I have written my career’s first Hindi column. For that matter, the first ever column in a language other than English. The column titled ‘Amrika Diary’ (America Diary) is written for a dear friend and fellow journalist and writer Neelesh Misra’s unique venture of a wholly rural Indian newspaper called ‘Gaon Connection.’
The newspaper, into its second weekly edition, is a broadsheet focused entirely on rural life, although it has plans to carry news from around the world in a manner that makes it particularly relevant to rural life. Neelesh and his father Dr. Shiva Misra, who is the editor of the newspaper, are taking care to ensure that it does not become a quaint pastoral novelty but a platform for modern rural aspirations.
The basic theme of my first column is to point out the strange dichotomy of India’s roughly 30 percent urban population setting and executing the national development agenda for its 70 percent rural population. I describe it as “the tail leading the cow’ when it should be “the cow leading the tail.”
According to the 2011 Indian census, of India’s 1.21 billion population over 830 million people, or 68.84 percent, live in 680,867 villages. Some 370 million others live in 7,935 cities. The short column makes the case for not just speeding up rural progress but create a healthy competition for growth between cities and villages.
This was an introductory piece. I intend to dwell on other more specific issues of interest and concern to India’s vast rural populace. I am pretty confident that I will be able to sustain the flow in Hindi, although Neelesh has told me that the copy desk can always translate it from English. I am happy to report that writing the first installment was not challenging at all in terms of finding a linguistic rhythm. Of course, it is not for me to say whether it works with the readers or not. They will let me know soon enough whether I should continue writing in Hindi or not.
Perhaps the biggest challenge would be my limited vocabulary which is bound to hamstring my expression. Even if I say so myself I quite like the construct of “the tail leading the cow” rather than “the cow leading the tail.”