One more farmer kills self in Vidarbha
[ 15 Feb, 2007 2134hrs ISTINDIATIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
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THE LAST RESORT: Suicide of Manoj Lamture, a farmer, has sparked spontaneous protest in Vidarbha (TOI Photo)
MUMBAI: As the union agriculture secretary Dr PK Misra was reviewing progress of the Prime Minister package for the Vidarbha cotton farmer, one more farmer, Manoj Lamture (22) ended is life on Wednesday, sparking spontaneous protest in the region.
Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti said, "Such protests have become common as 3-4 farmers commit suicides on a daily basis." He is aghast at the apathy of the system where nobody in the government or the Opposition is even ready to look at the poverty-stricken Vidarbha farmers.
The deceased farmer, Manoj Lamture, was depressed with continuous crop failure and a huge debt in the name of his father as well as a very high cost of the medical care of his mother. He is the third victim of Vidarbha agrarian crisis in the Bhadumri village. Last year, two other young farmers Dhyaneshwar Bhandare and Anil Shende had committed suicide.
In the last 45 days the region has seen 110 suicides. Last year, reportedly more than 1400 farmer committed suicides, informed Tiwari.
Till 2005 the region had seen no suicides. And the farmers were faring well. They were solely dependent on the government purchase of their yield. In 2005, the state government made purchases to the tune of Rs 2.5 crore from farmers. But, in 2006 it withdrew its price and then stopped buying crops from them.
Following the mass scale suicide, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a package of Rs 3750 crore but, till date it has not seen the light of the day. On the contrary, the government is now reviewing the package.
Tiwari said the cotton growers of Vidarbha are a victim of soil degradation which was a result of the high amount of chemical fertilisers they used for their produce. "The farmers were innocent and they were made to use such high amounts of fertiliser to grow their crop that now the soil is damaged."
Tiwari says that the farmers now want the government to help them do food-grain farming.
"The distress level is so high in the region. We are agitating so that farmers in Andhra and Karnataka do not commit suicide and our agriculturists stop resorting to suicides," says Tiwari.
Dr Sudhir Kumar Goel, divisional commissioner, relief, Amravati said that immediate relief had been given to farmers where interest worth Rs 782 cores had been waived off. But the entire loan cannot be waived. "Subsidies are given. But no government on earth can give subsidy to 60% of its farmers."
The Vidarbha farmers have been given fresh loans, which Dr Goel said was three times more than in the past.
The Job- haves and us Farmers
The activisms and enthusiasm about the syllogism that India is shining means all others are doing well, seems to be waning for good. Although, at times “growth” is oversold with the mayajal device of indicators, the ground realities surface stark naked. Thus amid the clouds of forlorn hopes, Dr. Manmohans Singh’s address to the nation on the 60th
Independece day merits attention. Dr Singh’s Introspection, admission and above all confession
for us farmers shines bright as a ray of Hope.
. Dr Singh’s sincere admission of the other side of the coin- as the sizeable section of farmers, retailers, self-employed vendors, hawkers, labours
yet remains out of reach of the true fruits of economic Independence deserves salaam. Obviously, the absence of economic freedom apparently go es to deny humanity social justice and much more that has often been put metaphorically by drawing the lines of demarcation as a nation within the nation, namely India and Bharat
Having spelt the truth so boldly and candidly in his Independence day speech Dr Manmohan Singh has indeed stolen the show from the
Also the admission of shortcomings as regards the farmers suicides on the part of both state and central government should also be received positively.
The World Bank has organized a tribunal at JNU from 21 st to 24 th Sept. So let us hope that the World Bank event on the part
the enlightened pathfinders who are to offer solutions will do a sincere and sensible job.
The failures are often wrapped-up as- “system failure”. There are attempts to define as to what- the system is. The intellectual and academic exercise often sheds crocodile’s tears. Hence in the light of Dr Singh’s confessions, the anesthesia of academic exercise ought to be done away with. Naturally, on this count it will demand great courage and compassion on the part of the pathfinders.
The devices such as philosophisation
and sophism stand fairly exposed hence its time to hit the nail on the head and act.
It’s time to be vocal about as to what exactly the so-called safety valve called- the system is!
From PL 480 to present state opulence of food grains, fruits and vegetables in abundance, ascertaining growth that is not just a statistical jugglery but reality. A truth indeed. “Food for all” is a reality. This is a greatest service to the nation that is far from an iota of demerit. However, it’s a reality in terms of production and not the in terms of power to purchase it. People starve is painful a reality.
Service or Disservice?
Now let us compare the other services from law and order keeping force- the Poliice, Govt Hopspitals, Eduaction so on and so forth where everyone employed to impart them gets secured income and pension after retirement. Look at the quality of services we get and the fashion they are delivered. The right is delivered in such a crude way that we are made to feel obliged for the job the machinery is meant and paid for.
The inefficiency and apathy in the delivery of services by the state passes without much dimmer. We are sick of its evaluation. Instead, we learn to improve our tolerance quotient. Good governance remains merely a matter of textbooks. Perhaps the state services are a perennial fodder for TV shows like ankho dekhi and rojana
Now, compare us farmers who ensure
the nation food security without any financial security. On the contrary, we fight enormous amount of insecurity, host of the vagaries of nature and what not! Cast a look at the quality food grains, shiny- leafy vegetables, sweet and meaty fruits, wholesome milk, healthy livestock and look at the reward! The deplorable state of “kheti kare so mare” affair! It appears as if
growing food grains is a disservice to the nation. It’s a sin. Have you ever heard of anybody talking about the quality of tomatoes or thing we grow? They are all obsessed
with, kutch mitha ho jaay! genre of stuff.
The Job-haves and Job-have-nots
Sixty years of independence and the farmer lives in the same dilapidated house his great grandparents lived. Look at the job-haves who own a reasonable realty
besides the “dream sweet home” they live in.
Unfortunately our so-called Left leadership
keeps harping the same age-old notes of –“haves and have” when the society
has transformed into classes such as job-haves and job- have-nots. Farmers are being forced to sale their land and the corrupt and fake money is chasing it. The economic consequences of corruption can thus be further researched.
Industrialization will inevitably keep dumping goods on this planet, apparently, at the cost of environment.
There are huge claims to label things as - market economy. However, how should it be a qualified as market economy at the cost of keeping the farmer and the whole lot of job-have-nots sans buying power?. The production of industrial goods is and will be manifold of the market size of only the job-haves.
Farmers and other job-have-nots should not be consoled with the spiritual does of-
“Money cannot buy happiness.” tranquilizer. We are watching as to how the job-haves
been buying happiness wholesale. We sometimes buy happiness in pouches in the kind of shampoo pouches and chotta Parale G.
There often is a common consensus to name the culprit. They baby is christened as- mismanagement. It’s time to realize that the root of this “mismanagement” is the triumph of the rootless over the deep-rooted, the opportunist over the sincere. The plagiarist over a original, the caucus of mediocrity over the creativity. The rootless is trying to root out the deep-rooted. The system is nothing but the caucus of rootless, and ruthless who’s sole
conscious is to -consume, consume and consume till they succumb to consumption and corruption of inner self. This gets reflected through the likes of Ashok Mallhotra, Harshad Mehata, and the worst of all Pandher the demon
Hence Its time that the government and organizations such as World Bank stops getting misled by ill-intended feedback of rootless elements and
get back to grass-roots to understand the truth. Farmers suicides means death.
Thus Death is truth and truth is death. In short, the mess is the result of ill-intended feedback. The non-sense is on at the cost of our lives. The delegations of farmers’
that protested against WTO in Europe consisted as a matter of fact UGC scale earning teachers.
Thus the task ahead of the managers of the event is keep
the imposters at bay. Beware of them!
Hence, if one sincerely wants to see India outshine the world as an economic power, as it surely can, sincerity of purpose is the solution. Let us be sincere to the cause nation building
and visualize new India. Maa Tuze salaam!!!
Pradeep Gawande- Plot no 1, shriram housing society sambhaji Nagar, Amravati (M.S.) PIN 444603.
