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Real issue goes unattended

Posted in View Point

Published on May 01, 2015 with No Comments


Indians had that moment of bewilderedness, last week; forcing many to hold their head in shame. A farmer from Rajasthan, sent shock waves all around  by  ending his life by hanging himself from a tree during a rally organized by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

As more and more information started pouring in mainly from TV clips, it began to appear that Gajendra Singh the farmer who lost his life was probably trying to attract the attention of the leaders on the stage. Camera is known to make people do odd things at times, and the possibility of onlookers encouraging him, perhaps more as a joke can’t be ruled out. Political parties have even asked the investigating agencies to ascertain, if the slain farmer was specially called by the organisers of the rally. It’s speculated that Gajendra didn’t actually mean to kill himself, this was meant to be a staged threat, and people egged him on, and despite calls by the organisers the Delhi Police didn’t move an inch to persuade Gajendra to stop the act, and not even to retrieve his body.

What happened afterwards is even more disturbing. It unleashed a round of unbecoming blame game among all the parties and a race was on to win the tag of politically expedient “farmer-friendly” party. Politicians took the media route to announce cash compensation for the family of the deceased better than the other party, blaming each other for the tragedy. Delhi police too joined in, this time with an open confrontation with elected government of Delhi over the issue whether Delhi government can ask Delhi Police to intervene in such cases as Delhi Police is under the control of the central home ministry. The tragedy of a needless demise has been turned into a sham! Once again!

Just a month back, Jaswinder Singh Jassi, a cable operator at Amritsar consumed poisonous substance in front of apex court and Punjab / Haryana High Court judges and left a suicide note challenging the cartel of cable operator Fastway directly under the ruling party in Punjab, and since then a blame game is what has been going on instead of addressing the power of cartel backed by ruling Badal family.

With Gajendra’s demise, it is equally important to remind not to repeat the blunder that has been going on with Jaswinder Singh’s case. In his death, Gajendra has served a grim reminder of the emerging trend of neglecting farmers and not addressing their plight. No doubt concern for finding out whether the handwriting on the suicide note was Gajendra’s or not,  it’s also important for the government to stop harbouring the fact that 60% of the Indian population residing in the rural areas only contributes 5% to the GDP. The authorities need to remember that while the relative share in the GDP has been shrinking, the Indian agriculture sector has grown dramatically over the past 10 years –by over 50%. This growth has been mainly made possible due to commercial farming decisions—like diversifying into cash crops, horticulture and fruit crops like grapes, tangerine, lemons, and so on or undertaking multiple cropping—responding to growing demand both from within and outside the country. But not all farmers have been part of this growth; others have remained dependent on loans, rains and have got into the inescapable whirlpool of not being able to ripe enough and failing to return the loan. Lakhs of farmers have committed suicide, pushing India to the number 1 position in suicide index of the world.

The rally where Gajendra ended his life was to raise voice against Land Acquisition Bill. Earlier Congress, and then AAP organised the rally with intent to create an impression that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wants to benefit industrial and business world by hurting farmers’ interest. Surprisingly, it was the Congress that gave fair chunks of land to corporate during its tenure and Modi government is pushing the same Land Acquisition Bill brought by the Congress and the amendments made to remove practical difficulties arising out of its implementation. Certain flaws have come to the notice of the farmers and they are striving hard to protect their rights. The parties have failed to address the core issues; the death of Gajendra is not the first act of desperation, farmers have been committing suicide for last unknown years. A direct reflection on the failed policies of various governments that could not devise a policy of crop insurance and help farmers come out of debt.

Political parties have stepped in –not to listen to the voice of the farmers but to make the farmers’ listen to their party’s noise with no concern for the real issues of the farmers.





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