Wednesday, January 31, 2007
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japanese cars are sold at this modern shopping mall that recently opened in a suburb of New Delhi.
The following is the second installment in a series of articles reporting on new developments in India, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of its independence this year, and where that nation is heading. High levels of economic growth are changing the country, once referred to as a "giant sleeping elephant," to an emerging global power.
Anand, a 33-year-old strategic consultant for a client company at a foreign-affiliated information technology company, and Anjali, a 23-year-old student trying to get a master's degree in business administration, married three years ago after they met on a matchmaking Web site. They now live in a quiet residential area in southern New Delhi.
In India, it remains a common custom for parents to choose marriage partners for their children, but couples like Anand and Anjali have been gradually becoming more common, mainly in urban areas.
Anand earns 800,000 rupees (about 2.08 million yen; 1 rupee is about 2.6 yen) a year. Since people earning 40,000 rupees to 180,000 rupees a year are considered to be in the middle-income bracket in India, he can be called a high-income earner.
The couple is interested in buying a fridge and a washing machine.
"We got an opportunity," said Anjali. "We're concerned with the quality rather than the price [of appliances]."
Recently, household electrical appliances have been selling in huge numbers in the country.
In fiscal 2004, India produced 9 million color television sets, 3.9 million refrigerators and 1.6 million washing machines--an increase of more than 10 percent from the previous year.
Strong sellers are 21- to 25-inch flat-screen television sets priced at between 22,000 rupees to 30,000 rupees.
As for mobile phones, about 5 million people become new users every month in the country. The total number of cell phone users reached 130 million in September.
According to an estimate by the Indian Communications and Information Technology Ministry, the number is likely to reach 500 million, nearly half of the country's population, by 2010.
Santosh Desai, 43, president of the major advertising company McCann Erickson India, said he believes there are at least 400 million people in the middle-income bracket in India, a figure exceeding the population of the United States.
These middle-class people are playing the leading role in India's consumer market, which is now the center of attention in the business world.
According to Desai, until a while ago, 20 million people, the number equivalent to Australia's population, are said to have joined India's middle-income bracket every year. But he said that the figure has recently increased to 60 million, close to the population of France.
Indians who used to ride bicycles have now switched to motorcycles and then compact cars. In major cities, large, sophisticated shopping malls are being opened one after another.
The diversification of payment methods, including credit cards, banking institutions and loan systems offered by each consumer electronics maker is boosting consumer spending in India.
"In recent times, ICICI Bank has shown a two-time increase in the loan to consumer," said Ashwini Kumar, a sales executive with the major bank in New Delhi.
India was once described as a country where the gap between the rich and the poor was so wide that there was no middle class.
At present, the poor, who live mainly in rural areas, account for more than 30 percent of India's population and are often left close to death from starvation. Saving the poor is a big responsibility for the government.
However, it also is true that the number middle-income bracket families is increasing sharply due to the country's economic growth, creating a gigantic consumer society. They are about to change India's image.
Desai said that Indians can believe now for the first time in history that their life will be better tomorrow than it is today.
His words reflect the dynamism India has today.
The growing middle-income bracket is heating up the consumption spree in India. But the Indian government faces difficult challenges in improving living standards for the poor, who have not benefited from the nation's economic growth, and in narrowing the wealth gap in its society.
There is a popular waterfront disco in the coastal city of Mumbai, India's largest commercial city, in Maharashtra State in the western part of the country.
Behind a metal detector and a heavy door, about 50 men and women dance under glimmering lights.
Tanvi Gandhi, 27, an employee of a television station in Mumbai, said she came to the disco at least once every two weeks.
Gandhi said that she did not know where else to spend her money because she and her friends could spend twice as much money as they had before since cable TV stations and call centers were opened there.
But the situation is dramatically different in the village of Sunna, about 900 kilometers east of Mumbai. The village of about 1,000 residents is located in the middle of vast cotton fields.
Vijai, a 53-year-old farmer in the village mourned the death of his 26-year-old son, Ravi.
"We don't know any proper plan in mind," Vijai said with tear-filled eyes. "How can we do? I am in too much shock to offer any future plans for my family."
Ravi had committed suicide three days earlier by hanging himself from an electricity pole in a cotton field.
The family had debts of 250,000 rupees (about 650,000 yen) to banks and other lenders due to a poor harvest. Ravi had been very worried that his family would not be able to pay for his sister's marriage expenditures as her wedding date was approaching.
"My son didn't drink or smoke. He just worked hard for my family. He was pressed by his sense of responsibility how to do for a living as as householder," the father said.
Ravi and his wife lived in a small room with a black-and-white TV set they bought 10 years ago. But the local electric power company had cut off electricity supply to the whole village as many residents had often failed to pay bills.
In the Vidarbha region where Sunna is located, about 3 million people work in cotton farming. And in the same region, 1,140 people committed suicide between June 2005 and November 2006.
Vidarbha People's Movement Society, a nongovernmental organization supporting poor cotton farmers in the region, made a map on which small skull illustrations marked places where suicides occurred. Soon the whole of the map was covered with the marks.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the Vidarbha region having taken the news of a "suicide village" seriously, and announced an emergency aid package including financial assistance for the coming five years.
In late November, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar emphasized the effects of the aid saying, "The emerging trends in respect of this region indicates that the number of suicide by farmers due to agriculture-related causes is on the decline."
However, Kishor Tiwari, 51, secretary of the NGO, said that three people per day had still committed suicide even after the prime minister's visit.
"The government said a fraud," he said angrily.
Mumbai and other big cities in India are in the midst of an unprecedented feverish wave of consumption. But for farmers living in the region, the prosperity is, according to one rural resident, a world "not relevant to us. This is only for rich men and bureaucrats."
In the country's general election in 2004, the ruling coalition led by the Indian People's Party (BJP) suffered an unpredicted major setback despite a slogan of "Shining India" praising the recent economic growth.
It was because those in poverty and other socially vulnerable people interpreted the coalition's policy of prioritizing economic growth as neglecting the weak.
The current governing coalition led by the Indian National Congress Party insists that consideration should be given to "another India," where many people have no access to the benefits of economic growth.
Sonia Gandhi, president of the party, has said that the country is now walking a tightrope between prosperity and achieving social justice.
Singh, an economist, said that the coming 15 to 20 years will be the key, because the number of people in poverty can be reduced drastically if the economy grows 8 percent to 10 percent every year during the period.
Conversely, India now has no other measure to save the poor than continuing to pursue more economic growth to enlarge shares of prosperity.
(Feb. 1, 2007)
[ 30 Jan, 2007 0234hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
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NAGPUR: Eleven more farmers have killed themselves in the last 48 hours in Vidarbha. Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) president Kishore Tiwari alleges 70% suicide cases have not been found eligible for compensation as per government norms.
"The government says most of the suicides are on account of non-agrarian reasons like alcoholism, family problems and social tensions," said Tiwari. While official statistics said 1,452 farmers committed suicide last year, only 686 cases were found eligible for the Rs 1 lakh compensation.
"Distress among cotton growers in west Vidarbha has worsened with the wrong policies of the state, which is bowing to WTO norms and free trade policies of globalisation.
The Bt cotton seeds promoted by the government, instead of giving better yields or disease-free crop, have added to the woes of farmers as they are inadequately trained or protected from fake seeds," said Tiwari. As a result, the cotton economy of the region has collapsed, he said.
Amravati divisional commissioner Goel insisted help was being provided on schedule. "Ongoing irrigation projects are being expedited and Rs 882 crore has been spent this year on them.
Over 8,000 beneficiaries have been given 10,000 milch cattle in the last six months under the income supplementing scheme, while 6,000 sheep and goats have also been given to farmers," he said.
VJAS has asked the Union government to earmark Rs 40,000 crore in the budget, to be announced next month, to tackle the agrarian crisis. "The government should provide for debt waiver, food security, proper health care, better irrigation facilities, education and rural employment opportunities," said Tiwari.
January 31, 2007
There is no sign of suicide abating in the village of Vidharbha in Maharashtra. In the last 48 hours according to a newspaper report 11 farmers took their lives adding to the rising toll of 62 deaths in the first month of the year.
The farmers of Vidarbha continue to leave a trail of suicide from past several years. Last year the cases of suicide reached the all time high with 1050 farmers killing themselves. According to Maharashtra government about 3000 farmers have committed suicide from past three years. It is indeed a shameful admission by any government of the day. This speaks of the government apathy towards the farmers and its utter failure in stopping the spate of suicide in that region.
The primary cause for the farmers to take to this extreme step is the stark poverty prevalent in the remote villages of Vidarbha. From last several years the state is facing acute agrarian crisis. The primary causes for so many suicides are both natural and man made. The uncertainty of monsoon at times plays havoc with the cash crop. Then the loan shark lends out loan at high interest rate which becomes almost impossible for the farmers to repay. This leaves them in heavy debt. The middle man's presence in the market eats in the profit margin of the farmers when it comes to selling. Also the poor farmer is not able to meet the higher cost of using modern technology for higher yield and invariably incur losses.
The years of neglect of Vidarbha region by the politicians too have contributed to the plight of the farmers. Some political party is demanding the separation of Vidarbha from the state of Maharashtra has a quick face solution to the crisis. Will that herald progress of Vidarbha is no guarantee. The fact is that the region remains untouched by the all round globalisation taking place in other parts of India.
About 12 lakh farmers are heavily in debt due to poverty. The social activist Vidarbha Jan Andolan samiti ( VJAS) is actively involved in that region helping the farmers. The Indian government has so far given 5000 crore in aid as part of the relief package. It has earmarked 2077 crore for building several irrigation projects in western Vidharbha but unfortunately none could get started because of the stringent forest laws and the unsettled issue of compensation paid to farmers for acquiring their land. The government has failed miserably. Despite the huge aid offered could not mitigate the suffering of the farmers.
Right from the Indian Prime minister Manmohan Singh to leaders of all hue have visited the region. The guru Sri Sri Sri Ravi Shanker tried spreading his spiritual mantra to the poor farmers. Unfortunately none of them could stem the tide of suicide occurring in Vidharbha. Now it is left to the farmers to understand that taking lives will not solve their problem but only add to those they left behind and put an end once for all to this senseless suicide spree.
| By Zubair Ahmed |
BBC News, Vidarbha, India
In India's cotton growing region of Vidarbha, where, on average, three debt-trapped farmers are committing suicide every day, a silent revolution is taking place.
This revolution is being spearheaded by 500,000 female small entrepreneurs, who are determined to reduce the debt burdens of their families.
Micro credit schemes, introduced years ago in the region, are having their effects, slowly but steadily.
Shobha Gajbe in Vidarbha's Keslapur village belongs to the socially oppressed and poverty-stricken community called Dalit or lower caste Hindu.
"We were heavily in debt," she says. "Micro credit helped us pay back most of the old debts."
Shobha is part of a group of 12 women who have been financed by a micro credit bank.
From her share, Shobha has started a small business of cooking midday meals for school children.
She is happy.
Harvest marks the season of hope in Vidarbha.
| || The government's policies are responsible for suicides |
The farmers' labour comes to fruition towards the end of the year, when rows upon rows of cotton-laden carts and trucks are queuing up outside rural markets to sell the produce.
But often, such hope is fast turning to despair as farmers' demands for higher procurement prices are rejected by the government.
Lower prices mean they cannot pay back their debts, and as the New Year takes hold reality hits home.
"Unfortunately", says activist Kishor Tiwari, "that also means the rate of the farmers' suicide cases may also go up".
Forming a group
But all may not be lost for the region's 3.2 million cotton growers.
Dozens of government and private micro credit schemes are running smoothly in the region.
Take for instance the region's poorest, but most fertile, Yavatmal district.
Thousands of women here have become members of the micro credit schemes.
They are running small businesses and they are saving too.
But how does the scheme work?
Ten to 12 village women get together and form a group, which then approaches a bank for credit.
The micro credit banks urges them to save with them, with each member depositing money, ranging from 50 rupees to 1,000 rupees every month.
The bank in turn provides credit to the group, whose members borrow money from the group depending on their needs.
Of course there are as many bad schemes as the good ones.
Farmers have to be careful while choosing a scheme or credit finance company.
Hemlata Dande and her group of 12 women chose the one that gave them 120,000 rupees to collectively start a video parlour in Vidarbha's Mathni village.
Thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit, they added another business to it - a public call office or a PCO.
Barely a few months after borrowing such a big amount, the group had half of it back to the bank.
This has given them a great deal of confidence.
"Earlier we used to run after them, now they're after us," says Hemlata.
True, the bank has now offered the group a substantial sum to buy a harvester.
Sanjay Sangekar, a senior official of the confederation of all micro credit institutions, says the whole idea is to empower rural women.
"The women of Vidarbha have become more confident; there is more general awareness among them and above all they are financially independent enough not to always rely on their husbands," he says.
Women helping their families financially could help prevent some farmers from committing suicide, he believes.
But Maya Wankhade, who has helped hundreds of women become members of micro credit schemes in the tribal district of Yavatmal, does not think the schemes alone will contain suicide cases.
"The government's policies are responsible for suicides," she says.
"The farmers wait in the markets for weeks before the government procures their produce. This makes it difficult for them to pay back their debts."
The farmers did indeed bring their produce into the markets in December.
But haggling over price fixing led to an unrest.
One farmer died recently when police fired at farmers who had gathered to protest against the government's refusal to increase the procurement prices.
Making matters worse, the government, under the proposed World Trade Organization agreement, has stopped being the official procurer of cotton.
In the new, free market regime, the farmers feel more vulnerable.
And for many, the only hope of breaking free of the cycle of debts seems to be the savings the women entrepreneurs have with the micro credit firms.
Published: 2007/01/31 23:47:09 GMT
© BBC MMVII
Monday, January 29, 2007
Press Trust of India
Nagpur, January 29, 2007
Eleven farmers have committed suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharasthra, an NGO working for farmers said Monday.
The suicide cases were reported in the last two days from districts of Yavatmal, Washim (three each), Nagpur (two), Amaravati, Wardha and Chandrapur (one each), Vidarbha Jana Andolan Samiti President Kishore Tiwari said in a release in Nagpur.
He said so far 62 farmers have committed suicide in the current month in the cotton-growing region in Eastern Maharasthra.
Last year, about 1,050 farmers had committed suicide in Vidarbha which was visited by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who announced a relief package for farmers reeling under bankruptcy and crop failure.
The samiti has claimed the state government has paid compensation to 682 families of the deceased farmers.
In addition to the Prime Minister's package, the state's Congress-NCP led government too had announced several relief measures for debt-ridden farmers but the spate of suicides continued.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Widows of the cotton world-DNA Reports untold saga of farm widows
Widows of the cotton world
A common tragedy binds together the families of cotton farmers’ who have lost their lives.
YAVATMAL: It’s a tale of three widows bound by a common thread of cotton; and policies of the state that their husbands vocally blamed for their plight before their death.
Savita Ghugul’s husband Dinesh fell to the police bullets in December 2006 at Wani cotton procurement centre, when a mob of cotton growers erupted in anger over delay in procurement of cotton. Dinesh, 35, had left his home in Mendholi village the morning he died; his body returned the next day amid police protection.
