Who is playing whose game?
Agriculture is for the farmers? Or for the starving poor?
Or, for the election-eyed street-smart politicians?
Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council and the experts and media stars would battle it out?
Yes, lakhs of tonnes of grains is rotting in the open yards in Haryana and Punjab and perhaps in the UP too. The Supreme Court, more than once, as we write is almost shouting at the Central government: please distribute to the millions of poor who go hungry. But there is no action, it seems.
Or, where is the Prime Minister or the Agriculture Minister who must be making some open statement as to what is being done?
Why there is no news. No newspaper worth its salt thinks fit to highlight these rotting grains and the starving poor.
But the experts, M.S.Swaminathan and P.Sainath, both close to The Hindu newspaper are having a field days, it seems!
Both are occupying precious editorial space ,almost every other day and holding forth on their superior wisdom as to how to save the farmers, save the Indian agriculture and also in the process save their superiors, employers or their bosses, as it were.
After all, in India you need a boss or an employer, it could be anybody, the very government or governments or the newspaper owners or even the foreign funder. Then only in India you can survive as an expert and as an advice giver. Sainath almost screams and dramatises the issue or issues (August 12, 2010).
Sainath says in a more nosy rhetoric:”The nation has spawned 49 dollar billionaires and about 100,000 dollar millionaires in a decade. But it has no money to feed its hungry .So says a government hat tosses 500,000 crores of tax exemptions to the wealthy, the corporate bosses (who have funded the party and parties in the last elections) and also done much more timely service to prop up the UPA-II now in the saddle).In the current budget just under three heads, says Sainath, these tax exemptions are given.
Mind you are in India and under a sort of government that is sensitive to so many angles of analysis.
So, you can’t proceed further than stating this stark and bland fact as Sainath has done. Even Sainath with all his pretentions for daredevilry cant cross the Lakshman rekha!
Can he dare and ask for details who were the direct beneficiaries in these tax exemptions and survive in his job?
No, he can’t.
So too the suave and smooth talking Swaminathan, the man for all seasons. He is now a member of the prestigious member of the Sonia Gandhi led NAC, besides being so many things. He is also the Rajya Sabha nominee and so one can imagine what sort of objective advice he can give to Sonia Gandhi.
He has to cater to her ego and this is what the members of the NAC seem to be doing.
See that the NAC wants to do?
The NAC wants a “universal” system; give to all, in the 150 select districts, to the BPL and APL families. 35 kg of rice or wheat at Rs.3 for all the needy families in the 150 districts. Sainath plays with the words, targeted and the universal, he asks rhetorically, can you be universal and targeted at the same time?
The urban press is totally ignorant and insensitive to the issues at the ground level.
You can play with words and you can also play with issues, depending whether you are employed or retired with hefty pensions and other incomes and whether you are living in the city or in the villages.
We live in the city as well as in the village, we own lands and we are engaged in the actual cultivation of crops, we engage the rural labour and therefore we know the state of the rural labour market, there is not enough labour, that is the only universal lament, even if Sainath is there to give evidence that even with the NREGS is in existence, as in Kalahandi and Bolangir in Orissa the rural labour migrate outside their areas.
This is the universal reality in the countryside today.
In Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district, they say, that lakhs of “farmers” are small and marginal farmers and they also turn into farm labour for part of the year and they migrate.
It is this sort of underemployment and the dual reality of owning land and also being landless labour, if you leave your land the anti-social elements, now ruling party activists come and occupy your lands and they don’t pay rent nor they cultivate, your land lies fallow and you are likely to lose that piece of precious ownership that gives you prestige in the village society.
You are a landowner and you enjoy a higher social status.
If you persist with cultivation, no land available, no banks are willing to lend you funds, nor are the rates of interest what the politicians promise.
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