Displaying boundless love for village life and finding oneself in no frame of mind to move out of one’s favoured city is a game many people are seen playing with no signs of that mental dilly-dallying consciously finding a definite end. The dilemma reminds one of the Shakespeare soliloquies in his play Hamlet “To be, or not to be.” In this context, a not-much-known event in the life of Mysuru’s own venerated novelist Chaduranga (1916-1998), hardly referred to by his official name Subramanya Raje Urs, may be recalled. His long time literary cohort Ta Ra Su (1920-1984), the famed writer, having not seen Urs in the city (Mysuru) for quite a while, goes in search of him only to find him taking residence in a village, on getting disenchanted with city life. The story, as narrated by Ta Ra Su himself, ends in the denouement (concluding part) of his temporary villager finally returning to the city. If celebrities, particularly those known for their wise decision-making, are undecided in the matter of choosing between life in village or city, ordinary mortals sticking to city life doesn’t need to be debated. They are stuck, for good or bad.
The glitz and glitter factor, apart from and in addition to greater scope for securing jobs, even as rustic life has become tough going, are causing exodus of more than six million village residents annually to cities across the country. Not only the number of cities in the land is steadily rising year-on-year, but also the number of villages is shrinking, unmindful of overcrowding of cities and depletion of agriculture workforce.
Glorification of cities globally based on select parameters with attractive adjectives such as ‘largest’, ‘safest,’ ‘cleanest’ and so on, is old hat, given the pressures of and stresses in daily life of urbanites, including nearly 40 per cent of India’s headcount of more than 1300 million taking residence in cities as well as towns and counting. A recent disclosure in the media that city ‘A’ in India has an amazing number of millionaires commanding a more amazing wealth, both assets as realty and cash in bank accounts, while city ‘B’ has only a fraction of that millionaire flock and their personal wealth, should bestir many wealth-chasing urbanites to try to emulate the urban elite.
Having raised the issues bearing on life in cities as opposed to villages, showering adulation on urban spaces while deriding the rural space, depends on one’s economic as well as social status in addition to outlook to both. A just-published report places Bengaluru poorly at No. 16 in a survey of 21 cities based on 83 parameters. Such reports don’t seem to change the ongoing village-to-city exodus creating more crisis-ridden urban spaces in days ahead.