Sunday November 17, 2019
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Is farmer Gajendra Singh Rajput’s death in vain? Time for Indian politicos to stop bickering and start listening



By Gaurav Sharma

Every 30 minutes in India, a farmer takes his own life. With more than 60 per cent of the country, directly or indirectly dependant on agriculture, this should be a major cause of concern.

Alas, the problem has persisted, if not been exacerbated over the years.

Scores of farmers have succumbed to the perilous hands of death, in utter helplessness to the droughts that have crumpled their produce, the burden of colossal debts that have hunched their poor backs into resignation.

But more so, the farmers have perished to the menace of suicide because of the callous attitude of our politicians, who seem to be only interested in scoring brownie points, to draw political mileage from their fall.

There has been a significant spurt of around 26 per cent in the number of farmer suicides from last year’s death toll of 1109 .

In the latest episode of horror, Gajendra Singh Rajput, a farmer from Rajasthan’s Dausa district  hanged himself from a tree at Aam Aadmi Party’s rally at Jantar Mantar.

Perhaps Gajendra had a premonition that the address would be a false rhetoric of support?

No sooner did the suicide happen, than the blame-game erupted among the political parties.

While blaming the AAP for the death, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra asked, “Why didn’t the AAP leaders stop the farmer from committing suicide?”

The AAP, however, shifted the onus on the Delhi Police, with Arvind Kejriwal saying, “We kept asking the police to bring him down. Police may not be in our control but at least there should be a semblance of humanity among them. I am rushing to the hospital with Manish Sisodia.”

Later in the day, in an expression of ‘grief and sympathy’, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Ajay Maken and Sachin Pilot also visited the hospital.

On his part, the Congress scion attacked the BJP for its anti-farmer policies saying, “I just want to tell the farmers we are with them and they should not feel scared at all. It is a very sad incident and so I have not come here to do politics. All this has happened because of the ordinance that has been brought by the BJP government.”

Eventually, a ‘probe’–the usual futile tactic in all such farmer suicide cases–was announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The passing of the buck from the BJP to the AAP to the Congress to the Police is like a merry-go round of avoiding responsibility, a first-aid measure to rid the conscience of the guilt that the death of the farmer entails on the souls of each party.

It only highlights the complicity of all political parties in the ‘murder’ of the farmer. The hands of the politicians are awash with the blood of the farmers.

The lack of seriousness with which politicians treat the lives of the farmers can be seen quite clearly when a leader like Akhilesh Yadav issues them compensation cheques which later bounce. Citing technical errors do not stem the rot. They only help in casting a dubious light on the intentions and the motives of such leaders.

As if that were not enough, our leaders constantly cry hoarse over the suicide figures that are released by the government data. Recently, Maharashtra’s Union agriculture minister Radhamohan Singh drew much flak from the media after he commented that only three farmers had committed suicide in the state.

The farmer suicides have become so ubiquitous that the situation has now snowballed into an epidemic. The green revolution, the genetically modified seeds or “miracle crops” had their moments for several years before they became counter-productive.

As the crop productivity declined and farmers became more indebted, they started taking their lives with the very pesticide that once protected their crops.

In response, the government announced relief packages and debt-waivers which have only been ineffective, short-sighted, misdirected and flawed because of the simple fact that they do not focus on productivity, but rather on loans and credit.

Instead of bickering and quarreling over who is responsible for the deaths, it would be wise for our leaders to understand that each one of us is directly or indirectly involved with the plight of the farmers.

It is but too obvious that it is only our ignorant arrogance that forces the farmers to take such a drastic step. Only when we accept our massive shortcomings in addressing such a vital issue, will we move towards taking cooperative remedial measures.

Even earlier today, when thousands of farmers gathered at the Jantar Mantar to express their concern and anger over the land bill, only a few were aware of the details. In their heart, only one fear was eating them out – what will they do when their piece of land, the only means to their livelihood–is acquired by the government?

While BJP says that the AAP rally was an attempt to divert attention from their internal problems, Gopal Rai, AAP minister, said that the “Delhi government won’t leave the farmers orphaned, like Modi government has.”

The war continues, but Gajendra’s suicide is a reminder that the farmers will be able to lead a dignified life only when the political parties stop treating them as vote banks to maximize political gains.

In essence, the root cause of farmer suicides is the failure to listen.

  • Not so much the failure to listen but the lack of a proactive attitude. Our politicians do have ears but the problem lies in the fact that they do not act.

    Nevertheless a hard-hitting piece.

Next Story

Farmers in MP Come Up with Ingenious Solutions for Rainwater Harvesting to Address Water Scarcity

Rai said the village was infamous for facing water scarcity

Farmers, MP, Rainwater Harvesting
To do this, he used waste material to channel the water to borewells and dry wells using a pipeline network. Pixabay

In a country that suffers from water scarcity all year, farmers in the villages of Narsinghpur district in Madhya Pradesh have come up with ingenious solutions for rainwater harvesting to address the issue.

While water shortage has been the bane of Salichauka village for long, a local farmer, Manoj Rai, has devised a solution not only to tackle the issue but also to find a way to manage excess rain water and use it to recharge water sources. To do this, he used waste material to channel the water to borewells and dry wells using a pipeline network.

Rai said the village was infamous for facing water scarcity. Such is his understanding of the gravity of the problem that he expounded that the 3rd World War would be fought over water and that several cities like Cape Town and Shimla are already on the verge of a Day-Zero situation.

He added that everyone can come up with their own technique for water harvesting without spending extra money and if every farmer did his bit towards redirecting excess water to recharge the groundwater, the future generations too will have water.

Farmers, MP, Rainwater Harvesting
In a country that suffers from water scarcity all year, farmers in the villages of Narsinghpur district in Madhya Pradesh have come up with ingenious solutions. Pixabay

After Rai’s solution came to the limelight, other farmers also started adopting it and the water level has reportedly risen, the villagers claim. They believe this will help them during the summers too.

A resident of the village Kaluram Patel said he adopted the technique after he saw several other villagers using it.

He said they have witnessed a rise in water level and the tube wells now have water which would help him grow multiple crops in a year.

Similarly, in the rocky terrains of Bilguwa village, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the farmers to procure water for their crops when Monu Pathak, a local farmer, devised a solution to conserve water.

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Pathak said he constructed a model to recharge the groundwater level. He pointed out that it is extremely important to look for methods to save water when half of the country is facing water shortage and the rest facing floods. He also urged the residents of the village to employ such methods in their houses or farms.

Sushil Kumar, a resident of Bilguwa, said the technique employed by Pathak is easy to operate.

He said if every farmer were to utilise rainwater harvesting techniques, the water level would witness a significant rise and would solve the water crisis in the village.

Agricultural scientists claimed that the crops in the region were getting affected by the declining groundwater level and commended the efforts by the farmers to address the water crisis.

Farmers, MP, Rainwater Harvesting
While water shortage has been the bane of Salichauka village for long, a local farmer, Manoj Rai, has devised a solution not only to tackle the issue but also to find a way to manage excess rain water and use it. Pixabay

Rajesh Tripathi, Deputy Director at the district agriculture department, pointed out the irregular pattern of rains that the region has witnessed.

He said that if water is being continuously pumped using tube wells or sprinkler pump, the water sources are going to keep depleting.

If we can find a way for the rainwater to replenish the water table directly, farmers would benefit from it, he said.

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While commending the efforts taken by the farmers of Bilguwa and Salichauka, he added that efforts are being taken to educate the farmers about the importance of adopting such techniques to recharge any water source in their vicinity. (IANS)