Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is India in a State of Permanent Famine

It tragic that when someone like Anna Hazare take up issues it is termed as a sacrifice and sign of greatness. I feel ashamed that we continuously live with everything wrong and stinking around us but instead of revolting against it we accept it as way of life. To make life better around us is not a sacrifice. I had once met Aruna Roy , ex IAS who left her job and fought in a village of Rajasthanfor RTI. someone told her that she had made a great sacrifice. She felt offended and said that she did what she thought was better then her IAS job and was happy doing it. She did not do it because she wanted accolades but because she believed in it and felt happy doing it.
The issue is therefore to enjoy what you are doing. Quite often all of us get in cosy drawing rooms and over a drink or coffee curse everyone from politicians to bureaucrats and then go to sleep believing that our job is done. I think we are to be blames for the mess we are in. We all preach but do not practice. Honesty is the best policy for others but not for us. This is hypocracy. we need to get out of our Kumbhkaran type slumber and be prepared to change a few lives around us. It is like once I encountered Mr A M Naik , CMD of L&T. he was giving a lecture as to why all engineers and doctors should serve India rather go abroad. Over a drink I asked him about his children and he very proudly said that they are well settled in US. that is where the paradox lies. We all have double standards in life and that has to change.
talking of corruption, having been in large Business houses, I can tell you for sure that they are the fountains of corruption all over the world but quite often go unchecked. they are able to buy law,justice and above all silence. I wish we need to start a movement to include the activities of the corporate houses also under the Jan Lokpal bill. until they are reigned in corruption cannot be fought in this country.
Have been thinking for a while and hence this instantaneous outburst.

P.Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor for the Hindu ( has been researching this very phenomenon for the past decade. He is the pioneer of uncovering the high rate of farmers suicides in India. Here's an article he wrote:
He taught at Trinity in the late 90s, and gave a lecture a couple of weeks ago here in college. I went for it, the statistics were eye-opening. At the talk, when he revealed shocking facts of India's rural sector (in terms of death rate, daily wages, sanitation facilities etc.) someone remarked, "I've never heard someone make the Sub-Saharan African countries look good!"
There's a documentary called Nero's Guests made by Deepa Bhaita in which Sainath is the main character. Watch it when you have time. (
Ananya Sahay

Charity begins at home.

Before doing anything else stop watching cricket shows – Live or on TV. Not because you do not enjoy the game or do not have respect for the game or the players but because the show is not the game – it is a poor, rigged, bastardized apologetic version of the game.

Sushil Prasad

Dear Friend,
You are not naive.Never underestimate the power of the sleeping giant within all of us.You have, infact, hit the nail on the head.
There has to be a social movement and some hard decisions(not sacrifice, as we mistakenly think.After all what is so glamorous about our,each one of us, present lives) have to be taken.There has to a movement to consume only simple things,locally produced, for the economic regeneration of our villages. People like us can contribute by strengthening the rural economy in small ways by opening cottage industries,and strengthening the village schools and health centres.
The resources of the govt have to be augmented by massive intervention of the civil society at large.Each one of us has to introspect how best we can contribute.
And,no, I am not against either cricket or films. Infact,I do enjoy both, in small doses.However, it does seem to me that the powers that be want us to remain drugged by these so that we don't discuss or be aware of more important issues. But we need to understand that we are safe only if the populace at large lives a life of dignity. In this digital,and heavily connected world, we can no longer live the life as Nero's inheritors. Not any more.
The times,indeed, are a changing.

Best regards,

On 25 April 2011 16:07, avinash sahay wrote:

This article in the Hindu calls for some introspection among us,the upwardly mobile Indians.Is cricket, and films, our new opiate. Are we too drugged by these to care what is happening in our country.
Do we see the structural violence inbuilt in the system against a majority of our countrymen.As per the criteria laid out by WHO,any group where 60% of the people have a BMI of less than 18.5 can be said to be in a state of famine.Here, in our country, as per the statistics released by the Planning Commission,77% of the people earn about Rs20 per day.I have seen no statistics of BMI, but where 17,000 farmers have been committing suicides every year for the past 15 years,I am not sanguine that we are not a country which is in a permanent state of famine.
I also have little doubt in my mind that unless we, the intelligentsia, wake up from our stupor of inanities like cricket, we will be shirking our responsibilities to ourselves.As the Supreme Court itself noted recently, there is not two but one India.

Best regards,

Our farmers are dying, to hell with the World Cup


On average, 47 farmers have been committing suicide every single day in the past 16 years in our shining India

