60 per day as a laborer. I try not to miss a single day. In the past, I would get tired after walking across two hillocks, and often turned around to go home hungry and exhausted. Though the bus fare is 10 rupees one-way, I can at least manage to put some food on my family’s table,” Daulat Ram.
Families are receiving better marriage proposals.
Life in a remote village meant fewer choices in marriage for young people. With easier accessibility, village folk are now receiving better marriage proposals for their sons and daughters. It is also easier for grown up children to visit home more frequently.
“Few people were willing to give their daughters in marriage into a village where access was difficult and time consuming. And, all wedding ceremonies had to be held by the side of the main highway. Now, the groom’s wedding procession comes right to the bride’s doorstep. Everyone - old people and little children - can now join in the fun.” Meena Devi.
RURAL ROADS – RAJASTHAN
Villagers are joining the economic mainstream
The coming of the road is opening minds to the ways of the outside world.
“Before the road, no one understood anything, no one asked anything, and we had no chance to hear anything. We didn’t know what other farmers were doing or how they coped in difficult times. Now with the road, there is more coming and going, and we are slowly beginning to understand many things. We plan to educate our children. They will travel and learn the ways of the world.”