ಅಲ್ಲಮನನರಸುತ್ತಾ…….

ನೆನೆ ಎಂದರೆ ಏನ ನೆನೆವೆನಯ್ಯ!
ಎನ್ನ ಕಾಯವೇ ಕೈಲಾಸವಾಯಿತ್ತು
ಎನ್ನ ಮನವೇ ಲಿಂಗವಾಯಿತ್ತು
ನೆನೆವಡೆ ದೇವನುಂಟೆ? ನೋಡುವಡೆ ಭಕ್ತನುಂಟೆ?
ಗುಹೇಶ್ವರ ಲಿಂಗ ಲೀಯವಾಯಿತ್ತು!

“ಮಾತೆಂಬುದು ಜ್ಯೋತಿರ್ಲಿಂಗ” – ಆ ಮಾತು ಅಲ್ಲಮರದಾದರೆ! ಪ್ರಭುದೇವರ ಮಾತೆಲ್ಲ ವಚನ, ವಚನವೆಲ್ಲ ಮಾತು. ಅದೊಂದು ಭೋರ್ಗರೆವ ಮಳೆ ಸುರಿದಂತೆ. ಭವದ ಬರಬರ ಬಿಸಿಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಝರ್ಝರಿತವಾದ, ಬರಡಾದ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನ ತುಂಬೆಲ್ಲ ಹರಡಿರುವ ಅಜ್ಞಾನದ ಧೂಳನ್ನು ತೊಳೆದು, ’ಶಿವೋಹಂ’ ಎಂಬ ಸುಜ್ಞಾನದ, ಸ್ವಜ್ಞಾನದ ಗಂಗೆಯಾಗಿ ಹರಿದು, ಹಸಿರಾಗಿಸುವ ಅಮೃತವರ್ಷಿಣಿ!

ಶಾಲಾ ಪಠ್ಯಪುಸ್ತಕಗಳಲ್ಲಿ, ಅಲ್ಲಮರ ವಚನಗಳನ್ನು ಕಬ್ಬಿಣದ ಕಡಲೆ ಎಂತಲೇ ವಿವರಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿ ಕೇಳಿ, ಅವರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ, ಅವರ ವಚನಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಒಂದು ಬಗೆಯ ಭೀತಿಯನ್ನು ತುಂಬಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದ ಮನದಲ್ಲಿ, ಕನ್ನಡ ಹಾಗೂ ವಚನ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದ ಬಗೆಗಿನ ಒಲವು ಮೊಳೆತು, ಬೆಳೆಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಸಂದರ್ಭದಲ್ಲಿ ನನ್ನ ಕೈಗೆ, ದೈವ ಕೃಪೆಯೆಂಬಂತೆ “ಶೂನ್ಯಸಂಪಾದನೆ” ದೊರೆಯಿತು. ಮೊದಲನೆಯ ಓದಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಅಷ್ಟಾಗಿ ಅರ್ಥವಾಗದಿದ್ದರೂ, ಕಥೆಯ ಹಂದರ ಮನಸ್ಸಿಗೆ ಮುಟ್ಟಿತು. ಪುನಃ ಪುನಃ ಓದುತ್ತ ಓದುತ್ತ, ಬೆಳಗಿನ ಸೂರ್ಯೋದಯದಂತೆ, ನವುರಾದ, ಹಿತವಾದ ಭಾವ, ಅನುಭಾವ ಹೂ ಅರಳಿದಂತೆ, ಚಿಗುರೊಡೆದಂತೆ ಭಾಸವಾಗುತ್ತ, ಅದರಲ್ಲಿ ಹುದುಗಿದ್ದ ಅಧ್ಯಾತ್ಮದ ಗಣಿ, ತಂತಾನೆ ಪ್ರಕಟವಾಗ ತೊಡಗಿತು. ನಂತರ, ಹಿಂತಿರುಗಿ ನೋಡಿದ್ದೇ ಇಲ್ಲ.

