Archive for May, 2007

Rural Distress, Agriculture Strategy, Indian Economists

Indian Farm suicides Tracker –

Dry Cow Therapy, Rural Distress, Indian Economists : New Agriculture Strategy
From Second Green Revolution to Milking the Cow Dry – Pushing the ball in the states court

The concerned Indian Prime Minister, has been left searching for the right answers, from all the agricultural experts, while his own Agriculture Minister ignores the suicides from his home state and manages the strings of the Indian cricket team, a job no doubt he loves more than finding answers to the task entrusted to him as Indian Agriculture Minister – saving farmers from rural distress.
Another case of Humpty Dumpty on the rural front, as Indians get busy with cricket season and fortunes of coaches.
Even the Indian Sensex Minister is now feeling short changed, by the massive imports bills, deposited on his doorsteps, on the food front, which threaten to blow a hole through his economic strategy of industrial development and growth in Services sectors.

Never had the Sensex Minister thought that India would soon be vying for the “dubious slot of largest food importer in the world“, while safely in the hands of Punjabi wheat eaters, and Oxbridge economists, as a fallout of UPA government policies and the net result of the much touted Common Minimum Programme, with help of left parties.

The left parties are now more busy spending sleepless nights trying to ensure a President of their choice, rather than the reality of long term Indian food security issues.
Soon after suggesting budgetary support and subsidies for sugar exporters, the Agriculture Minister has gone ahead on a global buying spree for wheat. He just does not seem to like Punjabi and Haryanvi wheat. It is not tasty enough for him or maybe a trifle too full of pesticides for even his liking.
In a bid to wash off the spots on the UPA governments Three Year Achievements, and what even the lacklustre opposition performance by the NDA could not accomplish, is being accomplished in the rural fields of Vidarbha and West Bengal.
Understandably, genuine Congress election strategists are worried.
Let us examine the content of the Prime Minister’s concern about Indian rural distress, worded as it is in very general terms and coming on the heels of the three years of crowning achievements of the Central ruling UPA coalition and the electoral losses in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
In his directions to Planning Commission, Finance Minister and Cricket Minister he has pointed out :
1. Poor growth in farm output, at approximately 2%, is the main cause of agrarian and rural distress
2. There is need for focussing on short and medium term strategies for raising farm output
3. Burden of blame must be strategically be shared with states, as according to his understanding, the Central UPa government is having to face too much unnecessary criticism as being the most responsible player in the rural distress drama of Indian politicians and urban economists. The solution to this is seen as rewarding those states which come out with agrarian focussed programmes, agro climatic and local rural growth strategies, with possible budgetary support.

Surprisingly, the music of the old song of ushering in a Second Green Revolution, futures trading in commodities markets, contract farming, agro processing Special Export Zones, seems to have been lost in the wake of Vidarbha and Uttar Pradesh debacles.

He has stated “I would only like to emphasise that whatever strategies we choose to adopt must deliver some results in the short and medium term, so that tangible benefits are visible – to farmers, consumers and the rural economy as a whole.
This is important if we have to avert any crisis in the agrarian sector and fulfil the needs of a growing economy.”
All the king’s horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put Humpty together again … He directed the Planning Commission to come up with a major programme to enhance central support to those states that prepare localised plans.

This obviously means he is still not prepared to ask his heavy weight Cricket Minister to choose between Cricket, Food Imports or solving Agrarian Distress in his home state of Maharashtra.

The poor Finance Minister is keeping his cards close to his chest and will surely resist tooth and nail, attempts at further central aid to states because he himself knows the dubious record of states in preparing sensitive rural programmes of integrated development, as also knowing that further expansion of agricultural land exploitation is not feasible. Also known as the milking the dry cow therapy.
But the problem is who will be brave enougfh to bell the cat ?

Zubani – Indian rural women narratives –

PM Vidarbha Package –

Faced with the double whammy of
1. Large scale agrarian distress and
2. Falling food production,
top Indian agriculture strategists, and urban think tanks, have hit upon the most outrageous idea.
Drop the suicidal and indebted male farmers like hot potatos, and start professing a policy shift towards a gender bias favoring Mahila Kisan.

