Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Will contest polls, Rahul should back me: Kalavati
A local newspaper had published an interview with Kalavati on Tuesday in which she was reported to have alleged that Tiwari had been pressuring her to fight the Assembly polls and that she didn’t understand what election and politics were. On Tuesday, however, she said, “Slowly, I will understand everything.”
“She is being followed by media for the last two days. She hasn’t been able to sleep properly,” Tiwari said. When reminded that it was he who had brought her into the limelight by getting her to contest elections, Tiwari said, “I have no qualms about saying that VJAS does politics about Kalavati in the interest of farmers. We fight for farmers’ causes. I was the first to reach out to her after her husband committed suicide in 2005.” She will file papers on September 25, Tiwari said.
A steady flow of help has come Kalavati’s way after Rahul Gandhi visited her last year and narrated her plight in his Parliament speech. The biggest of them all was the announcement of Rs 33 lakh aid by Sulabh International, a Delhi-based sanitation NGO.
Strangely, Kalavati reportedly spoke out against Sulabh, saying they gave her only Rs 6 lakh so far and not the rest of the aid she was assured. Reminded of that, she blamed the media. “I read in newspapers,” she said. Sulabh had come in for criticism for focusing on a single woman rather than helping everyone in her village, Jalka. It later adopted the village for all-round development.
Meanwhile, Sulabh chief Bindeshwari Pathak on Monday issued a press statement in New Delhi, cautioning Kalavati against entering politics. She also advised her to avoid speaking against Rahul Gandhi saying, it was because of Rahul that she got so much aid, including from Sulabh. Pathak, however, made it clear that regardless of the circumstances Sulabh would continue to give Kalavati the promised aid.
Kalavati on Tuesday said, “Rahul Gandhi is not bad. But he should now support me in the polls.” Tiwari added: “Who will oppose her? She will be elected. Everyone will have to vote for her.”
He further said, “If it is going to stop her aid, then we will withdraw her. Some Jalka villagers are trying to scare her saying that she won’t get the remaining Sulabh money if she contests polls.” Asked if she would withdraw if Rahul requests her, Kalavati said, “If he solves the problems of all 6,000 farm widows, I would withdraw.”
Friday, September 18, 2009
Nagpur-17th September 2009.
On going uncontrolled attack of military worm ,white fly, aphids ,jessids, thriph ,mealy bug means all types of sucking pest along with deadly layla (reding of leaves) has claimed seven more farm suicides in vidarbha .
The innocent victims of massive use of pesticide and complete failure of genetically modified (GM) seed are-
1.Santosh Thete of village Mogra in Amravati
2.Balajimadavi of village Tembhi in Yavatmal
3.Gajanan Gawande of village Datala in Washim
4.Gajanan Lokhande of village Kinhiraja in Washim
5.Santosh Sidam of village Mangurda in Yavatmal
6.Vinayak Tijare of village Gurudeo Nagar in In Amaravati
7.Rajesh Guddalwar of Karanja in Washim
“In the mega advertisement of bt.cotton seed ,farmers are told that Cotton plants are having Drought tolerance and,the Genetically Engineered Bacillus Thuringenesis that cotton seed has capacity to produce antibiotic resistance to pest attack resulting in lower use of contact and non contact type pesticide and insecticide now days not only inbuilt toxin failed but there is response to all pesticide and insecticide”, informed Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti in press note .
Thus farm suicide figure since 2004 has now crossed 7000 mark in vidarbha where as yavatmal-1596, amaravati-1122,akola 1016,washim-816,buldhana-1077 and wardha-495 farmers committed suicides as per official record ,tiwari added.
Here are list of pesticides and insecticide failed to control this pest epidemic,cotton farmers have already spent more than Rs.2000 crore of these non-effective pesticides mostly are so toxic hence they are banned in EU and US .
It’s worst epidemic of pest attack on cash crops of rain fed Vidarbha and Marathwada,the backward portion of progressive Maharashtra which are soybean and cotton ,initially military worm damaged all standing soybean crop now this sucking pest will certainly off set rural economic balance of the region creating more despair and distress among the debt trap dying farmers ,Tiwari added..
Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti(VJAS) has urged administration to provide immediate aid to assistance to these cotton farmers who are already disturbed due huge debt and economic crisis due on going agrarian crisis in the region . “this pest epidemic on standing cotton crop will spread distress and farm suicide spiral of West Vidarbha to in near by Marathwada,Khandesh,North Mahrashtra and East Vidarbha hence urgent attention is needed to save million of dying farmers of Maharashtra” Tiwari added
Monday, September 14, 2009
For condemned COWS, he is a SAVIOUR
T O Abraham
THE TIMES OF
e may live in the district that has earned the unenviable moniker of farmer’s suicide capital, but Lachhu Patel lives a full life. On a sprawling 150 acres, he grows soyavean, tur, jowar and other crops round the year. He owns a comfortable house, a tractor and other modern farm equipment, a sizeable band balance and even a Tata Safari. But what has made his life truly enriching is his side business’: Saving lives.
Patel’s house has a huge cattle shed with about 100 cows, all rescued from being sent to slaughter houses. Patel says he has bought all the bovines often malnourished and deemed unfit to work in the fields for more that the market price of a healthy cow. But what makes his mission extraordinary is that he donates of gifts these cows to needy farmers so that they can either use then to help in farming or as an additional source of farmers cannot sell the cows to butchers.
Such is Patels reputation that truckers transporting old and lean cows to slaughter houses in the city often stop by at his place in Pandharkawada town. That’s because he give the truckers a good deal on the emaciated animals, giving them a new lease of life in the process.
To honour his efforts, Patel was conferred with the Gaumitra Puraskar on Wednesday. Hundreds of farmers and over 200 farm widows from the nearby villages thronged to the venue to witness the felicitation programme.
Patel started his noble Endeavour in 2002. “I want to spend my life for the protection of cows as the relationship between cows and farmers is sacred and inseparable,” he said. Patel, 49, whose is also known as Laxmanrao Bolenwar, said his monthly income is between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 25,000 and the expenditure on these cows and calves is between Rs. 25-30,000.
“Today I collect over 50 liters of milk from these cows and earn Rs. 800-900 per day,” he said with an air of pride and added that a right thinking farmer can never ignore the place of cows in his life.
While lauding the efforts of Acharya Vinoba Bhave who stood against the killing of cows till his end, Patel said that he would always keep his doors open for discarded cows. “I will feed them even if the offer me no returns, he said.
However, Patel is smart enough to know that the cows, even the rejected ones, are worth a lot. They produce calves, which are additional assets. “A young cow grown to crosses costs Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 25,000. And a pair of oxen is not less than Rs. 50,000,” he said and added that he garners additional income of Rs. 2-2.5 lakh per year this way too. “Since I am a farmer, I also use the cow dung and urine in my field as manure,” he added.
Patel, whose family migrated to Pandharkawada many generations ago, gets supports from his family members in his Endeavour.
His wife Satyapriya is always by his side and one of his sons Rohit helps his father in farming. His daughter Shruti has just joined the first year engineering course in Computer Science. Patel married off his four sisters from his own earnings as his father died of cancer many years ago.
When asked if he received any financial support for his special pursuit, Lachhu said that a Warangal-based NGO had approached him for protection of discarded cows. “But I turned down their offer as the project is profitable and I can sustain is without any outside assistance.”
This hard-working farmer, however, has so harsh words today’s cultivators. “Farmers, especially among the tribals, have become lazy and always expect to get either government or NGO assistance. “The talk veers toward Kalavati Banurkar, who got assistance from various quarters after being visited by Rahul Gandhi. “Kalavati is definitely benefited from the help she got,” he said but added that it is ‘non-productive’.” If the huge amount donated to Kalavati and other farm widows was invested over a long-term project in the area, many families would have benefited,” he feels.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Though the situation has improved after implementation of the packages, the numbers are still worrying. In year 2009, till July 31, around 466 farmers in six suicide prone districts committed suicide. But only 86 - roughly 18.45% - were considered eligible for compensation which government offers to the next of kin. Ninety-six cases are under probe and 284 cases have been rejected by government. From 2001 to July 31 this year, 5,503 farmers committed suicide out of which 2,030 cases were found eligible for benefits of the government while 3,377 were non eligible and 96 are under investigation.