Yes, you read it right; to hell with the World Cup; to hell with the celebrations; to hell with all the free land and money being showered by different governments on the players. How can I jump, scream, have gallons of beer and cheer for the nation when a few kilometres away the farmers and feeders of my country are taking their own lives in hordes?
Do you know that, on average, 47 farmers have been committing suicide every single day in the past 16 years in our shining India — the next economic power, progressive with nine per cent growth?
Last month, on March 5, Friday evening, when Bangalore's watering holes were getting filled up, when all the DJs were blaring out deafening music, when we were busy discussing India's chances at the World Cup, sitting in CCDs and Baristas — just 100 km away from Bangalore, Swamy Gowda and Vasanthamma, a young farmer couple, hanged themselves, leaving their three very young children to fend for themselves or, most likely, die of malnutrition.
Why did they do it? Were they fighting? No. Were they drunkards? No. Did they have incurable diseases? No! Then WHY? Because they were unable to repay a loan of Rs 80,000 (a working IT couple's one month salary? 2-3 months EMI?) for years, which had gradually increased to Rs. 1.2 lakh. Because they knew that now they would never be able to pay it back. Because they were hurt. Hurt by our government which announced a huge reduction in import duty for silk in this year's budget (from 30 per cent to 5 per cent).They were struggling silk farmers and instead of help from the government, they get this! Decrease in import duty means the markets will now be flooded with cheap Chinese silk (as everything else!) and our own farmers will be left in the lurch.
On average, 17,000 farmers have been committing suicide every year, for the past 15 years on the trot. Can you believe it? Most of us wouldn't know this fact. Why? Because, our great Indian media, the world's biggest media, are not interested in reporting this! Why? Because they are more interested in covering fashion week extravaganzas. They are more interested in ‘why team India was not practising when Pakistanis were sweating it out in stadium on the eve of the match?' They are more interested in Poonam Pandey.
The media are supposed to be the third eye of democracy and also called the fourth estate, but now they have become real estate. Pure business.
So any attention from the media is out of the question. Who is left then? The government? But we all know how it works. The other day, I was passing by Vidhan Soudha in Bangalore and happened to read the slogan written at the entrance, “Government work is god's work”. Now I know why our government has left all its work to god!
Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa announced plots for all the players. But land? In Bangalore? You must be kidding, Mr. C.M.. So he retracts and now wants to give money. But where will it come from? Taxes, yours and mine. Don't the poor farmers need the land or money more than those players who are already earning in crores?
A government-owned bank will give you loan at six per cent interest rate if you are buying a Mercedes but if a poor farmer wants to buy a tractor, do you know how much it is charging him? Fifteen per cent! Look at the depths of inequality. Water is Rs. 15 a litre and a SIM card is for free! For how long can we bite the hand that is feeding us? The recent onion price fiasco was just a trailer. Picture abhi baaki hai doston!
In 2008, Lakme India fashion show venue was in a Mumbai five-star hotel and was covered by 500 journalists and the theme was ‘Cotton'. A few hours drive from there, cotton farmers were committing suicide, 4 or 5, everyday! How many TV journalists covered this? Zero!
Sixty-seventy per cent of India's population is living on less than Rs. 20 a day. A bottle of Diet coke for us? The electricity used in a day-night match could help a farmer irrigate his fields for more than a few weeks! Do you know that loadshedding is also class dependent? Two hours in metros, 4 in towns and 8 in villages. Now, who needs electricity more? A farmer to look after his crop day and night, irrigate, pump water and use machines or a few bored, young professionals with disposable incomes, to log on to Facebook and watch IPL?
How can we splurge thousands on our birthday parties and zoom past in our AC vehicles and sit in cushy chairs in our AC offices and plan a weekend trip to Coorg when on the way, in those small villages, just a few minutes' walk from the roads, someone might be consuming pesticide or hanging himself from a tree for just Rs.10, 000? How can we?
There was much panic when there was swine flu. Every single death in the country was reported second by second, minute by minute. Why? Because it directly affected our salaried, ambitious, tech-savvy, middle-class. So there were masks, special relief centres, enquiry centres set up by government to please this section. On the other hand, 47 people are dying, every single day for the past 15 years. Anybody cared to do anything?
It has been observed that within months of a farmer taking his life, his wife follows, either by poisoning the kids first or leaving them on their own. In Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, a distressed woman farmer went to the government seed shop, bought a bottle of pesticide, on credit, went home and drank it. She was under debt for most of her life and now — even her death was on credit!
Centuries ago, there was a Roman emperor, called Nero. He was a strong ruler and also very fond of parties, art, poetry, drinking and a life full of pleasures. Once he decided to organise a grand party and invited all poets, writers, dancers, painters, artists, intellectuals and thinkers of society. Everybody was having a great time eating, drinking, laughing, and socialising. The party was at its peak when it started getting dark. Nero wanted the party to go on. So he ordered and got all the arrested criminals, who were in his jails, around the garden and put them on fire! Burnt them alive, so that there was enough light for the guests to keep on enjoying! The guests had a gala time though they knew the cost of their enjoyment. Now, what kind of conscience those guests had?
Nero's guests
What is happening in our country is not different from Nero's party. We, the middle-class-young-well-earning-mall-hopping-IPL-watching and celebrating-junta are Nero's guests enjoying at the cost of our farmers. Every budget favours the already rich. More exemptions are being given to them at the cost of grabbing the land of our farmers in the name of SEZs, decrease in import duties in the name of neo-liberal policies, increase in the loan interest rates if the product is not worth lakhs and crores. Yes, that's what we are, Nero's guests!
I'm not against celebrations. I'm not against cricket. I'm not against World Cup. I would be the first person to scream, celebrate and feel proud of any of India's achievements but, only if all fellow countrymen, farmers, villagers also stand with me and cheer; only if they do not take their own lives ruthlessly, only if there is no difference between interest rates for a Mercedes and a tractor. That would be the day I also zoom past on a bike, post-Indian win, with an Indian Flag in hand and screaming Bharat Mata Ki Jai. But no, not today. Not at the cost of my feeders. Until then, this is what I say. To hell with your malls. To hell with your IPL. To hell with your World Cup. And to hell with your celebrations.
(The writer's email is: naren.singh.shekhawat@

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