Nov 26, 2009

Farmer suicides: 26/11 happens in rural India every other day

The media surely deserves all the accolades for reminding the country of the need to ensure that 26/11 does not happen again. For the past one week or so, we have the electronic channels and the print media telling the same story again and again. The terrorist attack in Mumbai last year was certainly tragic and needs to be condemned in strongest possible terms. At the same time, the nation needs to gear up vigil and be prepared to take on any more destructive design of the separatist forces.

Having said that, and knowing that for many of our star journalists Taj Hotel in Mumbai is the second home, I don't know what purpose is being achieved by devoting 10 pages of the newspaper (one of the dailies from New Delhi has done that today) to the 26/11 episode. Similarly, what is the purpose of repeatedly showing the footage of the terrorist attack of the last year. Isn't the media taking advantage of the sentiments of the people to push up its own TRP ratings?

Even if the media thinks that 26/11 is the gravest tragedy the country has witnessed since Independence, I would like to bring it to their attention that there is a still bigger (and in fact much bigger) tragedy that continues to kill people on the farm. A PTI report says six farmers have committed suicide in last two days in various parts of Vidharba region. This brings the total number of suicides in November to 55. In 2009, the total number of farmer suicides (till date) in Vidharba alone is 892.

In the past two months alone, 48 farmers have committed suicide in the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh, and another 32 have taken the fatal route in Orissa. Most of the farmers who died in Adilabad district of AP for reasons that are not unknown anymore had been cultivating Bt cotton.

Farmer suicides is once again showing it ugly face. In the past 18 years, ever since economic liberalisation was unleashed in India, more than 200,000 farmers have taken their own lives. The spiral death dance has not shown even remote signs of ebbing despite a plethora of fact-finding missions, committee reports and the government intervention. I am aware that newspaper space is very precious, and also know that for the electronic media agriculture and farming is a downmarket subject, but does farmer suicides not even deserve a small campaign, if not as big as the media launched it for 26/11?

How can the media remain so indifferent to the serial death dance on the farm?

I think one reason for the callousness exhibited by the media when it comes to farmers committing suicides is that the viewers and the readers (as the case maybe) have not been demanding adequate coverage of farmers suicides. How many of us have ever written a letter to the newspaper editors asking for an extensive coverage of the farm suicides? How many of us have sent an sms to the electronic channels demanding a series of programmes on the reasons behind suicides?

Just like we get the politicians we deserve, we also get the media we deserve. Come on, wake up India. Pick up your pen and write a scathing letter to the editor of a newspaper that you read. Come on, take out your mobile and send a sms ever day to the TV channel that you normally watch. For them even death needs to be only acknowledged if it happens in a 5-star hotel. Show them your anger, and they will listen.  

Turning a blind eye to the messacre on the farm is not going to make your life peaceful. The fire is reaching your doorsteps. Sooner or later, you and your children too would feel the heat. Don't blame anyone then. You are primarily responsbile for the crisis the country is faced with. Your fundamental rights that you emotionally talk about and demand, also includes your responsibility as a citizen. You and me have failed as a citizen. That is why we have such an insensitive media today.

3 comments:

Prateek said...

Dear Sir,
I was referred to your blog by a friend of mine. After reading it I was reminded of a blog piece that I had myself written a few months ago (http://theretrospectator.blogspot.com/2009/08/revolutionary.html)

Regards,
Prateek

Prateek said...

Dear Sir,
I was referred to your blog by a friend of mine. Reading this piece reminds me of a blog piece that I had myself written a few months ago which could probably stand as a harbinger for what is happening now!
(http://theretrospectator.blogspot.com/2009/08/revolutionary.html)

Regards,
Prateek

Saahil Menghani said...

Thought provoking..nice analysis