Sunita Girsawale’s man Pundalik chose to end himself in the Tehsil Agriculture Office when he ran out of patience and money. He was seeking help to buy a bullock under the Prime Minister’s much-trumpeted relief package, but someone in the tehsil office demanded bribe. A cheque of Rs4500 was found on his person after his death. People of his Tejapur village allege it was planted after his death.
And 20-year-old Pratibha Kuchankar’s husband Rameshwar consumed pesticide in Pandharkawda cotton procurement centre, ending his days of desperation. A stoic silence grips Pratibha’s maternal home in Veerkund village, where she has moved in after Rameshwar’s death on November 28, last year. It was only six months since their marriage, but the young farmer felt his condition would not improve. Still in shock, Pratibha lets her silence speak for her.
Savita, Sunita and Pratibha are women from different contexts, background and age groups, yet engulfed by a tragedy that emanates from a single source: Wrong policies. Well over a thousand farmers committed suicide in 2006 and close to 70 in January 2007 so far in Vidarbha’s six cotton districts. Notwithstanding the government’s rejection of these suicides as fallout of an agrarian emergency, the constituency of widows is growing at a frightening speed in the cotton country.
On the other hand, the farmers taking their own lives are increasingly becoming more vocal in their criticism of the government’s policies, and the suicide notes are being directed now straight to the Chief Minister or his deputy.
As Rameshwar Kuchankar, 27, said in his dying note before consuming poison in the market yard, “Mr CM, give us the price. Mr R R Patil, if you don’t give us Rs 3000 a
quintal, this issue (of farmers’ suicide) will aggravate.”
Rameshwar knew he was in losses after the cotton prices crashed to Rs1700-1900 this year from over Rs2200 a quintal. Then, in one poignant stroke, he wrote a line for his wife on one corner of that note. “Pratibha, I am sorry, please forgive me and get remarried.” In the end, he mentions: “No one in my family should be blamed for my death; if some one does that I won’t forgive him.”
Pundalik, on the other hand, had had four years of crop failure. “He went at least 15 times to get the cheque from the agriculture office to buy a bullock, but some one there demanded bribe,” says his mother Parvatabai. “He had purchased two doors for this hut, but had to sell one to pay for his visits to Wani,” she informs. Sunita, his widow, has since taken to working as a farm labourer to earn a living and her three daughters - aged 14, 12 and 10 - look after the household chores.
Apparently, it was a slight provocation by some one in the agriculture office that proved the last straw for Pundalik. He had threatened them that he would end his life if they did not release his cheque; the officer said do as you like, and a desperate Pundalik consumed poison, a villager says.
In both Pundalik and Rameshwar’s cases, the government has declined the Rsone-lakh compensation, saying these were ‘non-genuine’ suicides, meaning the two farmers’ death was genuine, “but was not due to any agricultural crisis”. In Dinesh’s case, luckily, there’s no question of applying any parameter. He fell to a bullet that pierced his stomach. In one way though, Dinesh was a victim of the government’s neglect towards procurement of cotton. Had the centres worked round the clock to buy farmers’ yield the unprecedented protests may not have erupted in the first place, and Dinesh would have lived.
These three families lost their bread-winners in a span of one month. The same month, over a hundred farming households in Vidarbha also lost their head men, all choosing to take their lives. “The three farmers represent different hues of misery thanks to the government. One lost his life for no reason in police firing; the other was denied the relief that the PM himself declared in Nagpur; the third one felt, like all farmers of this region feel, he was denied a decent life,” says Kishor Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. “All of them had good family life and none was an alcoholic; it was the state’s policy and bureaucratic sham that took their lives,” he charges.The questions staring Savita and her children are no less different than those facing Pratibha or Sunita and her three daughters. Alas, no less easy too.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Date:27/01/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/01/27/stories/2007012706361100.htm
Opinion - News Analysis Striking a note of dissent
Even as the suicides in Vidharbha go on relentlessly, a trend has strengthened these past months. More and more farmers are blaming the Government and even talking directly in their suicide notes to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Photo: Handout The mother and daughter of Dinesh Ghughul who was shot dead by police during an angry protest by farmers against tardy procurement at the Wani market in December while the State Assembly session was on in Nagpur. His family says Ghughul was there merely to sell his cotton and was not part of the protest.
RAMESHWAR KUCHANKAR decided that the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee was where he would take his own life. He did, on November 28 in Panderkauda, Yavatmal. Ten days later, Dinesh Ghughul was shot dead by the police at the Wani cotton market in the same district. And Pundalik Girsawle walked into the premises of the agricultural officer, Wani, and killed himself there 12 days after Ghughul's death.
Kuchankar was 27, Ghughul was 38, and Girsawle 45. Different people in several ways. Yet they represent the same new — and growing — trend in Vidharbha's farm deaths. More and more such farmers are directly blaming state policy — not drought or floods — for their misery. Some confront the Government in tragic ways. Where Girsawle and Kuchankar chose to commit suicide was in itself a statement. And for some months now, the suicide notes of farmers are talking directly to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and even to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"Don't blame my family for my action," says the suicide note of young Kuchankar. "I will never forgive anybody who does." He perhaps foresaw a standard government explanation of farm suicides: "family dispute." And in one poignant sentence, addresses the 19-year-old girl he had wed just six months ago: "Pratibha, I am sorry. Please get remarried." He blames the procurement price for cotton as the source of farmers' distress. "We are fed up with the delay in procurement and crashing prices. This will further aggravate the situation."
His message to Mr. Deshmukh: "Mr. Chief Minister give us the price." And to Home Minister R.R. Patil "if you do not give us a price of Rs.3,000 per quintal, suicides will surge." Kuchankar wrote: "The cotton price has fallen to Rs.1,990 a quintal. We cannot manage with that. Which is why I am giving up my life." The suicide note is a bunch of anguished scribbles across a sheet of paper.
Pundalik Girsawle chose the Agricultural Office in Wani to make his point. He was seeking Rs.4,800 to buy a bullock cart under the Prime Minister's relief package. He had seen four years of crop failure. His home being close to the Tejapur forest, wild animals devastated his fields. Household health expenses were rising. He sought the agricultural officer's aid.
"He went to that office 15 times," his mother Parvatabai told us in Tejapur. "Look, he even sold one of the doors he had bought for this house. Why? To pay for his frequent bus tickets to Wani. But someone there demanded a bribe. When he threatened to commit suicide, they told him `you do what you like.' He was shattered." He chose that very office as the site of his suicide.
Neighbours allege that the cheque for some Rs.4,400 found on his body "was planted there to cover up the racket his suicide exposed." His five-member family now depends on the Rs.30 his widow Sunita brings in on those days she can find work. "What happens to Pundalik's three daughters," asks Parvatabai. They are aged 14, 12, and 10. Meanwhile, officials declared it a "non-distress" suicide. A view echoed in sections of the media that had never been to the village or met his family.
"There is no way the government can record these two as farm suicides," says Kishore Tiwari of the Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti. "Acceptance would highlight their words and actions — which directly implicate and expose the government and its policies. Hence they have to be called fake and the families denied compensation."
In August the suicide note of cotton grower Ramakrishna Lonkar in Wardha district had made news. "After the Prime Minister's visit and announcements of a fresh crop loan, I thought I could live again," Lonkar wrote. But, he concluded, he found nothing had changed on the credit front. Or on other policies. The same month saw Sahebrao Adhao of Amravati district paint a picture of usury, debt, and land-grab in his suicide note. Yet again, a victim had captured the failure of both system and policy in writing.
"This trend now causes huge trouble for the government," says Mr. Tiwari. "All the cover-ups and paid-for bogus `studies' finding other causes for the deaths are destroyed when the farmer explains in detail why he is killing himself. And points a finger at the government's wrong policies."
