Documentary on understanding the wicked problems of Amreli
A Field Work Diary
Fieldwork is an important course component for the students of Master’s in Public Policy at the Institute of Public Policy and it also gives a chance to the students to partake in a unique form of immersive learning experience. During fieldwork, students are sent to work with grass-root level organisations across the country for a period of three to four weeks. This documentary is borne out of one such fieldwork experience.
The documentary captures the lives and problems of the people of Amreli, a town in the Saurashtra region of Gujrat, and an organisation’s efforts to find feasible local solutions to some of these wicked problems. The organization in focus is Shikshan and Samaj Kalyan Kendra (SSKK) an NGO working on issues ranging from children’s education to gender rights to farmer’s issues.
The making of this short documentary is a small token of gratitude from me to SSKK while also trying to capture the issues of farmer distress and the work the organisation was doing in schools of Amreli district. The shooting for the documentary went for about 6-7 days covering at least 5-7 villages in Amreli district. It took several bike rides going from village to village sometimes covering 150 kilometers in a day. These visits were part of the fieldwork where we had to collect data on different aspects of the organisation’s work. The documentary was shot during these visits.
Shooting Part I of the documentary on the programmes run by SSKK in primary schools was the most entertaining and memorable part. Visiting a school, listening to morning prayer and playing interactive games with children took me back to my own school days. On the first day of visiting a school, I came across, Milan, who had an enchanting voice, it is his song that we hear at the beginning and at the end of the documentary.
Part II of the documentary deals with the work SSKK does with cotton and groundnut farmers of Amreli. Water scarcity and uncertain rainfall have made farming an expensive and uncertain business in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat where agriculture is still majorly dependent on rainfall. With this, the cost of input in farming has seen a constant rise due to fluctuations in diesel price, fertiliser price, and buying other safety equipment and machines for farming while the input costs are rising the returns are uncertain and dependent on vagaries of nature. There were several personal accounts of farmers that I came across while most of those accounts painted a picture of plight and despair one of the farmers had positive side of things to share. This is the account of Dilipbhai, a cotton farmer from Bacha village, who was one of the few farmers who said that he’d like his two sons to take up farming as a profession if they had an interest in it. His views on the importance of farmers and on the virtue of ‘never going hungry if you are a farmer’ makes him think that farming is the best profession one can take up. However, he hoped that the government could help him in reducing the input costs in farming so he could make an adequate profit from farming.
Through this documentary, I have tried to capture the distress of farmers, the potential of students, and the love and affection I was given by everyone from the organisation to the villagers. This documentary acts as an epistemic exercise while also being a personal journey of understanding policy at cutting edge.
(Abhiudaya Verma is a Master of Public Policy (MPP ‘21) candidate at the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Delhi. For Abhiudaya, inclusivity and sensitivity are the key approaches towards Public Policy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)