I think you are referring to the period more than two decades ago.
The Rs 20.00 wages you refer may also be due to this. In villages, the harvest or sowing needs large manpower. When one family sows seeds, the neighbors , usually brothers , go to help. The scenario is such that even small boys work. When such work is solicited, the beneficiaty family of such labor, usually gives a honorarium of a small amount - In this case Rs 20/- per head.
But this culture has also died out. All the children of farmers go to schools and colleges. And, they despise the farm work and consider it to below them to soil their hands and feet. Thus whole villages starve for manpower. My mother used to tell me how, even after graduation, and even while working, she used to take leave and help her mother in the fields for harvest. For, she used to tell me, even a day's delay may cost one dear as the weather of the Nilgiris was/is erratic and you just can not set foot in a wet field.
Now, my cousins in the Nilgiris have converted the entire lands into tea gardens and have become clerks and businessmen. With what many generations managed to fill their stomach, now is home to a useless crop which has no nutritious value besides spoiling health. Now , in the entire village only tea is grown. Plucking is done by repatriates from Sri Lanka. Now, with tea prices falling, the entire district is in doldrums.
Earlier, there were such diversified crops such as potato, cabbage, turnip, carrot, bett roots, peaches, plums, oranges, grains such as samai (I do not the English name for this), even wheat and some rare fruits and vegetables. Now these have dwindled.
Even the forests are artificial. Lots of trees were cut and in their place, the dreaded Eucalyptus has been planted. This tree is notorious for sucking all the ground water.
Not only the dry Tamilnadu, but this fertile Nilgiris is also sitting on a time bomb.
Replying to this email will send an e-mail to 7500+ members of Jharkhand Forum.