June 15: Today, President A.P.J.Kalam is going to visit the most talked about Vidarbha region to attend a couple of cultural programmes. In his visit he will attend some educational institution but won’t be visiting hundreds of widows of the farmers who killed themselves in intense misery.
Newspapers and TV channels have flashed the President’s visit to Vidarbha as a grand show. Is it worth the pomp and the popularity that media is endowing it with? Why not have a look at the number of farmer suicide in this region from the past couple of years and what the government has done in this regard. It is democracy; the sovereign powers need not to be treated as some kind of Hollywood stuff. They are our leaders, not just titular heads attending parties and grand shows.
According to a Nagpur based organization Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, which is constantly working on this prime cause, has so far recorded 432 farmer suicides in this year. The records for the year 2006 are miserable with more than 1400 suicide cases, though the government report defers. From 2001 onwards the number of deaths is rising every day, however government official deny and insist on the declining numbers.
West Vidarbha, especially the Yavatmal and Wardha district, is the prime concern as these two areas are mainly affected with agrarian crisis due to the increased costs of cotton farming. It is really a shame for a developing nation with more than 9 per cent economic growth that its people are dying due to hunger; whether it is Maharastra’s Vidarbha or Orissa’s Kalahandi.
Under these circumstances, the local NGO, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, has sought permission from the state government of a meeting between the affected families and President Kalam. The families have been insisting to brief a high official or Indian leadership, about the prevailing situation but the authorities have denied citing the law and order problem in the region. Reportedly, the President’s office has shown eagerness but it is not clear why the state administration has been hesitant over this issue.
In response the NGO is organizing a protest gathering with the residents of those affected areas today, and may express their anger and hoist a black flag। This may further politicize the whole issue but it’s unlikely to solve the current agrarian crisis and the death of the farmers. As the president of India, Dr. Kalam has an obligation and duty to show his interest in this regard and try out something before his term ends.