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Excerpt from the Working Villages International website
The twentieth century has produced three basic models of economic development: 1. Export (raw materials or manufactured goods); 2. Tourism; 3. Import substitution, using imported equipment. All three models depend to a greater or lesser degree on access to cheap petroleum.
The price of gasoline in Congo is now $8-$10 per gallon, and the average yearly income in Congo is $99 – enough to buy at most 12 gallons of gasoline per year. So the question arises: How can traditional, petroleum-dependent models of economic development benefit the people under such circumstances? What are the alternatives? Working Villages believes that much hope is to be found in the models advocated by Gandhi and E.F Schumacher (author of Small is Beautiful), which explain the benefits of village self-reliance in the form of localized economics and wide-spread small scale ownership, relying on local resources and skills.
A crucial component for building a progressive model of village self-reliance will be to find the intermediate form between hand agriculture (found throughout Africa) and petroleum powered agriculture (still remaining in the hands of the wealthiest land owners only). Draft animal power, in particular, ox power, offers the greatest hope in this area. As such, Working Villages plans to introduce ox power within the coming year.
The contribution that oxen can make to the community and even to the social and government structure should not be underestimated. Before the Middle Ages, every great physical culture in the world relied on ox power as its most important engine for transportation and power, including China, India, Southeast Asia, North Africa, the Mediterranean, Greece, Rome, Northern Europe, etc. The only examples of a great physical culture without the oxen were the Incas and Aztecs of the Americas.
On the other hand, even within Africa itself, historians have determined that a key reason that the nation of Ethiopia was never colonized by outsiders was because by relying on oxen for agriculture, transport, and other power needs, the people were able to achieve a high degree of productivity with sufficient surplus to support a strong organized government, which was well able to resist any attempts to colonize it. Following this example, WVI is confident that ox power will be a significant factor in creating a healthy economically self-reliant community which is not dependent on outside sources.
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By Brij Khandelwal. Uttar Pradesh, India
The much-hyped and long-awaited campaign to remove stray animals from urban
areas in Agra has been stalled by complaints from animal activist Maneka
In a series of complaints to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary, Agra
divisional commissioner and other officials, Gandhi has accused Agra
Municipal Commissioner Shyam Singh Yadav of ordering ‘the mass killing of
dogs’, a charge vehemently denied by Yadav.Gandhi has also accused the
municipal commissioner of ‘planning to kill all monkeys, donkeys and cows to
make Agra completely animal-free’.
‘The experiment to relocate monkeys had not succeeded anywhere in India. In
Vrindavan they had tried this experiment and all the monkeys perished. Delhi
also tried to relocate the monkeys in the Bhatti mines; more than 600 died.
‘If the authorities in Agra want to kill them let them say so. Before
transporting the monkeys, a proper survey of the area and the forest should
be done to make sure they had enough to eat there and the facilities
available could sustain them,’ Gandhi told IANS.
Ravindra Choudhary, head of the Animal Husbandry Department of the Agra
Municipal Corporation, said: ‘People are being bitten by monkeys daily.
Unfortunately, there are no medical facilities available for treatment and
no anti-rabbies vaccines. And how can the poor afford treatment?’
According to Choudhary, there are more than 10,000 monkeys in Agra but an
animal welfare NGO estimates that there are close to 50,000 monkeys and they
seem to be multiplying at a fast rate.
In 1996, the Supreme Court had ordered that dairies should be shifted
outside the city and several directives were subsequently issued on the same
order. The Uttar Pradesh government had also issued a gazette notification
in 2002 to control animal population and capture stray animals.
Yadav said that the registration of all pet animals has now been made
mandatory. ‘I am also looking for a suitable design to prevent littering on
the roads by horses deployed to haul carriages. The excreta of horses would
be collected in a leather bag and then disposed of,’ he added.
Although Maneka’s initiative has for the moment halted all projects to rid
the city of stray animals, Mukesh Jain, the private financer of the ‘Catch
the Monkeys’ campaign, said that he would go ahead with the drive in the
last week of July.
‘We are following the rule book and there is nothing illegal about it. The
charge of killing the animals is baseless. The animal lovers are free to
feed the monkeys in the jungle. But why allow the monkeys to bite human
beings?’ he asked.
In her letter to the Agra divisional commissioner, Gandhi said, ‘Street dogs
and cattle forage in the garbage, cleaning it of all organic waste. In their
absence uncollected garbage will rot and smell.
‘India has a long tradition of peaceful coexistence with animals. What makes
our cities special is that we share them freely with animals. To remove
animals from a city leaving only the sterility of cars and buildings in a
foolish aping of the west is to destroy the city’s character and soul.
‘The Agra-Vrindavan-Mathura area holds a special sentiment for all Indians
as the place of the cowherd god Krishna. Would we rid his place of cows or
any other creatures?’
Locals want all stray animals, including dogs and cattle rounded up, and the
monkeys killed or transported to some other location.
‘Due to the fear of monkeys we have not had the courage to sleep on our
terraces in this hot weather. Women can’t go to the roof tops and spend some
time there in the cold winter months as these monkeys target children and
young women,’ said Bankey Lal, a shopkeeper.
‘It’s not a happy situation to be in,’ said Mukesh Jain. He has already
spent quite a lot of money on catching monkeys and is willing to finance the
drive till the last monkey has been dispatched to the forest.
The municipal corporation wants a drastic reduction in the number of
animals. Gandhi has suggested sterilisation of dogs by her organisation
People for Animals (PFA) as she thinks this would be a more humane approach
to the problem.
Vasudha Mehta of the NGO Wildlife SOS, which runs a rescue centre for sloth
bears in Agra, suggests a rescue centre for monkeys. ‘Let’s work on some
netted enclosure with electric fencing on the river bank. Put all the
monkeys there and feed them at one point.
‘Obviously, it is a very tricky problem, all the more because of people’s
religious sentiments. So we must work on some innovative ideas and
technologies in the interest of the human race,’ she said.