By Prof. Solomon Darwin-
During World War II, hundreds and thousands of migrant workers risked their lives and returned to their villages from Burma during the Japanese bombing. Many risked their lives and returned on foot along with their families leaving their belongings behind. My grandparents and their four children were among those refugee groups that returned. They migrated to Burma to earn a better living but the war brought this to an end. Many died on their way resulting from starvation, sickness, snake bites, bombing, being devoured by wild animals. Many did not make it.
We are now fighting a different war and people are risking their lives to return to their home village. Mahatma Gandhi said “the soul of India lives in its villages. Migrant workers, whoever they may be, in times of crisis and distress their soul desires to return home – to their roots to be at peace in their soul. The risk of death did not stop my grandparents and their four children. Here at four reasons why this exodus is taking place at this current time based on my personal and professional experience working with the Smart Village Movement at UC Berkeley.
Villages offer three value propositions to approximately 70% of the Indian populations that cities do not:
- Community: Sense of belonging and coexistence and comfort of extended family
- Ecosystem: Relationships that meet one another’s needs – interdependence prevails vs independence.
- Brand Value: Identity, Legacy, Lineage, Ancestral Pride, Inheritance – ancestral trade like weaving, art, etc.
Separation from people’s natural habitat may produce income but not happiness or rest in their souls. Today, villagers can generate adequate income from their home villages through the use of digital technology in this increasingly connected world.
For this reason, UC Berkeley started the Smart Village Movement three years ago to make villages self-sustainable through digital technologies. The mission of the smart village movement is to provide villagers access to global markets, tools, resource and timely information to create value for themselves. This can only happen when individual inhabitants are connected to the global ecosystems via free open innovation platforms that are a) frictionless, b) risk-free, c) mobile-based, d) user-friendly and e) dynamic with real-time data.
UC Berkeley’s Smart Village Movement promotes the Digital India initiative and NITI Aayog’s policies to achieve sustainable development goals. The bottom-up approach is employed in developing practical scalable and sustainable solutions by engaging villagers on the ground with high-level decision-making officials of state governments, global businesses, startups, and universities. Berkeley is currently working in several states in India and is on the mission of developing scalable and sustainable models that could be employed throughout India in all states.
[Prof. Solomon Darwin, serves as the Executive Director: Center for Corporate Innovation, Executive Director: Center for Growth Markets at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. He is known as the father of the Smart Village Movement and is the author of four books: Amazon Author’s Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B08CMP2F3P “How to think like The CEO of the planet”, “The Untouchables, Three Generations of Triumph over Torment” and “Smart Villages of Tomorrow” and “How to Create Smart Villages” ]