ಚಾಮರಸನ ಪ್ರಭುಲಿಂಗ ಲೀಲೆ, ಹರಿಹರನ ಪ್ರಭುದೇವರ ರಗಳೆ – ಇವೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನು ಓದುತ್ತ, ಅಲ್ಲಮರ ಬಗೆಗಿನ ಒಲವು, ಭಕ್ತಿ, ಹೆಮ್ಮರವಾಗಿ ಬೆಳೆದು ಬಿಟ್ಟಿತು. ಇವರ ಜಾಡನ್ನು ಹುಡುಕುತ್ತ ಹೋಗುವ ಹಂಬಲ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಗಟ್ಟಿಯಾಗಿ ಬೇರೂರಿತು. ಚಾಮರಸನ ಪ್ರಭುಲಿಂಗ ಲೀಲೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಧುಕೇಶ್ವರ ದೇವಾಲಯದ ವರ್ಣನೆ, ಶಿವಮೊಗ್ಗೆಯ ಶಿಕಾರಿಪುರದ ಬಳಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅಲ್ಲಮರು ಹುಟ್ಟಿದ ಸ್ಥಳದ ವಿವರಗಳು – ಇವೆಲ್ಲ ನನ್ನ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ತೀರ್ಥಕ್ಷೇತ್ರಗಳಾಗಿ ಬಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದವು.

ಅಂತೂ ಇಂತೂ ಶಿವಮೊಗ್ಗೆಗೆ ಲಗ್ಗೆ ಇಟ್ಟದ್ದಾಯಿತು – ಮಧುಕೇಶ್ವರ ದೇವಾಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತಾಗ, ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಅಲ್ಲಮರು ಮದ್ದಲೆ ಬಾರಿಸಿದ ಬಗೆಗೆ ಐತಿಹ್ಯ ಇರದಿದ್ದರೂ, ಚಾಮರಸನಿಗೆ, ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಅದರ ಅನುಭೂತಿ ಆದದ್ದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಲವಲೇಶವೂ ಸಂದೇಹ ಮೂಡಲಿಲ್ಲ. ವಾಗ್ಮಯವನ್ನೇ ತನ್ನ ಡಮರುಗದ ನಾದದಿಂದ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿಸಿದ ನಟರಾಜನ ಲೀಲಾಸ್ವರೂಪರಾದ ಅಲ್ಲಮರಿಗೆ, ಮದ್ದಲೆ ಆಟಿಕೆಯಾಗಿದ್ದಿರಬೇಕು. ಮಾಯೆಯನ್ನೇ ಆಡಿಸಿದವನಿಗೆ, ಮದ್ದಲೆ ಅಸಾಧ್ಯವೆ?

ಅಲ್ಲಮರನ್ನು ಅರಿಯಲು ಅವರನ್ನು ಮೊದಲು ಅರಸ ಬೇಕಾಯಿತು! ಅವರು ಓಡಾಡಿದ ನೆಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾಲಿರಿಸ ಬೇಕಾಯಿತು….ಅವರ ಅನುಭಾವದ ಹೊಳಹಿನ ಒಂದು ಕಣವಾದರೂ ನನ್ನ ಮನದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೂಡಬೇಕಾಯಿತು….ಅವರನ್ನು ಅವರ ವಚನಗಳಲ್ಲಿ, ಅವರ ನೆಲದಲ್ಲಿ, ಅವರ ದೇಗುಲಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಹುಡುಕಬೇಕಾಯಿತು. ಕಟ್ಟ ಕಡೆಯಲ್ಲಿ, ಅಲ್ಲಮರನ್ನು ಅರಿಯಲು, ನನ್ನನ್ನೇ ಅರಿಯುವುದು ಅನಿವಾರ್ಯವೆಂಬುದೂ ಮನದಟ್ಟಾಯಿತು. ಇದು ಜೀವಮಾನದ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ.

ಬಹುಶಃ ಅದಕ್ಕೆಂದೇ ನಾಲ್ಕು ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಬರೆಯಲು ಶುರು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದ ಪುಸ್ಕತ, ಇನ್ನೂ ೫ ಪುಟಗಳನ್ನು ಮೀರಿಲ್ಲ. ಅಲ್ಲಮರನ್ನು ಅರಸುವ ಪ್ರಯತ್ನ ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸುವ ಮಾತಂತು ಇಲ್ಲ, ಈ ಪುಟಗಳಿಗೆ ಮತ್ತೆ ಜೀವ ತುಂಬುವ ಆಸೆಯಂತೂ ನಿಚ್ಚಲವಾಗಿಯೇ ಉಳಿದಿದೆ. ಈಗ ಮತ್ತೊಮ್ಮೆ ಪುಸ್ತಕದ ಪುಟಗಳನ್ನು ತಿರುವುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ….ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಒಡಮೂಡಿರುವ ಆಲೋಚನೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಹೊಸ ನೆಲೆ ಕಟ್ಟುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.

