Its tough being in farming, impossible to leave it!

Impossible is nothing? Try becoming a farmer for a week!

 “No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.” 

–Thomas Jefferson  

In order to get your attention, let me boast a little bit. I was one of the 100 percentile in GATE-2007. So I was able to convince my family to let me spend more time in an university – not like the one I had been at. Only we know, how my family paid my tuition fees during my U.G.. They wanted me to do a job after completing my U.G. so that I could pay back the loan they have taken from local moneylender for my studies. The interest rate was 30% and its been four years. I am not saying that we are poor farmers – at least by Indian farmers standard which is very simple; If you are alive, you are not poor. We belong to less than one percent of farmers whose annual income is about 50k. And since in my village, there is plenty of ground water for irrigation, you can be sure that next year you can can make that much of profit – if sugar-mill will pay your money on time which hardly happens. For one child, we had enough. But I was not the only one in college. My elder brother was just out of the college and got the job – a relief. Younger just entered into one. So his his expenses was covered by his salary. For four years all of our income went into paying the interest only.

If you are from a less-privileged places, it is always dangerous to tell others your success story. They will hang others with you. They will make a hero out of you and send message to others, “Look! If he can why you can’t?” and will pass all the responsibility on them. It’s really horrible. The odd of you winning a crore rupee lottery is higher than finding a success story from a village. Its a win win situation for them. On one hand they make us feel that we should never ask them for providing opportunities (at least), on the other hand they easily escape the criticism also. Look, system is working over there! Otherwise this would have never been possible. It is perhaps a common Indian attitude, if you are successful, everyone wants to prove his part in your success; if you are a failure, they have nothing to do with you. You are on your own. Its just not government, you can find it at every level of Indian society including family.

I hardly tell anyone any of it, there is hardly a chance one will understand what one has never felt. It applies for everyone. Neither I will understand what you have been through. Still stories must be told. Words are powerful if not omnipotent. Whenever I tell this to anyone from cities. All of them find a fault with us. Why didn’t you approach a bank? You could have got loan easily. There are plenty of advertisement saying so. Like ads are for real! Honestly we did. My father is not a big fan of Banks since he had paid 24% interest loan for tractor with all of his land as collateral – not a much difference and you can get loan from money-lender very easily without paper work. Thanks to the green-card which was introduced in 2005 which gives us credit worth 1.5 lacs at the interest rate of 9%. This is only good thing we ever get from the government. When I was planning to get admission for M. Tech., I approached State Bank of India, waited there for two hours to be told that I have to go to Moradabad, 60 Km away, to get the forms. It was not only me, there was one family over there they told me they have to spend 7 days to get the forms only. I had 15 days to pay the fees. Then I went to Canara Bank, they simply refused since they were not issuing new loans. Apparently they were having trouble recovering old loans. Bank of Baroda was sympathetic. They politely said they since your village is more than 4 km away from them, they will not grant the loans. Why don’t you go to a bank in the radius of 4 km. So we came out of bank, my younger brother was furious. He wished if he had a gun. I asked him to gain his composure and we approached ‘Bidur Gramin Bank‘ which is 2 km away from my village. All of the village banking is done over here.

Manager was happy to know that someone from a farmer family is going to IIT. Then he said, we do not have any policy regarding education loan. You want to buy buffalos, tractor, fertilizers, pesticides, we can give loan. But there is not policy regarding education loan. I could have lost my mind there, had I been not blessed with a weired sense of humor. I came home, told my father that what your educated son was able to accomplish today. They say that there is no policy of education loan for farmers.

Two days later, we got a loan for buffaloes and we showed some one else buffaloes as ours. Yes! What a corrupt people we are. Out of disgust I wrote an email to RBI, and this reply came back,

TO
Complaint Against RBI

FROM
dilawar singh

even after securing admission in IIT bombay (M. Tech.), i was denied education loan from all the bank in my area giving puerile reason.

