Wednesday, December 06, 2006

America is saving its farmers at the cost of the lives of the Indian farmers.- Interview with Kishore Tiwari, VJAS

Interview with Kishore Tiwari, VJAS

Interview/Kishore Tiwari, President, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti

“Indian universities and agricultural scientists are silent over the crisis in Vidarbha”

One would assume that activism won’t even come near a man who has in past been a manager with the mecca of capitalism, General Electricals (GE). But accidents do happen, and as Kishore Tiwari acknowledges it, he came to politics by chance – he is a former aide of BJP leader Pramod Mahajan – and during a farmer’s rally, ten years ago, he found himself imprisoned. There has been no looking back for Tiwari, who is single handedly responsible for getting whatever little media attention has come the Vidarbha’s way. Rahul Pandita caught with him in Nagpur.

Rahul: The Maharashtra Government says that the figures of farmers suicide are manipulated. What is your take?
Kishore: I know, Chief Minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh has been saying that. But we are not manipulating figures; the government is. In far-flung villages, the Police puts pressure on the families of farmers who have committed suicide to conduct the last rites of the deceased immediately. Doctors who are conducting postmortems write: I think the man died of a snake bite. He thinks that. Can you imagine? If the CM does not believe us, he should come and pay a visit. He should select any village at random and see whether farmers are committing suicide or dying of snake bites.

Rahul: Why do you think the Government has failed to provide any relief to the farmers?
Kishore: The Government is just a puppet. The Shehanshahs (Kings) of this country are playing at the behest of the supreme Shehanshah of the world, George Bush. America is saving its farmers at the cost of the lives of the Indian farmers. The import tariff on cotton is just 10 percent. More cotton was imported in the past 5 years than in previous 20 years. Who is doing this and at whose behest? Some one has to investigate this.

Rahul: The agrarian crisis in Vidarbha is known to agricultural experts across India. Have they been able to offer any insight?
Kishore: The problem with them is that they don’t understand the realties on the ground. Some of them have visited this area but if you really ask me, they have not understood anything. They have not come out with any solution. The Indian universities and agricultural experts are silent on this issue. The truth is that they have failed.

Rahul: So what is the solution, according to you?
Kishore: The government has to have a serious approach, first of all. Announcing packages won’t help the least. What are the packages achieving? Nothing at all. They are turning farmers into beggars. The government should first of all give farmers the due price for their crop. That would be a beginning. The reality is that every entrepreneur in India today is wanting to enter into farming. It is such a lucrative business these days, much promising than the share market. They want to suck farmer’s blood, all of them.

Rahul: Organisations like The Art of Living have been called by the government to help farmers. Do you think that will help?
Kishore: It is all a farce. The Art of Living should be called The Art of Killing. What are they trying to do? Helping the farmer breathe in and out when he he is hardly living. It would have been better if the government had made sure that the farmers receive two square meals a day.

Rahul: So what is the future of these farmers?
Kishore: People living in Mumbai slums are better off than the farmers of Vidarbha. At least their food is ensured. The farmers of Vidarbha are dying of hunger. They are dying of Chikungunya. If there is one dengue death in Delhi, it becomes a headline. Hundreds of farmers have died of Chikungunya. But who cares?

Rahul: You have even resorted to Gandhigiri in Vidarbha. Is it helping?
Kishore: The Gandhigiri has been able to lure the media. It gets an interesting story that, look, farmers are using Gandhigiri as a tool. But it won’t lead to the administration working efficiently. There has to be a revolution. And there will be one.

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