sharad pawar, farmers' suicides and other obscene jokes

in 2004, the upa government rode into power on dead farmers' shoulders. on the one hand, you'd sainath and other sensitive journalists who were bringing in heart-rending stories from the countryside, and on the other hand, you'd sensitive politicians like sonia gandhi actually touring villages in andhra pradesh and distributing relief to the families of the farmers who had died. and bringing up the middle and the considerable rear of the people's movement orchestrating this sudden national upsurge of indignation, wailing and matam were all kinds of political and social workers, activists, writers, journalists (and bloggers too), leaders from organizations reflecting all shades of political opinion slightly left of the vishwa hindu parishad's. you'd think they really meant it, that their indignation was genuine.
"Sharad Pawar has done nothing for farmers in Maharashtra farmers suicides still continue. He is only doing a lot for cricket. He should not forget that he is not a sports minister he is the agriculture minister of this country, " Singh said.
when amar singh, who according to most samajvadis, is an obscene joke on samajvad in the country, feels bold enough to start questioning the credentials of the u.p.a government- what's wrong with the genuine samajvadis who worked so hard to bring the u.pa., into power? why don't they notice that the emperor is running stark naked around the cricket stadia of the world?

until 2004, most of the suicides had happened in andhra pradesh and a few places in punjab, karnataka, kerala and maharashtra. since 2004, they have spread to most of the country- the numbers have actually increased in andhra pradesh (as many suicides in the last three years as in the preceding nine years), karnataka, kerala, punjab..and the contagion is fast claiming new territories: gujarat, rajasthan, chhattisgarh, bundelkhand in uttar pradesh, madhya pradesh.. and most starvation deaths in west bengal, orissa and bihar go unreported.

what has the government of the indignant been doing? it has been saving harbhajan singh from being dubbed a racist, among other things..like..um... i wrote the last line five minutes ago (and i'd scratched a considerable portion of my scalp free of dandruff during that period). what has sharad pawar been doing? what has manmohan singh been doing? what has sainath been doing? what has prakash karat been doing? what has rajasekhar reddy been doing? what has sonia gandhi been doing? what has aruna roy been doing? what has jayati ghosh been doing? what has...

agricultural credit has been increased to 2,00,000 crores a year (from around 100,000 crores), according to the government. ask the banks- most of the increase is rolling over of old credit. nrega has been introduced in over 300 hundred of the poorest districts in the country- the government's own figures say less than 3% of those who had been issued job cards until now have received employment for the promised hundred days. and people have been given the right to information- an educated applicant, backed by a powerful media baron, had to wait nearly three months to get the copy of a government order from the chief minister's office in hyderabad. and in a country where more than 60% of students in primary school drop out by the time they reach high school (which means more than 80% don't finish high school)- what kind of an obscene joke on indian democracy is this rti?

now, let me try and answer a question i had asker earlier in this post: what's wrong with the genuine samajvadis who worked so hard to bring the u.p.a., into power? why don't they notice that the emperor is running stark naked around the cricket stadia of the world?

the answer is very simple: they thrive on power too. no, don't point to the austere lifestyles of some of these folks- i'd not like to be told again about aruna roy's abstinence or sainath's penances..or sonia gandhi's sacrifices or the struggles of lakhs of ordinary activists etc. i'm talking about power that enables you to tell the ignorant masses: love me, love my rabid dog.


gaddeswarup said...

Caste questions and farmers' problems seem to be two different problems. The first may be solved in a few hundred years but it seems to me that the second may not be solvable. In any case, may be it is simpler to discuss the problems seperately.

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

the problem with the caste problem is the values you seem to attach to both the farmers'problem and the caste problem. what gives you hope that the caste problem would be solved in a hundred years and farmers problems are insolvable?

gaddeswarup said...

It is one of those flashes; may be there is nothing to it. In any case, it is somewhat naive thinking at an informal blog discussion level. I come from a farming family and have been in touch with farming families in coastal Andhra since forties. Those days, a farmer with about 10 acres was considered well off and could often send one or more children to university with some difficulty. On a recent trip, I found that the only relatives who are still struggling are those who remained in farming. Those who became bus drivers to doctors all seem to be comfortable now. Generally investments have increased, results uncertain and farmers do not have control over the prices. I found some are turning rice growing fields to eucalyptus farms since the returns are more cetain. Farmers have votes but this does not seem to translate in to power in terms of determining prices of food grains. They tend to be independent and do not seem to have effective unions at the local level. Those with ready money like middle men and bureaucrats seem to have more power. Even the farmers who take to politics seem to join other groups once they attian power. Perhaps many of these other groups are interested in lower food prices and are not interested in sharing power with a large group of independent people. I have not read much except in an informal way, but I get the impression that in most countries small farmers (whatever their percentage may be) do not have power. The reason seems to be that, if necessary, a small percentage of the population can produce the needed grains. Some felt that as long as GDP grows well, India can import grains when needed. What happens to the farmers meanwhile and how they shift to other professions and whether there are plans for such eventualities is not clear to me. Some farmers seem to be looking (in one case a farmer with 10 acres)for part time work in near or far places. This is the sort of vague background from which I felt that small farmers as we know do not have much future.

About caste, again my views are vague guesses. After livelihood (sometimes interlinked with livelihood), I think what people (mostly men) strive for is status and partner. The caste system (and the Indian system) provide these to most people by birth and tradition. Lot of effort goes in to maintaing these easily obtianed benefits to build solidarity of groups and descrimination of other groups. However since these groups are not (broadly) physically distinguishable from other groups in terms of features or complexion (which seems to be a big thing in India)etc, there is hope that some sort of economic progress may erase caste in a few hundred years. There seem to be small increases in the proprtion of underprivileged groups in Govt. employment. I am not sure about the perecntages in private enterprizes.
I agree that these are very naive thoughts but would like to keep trying to understand these matters.

Add to Technorati Favorites