Caring for Farmer, Really!

 Shri Gajendra Singh, a farmer from Rajasthan, killed himself in full public view in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. Gajendra had come to attend a rally highlighting plight of farmers in India. There are many stories floating around on Gajendra Singh’s antecedents and motives, his death has certainly brought focus back on plight of farmers in India. 

Certainly unseasonal hail storm and rain had damaged crops in many parts of North India, however, opposition parties and critics of government had squarely blamed introduction of “Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Compensation” in the parliament towards creation of an atmosphere of doom and gloom in the country. 

According to the bill, government can acquire farmers land, by paying four times the market price for creation of rural infrastructure and industrial corridor. This, according to government, may help create industrialisation, create jobs and remove poverty. 

Critics of the bill say, government is simply trying to take away farmers land and handing it over to favourite industrialists. Government is doing away with social impact assessment. Government has reduced need for obtaining consent of 80%  landowner to 50%, before a land is acquired. 

According to critics of the bill, government is throwing money but not addressing issue of emotional attachment to land and agrarian lifestyle. 

Since my childhood days, I have read slogans like “Jai Jawan, Jai Kissan”. Loosely translated, it means, long live our soldiers and long live our farmers. Despite such patronising slogan, why our farmers are in a state of desperation? Are we in the middle of an agrarian crisis? It is very difficult to wade through the maze of  true, partially true and misleading arguments made in favour and against different issues affect farmers. So I decided to do some reading of my own, and came up with the following observations:



Critics have suggested farmers are committing suicide now because of an agrarian crisis. Data published by Indian express indicate that in the year 2012, 1046 farmers committed suicide. In the year 2013, the number of farmers that committed suicide was 879. In 2014, the number of farmer death was 1109. (Indian Express, April 25, 2015). There is no doubt that every life is precious and no farmer should be allowed to die. But in a farming community that includes 600 million farmers, are the numbers 1046, 879 and 1109 are very statistically significantly different from each other? 

According to government of India data, in the year 2005 – 2006 (ref. 1 and 2), India had close to 600 million farmers. Of these, nearly 80% farmers belonged to the category of small and marginal farmers. That constitutes a number of 480 million people. 

Small farmers held between 1 – 2 hectares (average 1.42 hectares; 1 hectare = 2.5 acres) of land and marginal farmers held less than 1 hectare (average 0.4 hectares)  of land. By contrast semi-medium farmers ( 2 – 4 hectares; average 2.72 hectares), medium farmers (4 – 10 hectares; average 5.8 hectares) and large farmers (10 hectares and more; average 17.1 hectares) held 10.9%, 4.5% and 0.8% of land, respectively.

Small and marginal farmers were mostly subsistent farmers, meaning they usually eat what they grow. If they sell anything they do so as distress sale. Majority of subsistent  farmers (55%) do not have access to irrigation (completely or partially) and depend on monsoon for agriculture. 

In addition because of small land size of land holding, after one or more generation agriculture becomes unprofitable because land holding becomes very small. Members of family have to go out in search of job to either nearest town or look for job with big farmers. Land acquisition act suggest that families whose land will be acquired, a member of family will get a job in the government project.

Small farmers cannot get loan, many do not have access to irrigation, good quality seed and fertiliser. Many small and medium farmers do not sell their produce. If they sell, they do it as distress sale.

There is no crop insurance for small and marginal farmers, even for medium farmers. As a result a farmer who cultivates his land by taking loan, has no way of repaying it back once his crop is destroyed by natural calamity. Studies (ref. 3) suggest that mostly farmers with a land holding of 2 – 4 hectares, in other words a semi medium to medium farmer, that commits suicide the most. According to scientists, the self esteem and social standing of a farmer is bad affected as a result of crop loss and resultant inability to repay loan.


The following obvious questions came to my mind:

After so many years of independence, why our farmers are in such a terrible state without any access to modern instruments of agriculture? Why government after government have simply provided a compensation to farmers after crop loss, but not created system to protect farmers without damaging his dignity?