Sources from the commissionerate stated that a compensation of Rs 1 lakh is provided to eligible beneficiaries of which Rs 30,000 paid in cash while Rs 70,000 deposited in the account of the farmer. Only those cases in which farmers committed suicide due to in indebtedness, excess follow up by a bank or moneylender for repayments and low yield are considered to be eligible for the compensation. The district collector heads a committee which comprises officials of the departments concerned and NGO representatives to review farmer suicide cases. Talathi of the village does the enquiry of the farmers on various grounds and then eligibility of the beneficiary is decided.
Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, while talking to TOI, claimed that Chief Minister Ashok Chavan himself had told officials not to show more number of beneficiaries on record and officials are following the orders. Tiwari also said that the administration has put forth the flimsy reasons to reject the case. "The administration is insensitive towards the problems of the farmers," he said. The government issued a GR regarding non-eligible beneficiaries in February this year in which it was stated that the benefits of the Antyodaya Scheme should be extended to the widows of farmers who were not considered eligible for ex-gratia. "Except Yavatmal district, this scheme is not being implemented properly," said Tiwari.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Maharashtra polls: Act II, Scene IP. Sainath
There are more fronts in the fray across the State this time. And with multi-cornered contests in almost all seats, there could be some major upsets.
Unfazed by either drought or swine flu, the Congress party in the State was celebrating a victory in the upcoming Assembly elections even before these had been announced. The Congress-NCP alliance had won 25 of the State’s 48 Lok Sabha seats in May this year. The rival Sena-BJP front won 20 and others took 3. This convinced the Congress of two things. One, they would repeat their win in the Assembly polls now set for October 13. The ‘bounce’ from the Lok Sabha win will boost them further. And two, the NCP is at their mercy (which at this point it does seem to be).
In the Lok Sabha polls this year, the Congress-NCP led in 133 of 288 Assembly segments. That’s just eleven more than the number of segments the BJP-Sena alliance led in. If this were repeated in the Assembly polls, neither side would have a majority on its own. And new fronts will cause upsets in sundry seats. Then what accounts for the confidence? In two words — Raj Thackeray. The MNS’s showing torpedoed the Shiv Sena in the Mumbai-Thane region. (Never mind that these polls could be fought on different terms and issues.)
With voting just over a month away, it’s worth asking: How has this State done in the past few years? How have governments performed?
Maharashtra lost two million jobs before the “economic slowdown” began. Food production was reckoned to have fallen 24 per cent — oilseeds 49 per cent and sugarcane 43 per cent — in 2008-09. All that, without a drought. The State is third from the bottom in the country in terms of people living in poverty. Fifth from the bottom in terms of percentages. Over thirty million people, or close to a third of Maharashtra’s population, are BPL. It is also the State worst-hit by a policy-driven agrarian crisis — a very different thing from drought. It has seen over 40,000 farmers suicides since 1995.
The State government’s own economic survey reveals plenty. It shows that employment in Maharashtra, “which was on the rise till 2004-05 at 4.3 crore, declined to 4.1 crore in 2007-08, clearly indicating the footprint of recession.” The last six words are a joke. That figure ends at March 2008. The global shock struck more than five months later. It does raise the question, though: if the State could lose so many jobs before the slowdown, how many must have vanished once that began?
Maharashtra lost those two million jobs in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08. It means that, on average, over 1,800 people lost their jobs every day in that period. In a time of rising food prices (and falling foodgrain output in the State). So how did it fare in 2008-09? We don’t know the half of it. But we do know that employment generation under various schemes fell 30 per cent. In fact a drop of 18 million days compared to 2007-08.
However, it was also during that time that India made steady progress in the Forbes lists of dollar billionaires, crossing the 51 mark (i.e. Rank 4 in the world) by 2008. More than 20 of those billionaires had an address in Mumbai. One of them is doing the city proud, building what must rank amongst the costliest residences in the planet. That, while over half the people in his city rot in slums. His Xanadu — with 27 storeys and three helipads — will be a tourist landmark. Also a shining symbol of the obscene inequality this State revels in.
