Rural India is still a holy cow!
There is no unemployment in the villages!
Rural realities no one speaks out!
We live in the village. We are engaged in farming. Is this enough to convey the truths about Indian villages as they are evolving today?
It seems rural India is a holy cow! Yes, when President Abdul Kalam talks of the technological revolutions, ISRO, Delhi Metro rail, atomic power, telecommunications he also brings in (or smuggles in?) his pet theory (or vision?) of Pura : providing urban facilities to rural areas! His intentions are good. But his grasp of the realities of rural India is rather weak or rather second hand!
Why we say this? We have just now come back after a week in our village and we have also gone around much of the rural areas. What we find? There is no farm labour available today for farm work. All the young have got some school education and both boys and girls go for work in non-farm sectors. So, who are left out in the villages today? Only the elderly ladies and the elderly male labour, mostly dalit labour. The women in our village are now rich! They work less hours, only from 7 to 1 in the morning, the daily agri wage could go up to Rs.30 to Rs 40 and on enquiry we find that every woman labour had saved lots of money and they now are actively engaged in money-lending. Every woman on average earns more from such higher interests rates more money than what they earn from their daily wages! So, there is a flourishing private money lending business in every village!
The village dalit labour don’t come in singles, they come in crowds of five or six and even more. They first negotiate for a contract amount and then only they engage in farm work. On enquiry we find that there is a flourishing illicit or open arrack or country toddy or even foreign made Indian liquor shop nearby. In our village we are told that every day on average Rs.2000 or more is spent on liquor! So hell with do-gooders! Arundhati Roy, Prabhat Patnaik and Jean Dreze and their “unemployed” C(I) and CPI(M) comrades! They might lead a protest march through Delhi roads and Mrs.Brinda Karat with her large bindi might get some photo opportunities and their plans to lead countrywide yatras, in some high sounding name : Rozgar Adhikar Yatra, (by the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee, a coalition of 100 organisations committed to the right to work) may get some useful job! Poor V.P.Singh is also jobless. He also expresses “concern” over the “dilution” of the Bill! That is all!
No one in the rural India is unemployed today, for your information! We went into the Kerala side of our village and a drive through the Palakkad district opened our eyes. Palakkad, once was considered the rice granary of the state.
Today, the paddy fields are lying dry, drought has its intensive hold on the parched fields and no paddy farmer we talked to is willing to continue with his paddy cultivation. It is no more a profitable farming option. The paddy fields are converted slowly and steadily into housing plots or brick kiln making units and may be once a while when the rains come the paddy cultivation may be resumed for the simple reason there is no alternative. In Kerala the paddy labour is the most expensive than the whole of India!
In Kerala too there is no unemployment! Yes, there may be heavy educated unemployment. But there is no unemployed person in Kerala. You cant get a person to do a job, be it a minor or a major regular job, no, you cant get one! This is what our Kerala friends tell us every time we talk to.
Kerala is now witnessing the paradox of influx of unskilled labour from Tamil Nadu migrating in big number! The Tamil labour does everything from digging telephone line laying to house building to any kind of manual labour! So, there is also now some protests against Tamil labour in Kerala towns. Only token protests. It is simply the iron law of demand an supply operates!
Mr.P.Sainath, The Hindu correspondent had done some reporting on the light of rural labour in deep Wynad region. But did he analyse the paradox of Tamil labour getting employment in Kerala while the Kerala rural labour sitting idle? If he didn’t, it is time he does this study too!
In fact, even in the most irrigation-intense region like Erode district which is served by the Lower Bhavani river and dam, the land owners face labour shortage!
The whole country seems them as advocating the cause of the already fattened government servants, the bank employees and the insurance sector fat cats labour! Why then, they pretend to speak for the already rural labour’s non-existent problems?
Now, who suffers in villages today? It is the small land owners. Those who have large land areas live in the cities or have other means of support. It is the middle land owners. Those owning 5 to 10 acres are steep into debts.
Even the others on the establishment side, the so-called agri experts too talk through their hats only! They don’t talk the realities. They don’t advocate how to make farming viable. How investments will come in? Only fools will put their money in farming! Yes, we are sorry to say this way!
But then only we can convey the actual conditions that prevail in the villages today. All the laws, all the government depts. are making the farmers’ lives a hell today. You can’t manage the local Tahsildar who is the deciding authority on the tenancy protection act. So, you are forced to consider bribe giving an option. The legal procedures are so distorted. The revenue dept. is another hell for farmers.
So, when the urban press reports on UPA government’s achievements or failures or the Bardhan &Co. antics, you have to laugh it off as another cruel joke at the helpless farming community. A.B.Bardhan, the CPI General Secretary said in an article in his party organ that 70 per cent of the people are dependent on agriculture. More cynical, the very same Bardhan picks up the poor Kalyan Singh, the former UP Chief Minister, for delay tactics! Kalyan Singh is delaying the enactment of the Employment Guarantee Bill! So, the Communists were always this type of talkers through their hats?
Yes, then, what is news? It is the urban intelligentsia, among which we put the CPI and CPI(M) well-heeled leaders also, who shed crocodile tears! They rural India’s people are responding to market demands and act wisely. They at least migrate to more prosperous areas. This is true for migrant rural labour from UP to Punjab and Haryana as it is true for the rural labour in all parts of India. There is no need for a job guarantee act now!