Keyboarding from Toronto…

Ok! Let’s get to the point right away! I graduated! MBA is now another 3 letters added to the list of qualifications. Montreal is now a beautiful memory – a place I now visit as a former student, a visitor, a lover longing for those mural clad streets, the sunny weekends reverberating with the sound of tam-tams, and breath-taking view from Mount Royal and Beaver lake.

If you want to lose the sense of time, I suggest taking up something you feel passionate about. It seems like only yesterday that the childhood desire of pursuing an MBA became so immense, that I couldn’t rest till it was done. How the two years slid by doesn’t seem a mystery at all! The semesters were packed with classes, interviews, workshops, exams, friends, parties, late-night homework sessions, video games, board games and ofcourse ample stress! 🙂

Now, I am in Toronto. I work as a Manager at a cool firm, bringing together futuristic technology and innovation. The beautiful Lake Ontario is what I wake up to in the morning and come home to after work. There are four books on the stand next to my bed in different stages of engagement. The kitchen feels warmer – what with the heat of the freshly cooked food still lingering around. Life goes on…I have seen everything that happened like a distant view, like the fresh spread of the white snow on the far landscape of Toronto Islands. Sometimes I wonder if this is all indeed what I have lived through – so surreal and yet so intimate!

After the long hiatus, I feel I am ready now. The detour was beautiful, the lessons learnt were life-altering. It is time to get back into this journey. It is time to resume my soliloquies….

Changes… changes..

Better late than never!!

Even as I type the heading for this blog, my body shudders! Quite literally!

How often have you wondered about the direction your life is taking? The decisions we make, the paths we choose?! No matter how much we feel and convince ourselves of our preparedness, the unraveling of the events always brings with it a dash of surprise. The touch of realism slaps us to our senses and no matter how much we’ve convinced ourselves, the truth dawns on us at that point of time. What was known earlier was just an idea.. a conception.. the reality…stark and overbearing is what confronts us now.

Everything above may seem ominous! Well it is not! Some of you may know this and some maybe surprised to know now! Eventually nobody may care! 😉 LOL! But nevertheless, it is only customary to officially state the facts – I have moved to Canada.  I am doing my MBA at one of the most renowned and prestigious institutes in the world – McGill University. Needless to say, it has been a dream come true – one for which a lot of sweat were shed (and sweaty shirts washed!!). My brain had to pump up so much in the past year, I was afraid I’d lose it! But in the end, it has all been worthwhile. There were many heartaches indeed – the process of applying for an MBA is a humbling one! To begin with you have to really assess yourself and despite the best guard, your ego does seem to paint a glorious picture of yourself and so when the top most institutes you apply for don’t respond or reject, its a feeling that leaves a sour taste for a long time to come! But before I could settle myself down to a state of disbelief at my own ineptitude despite a good record, a confirmation from a premier institute redeemed my faith! It is not that I had developed a sense of hopelessness! That never happened, but the roots of your self-belief and confidence do get shaken up!

Anyways, things have come to a pass, and as the adage goes, all’s well that ends well. Only, like yet another adage, this end, is very well a new beginning! A beginning that has dawned in Montreal. On July 20th, I boarded a plane to one of the most beautiful cities in the world – a bedrock of culture and education – Montreal! I quit my job and spent the last remaining days in Dublin soaking in as much of the city as possible. There is a mixed feeling of excitement and deep sadness.  It’s a phenomenal change that has flooded me all at once – my work, my family, my environment, everything has undergone a shift that, to be honest, despite my knowing, I was not able to fully comprehend.  The school has started and that means, my tardy updates will only go from bad to worse (or worse to worst!!) 🙁  Between the class sessions, homework and personal work, it has become a tug of war and there is a deafening cry for better time management! All in all, it’s all looking good so far! I’ll try and keep you regularly updated about what’s happening here….tune in if you wanna know more 😉

The Ireland I Love..