Dinesh Ghughul's case is more complex. "He was not part of the protests that burst out in Wani that day," says his widow Savita at their home in Mendoli village. Huge delays in cotton procurement angered farmers. Just 56 procurement centres were at work where there had been 300 three years ago. In the chaos that followed, Ghughul fell to police bullets. "He went to Wani to sell his cotton. Why kill him for that," she asked Mr. R.R. Patil. "He told me, `what has happened has happened. But now let us help you and your family.'" The huge public anger meant this family got some compensation for the loss of its bread-winner. But it is in bad shape. And it has only an APL card. The family feels the protest that led to his death was a statement. That it captured his own plight even if he was not part of it.
Farmers' suicides in Vidharbha go on relentlessly. The first three weeks of this month have seen over 50. The State Government's own website has conceded over 1,400 suicides in just six districts of the region during 2006. However, the figures are kept down by increasing, each month, the "rate of rejection" of suicides. That is, the government argues that most of these suicides are not due to agrarian distress but "other causes." Such as family disputes, drunkenness, and the like.
Rejecting most of the deaths as "not eligible" for compensation helps "slow down" the number of suicides. On paper at least. The VJAS points out that the "rejection rate" has risen every month since the Prime Minister's visit last June. "And yet," says Mr. Tiwari, "the suicides go up. Just look at their own total figure." The Government's website concedes — on the basis of the biggest ever survey done in Vidharbha — that around 10 million farmers are in distress in these six districts. And that nearly two million are in "maximum distress." That distress is showing. And the farmers taking their own lives are making no secret of who they blame for it.
© Copyright 2000 - 2006 The Hindu
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Source: The Hindu (http://www.hinduonnet.com/2007
It's been a hard day's night
Hundreds of women in Maharashtra's Gondia district travel from small towns to the villages to earn a daily wage.
Photo: P. Sainath
REVERSE MIGRATION: These women are former beedi workers who gather everyday at Tiroda in Maharashtra to board a train to nearby villages in search of work.
REVANTABAI KAMBLE has not spoken to her six-year-old son for months. They live in the same house in Tiroda, of course. It's the same with Buribai Nagpure though she might sometimes see her older boy if he's awake. Both women are among hundreds in this part of Maharashtra's Gondia district who spend just four hours a day at home and travel over 1,000 km each week to earn Rs.30 daily.
It's 6 a.m. when we accompany the women from their homes to the railway station. Most have been up two hours already. "I've finished the cooking, washing, sweeping and cleaning," says Buribai cheerfully. "So now we can talk." No other member of her household is awake when we arrive. "Poor things," she says, "they're tired out." Isn't Buribai tired out, too? "Yes, but what to do? We have no options."
At the station are many other women without options. They are also unusual in one sense: these are not migrants from village to city. They are footloose workers from an urban setting seeking work in the villages. This search takes them from moffusil towns Tiroda is a tehsil headquarters to toil as agricultural labour in the villages almost every day of their lives. Spending up to 20 hours away from home daily. There are no weekend offs and no jobs in Tiroda. "After the beedi industry went," says Mahendra Walde, "it is impossible for them to find work here." Mr. Walde is district secretary of the Kisan Sabha in Gondia.
Many of the women live five or more kilometres from the railway station. "So we have to be up by 4 a.m.," says Buribai. "We finish all our work and walk to the station by seven." That's when the train comes in and we clamber on with the group that will go to Salwa in rural Nagpur. The 76-km journey takes two hours. On the platform and in the train are more women, weary-eyed, hungry, half-asleep. Most sit on the floor of the crowded train, leaning against the carriage wall, trying to snatch some sleep before their station arrives.
"We will reach home at 11 p.m.," says Revantabai. "We sleep by midnight. And start all over again at 4 a.m. the next morning. I have not seen my six-year-old awake in a long time." Then she laughs: "Some of the much younger children may not recognise their mothers when they do see them." Their children have either dropped out of school because they cannot afford it. Or perform poorly there. "There is no one at home to watch or help," points out Buribai. And some of the youngsters are themselves doing any work they find.
"Naturally, they do badly at school," says Lata Papankar, a teacher based in Tiroda. "Who can blame them?" It appears the Government of Maharashtra can. The performance of these children is held against the schools, which might lose funds. And against teachers trying to help them, who might be penalised for poor results. An approach that will further erode their chances of going to school.
Seated on the rocking floor of the train, Shakuntalabai Agashe says she has been doing this for 15 years. The only breaks come during festivals or the monsoon. "For some kinds of work," she says, "we may be paid Rs.50. But that's rare. Mostly it's Rs.25-30." There are no jobs in their towns, say the women.
The money there is has flown to the cities. The industries there were have closed down. The moffussil towns are in decay. Almost all these women found work with the beedi industry in the past. "When that went we were finished," says Buribai. "Beedi is a footloose industry, ever in search of cheaper labour," says K. Nagaraj of the Madras Institute of Development Studies who has worked on the sector. "It shifts base quite quickly. The human consequences of such shifts are devastating. And have gone up these past 15 years." A lot of beedi work "has gone off from Gondia to Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh," says Pradeep Papankar of the Kisan Sabha.
"Of course we do not buy tickets to travel on the train," the women say. "A round ticket would cost more than the Rs.30 we earn. Our system is simple: if we get caught, we pay the checker a bribe of Rs.5." Ticket revenue has been privatised. "They extort it from us knowing we can't afford it."
"My older boy drops me at the station on his cycle sometimes," says Buribai. "Then he stays there looking for any work, whatever the pay. My daughter cooks at home. And my second boy takes the meal to his brother." In short, says Mr. Walde, "three people are working for the wage of one." But all five family members together, including her husband, often make much less than Rs.100 a day. Some days, just two of them may have earned anything at all. They do not have a BPL ration card.
At stations along the way are labour contractors, waiting to pick up workers on the cheap.
Reaching Salwa around 9 a.m. we set out a kilometre to the village and a further three km into the fields. Buribai does that last stretch with a huge vessel of water perched on her head, yet outpaces all of us.
Those on whose fields they labour for a pittance are also in trouble. The agrarian crisis has hit landowner Prabhakar Vanjare badly. He owns three acres and has taken ten on lease. "Prices are terrible, we earn almost nothing," he complains. And resident labour in the village has migrated elsewhere in despair. Hence the coming of these women.
This is eastern Vidharbha, away from the troubled cotton belt. Mr. Vanjare grows paddy, chilli, and other items. Right now, he just requires the women for weeding work. They work till about 5-30 p.m. and get back to the station an hour later.
"But the train only comes in by 8 p.m." points out Buribai. "So we will reach Tiroda only around 10 p.m." Their families are asleep when the women get home. And asleep when they leave in the mornings. "What family life can there be," asks Revantabai.
By the time they reach home, they have travelled over 170 km. And will do that every day of the week to earn Rs.30. "We'll be home by 11 p.m." says Buribai, "to eat and sleep." Until four hours later, when they have to get up and do it all over again.