As the price rise shredded household budgets these past few years, some governments tried to reduce its impact on their people. Those in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, amongst others, unilaterally increased the “BPL population” in their states. They then gave them cheap rice at Rs. 2 a kilo. (Or even Rs. 1 a kilo as in Tamil Nadu). The government of Maharashtra did nothing of the sort. The number of workdays fell when a hungry population needed them most.
Next door, Andhra Pradesh mourns a chief minister who will be remembered for boosting the NREGs, old age and women’s pensions, and rice at Rs. 2 a kilo. The previous chief minister of Maharashtra’s most memorable moment came when he visited the terror-attack shattered Taj and Trident Hotels with his actor son and Bollywood’s Ram Gopal Varma in tow. Disaster tourists checking out the rich cinematic promise thrown up by the tragic events. But he too cared for the down and out, too, he told the media. After all, pointed out Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh, he had not prosecuted all those farmers committing suicide in his State on his watch. “Committing suicide is an offence under the Indian Penal Code. But did we book any farmer for this offence? Have you reported that?” ( The Hindustan Times, October 31, 2007).
The present Chief Minister, less given to such talk, nonetheless declares he will take the State even further ahead. “It is my dream to raise the per capita income in the state to Rs. 1 lakh.” Well he’s got part of it right. It is a dream. The government is proud that Maharashtra’s per capita income (2007-08) “is higher than the national income.” And that “the State ranks second after Haryana among the major states of India.” The State’s per capita income was a hefty Rs. 47,051. Per capita National Income was a piffling Rs. 33,282.
The State’s per capita income is an odd construct resting on a few rich regions. Move out of those and it plummets. Mumbai — home to more dollar billionaires than all the Nordic nations put together in 2008 — has a per capita income of Rs. 73,930. In the well-off Konkan region that is Rs. 66,197. Get down to Aurangabad in Marathwada and you’re looking at Rs. 30,499. Cross into Vidharbha and you’re a little over Rs. 29,000. So the Rs. 47,051 figure reflects no one’s reality well. What’s clear are the stunning regional, class and caste inequalities of the State.
Only Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have more human beings below the poverty line than Maharashtra does. In percentage terms (at 30.7 per cent BPL), the State moves up a slot — above Madhya Pradesh amongst bigger states. In 1993-94, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra had more or less the same BPL ratio — around 36 per cent. By 2004-05 those two states had sharply reduced their poverty figures both in absolute terms and in percentages. Maharashtra’s percentage fell much less than theirs. And the Sate’s total BPL number went up not down. But heck, let’s dream. Rs. 1 lakh per capita income it shall be.
Mumbai, too, with all its wealth, has its own Third World within: The National Family Health Survey (NFHS - 3) shows us that 40 per cent of children below 3 years of age in Mumbai are malnourished. That, by the way, is higher than the Sate’s average. Mumbai also has millions who live on less than Rs. 19 a day. Yet rural-urban disparities, too, are real. As the NGO Sathi points out in its “Report on Health Inequities in Maharashtra,” the rural parts of the state have 22 hospital beds per lakh of population. In urban Maharashtra, that is 431 beds. This does not stop the government from claiming to be “at the forefront of health care development in India.”
Per capita foodgrain production in Maharashtra was just about 100 kilograms (2004-05) says the State’s economic survey. (That’s a nearly 40 per cent deficit against its minimum requirement.) It was around 212 in Madhya Pradesh, 166 in Andhra Pradesh, 186 in Karnataka, all neighbours. It was 262 kg in Bihar at the time.
And then there’s all those farmers the government was nice to. The suicide victims it did not prosecute. National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data reveal 40,666 farmers suicides in Maharashtra between 1995 and 2007. The State accounts for over a fifth of all such deaths in India. In 2007, Maharashtra logged over 38 per cent of all farm suicides in the five States worst-hit by the phenomenon. It was the only State that saw, since 1997, an increase of over 100 per cent in farm suicides — while actually recording a two per cent decline in suicides by non-farmers.
All this has not dampened the Congress’ spirit. It is sure it will win the way it did in the Lok Sabha polls: against a split opposition, with the Shiv Sena hobbled by a lame duck BJP on the one hand and undercut by an aggressive Raj Thackeray on the other. But there are more fronts in the fray across the State this time. And with multi-cornered contests in almost all seats, there could be some major upsets. The more so in a situation where no one is sitting on a majority.