Desperate they became
Skulls they carry
Mice they ate
Corpses they turn into
Protests they stage
Attention they seek
Alarms they raise
Desperate they became
Farmers in India – far from acknowledging their contribution, they are often robbed of their basic rights i.e. access to credit, access to information, access to market etc.
Indifference coupled with Ignorance is the reason why the farmers in India are in the crisis they are in. The below conversations happened with 4 different MP’s – 2 from Tamil Nadu, 1 from Madhya Pradesh, 1 from Bihar. All the conversations start with me asking the MP’s whether they knew about the protests by the farmers at Jantar Mantar and today is the 15th day of protest. At first I was aghast at their response but by the end of these conversations, it reaffirmed the ugly truth that the farmers are a mere talking point for election campaigns, but after elections, they are just left to suffer and worse even – left to die.
MP1 – Madhya Pradesh: Yes, I’m aware of the agitation, but you should really talk to the ministers from Tamil Nadu. There are 40 MP’s and they should be doing something about it.
Me: Your party is in power, so if you can raise this issue in the parliament, the center can help at least listen to the farmers
MP1: This is a state level issue and the center has no role to play in the state’s internal affairs. So there are no grounds for me to raise this in the parliament.
Me: Sir, the situation is desperate and any attention you could help give them, will help.
MP1: I’m in an election campaign rally and I’ll be back on the 5th, call me then
MP2: Bihar: There are so many protests happening every single day at Jantar Mantar, which one are you referring to?
Me: This is the protest by the farmers from Tamil Nadu and they have been protesting for 15 days now
MP2: So why are you calling me? You should take this up with the ministers from Tamil Nadu since the farmers belong to that state
Me: Sir, a farmer is a farmer. How does it matter which state they belong to? If you can please help raise this issue on the floor of the house, it will get some attention
MP2: You are not listening to me. If a patient has a heart problem, then he has to see a heart doctor, not someone to treat his hands or legs.
Me: Sir, when we eat the food, we don’t differentiate the farmers from different states who are growing them, we simply eat. Why do we treat differently when it comes to dealing with the farming issues.
MP2: The farmers are not united, they are after their castes, their parties and they have other agendas. If they protest outside the assembly and corner all their ministers in TN and if there is a lathi charge or injuries, then it will become the national news
Me: So you want things to get escalated and only then something will be done, how can you say such things? [I don’t know how I maintained my composure after such a statement from the minister]
MP2: These are not some lessons that can be given on phone and not conversations that can happen over the phone.
Me: I hung up on the minister
MP3: Tamil Nadu: Sir, I’m at Chennai right now (when i asked him if he knew about the agitation at Jantar Mantar). I will get back to Delhi soon and I will then look into this
MP4: Tamil Nadu: Yes, I’m aware of the agitation and we are helping our farmers. We even sat down with them during the agitation
Me: Sir, if you join the farmers protests as well, then who will fight for them in the parliament, can you please raise this in the parliament
MP4: Yes, we should all help our farmers and we will help
While I always knew that this indifference and callousness is the reason why the farmers issues never become the priorities, to hear the politics behind this first hand from the MP’s, was certainly very disturbing to say the least.
- We don’t ask which farmer grew the food before we sit down to eat the food, do we?
- We don’t ask which region the food grains belong to before we sit down to eat the food, do we?
- We don’t ask which religion the farmer belongs to before we sit down to eat the food, do we?
- We don’t ask whether the farmer was a tenant farmer or a land owner before we sit down to eat the food, do we?
Then why do we ask all these questions when it comes to helping our farmers? Why do we talk rules, laws and procedures when it comes to helping our farmers?
I called up 7 MPs but was able to speak to only 4, the remaining 3 were busy with their election campaigns (Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh)