Friday, September 7, 2012


Farmers stand in line in the water, protesting that their lands have been inundated without compensatory land being given to them. The Supreme Court Judgement on this has been by passed. News of it came to viewers from Headlines Today, and while eating dinner, one watched astounded as the Jal Morcha participants appeared disembodied, their bodies soaked  in water,for fourteen days. On 6th  September, they were up to their chests, on 7th September 2012, the water was up to their chins. The sturdy Ms Palit is with them, speaking to camerapersons on their behalf. Khandwa is where the farmers grow cotton and wheat, and the  Medieval district where Mumtaz Mahal is said to have died, buried in the Zenab Gardens by Shah Jehan, before her remains were brought to Agra later in 1631. According to the essayist in Wikipedia, there is an airstrip rarely used in Khandwa. So really, we need to know why no one came to enquire from the Government when the Morcha began. This is one of the most fearsome aspects of government through neglect. Governments cannot run by wilfully ignoring the wishes of the people. A boy at the Crossroads in Delhi sold me 42 turberoses last week for fifty rupees. Why "forty two", I kept thinking, and then suddenly, I understood, his father had wrapped forty two stems of flowers, to say once there was a "Quit India Movement". The local people are entrenched in the stories of the Freedom Movement, and when I passed places like Betul on the way to Kerala, there are small sleepy railway stations where the ubiquitous fried breakfasts stare at you and as you travel past the cotton fields, you know why Gandhi made cotton the symbol of the Freedom Movement. Today, agricultural lands are being appropriated by the market garden, rice  wheat, bajra and cotton are substituted by flowers for middle and upper class use, so whether it is the poverty of those who sell the roses, or those who stand in water saying that they want land for land we really need to know why they are being left out of the  national discourse. Pension for road workers, displaced farmers and pastoralists, and education for their children,  (even Tehelka was sold by eight year old children at the Traffic corners and this has been substituted by Fashion magazines and Paul Coelho) the right of farmers to keep their lands, or receive equally productive ones is something that should be our primary agenda.

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