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Vidarbha Jan andolan Samiti
11,Trisharan nagar ,Khamala,Nagpur
SUB- Vidarbha Agrarian Crisis - fifty more farm suicides in vidarbha(india) in Jan.2007.
six more farmers suicides reported in last 48 hours in different part of vidarbha ,cotton growing belt of in India due to extreme distress and economic crisis prevailing in rural part of vidarbha taking toll to fifty in this month of January 2007,farmer who committed suicides are two each from yavatmal and washim distt and one each from akola and wardha distt.,they are -
1.bhaurao pandurang khandare ,ekonba(washim)
2.pradip himat dhote ,murtizaput(akola)
3.udhao rajaram aru,shelu-khurd ,( washim)
4.ramdas mukunda meshram ,khairgaon -kasar (yavatmal)'
6.mahadev sakharam dudhkolhle,sindhi(yavatmal)
according to govt. of official report more than 1400 farmers in six suicide prone distt. committed suicides and govt. has rejected more than 75% cases for compensation claiming to be suicide due to non-agrarian causes but official survey of govt. officials shows that more than 1.2 million farmers out of 1.7 million farmers are under distress and 4.34 lacs cotton farmers are under extreme distress.
agrarian crisis started in this region when Indian govt. WTO terms and started open import of American cotton at rate of almost 50% cultivation cost of vidarbha farmer which has beeen almost double when b.t. cotton seeds were granted permission in june-2005.
Cotton farmers are demanding complete ban on imported cotton ,cotton seed and costly pesticides as imported cotton is cheaply available due to heavy subsidies given by the American other developed countries.
vjas leader kishor tiwari has urged inter national community to stop these mass suicides of the farmers as these are are mass genocide of innocent victims of wrong policies of free trade which has been proven to be most unfair and unjust for third world countries like india.
please arrange to publish this press note
vidarbha jan andolan samiti
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Nagpur-20 JAN,2007 time 20.08 P.M. IST
Ref.- Newly-elected president of industry body
Assocham and Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot on Tuesday
said he was against "land grabbing" in the name of
Sub= mass land grabbing of mahrashtra govt. for sez in
the name of mega projects.
please find assocham chief venugopal dhoot remark on
SEZ ,he is after big industrial icon Rahul Bajaj
spoke on SEZ in AND fact is that maharshtra govt.
has 60 SEZ AND 116 so called MEGA PROJECTS for
which they land grabbing under section 11(4) all
parties in maharshtra are supporting this land
grabbing due wested interest of their leaders, all
leaders in BJP-SENA in opposition and CONG-NCP
leaders are keen in land grabbing programme in the
name of SEZ-MEGA PROJECT. now who will protect these
maharashtra innocent farmers who are also Keen to sale
their land for sez more over local M.L.A.,s are acting
as agents for these industrial houses some are on
their pay role too.here is PTI verstion assocham chief
over sez tamasha.
Dhoot opposes 'land grabbing' in the name of SEZs
PTI | January 16, 2007 | 13:36 IST
Newly-elected president of industry body Assocham and
Videocon chief Venugopal Dhoot on Tuesday said he was
against "land grabbing" in the name of SEZs and the
chamber would take farmers on board while pursuing
"Assocham is against land grabbing. We are for farmers
and when we undertake industrialisation we would like
to convince them that it is for their benefit," Dhoot
told PTI in his first interview before assuming
With controversies surrounding land acquisition for
SEZs and other industrial projects in many parts of
the country, Dhoot reiterated there was "no sense in
making SEZs by compromising the interest of farmers".
His comments come in the backdrop of protests against
Indonesia's Salim Group's Special Economic Zone at
Nandigram in West Bengal, Tata Motors' car project at
Singur and against SEZs in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and
Maharashtra among others.
On the issue of rehabilitation policy proposed by the
Prime Minister, he said the chamber would support it.
Asked if Assocham was ready to speak to politicians
who were agitating against acquisition of farm land
for industrial purpose, Dhoot said: "As a chamber we
do not believe in talking to individuals. If any issue
has to be taken up then we will speak to governments,
including chief ministers."
Dhoot, whose group has been active in global
takeovers, said government should provide support and
incentives to parent Indian companies that are
"If the Tatas succeed in acquiring Corus, they should
be given tax benefits here proportionate to their
investment abroad," he said, adding this would not
violate any WTO norms.�
Commenting on the contentious issue of job reservation
in the private sector, Dhoot said the chamber was
against any forcible quotas but was already working on
affirmative action and ready to take it up in a phased
"We have asked the government not to force any laws
upon us and see our action for a year," he said,
adding, the chamber would ask its members to highlight
their affirmative action on balance sheets.
He said forcible job reservations in private sector
could have an impact on 'brand India', which has been
picking up globally.
Dhoot also said the threshold for number of employees
in a company for job reservation should be raised to
400 from the current proposed 50, and gradually
brought it down to 300 in the first year and 200 in
He said Finance Minister P Chidambaram's recent
remarks to industry against inducing production-driven
inflation were friendly in nature and could not be
interpreted as "micro-managing" the economy.
Chidambaram's advice to industry had come in for
criticism from another apex chamber, which had said
that the finance ministry was micro-managing the
economy.The new Assocham chief said the current
liquidity crisis was only temporary and hoped the RBI
would relax the tight norms governing monetary policy
once prices start coming down.
URL for this article:
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Nagpur, January 18, 2007
1.The divisional commissioner of Amravati division and coordinator of government packages, points out the problem would not solve only by providing loans of waiving of loan interests."It is a fact that despite all efforts, farmers could not generate more income," he regretted.
2.Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti says, with cultivation of cotton turning into a highly losing proposition, more than 40 per cent of the farming population has expressed the desire to quit and migrate to urban centres for other options. He insisted an urgent intervention of the state government in the matter.
3.In December 2005 when the Vilasrao Deshmukh Government rolled out an Rs 1,075-crore relief module, more than 200 farmers had ended their lives. An alarmed Congress government in the state did almost everything that it could in the first half of 2006 to curb the suicide rate.
4.Over 260 cotton growers have ended their lives since the cotton sale season began in November last. The plight of farmers shows that the relief packages from the state and union governments had hardly any impact on them. Even the government officials also admit that though both the relief measures did make some difference, but suicides continued unabated.
Nagpur, January 18, 2007
Several government efforts to curb the farmers' suicides in Vidarbha did not seem to have its desired impact as five more farmers ended their lives in the last 48 hours, taking the toll to 44 this month alone.
The poverty-stricken cotton growers, who ended their lives were: Sudhir Wadaskar of Junera, Pisaram Zhade, Rekepara (both in Chandrapur district), Tulshiram Patil of Ramapur (Akola), Raju Walki of Tijason (Yavatmal) and Pandurang Dethe of Satgaon of Buldhana district.
The crisis in the region is deepening in the cotton sale season as cotton growers are not getting good deal from the state-sponsored procurement centres.
Apart from the remunerative price, farmers who are trying to sell their goods, say that this year very few government centres that buy cotton at the support price have been set up. Moreover, the centres are forcibly deducting 50 per cent of loan amounts from the sale money which is ruining the annual economy of small and marginal farmers.
It has left the poor farmers at the mercy of private traders, who are exploiting the situation and giving them a meagre rate, at least Rs 100 less per quintal than the support price.
Over 260 cotton growers have ended their lives since the cotton sale season began in November last. The plight of farmers shows that the relief packages from the state and union governments had hardly any impact on them. Even the government officials also admit that though both the relief measures did make some difference, but suicides continued unabated.
The PM relief package, announced by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in July last year, is largely meant for projects which will take three to five years to complete.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti says, with cultivation of cotton turning into a highly losing proposition, more than 40 per cent of the farming population has expressed the desire to quit and migrate to urban centres for other options. He insisted an urgent intervention of the state government in the matter.
In December 2005 when the Vilasrao Deshmukh Government rolled out an Rs 1,075-crore relief module, more than 200 farmers had ended their lives. An alarmed Congress government in the state did almost everything that it could in the first half of 2006 to curb the suicide rate.
The state rescheduled crop loans, waived off interest on outstanding debt, banned illegal money-lending, encouraged diversified crop pattern and ancillary activities and gave direct monetary assistance to widows of farmers. Towards the end of the year, the government even came up with an aid of Rs 1,500 per hectare for cotton growers.
