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Farmers' Suicides

 

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST


 

RAWpapaya
by Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld

 

A farmer and AAP worker commits
suicide in public glare

 

A farmer's suicide at Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rally in heart of the Capital, no doubt, puts Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his govt in bad light, clearly showing how insensitive this 'aam aadmi' leader and his colleagues could be to someone’s pain when it comes to facing moments of tremendous pressure. Had the CM been a little apolitical at heart for a moment, he would have acted to save the farmer's life right at the time he was hanging himself. The CM slams the police for total dereliction of duty, not realizing that it was time for him to call off the rally and rush to the tree where 40-year-old Gajendra Singh, was tying noose around his neck. 

 

                             


A volunteer from Chandigarh, Joginder Deshwar, however, mustered courage to climb the tree branch to catch on the victim and promptly loosen the scarf knot tied on his neck, but alas, that was too late ! The good Samaritan found it too hard to hold aloft the victim in his left arm, untying the knot by the right hand while balancing himself over a slippery branch. Though being helped by his fellow volunteers from the rear, they hardly were of any help due to paucity of space. And the victim fell on the mat spread by the volunteers below, possibly dead. The rescuer himself felt so much terrified that he lost consciousness for a while.  


Even at this point, Kejriwal chose not to stall the rally and go over to the tree where a life was tragically  lost. Instead, he kept on lambasting the NDA govt for the Land Acquisition Bill and its "insensitivity" over the loss of a thousand lives of farmers across the country due to large-scale crop losses caused by unseasonal rains. He blamed the tragedy squarely on "police inaction" . Even if the CM thought the farmer could be playing a prank to win attention of the crowd, he must have shown seriousness in his response. Was the Chief Minister any remotely sensitive and humane to a tragedy that he was witnessing  from a distance ? Was, then, the rally he was holding in farmers' interest a sham and a political stunt to win their support ? Quite possible, it could be a case of an unintended suicide, but when prank misfired and turned into death, why did the CM remain unmoved ? If he does anything now to help the victim's family, it would just mean shedding crocodile tears !


Kejriwal may have been claiming extraordinary deliveries for 10 months, despite having done pretty little for his Delhi voters and having relentlessly thrown many of his key comrades out of the party, the fact remains that his leadership has kept annoying the people of Delhi by projecting his authoritarian, repellant combating streaks, not quiet conducive to the welfare of Delhi citizens. When Kejri quit office after his 49-day first stint over the failure of a single Lokpal Bill, that convincingly showed he lacked tenacity of a strong-willed leader. Going populist all the way, providing free water, subsidized power at the cost of tax-payer is no sound governance. That the victim came all the way from Dausa in Rajasthan to commit suicide in Delhi also puts the entire political system to shame.

 

That thousands of distressed farmers committed suicide during UPA regime, more than 800 after NDA govt came to power, shows how callous have been the successive govts to the plight of the farming community, all result of long neglect of agriculture. No one thought of serving the farmers and agricultural laborers well, considering them to be low earners. As a farmer, I have always wondered why should the cultivator suffer under constant state control where every provision rests with the govt and flows in pitiably low key. Even the market, where the farmer sells his produce, is hopelessly fragmented that regularly gives him pain. That explains why rural distress has now become a recurring phenomenon.

 

Women Farmers' Suicide
Chart-fnbworld

Riding to power on development plank, Prime Minister Narendra Modi must understand that piecemeal measures can not turn agriculture adequately productive and remunerative. The unseasonal rain and hailstorm this time have proved how fragile is our agricultural system where just one natural calamity is enough to destroy the farmer sentiment and resilience. There is need for heavy public investment to develop farm infrastructure. If agriculture is not contributing significantly to GDP, it's because the successive govts have visibly ignored this sector, taking in view its low productivity. 


Has any regime after green revolution tried to invest steadily to raise this sector's productivity ? Even the ambitious central seeds programme failed to deliver significantly to farm produce. Why don't we integrate agriculture with economy to see its real potential ? There must be common markets for free inter-state selling of farm produce. Why the restrictions here when goods and services find extensive , unhindered area for their utilization ? The govt has to put emphasis on each component of agriculture, from irrigation--reasonably priced sufficient electricity and diesel - fertilizers, quality seeds, sound marketing infrastructure with facility to easily find out what the customer wants and supply it at profit, improved transport and logistics, availability of cheap insecticides and above all easy, adequate finance delivery to farmers. There should be no space for monopoly players and commission agents who rob the farmers at will on small temptations. However, farmers must be left free to brush shoulders with corporate houses and retailers to get premium on their produce.


The latest suicide also puts spotlight on the controversial Land Acquisition Bill which the NDA govt proposes to push through Parliament, projecting some components of reform. We must not forget that growth is not possible without launching viable projects which would need land. But if there is resistance for purchase of every bit of land, how will high levels of growth be possible ? Farmers too will have to see their long-term prospects and cooperate with the govt. Let them ask for more and make their lives  more secure and comfortable with the money they get in compensation. They must, however, read the intent of political parties when they rise to politicize issues that will bring them no benefits.

 

Its clear that time has come for all the political parties to reach consensus on a common programme to give boost to agriculture and improve the fate of the farmer whose toil fills every belly, but he himself lives mercifully a marginal life. This is possible only when the parties stop fighting for the sake of vote bank. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, for instance, is exhorting farmers to insist on deals that never entered the minds of UPA's illustrious economists. PM Modi, however, should not join issue with the rabble-rousers. He will do well to take initiative to further amend the Land Bill's reform proposals, mainly to accommodate the farmers' genuine concerns.






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