The Indian Farmer
In India, the farmer is generally a humble, simple villager, who has had very little or no schooling and who does not even know how to read and write. So people who live in towns rather look down on him and call him ignorant. But he is not ignorant of his work, though he may not study like a student. He knows his land thoroughly, and he knows how to make it bring forth good crops. He has got his knowledge of farming from his fathers and has learnt it by practical experience. And so he is a skilled workman, who knows many things of which town-dwellers are quite ignorant.
And he is an important man. Without him, we should starve. The whole nation depends on the farmers for food. If they did not work, where should we get our bread, rice, sugar, fruit, vegetables, and milk from? The town-dwellers, however clever they are, would soon starve if farmers did not send their wheat and maize, milk and eggs, rice and vegetables into the markets.
The farmer’s work is varied by the seasons. When the first monsoon rains have softened the soil, he sets to work ploughing his fields and planting maize or Indian corn, sugar cane, and cotton, for the Kharif, or autumn, harvest. In the autumn these crops are ready, and the farmers are busy in the fields cutting the sugar cane, picking the cotton, or gathering the com cobs from the maize fields. When the ground is cleared, the farmers at once plough the land up again and sow wheat for the rabi, or spring, harvest. The wheat is reaped in March and April and threshed and winnowed. By that time the hot weather has begun, and the ground becomes so hard and dry that it cannot be worked. This is a slack time for the farmers: though of course they still have to look after their cattle, sheep, and goats. Cows and goats they keep for milk, bullocks for drawing ploughs and carts, and sheep for wool. When the monsoon breaks again in June or July, the busy year begins again.
The farmer’s work is healthy, for it is all done in the fresh open air, and is varied. He gets up before dawn, works in the field all day, and gets to bed soon after sunset. It is a simple, healthy, and useful life.