As is already familiar to those of you who have actually poked around on this space a bit, I am one of those quintessential software engineers from Bengaluru. I work in the field of Biometric Identification and am totally in love with what I do! And as much as I love what I do, I am also emotionally connected to my company.  Nearly five and half years now, I guess, I can confidently say that I really am indebted to my job and my company.  Of the many things that I love about it, one of my personal favorite is my frequent visits to Ireland.

This year Ireland is celebrating it’s 100th year of the Easter Rising – their first rebellion against the British rule. I am right now in Ireland and in many ways, this visit is a very crucial one for me – personally and professionally.  I have reached a stage, where I cannot confidently say how many times I have visited Ireland unless I look into the passport and count the number of arrival stamps printed on those pages. These visits have always been like personal getaways – those moments when I get to reconnect with myself, do things that I like to do – experiment with different cuisines, cook, travel around, visit museums, sleep in on weekends! I am a person who is not too keen about taking pictures! When am traveling I would rather soak in the surroundings than be concerned with the lighting and angle and exposure and such annoyances. I have often seen people more concerned with working out the right angle on the camera than actually cherishing the view or the object! But then, that’s my view! Maybe, they find the view so amazing that they want to freeze it and cherish it forever!  What I do in my mind, they may do it in their frames! In short, I am not a person too keen on photography.

But this visit, crucial as it is, also prompted me to let go of this constraint. As I embark on new avenues, I figured that it would be worthwhile to capture some moments.  However, this letting go wasn’t a conscious decision! Some of the places I visited this time around, compelled me to click pictures! I didn’t bother too much about the intricacies of a shoot ofcourse! I just took aim and shot! That’s all! It was either a hit or a miss! But it certainly did capture my heart! So here’s a small overview of everything that is so beautiful and lovely about this tender country – The Ireland!

Glendalough (pronounced Glan-de-lock): Though I was talking about the places I visited this time, I would be doing a grave injustice if I didn’t write about Glendalough that I visited last year. Ireland is an amazingly green place! The number of parks and trails that this place has is just unbelievable! I hope they preserve these at any cost! Having seen how much the unbridled, disgusting and disgraceful real estate greed has eaten up the culture and greenery of Bangalore, I hope and pray that Dublin and Ireland would never see it! Glendalough is one such beautiful National park is the Wicklow County – about an hour or so bus drive from Dublin. There are bus services that run everyday from Dublin City Centre (the bus stop is very close to St. Stephen’s Green) to Glendalough. The entry to the park is free! People can purchase a route map for 25 cents and start exploring the place. There are different walking trails that have been marked for the convenience of the visitors and the difficulty level for each is mentioned too. The park has two beautiful lakes and the remains of what was once upon a time a Christian monastery and a miner’s village. It’s a perfect weekend day-long getaway to lose one self amidst the lush greenery and history by the side! And if you are lucky enough, a herd of deer or a fox may even show up to greet you! 🙂

Killiney: Very close to Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun – Leary!!!) is a sub-urban seaside trekking point – the twin Dalkey and Killiney route. You can either take the DART (sub-urban railway) to Dalkey or Killiney and walk to the Killiney Hill. While there are different ways to get up to the Killiney Hill from the Dart station, for those who don’t mind a bit of uphill walk, I’d recommend a road that goes through the calm residential areas right alongside the Killiney Hill and brings you to one of its many entrances.  Since the thoroughfare is very less, it is my personal favorite.  The hill itself isn’t too challenging but makes for a nice walk.  There are a couple of follies built on top of the hill and an Obelisk over seeing Dun Laoghaire on one side and the sea shore on the other.  An abandoned stone quarry and a small fort make up for other spots around but the walk is particularly refreshing. Hitting the area by 9 AM is ideal as not many people would be around and it helps find that tranquil and peaceful atmosphere to soak in – the chirping birds and happy dogs running around just put a smile on your face! There are many pathways that run deep into rocks and muddy terrains that tempt for an exploration! It doesn’t take more than 3-4 hours to cover the entire area of Killiney hill and on the way back, the lovely Dalkey village serves an excellent pit stop point for some refreshing lunch and some cone ice creams to rejuvenate yourself!