Regards
RBI WebMaster

Dear Sir,
Granting of loan is a commercial decion of the bank however advise that the letter has been forwarded to Shri.G.Gupta, General Manager –Operations, Central Bank of India, Chander Mukhi, 4th floor, Nariman Point, Mumbai 400 021. Phone 022-22026776, 56387711  to redress your complaint.



Yours faithfully

(Sujatha Elizabeth Prasad)
General Manager
Customer Service Department,

Then these managers lost their minds. Apparently, there was a letter for every branch manager in the area and they were running around in my village to get the application signed by my father. He signed it despite of my younger brother resistance. Why make them suffer? They are beautiful people!

This was the first lesson in rural sociology for me. People were happy. I still have not got the loan, neither I needed it anymore. They could have paid my fees anyway by collecting money from here and there. Anyway, scholarship was enough to pay the fees. For some, if TA-ship is their lifeline, for some its money to booze out. It is the sense of the power which made these villagers happy. They were listen to. That is why, they go out there to vote for a person they do not know or probably will never know. And I am so happy that you guys do not vote. Please do not go out there to vote no matter what your media tells you. Else we really have to commit suicide in really large number to get ourselves heard as farmers in Maharashtra are doing even though agriculture minister is from their state. That does not boil the blood of any Marathi Manoos. Perhaps this is very Indian thing to live like a dog. Few of us, generally go out and protest sometime to be beaten up by the police till we crap out. Peace, is what you love because it is beneficial to you. Disorder is what we need. Since there is not other channel left for us to get our voices heard. The privatization of media has effectively blocked whatever was left.

True, we do vote for criminals (thats what you call them, though we don’t see any difference – you are better at hiding it) even though we know well in advance that most of them are not going to do anything. But the assurance is there that you can come to their places and talk with them. Besides if voting for someone who does work is the main reason for which rural folks votes, you still be having the British Government. We’ll vote for anyone who can promise us ‘a survival with dignity‘. Besides they are much less corrupt than most (any) of you.

The revolution that ensued after 1857, all of those who cared about this nation ruined themselves financially. Whoever left rich at that time was the opportunist section of Indian who shamelessly aligned with British for their own benefits as Aurobindo Ghosh anticipated in his 1893 essay (“A Cheap Shoddy Import”) and D.D. Kosambi recalled, some 50 years on, in his review of Jawaharlal Nehru’s Discovery of India. One of the earliest tributes paid to the Indian middle class is to be found in the 1961 essay by B.B. Misra, where he called it “a product of British benevolence.” Today, most of this upper middle class, as it exists, are their children. How many of them talk about nation at the dinner table? How many of them knows what is ailing their motherland? How many of them dream of living for a cause if there is no media coverage? At most they can join a Facebook community to show that they really care. They love doing what there forefather had done. Aligned with the powerful and lick their arse. No wonder, most of them just love America – forgetting what it wanted to do with India when she was just born. It’s just not U.S. or Europe, for last 5 years, the biggest haters of China (Indian Express and co) has suddenly become the biggest lover of it. Every time they have to make a point about economy, they invoke China first. China have defeated us second time – this time it breaks our backbone. Pakistan suffered that too, he always define India first then he declares, “I am what India is not.”. Thats the tragedy with him. If you’ve got money and power, don’t forget to make Indians your bitches.

A section of this class, mostly from the traditional families were left untouched, are in Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Mysore (Bangalore)  and Kerala. On the other extreme, Delhi and and a part Mumbai are notorious for its ever-greedy businessmen, pig-head editors and and ultra-corrupt government officials. In Bangalore and Chennai, you can easily find mini Bill Gates. Traditions societies have their own values and they should not be discarded as rapidly they are being in North India.

Let me be grumpier and rant a bit more. Getting loan is a part of a farmer life. Since the time of Premchand’s “Godan” to Sainath’s “Everyone loves a good drought”, hardly anything have changed for good. Well, this is something else. What troubles me what you do in our name.