Phones- 9226592406/ 9970174544
A farmer’s FIR
Farmers: The endangered Species-
Economic Imprisonment Results in suicides
Kheti kare so Mare, India Today( March7, 2001).The swelling ‘Register of Deaths,The Hindu (December 29, 2005)Farmers to sell kidneys to raise capital, The Times of India (Feb 2006) Media carries the tragic tales of two different entities namely India and Bharat. These different entities are otherwise heterogeneously yoked together in the name of patriotism and unity in diversity. However, in terms of social and economic justice, national income distribution they are poles apart.
Farmer’s leader Sharad Joshi who used to plough a coloumn in ToI titled ‘Bharat Speaks’ finds thousands of farmers speaking through their tale- telling suicides. .Addressing a mahila rally at Amravati Joshi admitted that his state of mind being as confused as that of Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra and prayed goddess Durga for strength and vision.
Son of soil, agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar ended his tour of district in Feb promising nothing serious except the age - old lip service. Pitching agriculture into cricket and playing cricket into agriculture is something nothing less of Nero who was playing fiddle when Rome was burning.
Prior to Pawar’s tour his party poster-boy R. R. Patil appealed farmers here addressing rallies not to pay back loans borrowed from private moneylenders and instead trash them nicely. Shiv - Sena - BJP combine took a out a rally - of - course a ‘ Mahamorcha ’ ventilating vitriol against ruling government and exploiting the issue for political mileage and demanding nothing special.
All said and done, the exercise does not go beyond the superficial dressing. No serious treatment of the chronic disease is prescribed nor any operation for relief and cure.
It was Royal Commissions’ observation that Indian farmers are born in poverty live in poverty and die in poverty. This bitter truth was further confirmed by historic support of thousands of farmers to Shetkari Sanghatana and other farmers’ movements all over the nation. However, as the spate of globalization began and winds of liberalization began to blow, Shetkari Sanghatana version changed. The exaggeration of the brief for globalization went to extent of creating illusions such as that a remote village farmer Soanbai could sell her Jowar in global market and see the dollars dancing her homeward. This is just a sample. In short, globalization was stated to be the panacea for all ills of farmers.
Three consequent years of drought and results are unending tale of farmer’s suicides. There appears no concern for the natural calamity as a collective responsibility even a state responsibility. Once upon a time it was khalistan movement that made daily news without fail. Now its farmers that make news almost daily without fail by killing themselves.
We have a government at center that has been graced by farmers with power dethroning the defaulter devotees of tortured Lord Rama. Yet the apathy for farmers remains the same.
We are world’s largest democracy. The full - fledged three-act-play (nautanki) of democracy runs well. Thanks to the farmers who unlike the urban comfort - zone - dwellers take pains to cast their votes. On the contrary comfort-zone-dwellers just remain at their sweet homes enjoying the holiday on polling day watching cricket match highlights on television or make it to their farmhouses at hill stations to realize the heaven upon earth. They believe in democracy however they don’t believe in taking pains for casting votes. Strangely enough, yet they are ensured all that they deserve and even what they don’t deserve! The robbed and helpless farmer gets pushed back ward from where he stood. Compare his lot in last four five decades. We would find that years back his lot was comparatively better. He was comparatively happy and healthy.
Today we find the Farmers nothing but the endangered species caught in the inescapable cell of economic imprisonment. He is not poor. He has wealth in the form of land. He has milk yet he cannot consume it. In strict economic terms, it is the state of moneylessness. Money adequate enough to enjoy economic freedom does not reach him. This is the crux. He grows crops, sells them, pays debts and again borrows new debt. The vicious circle continues denying him even a little freedom. No breather. Thus it is just a life sentence of economic imprisonment. A vernacular proverb goes that you can act anything but not money ( sab soung chalata hai per paise ka soung nahi chalata ). This is the basic reason that he is helplessly committing suicide,
Varsity campuses are on record to have organized workshops on farmers’ suicides. The comfort- zone-dwellers have their own prejudices and derive sadistic pleasure in analyzing and categorizing farmers’ suicides. They classify them such as-debt-ridden, family worries, incurable chronic diseases, alcoholism and what not! Nobody bothers to compare farmers’ incomes, nutrition level and the quality of life. Nobody wants to talk about his affected health, life expectancy. Under the burden of economic and multiple worries a 40-year farmer looks fifty five year old. The UGC is reported to have approved proposals and sanctioned money for so-called researches on farmer’s suicides. Paradoxically nothing comes the endangered farmers way. Son of soil Sharad Pawar finds cricket dearer and soothing than ugly agriculture and shabby farmers. Glamour has an edge over hunger.