Indian Mahila Kisan Blog –

Dr. Man Mohan Singh,
Indian Prime Minister, Government of India
New Delhi-1100011


Respected sir,

1. My husband Shivaji Betwar of Kelapur in Yavatmal district, Maharashtra, had killed himself by hanging to tree in August of last year after your announcement of package and you specially asked District Collector to give healing touch to farm widows of west Vidarbha.
Please see this photo below :

He was a cotton farmer, and he was forced to commit suicide as local bankers Bank of Maharashtra, Pahapal branch had failed to give him crop loan even though he was not defaulter.
2. Then since after the his sad death, I was told by local administration that as per promise made by you, the relief aid will be given to me as I have two small kids one age 4 and other age 7. After the death of my husband, nobody is there to look after me here at my in laws place. Nobody is there to look after our land too.
3. To day local Tahsildar has told me that Yavatmal District Collector has rejected my case as there was no crop loan, against by husband’s name when he committed suicide. It was matter of surprise that when local bank has not given us loan and credit crunch has been reason of distress to commit suicide, I am being refused the compensation.
4. In order to avoid my kid’s starvation, I went back to my mother’s place in Andhra Pradesh mandal Besa in Adilabad district. But it was very difficult for them to feed my family as my brother is farm labor and I was forced to return back to dead husband’s place in Maharashtra.
Dear Prime Minister, it has been very difficult to live in these pathetic condition where as babus in local administration have not giving any help to me, I am writing to you that after your Vidarbha visit more than 1000 Farm Widows compensation claims have been rejected, in order to show the effect of your package, that suicides have declined, and we are innocent victims of your administrative politics.
You are kindly requested to save my small kids and help me.
Yours sincerely,

VJAS Demands BT Cotton Sowing Intervention Vidarbha

After the landmark mass sowing permission, by GEAC in June 2005, for Bt Cotton in Vidarbha, more than 2230 cotton farmers suicides have been reported and govt. of maharashtra has compensated cotton growers Rs. 219 core and Rs. 210 crore in the year 2005-2006 and year 2006-2007 for the failure of Bt.cotton in rain fed area of Vidarbha.
Maharashtra govt. has on record admitted that Bt. Cotton has failed in rain fed areas of Vidarbha, whereas 95% area of vidarbha is rain fed.
Now Bt.cotton seeds manufacturing, American company, has introduced Bollgard – II.
For promoting the Bt cotton seeds in Vidarbha, the company, with an elaborate network of Indian seed distributors and dealers, has started its high profile advertising campaign, backed by credit incentives – that it is highly profitable and gives minimum 11 quintal productive yield, where as according to govt. of maharashtra official report the cotton average yield has been dropped down from 120 kg per acre to hardly 50 kg per acre after introduction of Bt.cotton in vidarbha.
The advertising slogan catch line is “your farming, your profits”….
The claims made by the Monsanto company were patently fraudulent, as cotton growers pesticide uses was not dropped down where cotton output was drastically effected resulting mass suicides of cotton farmers in Vidarbha, Kishor tiwari added.
The Indian government is more busy at this time setting its cricket team into good shape for the next World Cup rather than rectifying the wrong decisions of GEAC regarding poor judgement in cropping and sowing patterns in Indian agriculture as a whole.
What a mockery of an Agriculture Ministry.

Total Failure of Rural health care support system, employment and social cum civil administration are the main reasons of farmer’s suicides in west vidarbha.
Dr. Sudhir Goyal, IAS, who is Relief Commissionor, and implementing prime minister package himself has asked Indian govt. that low cost sustainable farming is only solution of stop these suicides.
The officials are more busy trying to show that there is no agrarian distress on Indian farms.
Ban on Bt. Cotton and chemical farming is need of hour, and cotton farmers should cultivate there than cotton should the programme of the state the official further demands. Restoration secondary systems like rural employment, health is also needed to stop these on going suicides but nobody is acting in this direction more over misleading press releases are adding fuel to extremely critical situation in vidarbha, as per Kishor Tiwari of VJAS.


(This is suicide note, copy is attached herewith, of cotton farmer GOVINDA JUNGHARE age 55, of village METTIKHEDA, in YAVATMAL District in VIDARBHA (India) who committed suicide on 10th April 2007 after Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh’s well advertised Vidarbha package for distressed Indian farmers.
Land of Snake Charmers dressed up as Politicians ? )

Police Station Officer,
Police Station,

I humbly submit that applicant Govinda Zeetruji Junghare at Post Mettikheda, Taluka Kalamb, District Yavatmal, the home state of Indian Agriculture and Cricket Minister, Shri Sharad Pawar.

Subject : My family shocked as farm land is without being sowing any crop. How can we live without doing farming ?

I have no bullock for farming my land.

I have no money for seed, what is to be done ?

