“India, that is Bharat” … Article 1 of the Constitution says. But India is not Bharat, and Bharat is not India.
You can’t blame the urban folk – the Indians – the chatterati, the glitzy blingy intelligentsia – for celebrating the unseasonal rains with a Pakoda, Chaai or a Rum, even as the farmer’s heart sinks with every drop of such rain. They just don’t know. We poor old Indians just don’t know what the Bharatvarshi is going through.
India doesn’t know that the Bharatvarshi farmer lives day to day, that he sows crops with seeds and fertilizers bought through a loan, that while the world sleeps he is awake for the fear of his crop being washed away or stolen or frosted or burnt away… he watches the sky for clouds and for the sun. India doesn’t know that if just one crop fails he loses his lifetime savings, that he even risks to lose his mortgaged land, his mortgaged tractors and the means to sow another crop.
It takes many seasons to stand on his feet again. He needs compensation for their loss now to buy seed for the next crop. By the time the government machinery cranks itself up for some sort of compensation, his plans for the next crop would be gone and with that any hope for future that he has.
Not since Premchand has any Indian author successfully highlighted the plight of a poor farmer. Not since the days of Balraj Sahni or Mother India has a movie portrayed his pain. The farmer has disappeared into the fringes, so much so that since Mahendra Singh Tikait’s movement in the 80s, farmers have stayed away from Delhi and have never raised a concerted voice for the powers to hear them.
In an effort to keep inflation at bay, the farmer’s interests are the first to be sacrificed. The price of crops is fixed by the government while the price of diesel and petrol are being de-reguated. India doesn’t know that Minimum Procurement Price being offered to farmers for their crops has become the Maximum Procurement Price, which hardly covers their expenses.
India’s investment in the stock exchange needs constant FDI inflow for capital growth, inflation must be in control to keep the Wheat, Onion and Dal cheaper for the Indian. Production and Service Industry must grow to sustain the economy, and so the land acquisition procedures must be easy and streamlined. Point taken and noted.
So when India needs space for its factories, it does not look for vacant non productive land lying in abundance all over India. It snatches land from the Bharatvarshi. It pays pittance to the Bharatvarshi for taking away the livelihood of all its future generations and gives the land to an Indian. The Indian buys this land on subsidised rates, with soft loans from the government, even stamp duty for transfer being waived off.
Oh, you see, India wants it’s forests, it wants it’s tigers, it’s deers and it’s birds. Wildlife must be protected. You can’t take forest land, so take that of the poor farmer! No Indian will pause and wonder if the animal in India has more rights than a bloody farmer.
We do need the forests, alright! But where is the balance? A sarkari babu sitting in an airconditioned office takes a pencil and marks the boundaries of land to be acquired. “Dekho koi forest to nahin hai aas paas?“, he asks his juniors. “Nahin Saab, kuchh khaatedaar kisaan hain bas.” “Theek Hai, fir notice nikaal do“. This IS how it is done in practice.
The farmer is treated worse than a helpless animal. No call for human rights here. Why does’t the government target un-protective ‘Banjar’ land for factories is a question no one has answers to. (And I am not even daring to touch here the plight of the tribals whose ancestral land is taken away without even a notice, because no sarkar over the millenia ever bothered to give them a title; however that is another story)
The heart shudders to think of a million farmers rising in anger and taking over Delhi. It is possible and it might happen any day.
This Kejriwal, that Modi and the princely Rahul. They are just playing politics over this India-Bharat divide. And they are able to do it because India does not care what happens to Bharat.
Time for India to stop and ponder, and to stand shoulder in shoulder with Bharat.