AN OPEN LETTER TO RICHES/would be RICHES OF INDIA

TO WHOMSOEVER IT MAY CONCERN

Poor people are being exploited, you said and laughed
Democracy’s last moments, you said and laughed
Everyone is corrupt here, you said and laughed
All around is misery, you said and laughed
How safe you must feel, when I was wondering

You found me all alone, again You laughed.

I am son of a farmer. You may be aware of this creature. If you haven’t seen it, don’t worry, you will see us more often! Some of us recently came to Delhi, apparently – as one of your newspaper photographs told you – to pee on Delhi’s protected monuments, to take away the iron poles as souvenirs and to create chaos in the city. If this single photographs of one of us was enough to convince you that we really came to Delhi to pee, then you know nothing about 90% of India. And about your Delhi protected monuments, I can refer you to “The last Mughal” by W .Darymple.

First of all they (your newspaper) refer to us as ‘they’. Like we are some sort of aliens living in country or the animals loitering around. So please allow me fall in line. Hereafter, I’ll call you, ‘you’ and not a part of ‘us’.

Let me assure you that we really don’t want to leave our fields until unless your development agendas throw us out. And of course We do not travel 200 Km just to pee. Neither we have this much of time nor resources. We really work hard to fill your food stocks even though we have to sleep hungry. The 227.32 million tons of grains are enough for 1.13 billion people if and only if everyone consume maximum of 200 Kg a year without wasting anything. Since you process your food (delightful pizzas et al.) and have enough purchasing power, the ghost of Adam Smith will tell you that its the poor who will go bed hungry (If (s)he own a bed, no pun intended.)! Yes, We farmers works so much for so little, what an irrational behavior, Joseph Stiglitz might wonder; and a Tim Friedman might convince you that we’ve had lost our mind. Why else they are committing suicide? He successfully convinced all of you that Keynes is a fairy tale. Ever wonder that It might be ethical since our whole life, we only produce and consume nothing (Please don’t argue that we also eat and drink.)? Yes, your economy is progressing. But for us, in short, from the time of Premchand to the time of P. Sainath, few things have changed for good. One, of course is that ‘you’ rich people do not vote even though your blood boils when someone across the border have the guts to attack you. Your indifference towards democracy gives us a larger say in government forming. Since politicians are not as disconnected to the reality as they sound in Lok Sabha they promise us Rs 1-3 per Kg rice if we bring them back to power, while conveniently telling you about the great progress your economy is making. Ever wonder? Thats the other story that Manmohanics is hell bent to cut the farm incentives – or subsidies, a word developed to be used in a poor guy case – in farm sector, possible to give corporates more incentives. You know when tsunami struck, most of your largest hit countries (India, Indonesia, Srilanks, thailand). Do you remember their stock market performance (P. Sainath, Google Video, Globalising Inequalities, pdfjustic) !! Everyone in dalal street was happy making money out of our misery while some of us were fighting for our survival and wondering what to do with all of those neck-ties and overcoats which were sent to us as relief material. Yes, there was other useful material too but dont you thinks that it is against the basic Indian dignity to wear the someone else clothes. We find it hard to compromise on these kind of issues of dignity. The will to survive with dignity is all which is left with us. Your media keep telling us what a funking looser we are since we do not own cars, our woman wears a lot of clothes, they do not watch M.Tv, our children do not speak English and most of all, because we look ugly. So most of us introduce ourselves apologetically like its a crime to be a farmer. Anyway, thanks for your empathy, sympathy, mercy whatever…

Our public distribution system is in doldrum and who gives a damn about rural health care. We now have (one of) the least effective health care system. 30% of us do not visit a hospital in our life since we can not afford it. Even in US, people cross border to get into Maxico to buy cheaper drugs. And US used forces to curb this íllegal’ practise instead of providing cheap medicine.Anyway, let me keep myself restricted to our issues. I understand that most of us do not look beautiful- and its nothing less a crime in a land where every one want to own the costliest fairness cream – and so the diseases which kill us are not a big issue. Nevertheless, We can kill ourselves in large number (The malaria/T.B. might be feeling inferiorly complex), some of us, are not that timid so they start killing those who they deem responsible. We conveniently call them Naxalites and send troops to ‘hunt’ them with all the hollywood kind of name. Thanks to their slogan “fastest rising DEMOCRACY”, otherwise they would have used the army to ‘hunt’ them down. You know a ‘democracy’ is not suppose to use army against its own citizen ( We have to contrast ourselves with China too) so we use police and CPRF which create more problem then they can solve. Or anyway, you can force them to kill each other, remember Salwa Judam! While your home minister, keeps repeating the same sentences which he probably had learned when he was on the board of Vedanta Corporation devising plans to loot the tribal lands.

