88 years back, Gandhiji led the Dandi March from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi, protesting against the British monopoly. He wanted to produce salt without paying tax and non-violently took to the street. A growing number of Indians joined him in his way.
That was 1930. And it was the perfect way to deal with the British Raj. We got independence in 1947 and have come so far to 2018. But we see history repeating itself with farmers marching from Nashik to Mumbai to seek relaxation from the Government.
The hands that feed us, that are sustaining the Indian economy are out on the streets instead of being in their farms. They are forced to beg for their rights. Our producers have become beggars! So shameful!
Their feet are having burns that can’t be cured by any doctors. Their slippers have never been replaced since time immemorial. They have become soldiers, ready to die for us without expecting any honour or award.
They are struggling each day not to demolish mosque or temple, not to destroy statues of great souls, not in search of beef in other's kitchen. They are in a struggle for survival, upon which the survival of India depends.
How ashamed as an urban middle-class person we should be, that starving, struggling, and dying folks plan the fight of their lives, keeping our concerns in mind. They marched in the dead dark silence of the night to avoid inconveniencing us.
These farmers were holding red flags in their hands, signalling danger and hope at the same time. They were signalling that they have become only 1% of the total population that is an endangered species. But we, as selfish consumers, we cannot think beyond jams.
So, here are some questions.
If farmers need to March on the road in 2018, are we progressing?
If common people need to beg and be slaves of political parties, are we independent?
If people are not aware of the schemes that are being run for them, are we benefitting?
The recent budget has farmers as the key focus. There are so many schemes running for farmers.
Then why farmers have to commit suicide?
Why farmers have to bank upon loan waiver promises of government?
Why don’t farmers want their sons to be farmers?
Why are farmers still dependent on monsoon?
The farmers have very genuine and basic demands. Let us have a look at them.
1 – Complete unconditional waiver of farm loans and of power bills
2 – Better prices for crops, about 1.5 times the input cost
3 – Pension scheme for farmers
4 – Proper implementation of laws governing forest produce
5 – Compensation for destroyed crops due to unpredictable weather, hailstorms and pinkball worm
6 – Alternative solution for irrigation in case of poor rainfall
7 – Genuine grievance of stopping forceful acquisition of farming land in the name of development
Just 7 wishes. But how many of these wishes are not a political agenda? The group who is funding the farmer’s march - their flags, their caps, en route food-water for them, the medical care, the massive organizational arrangements etc, could have stepped ahead to utilise this money for fulfilling these 7 wishes.
But lack of political motivation you see! Social work doesn’t get you TRP!
What we see is what political leaders want to show us. Poor farmers and their sufferings are being used as tools to misguide the public. No wonder they are in pain. But this protest is going to do no good. Never ever!