Manevaddas — a community dedicated to well-digging up against tech, nature
How little one knows about several communities of India who have helped run the country in their own limited ways. It is testimony to the kind of education system we have which tells us most interesting things about the country after you complete most of our education.
Came across this really interesting article in Times of India Bangalore edition about Manevaddas. There is a much longer one in the print edition. This is a community which has dug wells in and around Bangalore for ages. It is via them that several families manage to get water for daily living in the city. And guess what? Due to technology which digs wells deeper with much ease, their roles are getting sidelined:
Manevaddas — a community dedicated to well-digging are fighting a losing battle to remain relevant in a swiftly changing landscape where lack of sufficient open space, powerful machines capable of drilling deep into the earth’s bowels, and the alarming depletion of the groundwater table have rendered open wells obsolete.
As the community struggles to cope with dwindling opportunities, the pride they take in their work and abilities remains undiminished. Uncertainty looms large over their future, as meagre incomes and bleak prospects hold little promise of betterment. While three generations have given themselves to the calling of quenching the city’s thirst, Vaddarapalya, where the Manevaddas come from, wears a parched look.
This mere idea of who dug wells and provided us with one of the most important necessities never really strikes us. Even more interesting to know is that there is a community which has been doing this work for a long time. How they came about digging wells as an occupation and built expertise over it without any education/training on the subject whatsoever is just fascinating. They might know much more than most water digging engineers.
Much of this has been a thankless activity and now they are facing existential challenges. It is not as if the entire activity of water gauging and digging is not needed. Just that they lose out their skills to technology which just takes over their work. What should be done to keep them occupied? How do we institutionalize their knowledge?
Likewise, there are several such occupations and communities behind them. There is hardly any idea about them. These are the people who contribute much to keep the local economy and livelihood going..