However, these also could not yield desired dividends.
The divisional commissioner of Amravati division and coordinator of government packages, points out the problem would not solve only by providing loans of waiving of loan interests. "We should ensure that the farmers should get more income by using minimum agriculture inputs," he added.
According to him, the government had provided Rs 1,844-crore loans to farmers in six districts in the region this year in comparison to Rs 746-crore last year.
"It is a fact that despite all efforts, farmers could not generate more income," he regretted.
vidarbha jan andolan samiti
sub-5 vidarbha farmers suicides on 17th Jan. taking toll 42 in
Jan-2007,hundreds half nude farmers started protest before amravati civil commission office( see photo)
5 more innocent Cotton farmers suicide reported on 17th Jan who are mostly in debt
trap and in economic distress due to poor return from cotton crop this
year reported today taking toll to 42 in this months .cotton farmers
who committed suicides on 17th jan. are
2.Isaram zade ,tekepur(chandrapur)i
3.Pandurang dethe ,sathgoan(buldhana)
Vidarbha is in deep grip of agrarian crisis and efforts of Indian
govt. is failed to slow down these farm suicides ,kishor tiwari of
vidarbha jn andolan samiti informed in press mail .
Prime minister relief failed to reach the distress farmers till date after more than six months and hundreds of farmers to attract the the attention of Indian prime minister started protest in half nude condition (pl see photo) since 17th Jan night but till date civil administration has not even approached these protesting farmers turning it "tamasha"
Tiwari blamed the state government for the mess as due to massive corruption in administration in the distribution of relief aid and govt. apthy toward the farmers more farm suicides are being reported , Tiwari pointed out.
"The cotton marketing federation is adjusting 50 per cent of the loans
of farmers that they had borrowed from the banks through the sell of
raw cotton. Farmers are getting meager money through the sell and it
led them to depress more, "he added.
With five more suicides, the toll has touched more than 1400 since June 2005,
Tiwari further claimed.
VJAS has urged inter national community to save
these farmers who are victims of wrong policies of Indian govt. being
implemented under the pressure from American govt.,wto and world
bank.the farmers are committing suicide in remote part of vidarbha but
they are the mass killing of u.s. administration as high cost American
cotton seed,pesticide and very low cost highly subsidies American
cotton are responsible for theses suicides,kishor tiwari added.
VJAS has has been demanding higher cotton procurement price and relief from
huge debt on vidarbha farmers in order to save farming community but
govt. has till date not responded to these demands,kishor tiwari
Monday, January 15, 2007
Indo Asian News Service
1.The stark reality of farmers' suicides bares the failure of Bt cotton (genetically modified cottonseeds) in rain-fed conditions,' the VJAS leader remarked adding that the relief package from the state and the central government had benefited the cooperative banks alone, compensating them against the interest on farmers' loans that the government had waived
2.Total cotton procurement in Vidarbha so far, a major chunk of which was done by private traders, is 10 million quintals as against the government prediction of 35 million quintals
3.The government must compensate the cotton growers for their loss like it had done last year (by paying Rs.2.1 billion to 1.7 million farmers) because it had promoted the sale of Bt cottonseeds marketed by American company Monsanto'.
4.The plight of cotton growers can be gauged from the fact that farmers in Koljhari village in Yavatmal district took a New Year vow not to cultivate cotton any more.
Posted on : 2007-01-15 Author : Indo Asian News Service
Nagpur, Jan 15 Five cotton-growers in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra have committed suicide after crop failure, taking the number of such suicides to 33 since the New Year.Two of the five farmers who ended their lives Sunday hailed from Akola district while one each was from Buldana, Nagpur and Yavatmal, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) president Kishor Tiwari said here Monday.
In the 72 hours preceding this tragedy, eight other farmers had ended their lives, Tiwari told IANS.The previous year's toll in Vidarbha was well over 1,000 - almost at the rate of 100 suicides a month.The continuing suicide saga falsifies the government claim of a bumper cotton crop, Tiwari said. Total cotton procurement in Vidarbha so far, a major chunk of which was done by private traders, is 10 million quintals as against the government prediction of 35 million quintals, he pointed out.The state controlled cotton federation opened fewer procurement centres this year pushing the farmers to private traders who paid Rs.100 per quintal less to them than the federation, Tiwari said.'
The stark reality of farmers' suicides bares the failure of Bt cotton (genetically modified cottonseeds) in rain-fed conditions,' the VJAS leader remarked adding that the relief package from the state and the central government had benefited the cooperative banks alone, compensating them against the interest on farmers' loans that the government had waived.The plight of cotton growers can be gauged from the fact that farmers in Koljhari village in Yavatmal district took a New Year vow not to cultivate cotton any more, Tiwari said'The government must compensate the cotton growers for their loss like it had done last year (by paying Rs.2.1 billion to 1.7 million farmers) because it had promoted the sale of Bt cottonseeds marketed by American company Monsanto', he demanded.
(c) Indo-Asian News Service
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Hindustantimes.com- 5 more farmers ended their lives in Vidarbha takes the toll 25 this month alone till 13th jan.07.
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Nagpur, January 13, 2007
Five more farmers have given up their lives in Vidarbha region in last 48 hours. This takes the toll of farmers' suicides in the region to 25 this month alone.
Among five farmers, who ended their lives in last 48 hours, two were from Amravati district while one each from Wardha, Nagpur and Bhandara district. They were identified as: Sudhakar Lonare of Nipani, Gajanan Thakre, Pardi (both in Amravati district), Ramesh Madke, Dohangaon (Nagpur), Vasant Salunke of Bhuiwar (Bhandara) and Kiran Sathone of Paunar in the neighbouring Wardha district. Incidentally, Paunar is the place where veteran Gandhian, Acharya Vinoba Bhave launched Bhudan movement.
With this, the toll has touched to 1282 since June 2005. As many as 112 farmers have committed suicide in the region last month while the figure was 107 in November.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, alleged that the grants from Central and State governments proved beneficial only to district co-operative banks and societies, instead of the farmers, which is responsible for deaths. Moreover, the cotton growers are not getting remunerative price despite the fact that cultivation of cotton has become more expensive in the wake of phenomenal hike in agriculture inputs.
He alleged that government sponsored cotton marketing federation is not opening more procuring centers thus farmers were compelled to sell their produces to private traders, who are paying Rs 100 less per quintal of cotton as against support prices declared by the government.
"The cotton growers should get at least Rs 2, 500 per quintal, if the government really wants to bail them out from the crisis," he insisted.
The situation of cotton growers could be gauged from the fact that farmers at Koljhari village in Yavatmal district had vowed not to grow cotton any more in their New Year resolution.
Koljhari village was selected for the high profile visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in June-July last year in the region.
However, N Arumugham, the managing director of Maharashtra State Cotton Marketing Federation, denied the charges that procurement centres were not enough to buy raw cotton from the farmers.
The cotton marketing federation has set up over 240 procurement centres all over the state. He alleged that cotton growers were attracted to private traders even in lesser price because traders don't deduct money while federation has been deducting 50 per cent of the selling money for loan adjustment.
Email Pradip Kumar Maitra : firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, January 11, 2007
December2006. One farmer commits suicide every height hours in the Vidarbha, region in east of Maharashtra, cotton belt of India. Outward sign of a deep land crisis unequalled since the Green Revolution of the 70s, the disastrous situation went from 122 suicides in 2002, 622 in 2004, to more than 1300 in 2006… leaving behind it entire families in a deep despair and hundred of villages very worried. A crisis with pure political origins.