Those who are trying to oppose land acquisition bill, whose cause are they fighting for? – small and marginal farmers or medium and large farmers. For majority of farmers, farming is not profitable.

What is wrong if government acquires land, pays compensation and creates facilities that can be used by people in a village – road, school, hospital, toilets, housing etc?

If we are enamoured by our village life, why our villages are unlivable, why most of the villages do not have electricity, running water, school, medical facility among other things. Why people that feed the nation cannot repair leak in their own home?

References


1. Challenges for marginal and small holders in India agriculture available at : http://www.skoch.org/14/bbbarik.pdf

2. NABARD rural pulse, available at : http://www.nbard.org/publicatuion/rural_pulse_final142014.pdf

3. A probe into socio-economic and psychological profile of farmers’ suicide in Karnataka. Karnataka J. Agric. Sci.,24 (2) : (157-160) 2011

Links

http://occassionalmusings.blogspot.com/2015/03/land-acquisition-bill-dare-to-dream.html


http://occassionalmusings.blogspot.com/2015/02/land-acquistion-emotive-issue.html


Tags: AcreCalamity, Credit Facility, Farmer, Gajendra Singh, Hectare, Insurance, Irrigation, Kissan, Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Compensation, Large Farmer, Marginal Farmer, Medium Farmer, Small Farmer,  Suicide

One Rally, One Death, A Few Questions

Gajendra Singh, a farmer from Dausa district of Rajasthan came to Delhi to attend a rally organised by AAP Party to highlight plight of farmers in the country due to land acquisition bill being introduced by BJP lead NDA government at the centre. When the chief minister of Delhi and AAP supremo Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, was promising farmers that he would not allow forcible takeover of farm land in Delhi and he will give sufficient compensation to distressed farmers, Gajendra Singh climbed up a tree in front of encouraging crowd, put a noose around his neck and hung himself. Mr. Kejrwal instead of terminating his rally and aiding the farmer in his last moment, continued with his speech blaming the Narendra Modi lead BJP government at the centre for their anti-farmer policies. Funny, considering Delhi has so little farm land and so few farmers. 

The tragic incidence gave opportunity to political parties to grind their axe. 

Congress party claimed it was because prime minister Modi’s land acquisition bill, there is an atmosphere of gloom among farmers in the country. This gloom and doom lead to death of Gajendra Singh. Such fickle is public memory, that congress spokes people forgot to mention how many farmers had lost their lives during congress rules in recent and distant past. Congress party wanted an FIR be filed against Narendra Modi. Funny by that logic, Assam Chief Minister should be in jail, because he neglected intelligence input on impending terrorist strike by Bodo militants that resulted in loss of many lives.

AAP claimed it was a conspiracy to defame AAP. Why would someone be persuaded by a third party to give up his life so that AAP’s rally can be disturbed? Is that not tantamount to abetment to suicide or homicide? 

  • AAP also claimed because Delhi Police was not in their control, police did not listen to their request to pull down Gajendra Singh.

BJP went into its sanctimonius way of not politicizing the issue. But at every step they politicized the issue by blaming Arvind Kejriwal for not stopping his Modi bashing.

When someone kills himself there must be something that is terribly gone wrong. This wrong must be investigated and corrected. The following are my take on the incidence:

1. Commonly, depressed people kill themselves in a secluded place. However, when someone wants to draw attention to an issue, which is backed by political party, they try to commit suicide in full public view. Many young men set themselves on fire during anti Mandal commission stir in late eighties. Could Gajendra Singh suicide be related to AAP rally on plight of farmer?

2. It is important to understand who brought Gajendra Singh to AAP rally in Delhi and what did they promise to give him? According to news paper report (Hindustan Times, 23rd April, 2015), Gajendra Singh wanted to meet Mr. Kejriwal.

3. No one in the rally stopped Gajendra Singh from doing what he was doing in public view. Mr. Kejriwal continued with his speech for full one hour after Gajendra’s demise. All these may suggest the whole suicide bid was a charade being acted out  with tacit understanding of leadership. However, the plot of the drama had  gone horribly wrong. 


