The earth whisperers

In the age of man-made-solutions-for-every-problem, stories of farmers who adhere to the rhythm of nature, and hold onto ancient legends and beliefs


The Indian farmer is a familiar figure from Hindi textbooks, patriotic songs and newspaper articles; a stock character with his turban, plough and stoic approach to vicissitudes.

What is the reality that lies behind this monochromatic stereotype? That is what Lathika George attempts to find out in Mother Earth, Sister Seed, a colourful book on the diverse, vibrant communities living in close contact with the earth. Here are men and women who overcome great obstacles — a turbulent sea; a wily man-eater; pests and erratic monsoons — to get food onto our tables. Many of them still follow the techniques and traditions of their forefathers. Even in an age of the internet and man-made-solutions-for-every-problem, they adhere to the rhythm of nature, poring over old almanacs and holding onto ancient legends and beliefs.

What happens, though, when traditional knowledge is relegated to the attics of memory? When the rhythms of the seasons and nature are disrupted? When technologies and “the new ways” attempt to dislodge the old? What has been the experience of farming communities that have clung onto the methods of their ancestors — and refuse to use chemicals and new methods for bigger yields?

These are questions that George asks, as she criss-crosses the country to meet a fascinating cast of characters. Pranab Jena, the houseboat captain who describes a childhood in the Sunderbans, lived in constant fear of the Bengal tigers that “appear like demon spirits and disappear in a puff with their human prey”. ....Read more


Source web page: Business Line

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