Cliffside Walk – Bray to Greystones: Bray is a beautiful coastal area – quite on the outskirts of Dublin city. The DART runs from Howth or Malahide on one side all the way to Bray or Greystones on the other. The travel towards Bray is particularly lovely as the DART runs along the coastline and the stretch from Bray to Greystones is a visual treat what with the cliffs on one side and the sea on the other. For those who would love to bask in this lovely environment, a provision has been made to walk alongside the cliffs all the way from Bray to Greystones – a distance of roughly 6.5 Kms. It is a must have experience when visiting Dublin. There is also an option to climb atop a hill that has a huge cross at its top, but the cliffside walk would be my personal favorite any time. Passing alongside the sea shore, one is greeted with lovely scenic views of the rocky terrain inhabited by Sea gulls, an occasional seal (if you are lucky) and a variety of birds.  There are old ruins of what was once a fort/castle on the cliffs but what takes the cake is the breathtaking view that dazzle the eyes for as long as we can see.  Upon reaching Greystones, a leisurely walk along the beach, some snacks and/or lunch should get the adrenalin pumped up again. For those who don’t mind, I’d definitely recommend walking back to Bray from Greystones and catching the DART back to the city, or else the DART runs directly from Greystones via Bray anyways.

Hell Fire Club/Montpelier Hill: Quite a weird name for a nice place. Isn’t it? Well not by the history of what’s there! There are stories of satan worshippers, black magic, evil clubs and what not! But what was once a hunters’ lodge eventually turned into a place for prostitution (hence maybe the place for satan’s followers!!) and debauchery. It seems that a story was eventually circulated to dissuade people from going to this place – isolated as it was from residential areas as it is. Well, eventually the club was destroyed in a fire accident and what remains now is just ruins of what was once a place for sensory pleasure.  But flesh aside, what the visitors can still feast on to this day is a breathe-taking view of the city of Dublin! Flanked by the Dublin mountains behind us, and the sprawling view of the city in the front, Montpelier Hill is a visual treat that enthralls the heart through the eyes! There are many walkways – one that runs around the hill is relatively easier when compared to the walkway that cuts across the hill and climbs up straight to the summit where the ruin is located. Spirits and supernatural aside, one can find little girls and boys playing around. A nice picnic bag and a sunny day should seal the deal.

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Fleecing the Farmers – 2

Kasargod, Erezha in Kerala, Plachimada, and ironically enough good old Varthur in Bangalore are just a couple of examples of areas where chemical effluents have wreaked havoc in the life of people.  Several villages in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, Bihar have been rendered uninhabitable, forcing people to vacate their lands, houses and become destitute in the city or turn into daily labourers.  Children have been rendered physically deformed due to severe chemical contamination (endosulfan for example has destroyed the lives of nearly 10,000 victims who still continue to suffer its debilitating impacts).  Government compensation to these victims cannot even sustain their family’s livelihood let alone restore them to normalcy.  Particulate matters released by factories such as cement industries has increased bronchial diseases and illnesses amongst the population residing in the vicinity of such industries. Untreated chemical effluents that are released into the streams and/or land areas, have contaminated ground water, food crops and eventually rendered entire swathes of land unfit for cultivation. With the paranoia of chemicals percolating into the food chain gripping people, the elite of the society have taken up the fad of consuming organic products by paying a premium price.  One cannot but laugh at our stupidity and sheer brainless behavior! The pinnacle of creation we just don’t seem to be!!  Having destroyed the very fabric of nature due to our excessive indulgence, we are now paying a premium for something that was once naturally available in its pristine form.  In this context, when the Government views with contempt the Social impact assessment clause, one cannot but wonder whether they have suspended their brains in the cash registry and the ka-ching has deafened them to the cries of the multitudes who are suffering due to negligence by the industrial set ups.

By saying that Social impact assessment would cause undue delay in the clearing of industrial projects, the underlying tone signifies a negligent attitude towards the long term impact of such industrial setups on not only the surrounding ecology but also the life of the people and their future generations.  While economic development is a necessity, if the money earned is only going to be spent in attending to the treatment of ourselves or our progeny, it seems quite foolhardy to harp on it!  Understanding the requirement of an industry in a particular area, its impact on the lives and livelihood of the people surrounding the area, and most importantly the ecology there, is paramount for sustainable growth.  Bypassing long term sustainable development for immediate economic gains may postpone the pain to the future, but when it hits, it will shatter the very fabric of development that is being harped upon by everyone.  Economic development HAS to be holistic.  While the State cannot be the only provider of welfare for the people, it would be stupidity to believe that the industry and industrial development is the panacea for all the ailments of the society.

