One of the many archaeological pieces of evidence of Stone Age and Iron Age human settlements have been discovered in Kalahandi, a district in Odisha. However, due to drastically changing climatic conditions, the area is now one of the most drought-stricken agricultural districts.
To study this district, Northeastern University undergraduate, Matt Shutzer travelled to India to study infrastructure problems in Kalahandi. He says, “Kalahandi is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, but the people live in almost unimaginable, abject poverty.”
Seeing the miserable conditions of its inhabitants, he could not possibly think of returning without helping the Village Development, a non-governmental organisation which works towards improving the conditions of the village. According to him, the district faced a financial crisis and it was important to implement a better standard of living.
When one dives deeper into understanding the conditions of any village, one comes across many other aspects which regulate life in it. The droughts in a region cause water shortages, following with a shortage in the productions of crops. All these conditions affect the sanitation and health facilities of individuals.
Shutzer also observes the issue of ‘untouchables’ (people of lower castes, also called ‘Dalits’) prevalent in the district who are in need of a better life for themselves. The district needs modernised plans in agriculture like the introduction of cash crops in production. The provision of clean drinking water is a necessity.
The enthusiasm found in Shutzer to improve the conditions should also encourage the local and Indian government to take initiatives for working towards the betterment of this poverty-stricken district. The lack of facilities with people stuck in their backward social, cultural, and religious lives adds to the trauma of Kalahandi.