Monsanto, the american multinational company of biotech business receives in 2002 New Delhi’s authorisation to cultivate and put on the market its genetically modified seeds called the Bt Cotton. This kind has actually already been experimented by the firm for five years on the indian lands, and an important contamination in 2001 has obviously sped up the authorisation process. Follows an intense marketing and advertisement campaign. The farmers jumped on this grain of hope.
But it is expensive. To cultivate Bt Cotton is four times more expensive than the traditional seeds.
Then the expected yield is not always there. This variety needs a good irrigation - between 1960 until nowadays, the irrigation surface of Maharashtra state went from a small 10,5% to a pitiful 16% among which 57% would go to only 2% of the peasants, sugar tycoons, often very rich land owners and politically well connected.
The buying price of the quintal during the harvest as opposed to the electoral promises has gone down again compared to the year before... The State has put an end to its policy of public aid since two years, it doesn’t guarantee the buying at the fixed cost of the production. Now, the prices are based on the world rates. But American subsidized cotton that arrives in India is 40% less expensive than the local one. The custom barrier has gone down to 10%, the one on sugar is still 60%. It’s complete cynicism considering that the buyers are more and more the people selling the seeds…and the private money-lenders themselves! A merciless stranglehold. In the best of cases, the production will cost 20% more than the selling price.
The public land credit has considerably gone down into the countryside and the peasants have to turn to the money-lenders, using an exorbitant interest rate.
The great majority of the peasants who ended up excessively indebt or who committed suicide had gone to transgenic cotton, or pirate copies.
« India is taking the direction of wiping out smallholding farming (about 3/4 of the 60% of farmers in the country) in favour of corporate farming. That’s what the decks are being cleared for. The indian farmers are the last surviving body of small farmers in the world. They’re being finished. The agricultural policy is one of calculated neglect and gutting of agriculture. (…) What is Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar doing for farmers ? He wants us all to be out of business and hand over the land to US companies on contract. » P. Sainath Rural Affairs Editor at The Hindu (national daily).
The urban-rural divide is now there. In the indian way it means the creation of a land elite, like it is done in the schooling system. And just let the others manage themselves…
In India, where the song of the sirens of the economical power to be, of India’s century, of the worldwide influence, echoes in the cities, the image of world economical power with 60% of farmers seems indeed absurd.
According to a study published in March 2002 from NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation), 40% of the Indian peasants want to quit their job. The high authorities certainly couldn’t expect better.
Johann Rousselot / Oeil Public Agency
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Tuesday, January 09, 2007
vidarbha jan andolan samiti
Ref- 20 more vidarbha farmers suicides in new year.
Sub-National support to "kolzari farmers" to shift for sustainable crop to stop suicides.
Nagpur-10th jan 2007.
Seven more farmers committed suicides in last 24 hours
1.nivarti namdeo lothe of village dudhgoan in yavatmal
2. sarangdhar baban bhonge of village malakhed in buldhana
3.babanrao rajeshwar gowardipe of village viekund in yavatmal distt.
4.shakar ramkrishnna ispade of viallge parwa in yavatmal distt.
5.arjun ramrao bhabalgoan of viallge palsobade in akola distt.
6.satish shriram meshram of viallhe saoner in amaravati distt.
7.bhimrao kisanrao kubade of viallge loni in amaravati distt.
earlier 13 more suicides in vidarbha was confirmed by local administration ,and time of India reports
13 more farmers commit suicide
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Nagpur: Not much has changed for the farmers of Vidarbha. In the first week of the new year, 13 of them have committed suicide. As many 1,050 farmers ended their lives last year, the highest in any year so far in the region that is reeling under agrarian crisis of unprecedented proportion, according to farm activists.
The 13 farmers who embraced death till Sunday were identified as Devidas Dahat (village Anadoha , Wardha), Ramrao Khuje (Pipardara, Nagpur), Vishnu Satpute (Karanja, Wardha), Omprakash Bhoge (Dongarpavli, Amravati), Shankar Sawant ( S aw a r g a o n - K a n h o b a , Washim), Namdeo Bhirad (Vivra Akola), Ashok Bhoyar (Tuwardari, Washim), Sopan Darmothe (Kadmapur, Buldana), Sukhdev Chandranarayan (Devthana, Washim), Uddhav Gawali (Amani, Washim), Rajendra Jadhav (Sukathi, Yavatmal), Aasaram Savarkar (Muthori, Bhandara) and Maroti Kokulwar (Ra jolichak, Chandrapur).
According to Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari, thousands of cotton growers in the worst-affected six districts of Yavatmal, Wardha, Akola, Amravati, Washim and Buldana have been unable to offload their produce as 86 procurement centres of the cotton cooperative marketing federation which buys from them under the state's cotton purchase scheme, have been shut down. Tiwari claimed at least 22 centres including those in Wani, Ghatanji, Parwah have been closed by the federation officials claiming that they had exhausted storing space.
A federation official admitted that some centres were closed and said they would reopen on January 11.
"After the Wani police firing on December 5, the government was proactive in collecting cotton at the maximum support price of Rs 1990 per quintal. That continued for only few days. Now the farmers are left on their own. Taking advantage of sudden stoppage of procurement by federation centres, private traders have pegged down the rates and are paying less than Rs 1800 to farmers,'' said Tiwari. He was skeptical of the announcement of procurement centres' reopening before the Makar Sankranti holidays.
New year resolution to give up killer cotton farming by the whole vilagers of 'KOLZARI' has been decision of Nnational and International attention.
Noted environmentalist and crusader of organic farming in india Dr.vandana shiva who visited kolzari on 8th jan and announced that his
ngo will adopt 50 families for giving training and logistic support for sustainale farming .she will aragne the visit and training of women's of kolzari so that they kolzari can be converted in to role model village in west vidarbha .noted gadhian DR.L.C.JAIN has also helping 10 families for organic farming along with the 25 families will be given help for food grain farming informed by Palagummi Sainath Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu. who has established himself as among the pre-eminent chroniclers of rural life in our times. Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu.KOLZARI a village was selected for Indian prime minister visit after p.sainath wrote series of articles on pathetic condition of vidarbha cotton farmers.
vjas has called for all national and international community to come forward to 3 million cotton farmers of vidarbha.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
|Saturday, January 6, 2007|
| Monsanto, Cereal Killer GM and Agrarian Suicides in India |
ZNet | India
Monsanto, Cereal Killer GM and Agrarian Suicides in India
by Alejandro Nadal; La Jornada; January 06, 2007
The Green Revolution is dead. Its hybrids and high-yield varieties allowed for significant increases in the production of crops like wheat. But its negative side effects have intensified rather than gone away.
The technological package of the Green Revolution caused severe salination of the soil, indiscriminate exploitation and choking of aquifers and intense pollution with all types of pesticides. More seriously, it sowed an economic, social and environmental crisis in the life of poor farmers that takes more lives every year. One example is that of Anil Khondwa Shinde, a small farmer of Vidarbha district in Maharashtra state (in mid-western India). He killed himself two months ago consuming a powerful insecticide. He was 31 years old and died within minutes. The difference between the production costs and the retail price did not allow him to pay back to the providers the credit extended to him for the inputs.
An isolated incident? Not at all. The Indian Ministry of Agriculture admits to the following figures: there were 100,000 suicides by farmers between 1993 and 2003. And between 2003 and October 2006, there have been some 16,000 suicides by farmers each year. In total, between 1993 and 2006, there were around 150,000 suicide by farmers, 30 a day for 13 years!
The Maharashtra government itself accepts the figure of 1,920 farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha between January 2001 and August 2006. Farmers’ organisations of the district state that there were 782 suicides by agricultural producers. Data for the past three months indicate that on average there was a suicide every eight hours.
