A Recondite Situation

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IMG_2780 The above two pictures exhibit vignettes of normal citizens relaxing and perhaps enjoying too. They are fortunate, they live in a country which has an economic arrangement that allows huge income disparities between the rich and them and yet from their personal budget they can afford basic amenities and also relish their preferred passion. There are a minority in their country who are considered poor and are scraping the bottom of the barrel and live from hand to mouth due to various reasons. However, they do get support in the form of social and medical benefits from their government and welfare organisations. They do not have to commit suicide because they have no means to live with or they can not repay their debts. Their country looks after them. In their country suicide is committed by a person due to other social and moral reasons, rather than on grounds of poverty and crop failure.      

We in India  presently are following similar economic and financial doctrines; our rich have become immensely wealthy with vast disparity between their income and that of the rest of the population; this has reached the sky and is soaring further. The expansion of the upper and the lower middle classes (mainly blue, white collar, artisans and so on)  has resulted from the large scale exodus to the urban areas. One redeeming consolation is the amount of money available with this working class due to relatively higher salaries and wages. I was stumped totally when our  dhobi (washerman) was keen to upgrade his mode of conveyance from motorcycle by offering to buy my five year old car. It also reminded me of my outing with a partner on a golf course in Boston who turned out to be a mason by profession. The middle class has derived benefits from the open economy though with the constant rise in costs of various services and commodities they can barely enjoy other common pleasures. Money can take us to the right place, thereafter we often find ourselves at the mercy of others and wait for the Almighty to help us.

IMG_2793 The gap between the haves and have nots is disparately visible in  the rural area where the poor remain where they always have been, at the mercy of the weather and the village money lender. The images below are from the outskirts of Lucknow the capital of a state which sends maximum numbers of lawmen to Lok Sabha who can form or dislodge the Central Government. So far these lawmakers have concentrated on only doling out petty cash to the farmers and unorganised labourers through loan waivers and stipends (Rs 6000 per year per family!!).  

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When will our irrigation system improve so that water reaches each and every field when needed for the crops? When will the cost of the fertilizers, manures, insecticides and pesticides be within the reach of these marginal farmers? When will their farm produce get the remunerative price for the farmers to sustain themselves and their families? When will the banks help them to get rid of the money lenders? 

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 The answers to all these questions are not complicated nor demanding. Nor are the answers unknown as we are aware that with the evolution of agriculture the nomad homo sapiens formed into a group, a village, a town, a city and a country! Let our farmers live a decent life so that everyone benefits from their produce from their fields  and the country thrives and moves forward. Let the farmers gainfully apply themselves to turn the barren pieces (as above) into rich healthy crops laden fields (as below).

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Will all this happen and when? My fingers have remained crossed for so long that I can barely twitch them! 

 

Acknowledgement:

Extremely thankful to Jafar Shameem for allowing me to use the outstanding pictures captured by him.

You can view and enjoy many more pictures taken by Jafar Shameem by logging on to his site:  jafar.com

 

 

8 thoughts on “A Recondite Situation”

  1. First of all, our thanks to Mr Jafar Shameem for the excellent photos in your blog.
    Coming to the crux of the issue you have brought out, if you compare our childhood days to those of our grandchildren, I think there is world of difference and day is not far when we would be competing with the Western World in all the social or economic fields. Remember the ‘rationing’ days when Shah of Iran had sent four ship loads of dates to India or we would get food aid from US just to avert भूखमरी? Today not only we are self sufficient, we are exporting almost everything.
    And all that was inspite of our political system.
    With changed political scenario I am sure things will improve at much faster pace.
    Be rest assured and sleep in peace, my friend.

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    1. Sorry friend, you may be sleeping in peace but most of us can not as conditions have deteriorated considerably over nearly past five years for the farmers, unorganised labor, small business and the only those who have prospered are the crony capitalists, who continue to do so under the present dispensation.