But the question is still left unanswered? Why did we come to Delhi? I will help you get there. Just a help! You have to see yourself what you eyes do not see that the real India is an elephant in your kitchen (or bedroom). First of all we have to know that injustice is being done to us, otherwise why We will move an inch from our farms? Our only source of information, DD (And AIR also), shows us that a lot of modernity is taking place in India and education is the key to join the bandwagon. Given the reach of DD and given that it is the only channel which tells us about what is happening around us, it might have filled our head with poison that we should be part of this. It made us believe that we are part of a decent society, the dreamland of Nehru and Gandhi and we must be part of it else we are committing a crime. So we send our children to schools, but it does not appeal to elites. Now they must shrink their already shrinking space. Remember some of them had the gall to go to high court in Mumbai asking them not to permit the evicted slum-dwellers to vote after their houses were demolished by Maharashtra government as they could be biased now. Ha! Make a person homeless and then try to strip them out of their nationality too.

They put pressure on Prasar Bharti, especially the corporate media and government, forcing DD to tell us few things about us. Actually they say that DD is not making money! Prasar Bharti is a burden! The quality is so bad! Its not making money because villagers are not the market and DD cares/cared about them. Again quality is bad because it does not show as many beautiful people as it should. It tells the villagers about aids, RTI, NREGA etc. Its tell our children about the world that most of them will never see. Yea, We know Walt Disney too and we also enjoy it. Most of our women cannot/do not read newspaper out of illiteracy or lack the time. Last thing they want to see a half naked lady dancing in a obscene manner. Yes, we are dumb conservative, Shobha De and her followers may like to comment on it!. Future generation may find it pleasant,  by that time you would have made prostitution an art; remember the novel ‘Lolita”, one generation banned it on the charges of obscenity and the next rewarded it the Nobel prize. See the changes, amazing.. one generation dirt could be next generation art! Yes, We consider dancing half naked lady obscene! DD can be left alone as a poor-guy TV, Please don’t take away this from us. And please ask them not to make money but to educate us. You guys anyway have a lot of channels. You see we know much more about you than you know about us, still you consider yourself better equipped to make decision about us. We are not very sad with this. But one gets sad if he see darkness for one’s family, one’s children. The idea of having eduction for our children is probably the reason why we came to Delhi. You see, the cost is rising. Simple supply and demand! (It make sense to you now, right?) And our government can not do anything, though they are planning since Nehru time. To educate our children we need money. So we expect more though we have no control over it, or should I speak in educated man language, “We want our crop prices to be adjusted to inflation”.

We don’t know that if we store our product for a while and put pressure on supply side we can get much more money. Yes, We are that dumb. Rs 2 per kg for sugarcane what the SUPPLY-DEMAND curve was insinuating for us. So the government did not hesitate to bring the ordinance deny it (never mind just 3 days before the winter season). Per 100 Kg of sugarcane you can extract 10-13 kg of sugar. Most of you know. But it also gives alcohol and raw material for paper from the leftovers. In sugar extraction, even the chemical leftovers, which are rich in sulfur, are sold back to farmers as fertilizers. There is no study weather they are harmful and can cause innumerable diseases. And who will study them, our agricultural universities are busy making Bt. Brinjal for us (to solve food problem) while buying the genes from Monsato. Neither they asked us if we want them to grow, and everyone else is happily endorsing them. And yes, nobody is asking why they did not develop the genes in their laboratory and why buy only from Monsato? You see, we still haven’t developed a single efficient instrument which can measure that NPK content in soil, though everything comes from it.

