All over Uttarakhand farmers are suffering because of the note ban. Flowers are dying and vegetables and fruits are rotting, as no one has cash to buy them. The concept of a cashless or even less-cash economy can hardly work in a region in which some of the remote, snow-bound villages do not even have electricity, leave alone banks.
In this scenario, it was a relief to read about something better–a fodder cutting contest for the village women of Tehri Garhwal, with really attractive prizes. Women had to cut the maximum quantity of grass in two minutes, earning 10 points for each kilo of fodder. They were also given points for the quality of fodder, and for their knowledge of medicinal plants
The contest was held in Akhori village on 22 December 2016. Preliminary rounds were held in 200 villages, and 31 finalists were chosen from over 2000 participants. Forty-year old Vimla Devi from Chilyal village was the winner. She has been used to cutting grass, she and other participants do so every day. The fodder queen or Ghasyari, received a cheque of Rs one lakh, and a 160 kg silver crown! She cut 4.1 kilos. The first runner-up was Gyansu Devi of Dhansani village, with 51,000 and a 130 kg silver crown. Indira Devi of Akhori village was third. She received 21, 000 and a crown weighing 110 kg.
What will they do with the money? Vimla Devi wants to use it for the medical treatment of her husband, working in Chandigarh. Gyansu Devi will use it to educate her six children.
The Chetna Andolan organizes the competition. Trepan Singh Chauhan, its convenor, said that women were the best ecologists, preserving the environment in these hill regions.