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  2. Education,education,,,,,,,, is the answer. In India people accept their condition as is. The uneducated poor are scared to ask questions, they accept their fate. An educated and enlightened population asks questions and demands change. There is no pressure on the elected representatives to deliver change. Indian political system has become hereditory and corrupt/new maharaja’s of the country. There is need for a revolution to enforce change.

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    1. Thank you Jai. Education for gaining knowledge and becoming proactive is very essential and welcome. Unfortunately it is the educated who are siphoning our resources through corruption. Be it a politician, bureaucrat, engineer, doctor, banker, petty official, police and many others who are responsible for the present malaise.
      Please read ‘Billionaire Raj’ by Crabtree for a detailed account of the state of affairs in our country over the years and as of now. It is the Constitutional system and practices that have to followed and practised continues to remain defunct then I suppose your premise regarding the need for a revolution is the need of the hour.

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  3. I am giving my comments here as I had failed earlier in offering comments in the blog.
    Examples of nations who have achieved gross happiness and contentment for their people are many. These are not only some Scandinavian countries but also many non European countries who have risen after having been devastated by war and colonisation.
    Japan is a classic example. They have the advantage of a homogeneous population and national discipline of an abnormally high order.
    Isreal a relatively new nation and surrounded by hostile nations has ensured roti, kapra and makan for all. After the Balfour Declaration and Jews were given a Homeland in a dry desert land, they said ” we will teach our Arab brothers how to do agriculture. India is sending delegations to learn from them.
    Vietnam is an example of a nation under occupation and involved in war to drive out two Western powers out, unify the country and achieve national reconstruction. We I think are importing some food grains from them.
    South Korea is another example of rapid progress to universal well being of people.

    For us our salvation lies in education. We need to allot lot more to education in the govt sector. Make it affordable and effective. Reservation in education and not in jobs is the long term aim. Difference between Kerala and Bihar is because of education. Both have enough water for agriculture but Bihar lags behind.
    While I agree with J Mathur(daughter of our Mr Mathur?) about education, I don’t think there is need for a revolution.
    Late Dr Abdul Kalams dream of making India a great power is very relevant.
    As for water for our farms, we need to improve our dry land agriculture. Whatever we may do for linking rivers we cannot bring water to all our dry lands. It is too vast. Vidharba, North Karnataka, Bundelkhand, southern Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan etc.
    Basic minimum income is a measure that can be attempted.

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    1. Many thanks for your exhaustive and very relevant comments.
      In the blog I have attempted to put in ground realities and you will agree with me that pictures speak more than words!
      I totally agree with you regarding education, especially to make our population knowledgeable and pro active.
      Unfortunately the trend in rural areas & to a certain extent in urban too, is that highly educated find ways and means to fill their coffers through corrupt means. Whether it is a banker, doctor, engineer, bureucrat, policeman, etc. politicians of course lead. We all are aware of this and silently accept. Ultimately the outcome is that every project suffers!
      Read the ‘Billionaire Raj’ and learnt that in southern states 80% of the sanctioned amount is spent on the projects, and 20% siphoned of through corruption, whereas in the northern states it is just the reverse! I suppose in Kerala & other southern states living is easier for the low income groups.
      Having lived in UP & served in Bihar (Danapur) I have observed the misery of the marginal farmers & the unorganized laborers.
      Unless our Constitutional Systems & Institutions perform according to their brief, no amount of education will remove the malaise.
      But that is perhaps asking too much, after all these are run by the very same homo sapiens!

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  4. I think we should strengthen the village panchayat as a real local self govt with financial resources and made responsible for the full range of economic activity within its area. It ought to act as a cooperative/commune with pool of farm machinery, cold storage facilities and marketing resources and much more.

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    1. The suggestion is in the right direction. The tribal elders of yore made decisions which benefited the entire village. In Nagaland not very long back a newly married couple moved into a gifted house constructed by the village community artisans. Maybe we also need to take a leaf out of our past heritage! Utopia? Wishful thinking?

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