4. The deceased was not a marginal subsistence farmer. He owned close to a hectare of land (10 acres). He claimed in his suicide note that his father had thrown him out of the house. According to news paper report, his father is ageing and they are having a marriage in their extended family.

5. The deceased had fought two assembly elections unsuccessfully using Samajwadi Party ticket. So he was influential enough to garner a party ticket. He would in all proabability have been aware to government schemes to help distressed farmers. It is unusual that he did not get any aid. This aspect must also be investigated. 

Tags: AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, BJP, Congress, Dausa, Gajendra Singh, Mandal Commision, Rajasthan, Samajwadi Party,

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose A Misguided Patriot!


Ever since it emerged that government of India under Pandit Nehru had spied on family members of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Bose,  comparisons have been made between two stalwarts of Indian freedom movement.  Recently, a Prof. of History at Delhi’s Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Prof. Mridula Banerjee had wrote “Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose a misguided patriot!” (India Today, April, 20, 2015). This was followed by another article in the Times of India (In another article appeared in Times of India (April, 20, 2015) where Manimugdha Sharma (Manimugdha.sharma@timesgroup.com) wrote that when comparing Netaji with Pandit Nehru we cannot conveniently ignore Netaji seeking help of evil Germany and Imperialist Japan to form INA. There could be two major reasons to arrive at such a view.

I think we need to consider and discuss Netaji’s action in the light of world view prevailing at the time of Netaji’s political career : 

  • World at the time of Netaji’s active political career (1920 – 40) was divided between people who were colonisers and natives who lived in colonies. Britain had conquered most of the world that covered Asia, and Africa. Many in the Europe – France, Italy, Dutch, Spain, Portugal, Germany etc, had their colonies in Africa or South America or even in parts of India. In the United States of America explorers had mercilessly killed native Americans and relegated them to reserves. United States had a recorded history of importing African blacks to work as slaves in cotton firms of down south in America. At the time of Netaji, United States of America did not allow blacks voting right. In Canada, Australia and New Zealand, white explorers had killed native people and put them in reserves. So much about freedom, justice, equality and liberty!


  •  Nazism and Fascism were relevant to free Europe and not to colonies. Nazism and Fascism emerged in post world war I in Europe. When Germany and Italy started following certain style of political philosophy. Life of a native in a colony was very different from that of a free European.   Did British really cared about Indians and their well being? Did British even thought Indians to be humans? Remember, they referred to Mahatma Gandhi as half naked lunatic fakir. If  we apply modern standards of human rights, Nazism and Fascism, then many former rulers of colonies should be hunted down and put on trial. 


  • In this backdrop, what were Netaji’s option to liberate India from British subjugation? Given the might and reach of British empire, who could Netaji turn to, if not enemies of British empire – Germany and Japan? Netaji was not worried about the cost and implication of taking support from Nazi Germany, or Facist Italy, or Imperialist Japan. “In a battle field, enemy’s enemy is my best friend”,  Netaji believed. Netaji considered independence of India was his goal, and  he would do whatever it takes. Netaji was clear that he was taking help of Japan only for liberation of India. If Japan decided to stay back, India would fight Japan also.


  • Every nation does what is important for its national importance. Britain and US despised communism. Yet when it came to defeating Germany, they worked with communist USSR. Post world war II, Germany and Japan became allies of US, whereas USSR became enemy number one. Following this principle, what is wrong if Netaji had taken support of Germany and Japan? By the way, under Joseph Stalin close to a million people were sent to Gulag and may be killed.  Yet successive congress governments had leaned towards USSR in our post independence era. Nothing wrong. Everything was done in greater national interest. Why then impute motives to Netaji’s action. He did it in supreme national interest.


