The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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ALLAHABAD, India, Monday—When our Point 4 people first went into Etawah the farmers thought only of digging a big canal for irrigation purposes, which in itself would have been an expensive project. But it was quite evident that no money was forthcoming for this. So Horace Holmes, the U.S. agricultural expert, started his aid by inducing them to try our better seeds in small sections of their fields. Then, gradually, tube wells were put down and more irrigation was possible either by dint of using tractors or small pumps.

At first, 60 villages were involved; now more than 100 are being helped.

The natives also followed our guidance on improving the breed of bullocks by artificial insemination, and we saw some very fine calves as result. They also are innoculating their livestock against most prevalent diseases and that has meant no loss, or very little among their cattle in the past year. This has meant a lot, since the loss of a bullock is a tragedy in any Indian family. Without bullocks they cannot plow or do a dozen and one things that are essential to their daily lives.

Seven cooperatives have been started and are being successfully run. The natives do very good weaving, they buy their farm machinery, and various farm things on a cooperative basis, and they sell on a cooperative basis. The profits are used to help build schools and welfare centers in the area.

The farmers in this region are gradually improving their sanitation too. We went into one house where there was little bath facilities established and no place for washing. Needless to say, there has been much improvement lately.

As the food supply goes up a little, all the people are in better condition. I never have seen such a contrast as this area shows in its wheat fields, both in the length of the stalks and the amount of grain. Careful records have been kept and the farmers and the Point 4 people know exactly what has happened during the period of experimentation.

They showed me first, their potatoes, which were rather tiny. They improved this variety and, finally, developed a variety which had been brought in that rivalled our Idaho potatoes in taste and size. This is, I think, the most encouraging agricultural experiment I have seen, and it also is vastly encouraging as a social experiment.

The Harijan (Untouchables) settlement is as good as any other village in the area and that is something to shout about in India. And they can well be proud of the progress they are making in dealing with the problem of discrimination.

At their welfare center they have a well-trained midwife and first aid is available. She is able to go into homes and teach the first rules of sanitation at the birth of a child, and she spreads her teaching in every village so that cleanliness and sanitation are improved.

Adult education and some lessons in handicraft work are constantly being carried on. Adult education for men is carried on after their work; the women sometimes have theirs in the daytime while the children are cared for in a nursery school.

The work of improving these villages is being carried on by young men who were educated in a training school that we visited. They work with the men all day and, after getting their own meals in the evening, go out and teach. I never saw a group of faces that showed such alert intelligence and eagerness about their work. And their day starts at 5 a.m., as they do all their own work in school before going to the farms.

Altogether, I was interested by Etawah that I wanted to tell the whole world about what Mr. Holmes of the USA, working for the Point 4 program, has started.

It is true that the Indians are doing the work themselves, but under his guidance and inspiration and this is something we can be proud of because to help the people help themselves is the best way of enhancing the value and dignity of human beings.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Allahabad (India) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 25, 1952

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.