I tell you that in India the most remarkable and marketable thing is its democracy. Remarkable because only poor vote, and marketable, you all might have seen the coverage! We vote so we wield some power. And we really really appreciate that you do not! Ever wonder why an old lady who can not walk properly goes miles just to vote for a person who she had never seen and probably will never see? Or a shoe-polisher polish your shoes for free when his choice of CM won? This is due to hope which India provides her citizen and that why it survives. When hope dies, you see Naxals, they put gun on your head and suddenly our PM start asking you to show ‘care, sensitivity’ to tribals as they starts ‘hunting’ them. No wonder they claim, “White men called us Bhagat Singh, Brown men call us Naxalite, Black men will call us rising star, inqlab inqlab zindabaad….

Now back to Delhi peeing-on-the-protected-monument thing. We were organized by politicians who however could have done the same. But the government was not worried, how much they can stand in front of brutal police tactics. They will lathi charge them since we were taking law in our hand, and TOI and HT will go gaga. But we took them by surprise. What a large number! City police was surprised. Actually it was not the politician who convinced us that we should go and pee on the protected monuments to get what we is rightly ours, it is the growing discomfort among masses. Over 80 millions of Indians lives below Rs 20 a day! Do you think that Rs 100 per day for 100 days promise of NREGA is burden on your hard-earned tax money. Please visit us for a day, We’ll show you what is hard-earned money. On human development what is the index of your ‘tiger economy’? How many child laborer do you have in your ‘rising superpower’? How many children drop out of primary schools in your ‘knowledge economy”? It makes us laugh, if we can understand, how cunningly you hides behind our back at climate summit, justifying your stand citing our per capita emission, so you can continue same policies.

Mr. P. Sainath had been telling this all along. Sometimes some of you guys surprised us by your common sense. We are not educated. Most of the village banks do not provide education loan. See, leave the facilities even loan is not provided. Government make sure that the quality of their primary education should be that level that no body ask these banks for education loan. They give agriculture loan, loan to buy buffallo, loan to buy tractors, loan to buy seeds and pesticide from Monsato etc. And the interest rate, now it is reasonable but there was a time not in distant past when my father paid 24% on the tractor while our well-off citizen were told through advertisement to buy cars only at 8%. Actually, we do not consider this a sin. Most of us consider it the prerogative of riches. We appreciate your appetite because we all want to be like you. What a shame!

May be you’d like to cite Darwin and say, “Its the survival of fittest”. First of all it was not Darwin who said it, it was an economist who coins this term. Even the brightest of your students in so-called IITs/AIIMs (in anti reservation stand, which I used to support) says that Darwin said that. Anyway, whoever said that, it wouldn’t change the meaning of this phrase. Sure, it a tempting philosophy, may be next time we should rob some of you and and tell you, “No offense sir, Just the survival of the fittest.” No wonder you will be crying about societies and the responsibilities of a citizen. Ha!

One thing I’d like to state to all the citizen of this great republic about which Arundhati Roy “listening to the grasshoppers”. If you have any any sort of influence which can effect our life, please visit us once is a while before making a decision. If, after coming to our homes and seeing us, you can not see what your eyes havn’t seen and what your heart haven’t felt, please do not visit again. You may create bigger harm even though your intentions are as pure as the water drink. And yes of-course, you can pee anywhere in our home as you have been doing. You can take away our lives a souvenir as you have been doing. And you can create all the chaos in our life as you did in tribal areas. We would not complain! And there is no use, your supreme courts sleeps more days then it works.

I have had bitter observations, although you guys talk and write about us with a lot of empathy, at the same time you show a profound hesitation for our company. Perhaps it is the hallmark of Indian middle classes to have double standards. We just do not get it. For us, the life has taken the same routine. But our peeing in Delhi did not go fruitless. Lets praise our democracy! And take it from me, you can tell your children if there is anything in this country to be felt proud about, it is her poor citizen astonishing will to live (read survive) with dignity and our democracy which is being presented to all of us wrapped in a very dirty package by the media. And shame on all of you, who dares to take away even that from us. Beware! We also know how to bite.


A farmer

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Author: Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

2 thoughts on “AN OPEN LETTER TO RICHES/would be RICHES OF INDIA”

  1. Dilawar singh, I fully agree with you. Governments of this country have always worked for the rich. Only thing, it is now more obvious and done in ashamed manner. Prasar Bharati is a tool in the hands of the rich through government. It is the government that decides what the DD should speak.And it is the rich who decide how the government should behave.

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