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