Feb 18, 2009

Farmers, Abhimanyu and Chakravyuah

Yesterday, I was asked by a journalist whether farmers have any reason to cheer from the interim Budget, presented a day earlier. My reply was: "If you look at the kind of agricultural situation we have today, I think the stimulus package or the entire effort which is going to corporates unfortunately, should have gone to agriculture."[http://ibnlive.in.com/news/social-sector-neglected-in-interim-budget/85583-3.html]

Why I say so is because to me, what we have done to Indian farmer is actually like taking a scene out from the Mahabharata epic. In Mahabharata there is this classic story of the brave Abhimanyu who knew how to get through the seven rings of Chakarvyuha. We know that Abhimanyu had learnt this in the mother’s womb. But what he didn’t know was the way to get out of the Chakarvyuha. The story tells us that by the time his father was ready to share the secret his mother had gone off to sleep.

The Indian farmer is also like Abhimanyu in the Chakravyuha. We have thrown the Chakravyuha around the farmer. We’ve pushed him deeper and deeper into the Chakravyuha or the trap. It is high time now that instead of pushing him still deeper with genetically modified crops and futures trading we need to pull him out of the Chakravyuha. Otherwise the Indian farmer will also meet the same fate as Abhimanyu. Mahabharata tells us that Abhimanyu died fighting valiantly. The Indian farmer’s fate is no different than that of Abhimanyu. He too is destined to die fighting bravely. And that is exactly what he is doing.

I have always used the example of pesticides, Abhimanyu and Chakravyuha. Over the years, Indian farmer has been pushed further into the Chakravyuha. If you have missed it out, here is what I had written some years back, illustrating with an example from Punnukula village in Andhra Pradesh [No Pesticides, No Bt Cotton, No Pests ! [http://www.indiatogether.org/2005/mar/dsh-punukula.htm]. What began from this village has now spread to over 14 lakh acres in 12 districts of Andhra Pradesh. Isn't this the way forward, to take Indian farmer out of the Chakravyuha trap?

You will agree that it is high time we pull farmers out of the Chakravyuha. We have the capacity to do it. Let us not be ashamed in saving the Indian farmer. Given our environment, given our ability and adaptability, we can surely make it possible. We don’t have to feel embarrassed. We need to take the first step towards ensuring sustainability. This requires courage, requires leadership, requires statesmanship. The nation will applaud the person who has the courage to take the first step. It will then have a domino effect, like a spiral it will spread throughout the country. This is where the future lies this is where your collective strength is under trial. Let us do it together, ladies and gentlemen. I can assure you we do have the potential to turn India into God’s Own Country.

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