Romanticising Nature: Revisiting the Countryside

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Being a student of literature and writing for a site on environment-related topics I was amazed by the connection between the two.

We always tend to say that the cities are full of pollution. Countryside is considered the best even today when the villages have also grown up to technological advancements. Still there is a sense of innocence, purity, and serenity stands in there even today. Similar to the Nature the countryside across the globe still possess that selfless virtues that is continuously nurturing the mankind residing over there. And this is exactly what was reflected in the works of the Romantics of English literature. Nature served as a predominant theme in their works. And this is very much evident in the works of first generation romantics such as William Wordsworth. In all his poems there is a far outcry that emerges out of the city chaos waiting for the solace residing over the countryside.

Romantics works were majorly an act of anger and frustration over the success of Industrial Revolution. A revolution that saw the height of technological advancements reducing a human to a less valuable asset.

Standing in the 21st Century can we now say that even after repeated attempts to reach out to nature we were lucky to achieve the taste of success…??

NO.

The Romantics can be said to have initiated a revolution in their own unique way to reach out to our real mother – the Nature. Their works reflected the crisis that the mankind will suffer through in the long run. When the world is celebrating the victory of machines over human labor here are few group of people who were seen lamenting it heavily. Some of them shifted from the city to the country and reflected their grief of a mechanised world in their poetry.

Today a lot has changed. The picturesque of both the urban and the rural have evolved with time. The Urban have become more and more mechanised in time while the rural has experienced a fusion of mechanical and organic both.

Let us have a sneak-peek at the rural world across the globe – what it used to be and what it is now; a new era emerging out of the time space:

From the Eurasian Steppes…

Europe has a vast amount of grasslands to its credit which has served as the basis of the Romantics work. When London was overflowing with machines and human overpopulation Romantics shifted to the lush greens of country usually known as Steppe. Steppe is actually a eco-region belt running from the parts of Europe to certain parts of Asia. Steppes are characterised as marshy, wetlands, cold deserts et al depending upon the region it passes from. These regions covered with lush greens contributed to most of the agrarian share of the country. Before the Industrial Revolution Europe was predominantly agrarian with veggies and cattle having a large share in the homo sapiens dinner plates. Today the scene has changed for sure. Junkies are more on the plates rather than the greens rich in fibres and other essential nutrients. Yet the government has always maintained a genuine effort in keeping the greens intact. Probably that is why Europe enlist the top 3 green countries of the world today – Switzerland, Sweden, and Iceland. European Union not only works as a political structure but harbors some serious funding for the farmers of the member-nations. In most of the countries the farmers’ incomes are supported by direct payments from the Rural Development Unit and in return are obliged to meet the Environmental Targets set for each nation.

As laid out in various conferences European Union, through its Rural Development funding aims at diversifying rural life yet maintaining the ecological balance. Rural units such as European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and European Agriculture Guarantee Fund (EAGF) regulates and keep a check on the marketing process associated with the rural production.

The payments of farmers are guaranteed by these units which maintains the finances of the individual farmers along with co-financing various eco-friendly initiatives with its member-nations. With less privatisation and active government the member-nations of European Union get the due returns of what they contribute. Farmers are provided with advancement equipments for farming and rearing of cattle and poultry. Yet they are kept on regular checks and if found to be engaged in environmental friendly practices then are provided with incentives and if the reverse is happening then are fined by the concerned authorities. No wonder these simple yet strict measures have proved highly beneficial as we have one of the most beautiful and green country – Switzerland, enhancing the beauty of European landscape.

The Developing Asians…

Consisted majorly of agrarian nations Asian phase of the globe probably has the most greens and blues (water bodies) in its shares. With Countries such as India, Bangladesh and China Asia is rich in natural resources. But the unfortunate fact amidst this is that despite having natural overflow of resources the regulatory measures from the concerned authorities have never been proven as adequate enough to maintain the nature’s blessings.

In Pakistan, for instance, there is only handful of measures being taken to propagate sustainable agriculture such as Aga Khan Rural Development Programme and Sarhad Rural Support Programme. Though these initiatives work at the root-level aiming at furnishing farming skills for the better.

These programmes, especially Sarhad Rural Support Programme is actually a NGO also a part of Rural Support Programme (RSP) initiated by the United Nations across the globe. Both of the mentioned structures work not only in Pakistan but have gone a mile ahead to promote sustainable development and sustainable rural practices in the parts of India and Bangladesh as well. India, another Asian country rich in greens have a recorded green history of Green Revolution behind her which proves the active engagement of this nation in sustainable agricultural practices.

With governmental programmes such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) India is one of the leading country to furnish the condition of its farmers for the better. These programmes are often joined hands with Anganwadi Workers in forming Self-Help Groups to work on fields.

The equal wage guarantee, provision of tubewells, tractors, and High Yielding Variety (HYV) seeds have improvised the conditions of farmers in this country. Another revolutionary step taken by the government is the the supply of electricity in the remote villages.

Earlier the fieldwork could be done in the daytime only but now with the supply of electricity, electric generators installed in the fields, and proper pipelines established for the watering of crops have enabled farmers to invest their hard-work during nights as well keeping a regulatory check on the condition of crops. China, being one the leading countries at present in terms of technology and also obesity somewhere gets clubbed as the fusion of both the modern and rural world. Having several climatic problems the rural areas of China is still trying to cope with the fact-paced climatic changes occurring due to technological advancements which are adversely affecting their crops. The biggest problem that the Chinese government is said to have facing is the proper implementation of the policies initiated for sustainable rural development. But what is noteworthy and indeed appreciable is that all of these nations despite having certain loopholes have one good thing in common.

They all have a targeted number of bio-manure compost pits in various rural regions to support the maturing of crop cultivation.

And these compost pits have a significant share in the economy of each of the countries and also in fulfilling the aim of sustainable rural development.

To conclude, I would say that the poets of the Romantic era digressed from the usual path of embracing the advancing urban to embracing the rural. They shifted to seek some solace in the laps of Mother Nature. They reminded the humanity that no matter how much we as a race have advanced we still cannot survive without the blessings of Mother Nature. And this is exactly what is reflected in the various initiatives taken by various nations to preach sustainable rural development. The countryside or the villages are essentially needed to be improvised to an overall progress as a nation and as a race.

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