To me, Netaji had a clarity of vision, fixity of purpose and a determined action plan to execute his vision.  Given the power of British empire, given the attitude of of British towards India’s freedom, what other options did Subhash Chandra Bose have? A person who had sacrificed everything, put his life at stake, challenged mighty Britain, all for  independence of India, it is certainly appropriate to call him misguided! What an irony, indeed!. Someone had better prepared a manual detailing guiding principle for Indian freedom fighters.


http://occassionalmusings.blogspot.com/2015/04/netaji-subhas-chandra-bose-government.html

Tags: British Empire, Fascist Italy, Great Britain, Imperialist Japan, Manimugdha Sharma, Mridula Banerjee, Nazi Germany, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, United States of America

Around Alwar i – Siliserh Lake

First place we visited in Alwar was Siliser Lake. The lake was around 20 km from Alwar town. We found that Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation had converted an old palace into  Lake Palace Hotel. The hotel building, used to be hunting lodge of an erstwhile maharaja, was built in 1845. The hotel could be photographed only from the middle of the lake.

The parking lot where we could enter was on the top floor of the building. From the parking lot one could get a grand view of the lake and the hill. One can go down to the boat parking dock and rent a boat or jet sky and go in the middle of the lake. 

To enter the hotel as a tourist one has to buy a ticket paying Rs. 50 per person. Me and my daughter entered the roof top restaurant to take a few pictures after purchasing ticket. A view from roof top is shown. 

The hotel and its surroundings were full of wild life. We could see monkeys and langoors. Two baby monkies wanted to demonstrate their power and their anger at us by shaking a tree on which they were sitting.

Langoor was much more calm and pragmatic. It simply looked on as I clicked my camera.
Tags: Alwar, Lake Palace Hotel, Siliser Lake

On the Way to Alwar

Earlier this year all of a sudden a decision was made to visit Alwar. Honestly, I was not very excited. Anyway, I was persuaded to take the trip. Alwar is hardly 3 hour motor journey from Delhi. We took Jaipur – Delhi highway. We could have taken state highway at Daruhera. We, however, decided to move on till Behror along the  NH 8. From Behror, Alwar is hardly 45 minutes. We took a left at Narnaul – Behror – Alwar road from NH8, coming from Delhi.  by a state highway. Condition of two lane state highway was reasonably good, without any crater or pot hole. As we drove along, I realised it would have been my loss if I had not agreed to come. I could never imagine Rajasthan has so many hills and so much greenery. As we drive towards Jaipur from Delhi, we miss so many beautiful places on the way.
Qila Tatarpur
On the way we first saw Qila Tatarpur. We did not enter the fort. People said the fort is in a state of ruin. I gathered that this fort is nearly 350 years old situation atop a hill in village Tatarpur. At the present time, the fort has been acquired by some hospitality group to create a high end spa.
Hitching a Ride
As we moved on towards Alwar, I came across two sheep hitching a ride on a bike. But seriously, this was an unique way of transporting sheep if you do not have access to a four wheeler truck. Lower extremity of goat was supported by a gunny bag. The animal did not appear too restless. Can this be called cruelty to animal? I do not know.

To enter Alwar from Behror side one has to cross this big hillock. A tunnel has been dug through it. As shown in picture, tunnel is reasonably long. However, it was pitch dark inside. In an usual negligent way, tiles and other construction material were strewn inside the tunnel. So one had to be careful while driving.

On the other side of the tunnel Alwar city limits started. Alwar was a reasonably clean small Rajasthani town. Alwar is the district head quarter. We had no pre booked address. So we decided to try our luck in the circuit house. Fortunately, we got two rooms, each with attached bathroom, for 1500 rupees per night. If a person is on official tour, the rent can come down even more. Rooms were spacious double bedded with high windows opening into green lawn. Bathrooms were big with hot water facility. Only caveat was rooms were not cleaned on a regular basis, unlike hotels. One could also order food by paying extra at the circuit house. Menu, however, is very limited and mostly vegetarian in nature. After a brief rest, we embarked on our Alwar sightseeing. That is topic for next time.

Tags: Alwar, Circuit House, Qila Tartarpur, Rajasthan, 

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Government of India and Spying

Did successive congress party governments lead by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri really spied on the members of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s family for nearly two decades? 