Selective blindness isn’t a monogrammed suit that can be flaunted proudly nor is it a last name that will win the loyalty of the party cadres.  But both the ruling coalition head and the touted leader of the ‘principle’ opposition party have a panache for this selective blindness syndrome.  Chattisgarh is a living example of how tribals are being exploited by grabbing their lands without their consent or by faking their consents.  People have been killed or silenced in a bid to grab fertile lands.  In many cases, the land owners were themselves not aware of their land being handed over to industries.  The nexus of babus, industrial heads and village administrators have ensured that their voices shall never be heard. By openly removing the clause for the owner’s consent, the Government has now made it a field day to themselves kick the owners of the land out of their possession.  The notion that Government will not do anything detrimental to the wellbeing of the community is now a joke that can at best be scoffed at.  And this is more true in the case of tribals and villagers in Chattisgarh, Bihar, UP and Odisha.  Neither Modi nor Rahul have truly displayed an understanding of the dynamics of tribal and village communities. The parties they represent can cry themselves hoarse when they are in the opposition, but when in power, they have both failed miserably in alleviating the cause of the public at large.

In short, if the earlier Land Acquisition Bill did not entirely ensure protection and rightful treatment of the aggrieved farmers, the modifications being introduced have outrightly dismissed any hopes that may have existed among the land owners. There are two important remedies that are being highlighted to redress the loss suffered by the owner. 1. A compensation that is 4 times that of the existing market rate. 2. Job for one of the family members. It would be quite interesting to understand how the Government proposes to educate the owners in utilization of their financial remuneration for a sustainable future.  The lands in many regions aren’t owned by one particular person and typically its a family.  How would the compensation be divided under such circumstances? The compensation that was provided to the families displaced due to the Kudankulam project has led to such an increase in family rifts that a record number of cases have been filed in the civil courts over sharing of the compensation package. Not only have the beneficiaries lost their property, but their Quality of Life has been completely destroyed due to such instances. Also, if a job is assured for one of the family members, what would the nature of that job be?  Has the Government provided amenities that would help them qualify for a decent job? Is this job guaranteed? If the land is again shared by multiple families, which member of which family would be given the job? A single land can be a source of income for the entire family and also be worked upon by all the members of the family – including women and children.  With that lost, what would the women do? Has the Government any idea of utilizing the excess resources that are available? The way the current Government is hell bent on destroying MGNREGA scheme, even the semblance of work that could have been provided to these members will be lost.

The burden of bad debts, the unseasonal rainfall, lost crops, Government apathy and sheer mismanagement has pushed thousands of farmers to the brink of suicide.  The Government is yet to act constructively on this spate of suicides but all it has done so far is offer lip service. Modi’s Mann ki baat, was only a one way communication at best.  If he had even deigned to address some of the burning issues the farmers are facing currently and have been facing, it would have made it worthwhile.  So far, his walk and talk have barely matched.  A ‘rejuvenated’ Rahul may be back with smart retorts and energized walkathons, but he would do well to first accept that his party had a major role to play in the debacle the farming community is now facing.  And follow it up with constructive feedback and suggestions for the Government to implement.

The development of a country cannot be a short term vision progressing from election to election. Sustainable development needs a holistic approach in which environment and ecology plays a primary role.  The incumbent Government has no sense about this – as is evident in the slew of measures it has undertaken.

(To be continued….)

Fleecing the Farmers – 1

On 11th of March, amidst the growing debate on the Land Acquisition Bill, there appeared an editorial in Times of India. The title of this editorial was “India’s Farmer Fetish”.  The contents of the editorial aside, the very title stands testimony to the bias and the prejudiced mind set that the farmers in the country are being viewed by the incumbent government, the political parties and the media to tow.

As stated in the editorial, yes, the India of 2015 is fundamentally different from that of 1965. But it would be interesting to check whether people have stopped eating food and started consuming plastic and cement. The last I checked this wasn’t the case!  A lot of blah blah has gone into the editorial and eventually the claim made by the column is that since agriculture’s share in GDP is just 13.9% arising from 60% of Indian population, privileging farming above other occupation would kill growth and does not make any sense.

