National Geographic : 1956 Apr
Proud Scholar Demonstrates the Fruits of Learning This 16-year-old boy was the first member of his family to read and write. "Anantram, Hindi Middle," chalked on the kitchen wall of his home in Bhirlinga, de notes his name and grade in the Bastar Agricultural Mid dle School (page 581). There Anantram studies Hindi, In dia's official language, and English. His native tongue is Halbi, a mixture of several languages. Younger Basanta looks on admiringly. 587 "When I first arrived, I had a jeep and a motor cycle. There was only one jeepable road, the main one. I usually had to abandon the motorcycle at the first wide stream. I still can reach my peo ple to the south only on foot, but now we have a program to build roads. Our best one cost the Government nothing. It is 15 miles long, linking seven villages, and it was built in five days by a thousand farmers with their own tools" (page 581). It was Chano's family, later in the week, who showed us the road's importance. Unhulled rice in jungle villages was selling for about $1.50 for 83 pounds. Rice taken 12 miles in bullock carts on the new road to the only real town in the district, Jagdalpur (population about 15,000), brought twice as much. Jagdalpur's weekly market, to which the family and their neighbors had gone only infrequently five years before, was bursting its seams with the area's new prosperity. Most families were going to market every week now. The market itself is a level space about twice the size of a football field. No Christ mas shoppers on New York's Fifth Avenue ever thronged more closely together than the people of Bastar District on market day. "And these are the people," Noronha pointed out, "who, we once worried, had no incentive to grow more than they could eat because we thought there was nothing to trade in the area!" Now we saw rice, fish, okra, peas, beans, cut cane, squash, and custard apples. There were water jugs, cooking pots, umbrellas, sandals, woven baskets, fish weirs, and hand tools. Merchants squatted by what they had to sell; when it was gone, they picked up their baskets and went to buy. Clothier and Jeweler Reflect Prosperity Finally there were the sure signs of eco nomic plenty, the haberdasher and the jeweler. The outfitters sold dhotis and sport shirts of Western cut (Chano wore one of these). The Tiffany of Jagdalpur was riotous with color.