Rich needn’t be on the defensive anymore!
The “eviction” rate, another name for those leaving their traditional petty living with so much to lose with the new opportunities opening up, in the nearby towns and cities, the eviction rate is on average 15%.In tribal and Rajbonshi-dominated districts of south and north Bengal respectively, such eviction rates are as high as 25% to 32%.
The new Left and the new DMK represent a new conservatism of seeking a new status quo. This conservatism is imposed on the winners of power because of several factors. Old loyalties, loyal workers of the parties are left out. Many separatist movements in W.Bengal have forced the Left to seek for more respectable upper class and upper caste approval which has now been given. The same conservatism we can see in the DMK which in the past identified with so many separatist outfits, now all given up and wants to sound as more respectable and more responsible.
This has to be seen not in any superficial ways. Old ways, old mindsets, old prejudices don’t die away so easily! It would still be a long time off, to see the really new economy mindset of what we saw in Karnataka and AP which ushered in a new era of open and transparent governance and the recognition of the need for liberalisation and a capitalist, private sector thrust for fast economic development. Why not? The economy is growing fast; there is more wealth creation in the private sector, more high salaried jobs in the IT/ITes sectors. So, why not the higher incomes and wages give a new meaning to life in the rural areas?
It is a choice of recognising the traditional landed gentry’s class or going for the criminalised new elite! Parties need to choose its bases depending upon their leaders’ mental makeup. Class structures are deeper and lasting. So, you have to analyse the leaders’s own cultural, social and civilisational backgrounds before you identify which party will choose what power bases, social structures!
Yes, the time has come to face the realities. The realities of the Indian economics and politics. The just concluded Assembly elections to the four states, West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala had given a decisive verdict by the voters for the rich and resourceful to win elections, the new rich, the new urban middle classes; the rural rich too have all gone for the richer and established leaders and parties.
The Chief Ministers and other Ministers too are more richer in their personal wealth, see the declarations on their affidavits before the election officers, Tamil Nadu politicians in particular are not hesitant to declare they are crorepathis, DMK, ADMK leaders are rich by cash and property alone Rs.25 crores each. The third successful politician, another actor, is also superrich. That is why he had taken to politics!
In W.Bengal the CM might declare he doesn’t own landed property. That is in keeping with the Left ideological predilections that are all. In Kerala too the CM might declare as no cash balance. It doesn’t mean, the CPI (M) is a party of the poorer anymore. Their assets run into crores of rupees and they, the party is engaged in a variety of commercial enterprises. Even the trend of voting shows that the rich and the prosperous, even the landed gentry in W.Bengal voted for the Left front. The election trend expert (Yogender Yadav) noted the trends this way: “We will understand the changing social base better (in W.Bengal) if we divide the urban and rural areas into various social classes. The urban vote for the Left came from the professional and salaried classes including all kinds of white-collar workers. In the rural areas, the Left suffered serious losses among agricultural and allied workers, barely maintaining its position among the farmers and tenants. It made massive gains among the rural salaried class”.
“The Left gained more among the educated and lost some among the illiterate voters”. “Similarly, it gained among the upper caste voters, OBCs, now courting the new social base, the industrialists and the investors whom the Left want to woo with its liberalisation policies”. There is a shift from the old Left of the poor and working classes to the new Left of well-to -do and the urban and middle and upper classes voting for the party they perceive to be more reliable in the sense of the parties concerned to go for more ‘conservative’ policies.
Yes, what we see now even in the OBC quota debates and political positions the old OBCs who have enjoyed the quota advantages for more than two generations are not willing to give up their positions in favour of first generation OBCs. The creamy layer debate is all about how the neouvour riche who enjoy the social, economic and political levers of power don’t want to give in for more equitable distribution of privileges.
In all these high power rhetoric about social justice certain hard realities are still hidden. Even in the election results analysis, we only find the classification of voters into professional/business urban middle classes while it comes to rural classes even there we read about salaried, business, peasant and tenants and agricultural workers.
What about the rural rich, the more prosperous rural segments like the new generation businessmen and the rich people in diverse professions, including in various service industries, the ones who now send their children more and more to more expensive schools and then seek to become doctors, engineers and either they seek to ag abroad to settle down or here inside India they seek for higher salaried and more prestigious jobs as high court judges and police and IAS officers, through what else, the very quota system, yes!
So, even the new generation political parties, the regional ones are all caste parties and their one point agenda is to see more quotas for their caste persons, be it higher education or government jobs. In a highly caste-driven politics like that of the Dravidian parties, the neouvour riche are everywhere, in blatant fashions, including the new more lucrative media and TV channels business. Also, the more criminal elements are also into politics and “new” ventures!
In more doctrinaire Left parties and their states, we see several contradictory social and economic trends. In W.Bengal(this must be true for Kerala also) with so much fuss on land reforms, we find that “the Operation Barga” making tenants permanent on record, thereby making it impossible to remove the non-rent paying tenants who are active party workers also, there is the unviability of farming activity forcing the tenants to sell off their “lands”. Petty harecroppers find the market economy forcing them to move out. The usual party jargon is “capital-intensive farming” makes it so. In fact, who can put in capital in farming? Only when the market conditions dictate only the investors will put in their money. Such conditions are coming up more and more in rural areas. What else you expect when you practice the economic reforms much favoured at the top and you still want to practice or pretend to practise the tenants as share croppers!
The “eviction” rate, another name for those leaving their traditional petty living with so much to lose with the new opportunities opening up, in the nearby towns and cities, the eviction rate is on average 15%.In tribal and Rajbonshi-dominated districts of south and north Bengal respectively, such eviction rates are as high as 25% to 32%.In Kerala you see either farmers suicides or farmers turning their agriculture lands into non-agriculture lands for brick kilns or many other real estate developments that are reducing the paddy lands in Kerala to staggering low levels. There are more inequalities and inequities in a state like Kerala where you can see the really rural and urban rich showing off their new gained wealth through falshy foreign cars and ostentatious bungalows all through the length and breathe of the national highways!
One should guess this is the same case in W.Bengal, universally held as the most backward state in education and health coverage and other basic infrastructure like electricity in the rural areas!
So, what sort of rural development we are harping on for now for years? Even the much hawked rural employment guarantee scheme is not having many takers; the prevailing rural wages are much higher than Rs.60 promised by NREGS!
The time has come to recognise the rural realities. Rural India is still strong rough because the rural rich are there. The rural rich needn’t be taken as parasites anymore. Just owning vast acreage of land is no more a big dal. Even the big landowners or even the industrialists who have located their units in the rural areas are finding it extremely difficult to get labour. The educated youngsters, boys and girls don’t want to work in any of these traditional industries or sectors. Farming is no more a leisurely job!
Every sector faces the challenges of change! Farm sector is no exception. There are as many rich and well-ff families in the rural areas as there are rich and well–off farmers.
The rural rich must stand up and speak out. Rural living demands better roads, communications and more urban conveniences as never before.
The new generation farming is the only hope to raise agricultural productivity without which our agri sector would collapse. We need to rise per acre productivity of all crops, more so paddy and wheat and pulses and oil seeds. The new technology tools, including the biotech tools demand more investments, more knowledge and more new management skills, including the talents to market more intelligently.
Our caste and narrow tag politicians had ruined rural India. Its old age glories. It is upto the rural rich, the older families and the new generation intelligentsia to speak out. We welcome a new debate on the range of issues that confront rural India and the educated farmers.