The Raj looked down upon the native as a white man’s burden. A farmer is a parallel eyesore, a perfect equivalent of white man’s burden in independent India. Thus cricket is nothing but Sharad Pawar’s escapism rather than the identity crisis. Why does he not spare the portfolio to Sharad Joshi who holds it so dear and has all the way been struggling at the cost of his family and health and what not?
Some intellectuals take trips to villages to satisfy their cacoethes - lonquendi in the guise of social reformers and prescribe farmers do and dont’s, moral and ethical lessons. Either a dose of spiritualism or an over dose of atheism, according to schools of thought they belong to. They heap advices on farmers’ such as not to burst crackers in Diwali Period. The fun is, it is the urban lot that burst crackers after every single four or six is driven or wicket is a claimed in cricket matches by their heroes. Watching cricket matches is not a pass time or hobby, its a disease now. And Sharad Pawar wants to spread it further into epidemics by building stadia. Needless to mention, bursting crackers these days is a distant dream for farmers. It’s long that they have forgotten such privileged luxuries. It can well be established from the statistics of sales in weekly markets at taluka places. The same parameters can be applied to sales of liquor in villages. Farmers exploitation and undelivered due of economic justices is skillfully sidetracked.
Our Prime Minister has over again reiterated the old story of equitable development and human face to it. Thank god! Farmers don’t understand English language or else they would go mad with a humour called – Harshavayu. He himself drove to his office on day one in an imported luxury car. The advice to party men about code of ethics and simplicity from none other than Soniaji came much later. Anyway, we should take our Prime Minister for granted for not only being a good economist but a kind-hearted human being too. Our last Prime Minister Atalaji was Carlyle’s Hero as Poet. However, his poetic insight did not reach the plight of farmers. He found India was shining. The media black-magic did not work. To his great surprise the following election mandate was dazzling. We can expect Sardar Manmohan Singhji to know the ground realities and the seamy side and act before it is too late.
The object of this paper is to play an eye opener for those at the helm of affairs and act as a communication gap bridge between the urban average middle class and farmers so that the prejudices can be shed mutually as it has unnecessarily been motivated as - salaried class vs farmers. The shedding of prejudices on the part of urban intellectuals and shedding envy on the part robbed and hence poor farmer as he naturally compares his painful lot with the creature comforts and security they enjoy. This mutual bond of understanding will help throw the ball in court of those who are in planning process over the years. Farmers don’t want PSU’s to be sold to private parties to ruin the workers. But it’s the urban happy brother who should forward the hand for handshake. In short, the trouble lies in planning. And let me assert that the farmers are not committing suicides because middle class gets a fifth pay scale or a Collector gets chauffer driven car. The trouble is somewhere else. And this is where communication is required.
Farmer is victim of defective and visionless planning. I have local metaphor for that. I term it as milk cooker planning and milk cooker economy. Years back there prevailed a popular trend of presenting a neither useful nor or ornamental pot called milk cooker. It was so popular a trend that a wedding couple used to get even a couple of dozen milk cookers. They were absolutely useless. Hence landed even in latrines and finally in scrap. For long the useless pot played its economic role. Nobody except the manufactures of the pot benefited. The closed sugar mills in Vidarbha where sugarcane can’t be grown and closed spinning mills at Daryapur in Amravati district and at Akot in Akola district are the glaring examples of milk-cooker economy and economic planning and vision. The nearly 400 crore unwanted flyover at Amravati also is a glaring example of visionless planning. This huge sum of money could well be used for some really necessary work. Why haven’t those shouting for the back-log of Vidarbha struck it out so that the money could well be diverted to irrigation and water management. These instances are fairly reflective of the overall lack of vision and priorities in planning. Today we are passing through a phase of- de - construct the old, re - built new and earn as much as possible. This is the order of the day. In short, India is under re-construction. You can’t build a strong nation by merely bringing up concrete jungles.