The news was explosive and politically damaging for congress party. Because it is a general perception that Netaji did not get recognition that was due to him under successive congress governments which were mostly lead by Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and later by Rajiv Gandhi. This news of spying further re-inforces the perception.

The news was repugnant and repulsive because, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was an illustrious son of India. 

  • He gave up career in Indian civil service, equivalent to IAS of this day. Clearing Indian Civil Service examination was considered a very difficult and remarkable feat for Indians those days. Subhash Chandra Bose gave up his potentially distinguished career, like many young men of the day, and dedicated his life to the Indian independence movement.


  • He defeated, Pattavi Sitaramaiah, candidate backed by Mahatma Gandhi, to become president of Indian National Congress. This shows his leadership and his influence over members of the party. 


  • When Gandhiji disapproved his electoral victory on ideological ground, Subhas Chandra Bose quit congress party and formed Forward Block.  Point to be noted that despite Gandhiji backing Pattavi Sitaramaiah’s candidature, Subhash Bose won the election. 


  • Subhash Bose dared to defy the might of British Empire. An empire where sun never used to set. Subhash Bose eluded British spies, went to Germany, then to Japan and created Indian National Army.


  • Indian National Army marched into Imphal, in Manipur, and hoisted Indian flag. Though victory was short lasting, this was the first for any Indian.


  • Subhash Bose dreamt of India’s freedom from British occupation. He put his life to achieve his goal. It is not easy for an army to take on the might of British Imperialism with all its man power and inexhaustible resources. But Subhash Bose tried and succeeded. If he had proper backup, he would probably have reached upto Delhi.


Yet Subhas Bose’s family was spied upon for twenty years!! Unbelievable, may be true, the following are my take:

  • Given Pandit Nehru along with others defended INA commanders against treason charges, it is difficult to believe under his leadership CID would spy on Netaji’s family willingly. 


  • I think given the victorious allied powers were hunting down and trying all people that shook hands with the likes of Nazi Hitler, Fascist Mussolini and Imperialist Japan, for treason. India may have been asked to keep an eye on Netaji who took help of Germany and Japan in his fight to liberate India. 


  • Young Indian nation was not powerful enough to defy Great Britain, US and the West, specially when India had to feed her population with foreign aid. Remember, India had also lost a war to China in 1962.


  • There have been many stories about Netaji. One of them is about a Gumnami baba. Who had lived in Faizabad from 1955 till 1985. He never took any visitors. Only people came to him in the middle of the night. If Gumnami baba was netaji, government must be aware of his identity. Yet they chose not to reveal because they did not want an indian icon being tried for charges of treason.


  • There was also story about Netaji being executed in USSR of Joseph Stalin. If it is true, then the story of spying on Netaji’s family does not carry any weight. On the other hand, the fact that spying was done by government of India, may indicate that the rumoured death of Netaji may not be true after all. 


Anyway, Netaji’s after life remains shrouded in mystery. All we have his dedication for the cause of Indian independence. His zeal to be successful in his endeavour to create an army and march against the British. He did not succeed. But in those day and age, British were ruling most of the world. Netaji was not daunted by his enemy. He gave everything he had to his cause. In our small lives, when we feel sad of failures, remember the song “Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja“, the marching song of Indian National Army. This song represents is the spirit and sense of sacrifice  of Netaji Subhas Bose for independence of India.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQxWFawxbq

Tags: British Empire, Fascist Mussolini, Forward Block, Great Britain, Gumnami Baba, Imperial Japan, Imphal, Indian National Army, Indian National Congress, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Mahatma Gandhi, Nazi Germany, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Pattavi Sitaramaiah, US, West,

House Hunting

I had placed a few bird box on our balcony with the intention that sparrows may find them suitable to build their nests. Sparrows never came. Noisy mynahs occupied one. Last week I saw this small bird and its mate sitting on our balcony. They would hover around the bird box, chirp excitedly and fly away to watch it from a distance. Translated in  Human language, I thought the bird family was excited about the bird box.

Then I noticed, the couple had build a house / nest for themselves, right beside the bird box. They were now busy moving their movables into the nest.

