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VILLAGE ECONOMY > VILLAGE INDUSTRIES > Causes of decline of Village Industries
02. Causes of decline of Village Industries
We eat mill-ground flour, and even the poor villager walks with a head-load of half a maund grain to have it ground in the nearest flour mill. Do you know that in spite of the plenty of food­stuffs we produce we import wheat from outside and we eat the 'superfine' flour from Australia? We will not use our hand-ground flour, and the poor villager also foolishly copies us. We thus turn wealth into waste, nectar into poison. For whole meal is the proper meal. Mill-ground flour is vitaminless flour, mill-ground flour kept for days is not only vitaminless, but poison. But we will not exert our­selves to produce flour which we must eat fresh every day, and will pay for less nutritious things and purchase ill-health in the bargain. This is not any abstruse economic truth, it is a fact, which is daily happening before our eyes. The same is the case with rice and gur and oil. We will eat rice, polished of its substance, and eat less nutritious sugar and pay more for it than more nutritious gur. We have suffered the village oilman to be driven to extinction and we eat adulterated oils. We idolize the cow, but kill her by slow degrees. We eat honey and kill the honey-bee, with the result that honey is such a rare commodity today that it is only available to a 'Mahatma' like me or to those who must have it from the physician as a vehicle for the drugs he prescribes. If we took the trouble of learn­ing scientific and harmless bee-keeping, we should get it cheaper and our children would get out of it all the carbohydrates they need. In all our diete­tics, we mistake the shadow for the substance, preferring bone-white sugar to rich brown gur and pale white bread to rich brown bran-bread.
We are said to be a nation of daily bathers. That we are, to be sure, but we are none the better for it. For we bathe with unclean water, we foul our tanks and rivers with filth and use that water for drinking and bath. We lawyers and degree-holders and doctors will not learn the elementary principles of sanitation and hygiene. We have not yet devised the most economic method of disposal of our evacuations and we turn our open healthy spaces into breeding grounds of disease.
I implore you to throw off your inertia, to be­stir yourselves to study these elementary facts and live more rational lives and learn how to turn waste into wealth. I have told you simple truths which we would soon realize and act up to if we threw off the inertia of ages. But we have shunned body-labour to the, detriment of our brains, and thus rest content with the irrational ways of diet and living. Let us pull ourselves together and resolve to make our bodies and brains more active.
Harijan, 11-5-1935

Any country that exposes itself to unlimited foreign competition can be reduced to starvation and therefore, subjection if the foreigners desire it. This is known as peaceful penetration. One has to go only a step further to understand that the result would be the same as between hand-made goods and those made by power-driven machinery. We are seeing the process going on before our eyes. Little flour mills are ousting the chakki, oil mills the village ghani, rice mills the village dhenki, sugar mills the village gur-pans, etc. This displacement of village labour is impoverishing the villagers and en­riching the moneyed men. If the process continues sufficiently long, the villagers will be destroyed without any further effort. No Chengis Khan could devise a more ingenious or more profitable method of destroying these villages. And the tragedy of it all is that the villagers are unconsciously but none the less surely contributing to their own destruction. To complete the tale of their woe, let the reader know that even cultivation has ceased to be profita­ble. For some crops, the villager does not cover even the cost of seed.
Harijan, 20-6-1936