Farmers have made this nation self - sufficient on food front. We can feed over a hundred crore population. Yet millions starve. This has exposed all intellectuals. They are out of their pants.
There are several economic aspects of this issue that shall be dealt with in the course of time. The immediate object of this eassay is to express wearer best knows where the shoe pinches account of the first hand experience of the problem as I am a debt-ridden farmer having no other income source other than agriculture. I am a landlord hence not poor. However, I don’t have money. This is thus a farmer’s FIR.
Thus to define poverty we will have to get away from traditional parameters of economics. It is nothing but moneylessness. And as money doesn’t reach farmer’s hands he is caught in the dark tunnel of economic imprisonment. And economic untouchability is another thing that he finds himself rejected as a leper. This is the reason that he is kissing death by committing suicide.
Money is the magnet that pulls goods around it. Commodity does not travel from one place to another by means of transport. The magnet called money pulls it.
There are wonderful arguments about there being no money. For instance, the World Bank finances projects such as construction of nullah. The fun is, cement and steel required for constructions is produced in our nation, sand is ‘ours’, Water required for mortar is neither imported nor mineral. Labours are very much Indians. The nullah is ‘ours own’, but we can’t undertake the work because we don’t have money and money finally comes from great grandmother -in law - WORLD BANK, great grand father in law IMF and the good Samaritan Uncle Sam.
It would take some time to digest this maxim and interpretation, as it is new. It is not absolutely new. Economists Milton Friedman, even Barbara Ward (in her book, Poor Nations) has a great deal spelt it out quite explicitly. However, in Indian context where as the hold of tradition is much too fast, the openness to accept it would come taking its own time. But it will come because ultimately it is India that has historically accepted many things that even the west would have found hard to accept and digest. It is not socialism or communism but decentralization of capitalism. It is as simple as empowering the grampanchayat. The farmer should be monetarily empowered to liberate him from the present economic imprisonment. Let him breath the fresh air of being a consumer so that Industry will grow. The goods won’t require to be sold in ‘ SALE ’ after they get shop-soiled and old. Even Bata footwears remain unsold and get offered in ‘SALE’ in less than an year with 50 % discount. This is because farmer has no buying power. Let us hope that our kind hearted Prime Minister Sardar Manmohan Singh and lawful economic Minister will cast look at villages through their bifocal glasses and do justice to farming community.
We produce peerless mangoes such as hapus and other varieties but we don’t have money to consume them. Thus the Americans consume them because they have money. Isn’t this something funny? All quality fruits, food grain, dry-fruits are meant for Americans.
It simply wonderful that cotton fabric and garments are in fashion. The prices of cotton clothes have gone up almost five to ten times compared to raw cotton prices. However, besides the rise in demand raw cotton prices have come down. Who will explain this? Will the mainstream economist try to be sensible? Unfortunately trespassing their territory, they are busy prescribing condoms to their growing children. ( Swaminomics - in ToI )
The phenomenon of SALE economy and sale market is the result of denying farmers power to purchase and his right to be a consumer. Perverted consumerism of Amway genre at the cost of consumer’s health and environment is a bad thing. However, the lopsided growth of it is deadly for the natural and healthy growth of market economy and ultimately industry. In short, farmer stands as an economic untouchable in market economy, almost a leper. Hence suicides. The advocates of globalization will find no bush on the sea shore to hide behind and put the clothes on. The “ Buddha of Welfare economics” perhaps deserves another Nobel for the art of euphemism and intellectual blackmail.
I have long back underlined all this in my paper, “From Mahad Lake to Mineral Water : Economic Untouchability in 21st Century” (Oct 2000). To do justice to the farmer we will have to alter the course from Jai Jawan Jai Kisan to Jai Kisan Jai Jawan for he is the breadwinner of the Nation in strict economic dimension and not emotional. Stop the, emotional blackmail, in the name of annadata and act. Enough is enough.
Published- Farmers’ Forum—VOL-6 No- July- 2006
Plot No. 1, Shriram Housing Society, Sambhaji Nagar, Amravati Ph. 9226592406
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