Meanwhile, there was another couple that had a look at our bird box. They could not make up their minds. May be they did not want to live in close proximity to another family. May be they wanted peace and quiet. Seen here, one member in a pensive mood. May be all the tension of house hunting!



Tags: Bird Box, Bird Nest

Communal Polarisation : What Will You Say Now?

Ever since NDA government had come to power, there has been an anticipation of a surge of Hindu majoritarianism. True to belief, reports emerged of Hindu groups propagating ideas like Love Jehad, Ghar Wapsi etc. Some BJP parliamentarians even used derogatory language like Ramzaade, meaning sons of Ram, and  Haraamzaade, meaning those who are not sons of Ram. Such attempts were believed to be an attempt towards consolidating Hindu votes in states  which were due for elections. Diatribes against muslims were followed by attacks on christian churches culminating in sexual assault on an elderly christian missionary in West Bengal.

All such acts which were believed to be orchestrated by Hindu right, had cascading effect on the government both nationally and internationally. President Barrack Obama, a state guest in India, preached how India should remain united to progress on the path to prosperity. At the national level, opposition parties had stalled functioning of upper house of parliament and demanded a statement from prime minister of India. One session of parliament was lost because NDA government could not present important bills in Rajya Sabha. In the end, Prime Minister had denounced such act, vowed to protected constitutional rights of all Indians.  Unconfirmed reports claimed that prime minister had threatened to quit unless, right wing fringe elements were reined in by sangh parivar. 

Many prominent leaders of Christian community had meanwhile expressed a sense of insecurity and helplessness. Celebrated police commissioner Mr. Julio Rebeiro, wrote an article in Indian express about he he felt alienated in his own country. Principal of Sophiya College Mumbai, in an interview to NDTV compared India to Nazi Germany. After rape of an elderly nun in West Bengal, vice chairperson of minority commission, Ms. Maria Fernandes blamed BJP and RSS for the ghastly event. According to her, all the attacks on minority communities, including rape of a missionary, could be attributed to religious polarisation initiated by BJP and RSS.

All the while, BJP spokespeople had to urge everyone to wait for police investigation to be over. However, all their appeal went in vain. Now if we look carefully at the issue of BJP mediated minority bashing, the following points emerge:

1. BJP did not gain from minority bashing in Delhi. Infact, it had lost the state by record margin gaining only three seats. Definitely, polarisation effort, if any, did not work.

2. All report of assault on christian church emerged around the time of Delhi election. Thereafter, no report has come about attack on church. One should analyse carefully, who did gain from assault on the Church. Definitely not BJP, because minority community leaders had advised their members not to vote for the party.

3. Of the six or so cases of church vandalism and desecration reported in Delhi, one case was due to short circuit in the building. A second case involved a drunk man who pelted stone at Church building. So far no evidence has emerged that the man belonged to any rightwing Hindu group.

4. One case of Church vandalism in Mumbai, it emerged that a group of people were unhappy at removal of their gambling den. They had suspected a role of church in the act. By the way, even a member of muslim community was also part of the vandals.

5. The ghastly rape of a nun in West Bengal, was carried out by a group of people only two of whom have been arrested. One member of the gang was from Bangladesh. He happened to be from minority muslim community. Another member is a Hindu. There is no report to suggest that the Hindu man subscribed to right wing Hindu ideology.

6. Law and order is a state subject. Why does states not act strongly on people and groups they suspect to be indulging in polarisation along communal and religious lines? Is it because a communally charged cauldron is more beneficial electorally or they do not want to antagonise majority vote bank?

7. Protecting minority rights is not the preserve of a few secular parties. What would successive governments of Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party say about their inability to deliver justice to members of minority community in Hashimpura massacre? Why don’t their hearts bleed now? How come after twenty eight years no justice could be provided to families of victims?

I think it is abominable to divide Indians along communal lines. It is important to analyse cause and effect relationship of an event, before jumping into conclusion on communal polarisation.  All those people who felt so offended due to perceived communal polarisation in the country, what will they say now as our understanding improves and clarity emerges?