Every budget speech claims that this budget is farmer friendly. Look at these speeches

The real heroes of India’s success story were our farmers. Through their hard work, they ensured “food security” for the country. – Pranab Mukherjee, interim budget speech Feb. 16, 2009

This Budget belongs to ‘Aam Aadmi’. It belongs to the farmer, the agriculturist, the entrepreneur and the investor. – Pranab Mukherjee, budget speech, Feb. 26, 2010

Gee!

Let me quote Sainath – possibly the only man with balls alive today, “Editorials across ten years have always found “a new thrust” to agriculture that spelt “good news” for the farmer. Rarely mentioned are the massive subsidies, now larger than ever before, for the Corporate sector. This year alone, the budget gifts over Rs.500,000 crores in write-offs, direct and indirect, to the Big Boys. That’s Rs.57 crores every single hour on average – almost a crore a minute. Beating last year’s Rs.30 crores an hour by more than 70 per cent. (See Tables 5 and 12 of the “Statement of Revenue Foregonesection of the budget.). 

May be pro-farmer was a typo. Yes, it must have been a typo. The English speaking media can not be that dumb to notice the difference. Let’s sail through the budget. While most of the t.v. channels were busy arguing, Will FM behave “like a CEO of Indian Inc.” or will he behave like a “politician”.  A second ad in this series read: “Will FM’s speech DESTROY or CREATE Market Wealth?” What they mean by wealth is the notional money which will come back after 2 days anyway if destroyed today. In the event, the Finance Minister more than lived up to their demands. The budget hands out new bonanzas for Corporate Kleptocrats. It goes further than earlier ones in pushing the private sector as prime driver of development and economy. Not the public sector.   

I still have not find any thing pro-farmer inside. Lets look deeper. May be somewhere there is something inside for Dilawar’s father et al.

Take Mr. Mukherjee’s “four-pronged strategy” for agriculture. The first of these, “agricultural production,” could mean anything. The other three are a goldmine for large corporations, not the countless millions of small and marginal farmers who produce India’s food. Take “Reduction in wastage of produce.” This means more big bucks for companies setting up storage facilities. Take this together with the related “Credit Support to farmers.” Already, an Ambani or a Godrej can set up a cold storage in Mumbai and get agricultural rates of credit for it. That’s thanks to our re-jigging of what “agricultural credit” and “priority sector lending” mean. This budget takes that process further.

Ok, some more . They are trying to expand their Forbes list, that O.K. Jai Ho! They can not be that much cold towards us. It took over a 1,50,000 suicide to bring out a movie in our name. Moving further,

The budget says: “Changes in the definition of infrastructure under the ECB policy are being made” to foster this process. Some of those changes have already happened. Several of the loans disbursed as “agricultural credit” are in excess of Rs. 10 crore and even Rs. 25 crore.

A farmer taking loan of 10 crore? Have you seen any of them. I havn’t. All I wanted was 16000 to pay my semester fees.

The budget promises “appropriate banking facilities” in every village with a population of over 2000. Since 1993, the number of rural branches of scheduled commercial banks has steadily fallen, even as the rural population has grown. So taken together with the licenses to be given out to private operators, this means the new branches will be those of private banks. Not one of whom has an iota of interest in small and marginal farmers. Nor are they bound by the social banking obligations that once guided the nationalised sector. “A thrust to the food processing sector” is exactly the same. More cash for big companies. You know who the “state-of-the-art infrastructure” will be built for – with public money.

There goes our buffalo loans also. There is no hope left should one more Dilawar tops a national competitions.

Says Sainath, “Remember the excuse trotted out for letting Big Retail sell agricultural produce? It would do away with the “middleman,” giving farmers and consumers a better deal. Yet prices of fresh produce are costlier at big retail’s outlets. You still get a better deal from the petty vendor on the street. Often, that pathetic “middleman” they’re crushing is a poor woman street vendor. The last and weakest link in the chain of intermediaries between farmer and public. The new middlemen wear suits.