The idea that farming community is growing to be a liability to the economy is something that is fast catching on. A lot of events have already taken place since the date of this editorial, and the same paper has later written editorials lamenting the state of the farmers too!  And a glaring point that must be noted is that if farming has not only turned a liability to the farmers but also to the National economy and its growth, we have none other than ourselves to blame!  This is a situation that has been distilled through our years of flawed policy implementation and political as well as commercial exploitation of the farming community.

While the British Raj had forced the Agricultural practices within India to give up many of their traditional, indigenous farming methods and crops, post independence, a much needed boost to the renewal of agricultural practices failed to maintain its efficacy.  While irrigation was extensively promoted and industrialization of the farming practices was emphasized upon, agriculture was pivoted to become the rallying factor for industrialization and new industry set ups.  Whether this was a good move or not is a topic for another discussion.  The rampant famine catapulted the need for a green revolution, but something that must have been seeded from within the Indian eco system was triggered by the borrowed seeds of West.  While it ensured excess production of grains, it came at a heavy cost – one that we are paying for now.  Extensive use of chemical fertilizers, monoculture farming and excessive relying on cash crops has significantly destroyed the fabric of Indian agriculture.  Fields have gone barren and those that can still be tilled require more and more chemical fertilizers and excessive water to be producing at the same level as before.  In regions of Maharashtra, indigenous and climatically suited crops have been forsaken for the sake of cash crops like sugarcane, which are most unsuited for its soil.  In Maharashtra, only 4% of the total cropped area that grow sugarcane, consume 70% of the irrigation water supply. Such unsustainable practices are prevalent in many regions of India thus laying a heavy burden on the natural resources of the country. Unscientific farming (including excessive use of industrial and chemical equipment) is killing the lands – sustainability is a lost cause, where everyone seems to be looking for shortcuts to success and financial uplift.

Rampant deforestation, growing pollution, depleting water resources have left Indian agriculture to the mercy of the monsoons – which have time and again hit hard on the farming sector. Excessive or insufficient rainfalls have become a common feature.  The unseasonal rainfall this year have destroyed the rabi crops and there is a surge of farmer suicides across the country.  Yet, neither the Government, nor the farmers seem to be set to rectify their mistakes.  With the number of ineffective lands on the rise, there is a strong need to set a corrective course before it is too late for everyone.

In this context the current Land Acquisition Bill is set to sound another death knell to the farming community that is already reeling under the pressure of years of mismanagement. By claiming that seeking of the consent of the farmers and social impact assessment would delay the process of Land Acquisition and there by hamper the growth of the country, the Government and some portion of the media is taking a myopic view of the situation where a holistic perspective is essential.

That the State can procure farm lands without the consent of the farmer for causes that are beneficial to the country is akin to stating that a section of the society can be robbed in order to fulfill the needs of others.  This is nothing short of state sponsored crime under the garb of development.  In return, the robbed will be handed over a penny’s worth of job.  The glaring stupidity of this whole set up seems to be conveniently sidelined by the Government, and the Opposition party instead of rationally approaching the issue, is only trying to sensationalize and emotionally ignite the farmers.  Narendra Modi may be using his hackneyed speaking skills in trying to woo the farming community with the promise of better life, but the shallowness of the whole proposition cannot be hoodwinked with honey coated words.

There are thousands of farmers who have to this date not received due compensations for their lands that were acquired as far behind as 1950s for ’causes of national interest’.  There are many incidents of farmers from Chattisgarh having lost their lands due to the devious methods adopted by the industries – many farmers were terrorized into handing over lands, and many more were duped into selling it without their own knowledge.  Exploiting the tribal laws framed by the Government, the industries have bought land in the name of their tribal watchmen or workers without their knowledge and in some instances paying them pittance to win their allegiance for their nefarious purposes.  Ignorance and illiteracy is bleeding the nation while the incumbent government as well as the previous regimes have only paid lip-service for the cause of true progress and development. It is this ignorance that all the political parties, irrespective of their ideologies refuse to fix…nay, they would rather that it flourishes, so that the masses can be exploited under the garb of socialist or capitalist principles.  It is our shame that even after 6 decades and more of independence, as citizens, we still look to be pampered and spoon fed, instead of demanding the basic rights of education and awareness!

(To be continued….)