What conditions give rise to a suicide rate of about 30 farmers a day? It is said that the reason for this is indebtedness, but the ultimate reason is the imposition of a completely unsuitable agricultural technology, as much from the economic as from the environmental viewpoint.
Anil Shinde had decided to plant Bt cotton, a transgenic variety produced by Monsanto that supposedly reduces the need for insecticides and increases the return for the grower. Shinde is not an exception. Hundreds of farmers who had planted transgenic cotton in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have sought suicide as way out of a desperate situation that worsens year after year.
An important element of the tale is that Monsanto’s Bt cotton variety offers some protection against cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa zea) but not against other pests (Spodoptera, for example) which affect this commercial crop in India. Producers like Shinde, who turned to Monsanto cotton looking to lower pesticide costs, were taken by surprise though in any case, they have had to keep using the inputs. Even worse, the debt trap got on top of them much quicker as the Monsanto cotton seeds are more expensive.
In many districts, the local moneylenders of the past have been substituted by the network of dealers and salesmen of large companies and their methods of debt recovery have been frequently criticised. When the incidence of suicides intensified, the government launched a “help” programme with an assured payment of about $2,000 to the surviving families but that money goes straight to the pockets of the creditors and, in fact, has become a perverse incentive that more farmers take their lives.
But the politicians are the same on all sides. The Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, delights in living in the past, always speaking about the triumph of the Green Revolution. The message of his speeches is always the same: India needs genetically modified crops to help the poor farmers escape poverty and to resolve the “problem of hunger”. Thanks to the neo-liberal opening-up promoted by the government, the area dedicated to transgenic cotton in Vidarbha increased from 0.4% to 15% in just three years. In that timeframe, the rate of agrarian suicides also increased, which makes Monsanto the worst serial killer in history. Or, if we want to play with words, just as that company plays with the life of millions of farmers, we could describe Monsanto as the worst cereal killer of the planet.
Thousands of farmers, whose way of life has been destroyed as they have fallen into the clutches of the creditors, have turned to suicide as the only escape. In the process, they have exposed the failure of an agricultural project based on a technological “solution” with multiple negative effects and dysfunctional social relations. Why not heal the damages of the Green Revolution rather than rush to embrace the GM technology?
The seeds of destruction want to tell us something. But this winter, New Delhi seems more concerned with environmental pollution than the tragedy that unfolds daily in the countryside. Translated by Supriyo Chatterjee
Alejandro Nadal is professor at the Center for Economic Studies and coordinator of the Science and Technology program of El Colegio de Mexico
(Nadal’s article, ‘Monsanto y los suicidios agrarios en India’, appeared in La Jornada, Mexico, on 26 December 2006.)
Supriyo Chatterjee: firstname.lastname@example.org
Indian of the Year: The crusaders
New Delhi: They have contributed to India in ways beyond measure and they have proven that the system, if pushed hard, can sometimes still be made to work.
CNN-IBN’s special category for a very special group of people includes unknown Indians who have had an impact in our lives and crusaders who took up unpopular causes.
Here is the channel’s list of nominees for Indian of the Year for public service:
Arvind Kejriwal: He made the Government answerable and brought power back into the hands of the people . Winner of the Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, Arvind Kejriwal is the man who made Right To Information a true campaign.
Kishore Tiwari: More than a thousand farmers took their lives in Vidarbha in 2006. And this man put the issue on the national map. Kishore Tiwari and his Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti ensured that the Prime Minister stepped in to help Vidarbha's farmers. However, his crusade is far from over.
Jean Dreze: He was born in Belgium but his heart beats for India. Jean Dreze was the man behind the Rural Employment Guarantee Act. And his work on the right to food campaign led to the mid-day meal scheme.
Dr Abhay and Rani Bang: They developed rural health care programs that influenced global health policy. Dr Abhay and Rani Bang’s simple and innovative approach to health care has cut infant mortality rates in Gadchiroli in Maharashtra by over 75 per cent.
Shanmughan Maujunath: His death awoke the country to the seriousness of petrol adulteration. Shanmughan Manjunath chose to stand up against corruption at the cost of his life. He has left IIM to work for Indian Oil.
Chaman Lal Matoo, Sabrina Lall and Neelam Katara: They made us believe in the power of civil society. Chaman Lal Mattoo, Sabrina Lall and Neelam Katara overcame their personal tragedies to unite urban India like never before.
They have all fought the system, the law and the pressure from powerful opponents and they have all given us hope. They are people who made a difference to India this year and made it a different India all together. Who do you think fits the bill for this very special award? SMS IOTY to 2622.
Friday, January 05, 2007
Pradip Kumar Maitra
Nagpur, January 5, 2007
The plight of Vidarbha farmers seems never-ending with seven farmers committing suicides so far in the new year. Two cotton growers have killed themselves in the last 24 hours alone in the region.
According to reports, three farmers were from Washim, while one each were from Buldhana, Wardha, Yavatmal and Bhandara district.
With this, the toll has touched 1264 since June, 2005. As many as 112 farmers have committed suicide in the region last month while the figure was 107 in November.
The seven farmers who recently took their own lives were Ashok Bhoyar of Kawarjhari, Sukhdeo Chakranarayan, Deothana, Uddhav Gawli, Amani (all in Washim district), Asaram Sawarkar of Mundori (Bhandara), Rajendra Jadhav, Sukhli (Yavatmal), Sopan Darmose, Kadmapar (Buldhana) and Madhukar Baital of Ladki village of Wardha district.
Former Shetkari Sanghatana leader Vijay Jawandhia pointed out that the farmers, and particularly cotton growers, were in huge distress in view of the present agricultural scenario in the region.
One and a half months into the cotton sale season they find that the government support price is too low. "How can they survive when the costs of agriculture inputs are drastically increasing and they are not getting remunerative price," he asked, and said that more farmers are being pushed to the edge in the region.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti alleged that the government-sponsored cotton marketing federation had hardly purchased 13 lakh quintals of raw cotton from its 100-odd procurement centres, while the private traders have purchased 68 lakh quintals till December 31.
On the other hand, farmers in the region have produced over 220 lakh quintals raw cotton this year. The private traders are offering at least Rs 100 less for every quintal than the support price announced by the government, he added.
Tiwari reiterated that the cotton growers be given at least Rs 500 per quintal as bonus so that they could cope up with the crisis. Moreover, total waving off of the farmers' debts could help in curbing the suicides.
The situation of cotton growers could be gauged from the fact that farmers at Koljhari village in Yavatmal district had recently vowed not to grow cotton any more. Koljhari village was selected for the high profile visit of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in June-July last year in the region.
N Arumugham, the managing director of Maharashtra State Cotton Marketing Federation, however, denied Tiwari's charges and claimed that it had already procured over 25 lakh raw cotton from farmers so far.
"We have set up 240 procurement centres all over the state and instructed officials to buy whatever raw cotton brings a farmer to sell at the centre," he informed.
On attracting private traders by the cotton growers, Arumugham said they often preferred private traders to sell their produces as federation deducts 50 per cent of the selling money for loan adjustment.
Noted agro-economist Professor Arvind Bondre felt that farmers have continued to commit suicide because the financial aid from the state and the central government did not benefit them, but it benefited district cooperative banks and societies.
For the past several years, the cotton crop has proved disastrous for the region's farmers, pushing them into a debt trap and forcing over a thousand among them to take their own lives.
This was largely because cotton had become a high-cost, high-risk crop plagued with frequent failures. The existence of the State Cotton Federation, which till recently had monopoly over the marketing of the entire produce, had made matters worse because it was perpetually in the red.
As such, it failed to ensure remunerative prices and make timely payments. This, therefore, was an ideal situation for traders and input suppliers to turn money lenders and exploit the poor farmers.
e-mail Pradip Kumar Maitra: email@example.com