 Since the word farmer is sacred and a puja must be performed 

An incentive to repay loans on time – which millions of farmers cannot do – is being passed off as an additional subsidy to the aam kisan in this budget. And there is still an air of self-congratulation on the Rs. 70,000-crore farm loan waiver of 2008. A one-off waiver that comes once in so many decades. Yet revenue foregone in this budget in direct tax concessions to corporate tax payers is close to Rs. 80,000 crores. It was over Rs.66,000 crores last year. And Rs.62,000 crores the year before that. In all, Rs. 2,08,000 crores of direct freebies in 36 months. 

Ok, these LSE educated pig-head economists. Never mind that some of these deluded dissenters warned – correctly – of the type of crisis that shook the world in 2008. Not one of the “experts” ever came within miles of predicting that meltdown. They were in fact proclaiming the Golden Age to be upon us when their babble hit the fan. But no questions on their competence. Many of the “experts” have direct ties to large corporations and peddle their interests with zest. Sometimes, with a little more sophistication than panting media hucksters who show not a trace of the scepticism their profession demands of them. Straining at the leash to beat their rivals in serving the richest 1 per cent (or less) of Indians.

Hmm.. Should I kill some of those who are responsible of this or should we keep killing ourselves to get ourselves heard. Look, Subcomandante Marcos! Can you come here for some time? Look George Orwell, It’s 1984!


They, Indian government on one hand and subsidy by US and Europe to their farmers on the other hand, have made our life miserable in farming. The only voice we have is ballot box. We did it once in 2005 when we changed the government we did not want which shook the pundit of media very heavily. Asks BJP they will tell you. UPA survived because of NREGA. Like ‘Left in Bengal‘ they are also taking us for granted. May be it time to teach them a lesson too. We also want a stable government but not at every cost or for your benefits. Why should we go hungry just because your ass and your belly starts competing with each other to get fatter day by day.


Over last 3 years I have lost almost all of the faith in this perverse middle class. I have grown sympathetic to Naxals even though I find their actions wrong headed. Democracy in India is very much alive and very strong since only poor people votes and they are the only one who should. Time by time, they try to take away this from us. Sometimes in the name of larger weight-age for their votes. Funny! Like  this gonna happen. They are much more narcissist than Mayawati could only dream of.  


Sometimes they like to listen to us, not to what we say but to a middle class guy who suppose to be a social entrepreneur. The reporter comes to the village, interview this guy and goes away. If you are in village, talk to the villager. Why they choose to ignore the real people? Due to their consumers – who are middle class. Now this has got to be published as an ideal middle class life. Look! He is from middle class and doing all this service to a village. You must aspire to do so. Its like the movie, Swadesh where villages are used to lift the image of the hero. Just to please the middle class how great they can be and look, there is ultra fair looking girl talking in an accent as alien as her look – who can travel to  Delhi to buy thousands rupees of books, yet the Hero can not go there without using his own vehicle. Have you notices a single bus on the roads? How did she travel? – . And of course, you can dream of romance and marriage.Villages are not as pretty as they have shown. Still something is better than nothing. ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur’, I can say represent a big village of Uttar Pradeh.

Die Poor Die!! sanjayswadesh.blogspot.com 

Talking of Education, there have been a huge improvement in infrastructure in primary schools. But one benefit is negated by other. They have lowered the quality of teachers. They call them siksha mitra. They are just 12th passed and got paid 4000 pm – much higher than what they pay in a private schools as low as 1500 pm. One of my colleague in office did not believe me unless other told him and I am right. Her cousin works in the suburban of Delhi who get only 900 pm teaching nursery kids. You can see this wonderful work.


After ruining economy, now these bastards, popularly know as whiz kids has turned their eyes on agriculture and micro credit. Micro-credit by Muhammad Yunus, who gave this hope for the revival of the rural economy is now under threat from these. Unfortunately IIT Bombay have the history producing few of these bastards. Microlending has grown so popular that some of its biggest proponents are now wringing their hands over the direction the industry has taken. This year we have seen over 1 billion people going bed hungry. A bank Shell have already made $2 billion out of people misery. I dont how much other have exploited. Speculation over the grain have already made the food costlier for poor. When prices were rising, all sorts of explanations were proffered: rising food demand from China and India, the impact of rising oil prices on the costs involved in producing and transporting food, the role played by subsidised production of biofuels that moved acreage and grain production away from food crops. Of these factors, the first was completely wrong – food grain demand in both China and India has actually fallen in recent times, contrary to what George W. Bush and Wall Street Journal were shouting – but there was something in the rest. Yet they could not explain the full extent of the dramatic food price volatility.

