The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Friday 9 December 2011


“The LIFW-2004 edition produced, in one count, some 4,00,000 words in print. Over 1,000 minutes in television coverage. Some 800 hours of TV and video footage were shot. And close to 10,000 rolls of film exposed.”

A recent write-up reminded me of these lines of an article published in the 10th anniversary issue of the Outlook magazine. Written by P. Sainath in 2005, the pertinent issue – elitism of the mainstream media – remains so valid even now. Sometimes this, sometimes that, but the last nine months since the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare that swept the media docks of this country, have been so news heavy that expecting something on an off-beat issue like ‘farmer suicides’ would hardly raise any point of interest. Though Anna always spoke about plight of farmers, what made headlines was his tough and confrontational words aimed at the opponents of the anti-corruption movement. Never was the plight of farmer an issue in any of the 24/7 debate shows stuffed with rants and chants of experts of ‘all hues’. Yes, some newspapers, as usual, took up the theme to delve further.

So it was surprising when I figured this story on farmers suicide two days ago and that, too, in a mainstream broadsheet, Hindustan Times. And probably, some of the print media carriers are the only avenue available to news stories like this. But this story was shocking and eye-opening. The issue of farmer suicides that stirred the soul of the nation only few years ago was slowly being push into the oblivion after some minor improvement with initiatives like MNREGA, the 2008 loan-waiver windfall and an easier credit policy for farmers. Subsequent years saw number of farmer suicides going down. But a temporary measure is bound to fail. Extending monetary help without working to improve the socioeconomic status of farmers and not hitting the root cause of the malaise – low per acre return on the crop sown – is like showing them a false hope. It was a populist measure that worked well for a while but cannot be sustainable in the long run given the size of the burden on the exchequer – a burning example is Sonia Gandhi’s brainchild, the ‘Food Security Bill’, that is being delayed and drawing flak from the economists for the additional huge burden that it will effect on the health of national economy. Let’s see what the report (India sees fresh wave of farmer suicides) says:

  • 680 suicides in Vidarbha’s six districts (a notorious region for farmer suicides) in 2011 while official count for 2010 was 152 – Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samithi
  • Over 90 farmers have committed suicide in six districts of Andhra Pradesh during October – November 2011. - Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
  • Eight farmer suicide cases in Wayanad
Full figure will come out early next year as more and more annual reports, of NGOs as well as of administrative bodies’ are compiled.

Factors like crashed ginger prices, increased inflation, falling rupee and towering fertilizer prices, impacted farm practices due to climate change are being put forward to save skin.

  • But aren’t these factors recurring in nature?
  • Don’t we need a policy aimed at finding permanent solution and not on providing alms giving fleeting respite?
But when the aim is just about beating the brush, what much can we say? Policymakers announced it, launched it and released INR multi-billion campaigns to claim it. Media reaped the crop, too, getting cash-heavy by carrying advertisements. And it looked to work. One of reasons of UPA’s victory in 2009 election was the good harvest of votes of farmers after the implementation of 2008 farmer credit scheme.

No watchdogs. All so jolly and happy!

Result: Some ‘vote bank generosity’ has become breeding ground for corruption. Every major scheme like MNREGA, NRHM, farmer credit and financial assistance to the farmers – has been a high talking point of corruption in the recent history.

Yes, the resultant corruption - you saw and read that in media. But irony is whenever any scam was unearthed; it rode high on sensational news elements like murder of medical officers in Uttar Pradesh or arrest of politicians and officials elsewhere. Volumes of media space were coloured in explaining the scam and what the particular scheme was but nothing was written or produced on how the schemes were faring at the ground level – how or if a daily wage earner or a farmer (in our country, most of the time, they, interchangeably are the same group of people) was getting benefitted, what were the pluses, what were the dark spots needed to be taken care of before the next round of fund disbursement.

Fringed thoughts for fringe elements!

All so boring stuff for the mainstream media of the day!