What are various characteristics of Indian villages?

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Characteristics of Indian Village are as follows-

(i) Isolation and Self-Sufficiency:

Almost till the middle of the 19th century, the villages in India were more or less self-contained, isolated and self-sufficient units. The inhabitants of the village had very little to do with the people outside. All of their essential needs were satisfied in the village itself. In short, it was more of a society within itself.

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However, changing political and economic conditions are putting an end to the isolation and self-sufficiency of the Indian village. The rapid development of the means of transport and communication has broken the barriers between the village and city. The former is now socially and even economically connected with the neighbourhood city or town. Political parties have made village the centre of their activities as much as the city.

(ii) Peace and Simplicity:

The second feature of an Indian village is the atmosphere of simplicity, calmness and peace prevailing therein. In the village there is no noise and little sophistication, The humdrum activities of modern civilization are rarely seen there. The villagers lead a simple life, eat frugally, dress simply, and live in mud-walled houses completely lacking in the trappings of modern civilization.

But here also the old orders is yielding place to a new one. The mud-walled houses are giving place to well designed buildings. Fashion is making its inroads in the life of young men and women of the village. However, this change is gradual and slow.

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(iii) Conservatism:

The inhabitants of the village are strongly attached to old customs and traditions. Their outlook is primarily conservative and they accept changes with extreme reluctance.

They love old ways and are less eager to follow the advice of zealous social reformers regarding their marriage and other customs.

(iv) Poverty and Illiteracy:

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Probably the most glaring and also depressing features of Indian villages are the poverty and illiteracy of the village people. They are generally poor with a very low income. They take coarse food and put on rough clothes.

The pressure on land is high resulting in fragmentation of holdings and poor productivity. Besides poverty the village people are steeped in ignorance and illiteracy. The opportunities for education are meagre in the villages.

(v) Local Self-government:

The villages in ancient India enjoyed a considerable measure of autonomy or self-government. The villagers managed their own affairs through the traditional institution of panchayat.

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The central government had neither the inclination nor the means for interfering with the self-government of villages. With the advent of Britishers in India and their introduction of a highly centralized system of administration the importance of panchayats began to decline.

Their judicial powers were taken over by the British courts and the officers were appointed to look after the administrative affairs of the villages. This change produced unpleasant results. Since the times of Lord Ripon attempts were made to revive the old system of village local self-government, but the progress was very slow in this direction.

With the attainment of freedom now fresh efforts are being made to strengthen the panchayat system and make panchayats play a better part in the work of national reconstruction. The 73rd Amendment Act, 1993 has laid the foundation of strong and vibrant Panchayat Raj institutions in the country.

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