The World Development Movement (WDM) has issued a damning report on July 19, 2010 on the growing role of hedge funds and banks in the commodities markets in recent years, during which time cocoa prices have more than doubled, energy prices have soared and coffee has fluctuated dramatically. Financial speculators have come under renewed fire from anti-poverty campaigners for their bets on food prices, blamed for raising the costs of goods such as coffee and chocolate and threatening the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries.

Courtsey : TheHindu

Now back in India, out Agricultural minister, who spent all of time promoting cricket and hence is the Hero of Cricket consuming media, blamed us and poor monsoon for all of this. One of them is busy making a pro-farmer budget and other is happy blaming us for not doing the farming properly. There was only one bad monsoon after an spree of 10 good monsoon. Consider what could have happened of we had 2-3 bad monsoons? Indians are fucking ignorant. I don’t know why? As Jefferson has said, “If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?” If we say something, they claim that we do not understand, it will take some time to trickle down. History tell us, noting ever tricked down from the pocket of  an Indian in general and North Indians in particular.

Well, its not in our nature to cry over. We have this sort of attitude for life, “Bring it on Bitch.”. But lately I have spend so many years with middle class people, I have also bitten by this bug. These people are spineless. A little bit of trouble, and look them cry. Pussies! Having a voice is the first requirement to break away from poverty – anyone from U.N. will tell you. This voice is exactly what they deny us. How many newspaper have a full time correspondent working on poverty? How many farmers you see on the pages of your newspaper?

I get this all the time. What you are doing for your village rather than talking? Honestly, first of all, hardly any problem we face is created by us. I just keep telling others not to create trouble for us, we do not have resources to solve them. Sometimes, they just call me some -ist, -ian and go back to their usual arguments. Most of the time, I get the sympathy which is worst and goes against my dignity, both as a farmer and as traditional rajput culture – though these days there is hardly any difference left. Sympathy is the last thing we need. It’s our right to get the fair price of our product. It’s due to our right not because any of you feel sorry.

You probably will never know, lemme tell you, the minimum support price (MSP) which government establishes for farmers does not contain any profit. Profit is 0%. If you are farmer, you are not entitled for profit. And I worked in an office which had this paper on the entrance door quoting some Nobel prize winner economist, “Be ruthless for profit. Profit is the best what one can offer to society. … ” Now can I ask, if profit for the riches is so sacred, why we are denied this profit in MSP?

Over the last 20 years, I have seen a tremendous change in the attitude of farmers. They no longer introduce themselves proudly as my grandfather used to do. He did not let my father do a job in bank. He thought it is a form of slavery. The effect of neo-liberal media is so profound on them that they have started introducing themselves apologetically. Once you loose your self esteem, you are as good as dead. Media keeps telling us that we are looser. We dont have a car, our children can not speak English, our women wears so many clothes. No wonder they are committing suicide. Being poor can not be the only reason, they have been poor all along. Villagers have astonishing will to survive with dignity. Its the dignity they took from us. None of them wants to be in farming anymore even if other options are not pretty!

My be its time we also learn to bite since public offices are being  made for private convenience. Besides, Its the utmost duty of a citizen to be a pain in the ass of his government.

END NOTES :

[1] Here is one story of successful farmer but alas, no every Village have resources to go to Israel to learn things .This indeed a rare example and must not be taken as an alternative. Besides if U.S. stopped giving subsidies, their farming will collapse in a month. This type of model are being forced on us.  http://www.agricultureinformation.com/forums/questions-answers/53381-iit-mach-engineer-turned-farmer.html.


Dilawar

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Author: Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

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