I can not think more. Money lenders are daily coming to my home and abusing me. I tried to arrange to money to repay but I could not arrange the money to repay my loans.

I did apply for crop loan case in bank but banker too has not given me the money yet.

Money Leander has threatened me to arrange the money otherwise they will take away tinplates fitted to my house.
But I am not having five paisa today how can I repay my loan.

I think over this crisis, lot of time and then decided, I should die instead of living.
Should I hang myself or take poison to die ?
Money Leander REKHA NAMDEO NIKHADE’S debt RS. 5000/- has a quarrel with me and manager of money Lender Nurru Seth is always coming to my house, asking for RS. 4000/- to pay back. This has made me mad.

No banker has given me the loan.

I have my wife, two son, and marriageable daughter, and how to do daughter’s marriage.

I have no money at home, one son is critically ill and suffering from T.B.

Nobody, including police and politicians, should trouble my family, hence I have written this letter in detail.

Yours faithfully,
Shri Govinda Zeetruji Junghare
Vidarbha, Maharashtra,
( Home State of Indian Cricket Minister )

German women aid given to Vidarbha farm widows :

Pandharkawada (India), March 17:

Today in very largely attended public function (see photo)to give German women aid to vidarbha farm widows held in small town pandharkawada in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha (India) in which most venerable widows who are facing starvation have given the relief aid .the function was orgnised by pandharkawada civic body president anil tiwari in local agrasen bhavan was attended by all social and political workers of all parties.
Kumar Roy and Shibani Bhattacharya Indian counter part of Indienhilfe e.V., a voluntary organisation based in Herrsching, have disbursed the amount.
Courageous and spirited stories told by widows, publicly, to keep the life alive was main attraction of the function.

This time, the helping hand has come from across the oceans, from Germany, for the distressed widows of farmers in Vidarbha, the region of Maharashtra in the grip of a severe agrarian crisis.

The readers of a Munich-based daily sent in financial contributions for helping women after reading about their plight in a series of stories carried by the newspaper.

The amount representing the total collection is to be handed over to the women at a brief function to be held in Pandharkawda in this district on Saturday.

Karin Steinberger, a correspondent of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, a leading German newspaper, toured Vidarbha in December 2006 for a closer look at the agrarian crisis and the plight of the widows of debt-ridden farmers, who committed suicide.

Moved by Ms. Steinberger’s articles, several readers remitted money to the newspaper’s office, asking it to be sent to the widows. The total collection was the equivalent of Rs 1. 5 lakhs.

However, the money could not be sent to India directly because of legal restrictions on remittance of foreign exchange, until Indienhilfe e.V., a voluntary organisation based in Herrsching, stepped in.

Kishor Tiwari, local farm activist of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti was the chief guest of the this function and urged all farm widows to change the agrarian crisis in to prosperity whole world is with, we will appeal the all international community to stand along with you in this days of distress. No widows have become sex worker till date and it will not happen in future too.
Vidarbha farm widows are the highly respected like war widows in this maharashtra ,we condemn the media campaign to malign the image of vidarbha farm widows as turning be sex workers, Kishor Tiwari informed gathering with grate pain.

However some sections of Indian media are bent on attracting sensational headlines, doing investigative journalism, looking for spicy headlines, without any compassion.
This section of media is choosing to put farm widows in the dock rather than the agriculture policy makers.

The readers of a leading German ( Deutsche )news paper, “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” have given relief aid to Vidarbha Farm Widows.
They were moved by Karin Steinberger’s article based on the struggle of farm widows, after the suicide of their farmer husbands, when local Maharashtra govt. turned blind eye towards the plights of these widows.
This amount was collected by news paper “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” was transferred to INDENHILFE, an NGO working for the Indian people.
Their Kolkatta base office is arranging a function for Relief Aid disbursement at Pandharkawada in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha, Maharashtra in India on 17th March. INDIENHILIFE office in charge, Kumar Roy and Shibani Bhattacharya have been touring in rural part of Vidarbha to identify the widows who are working hard to save the surviving family, from agrarian crisis.

Karin Steinberger, is with the German news paper, “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” since 2000, writing features from all over the world, but most of stories are from rural parts of India. This article was based on the hardships faced by Farm Widows of Vidarbha and their “struggle to remain live“, without any meaningful and coordinated government aid.
It was published in 2006, and the article has been read by the thousand of readers in Germany, but relief aid programme, has just coincidently matched with the timing when one of Indian media, TV news channels, has been running a premeditated campaign, to run fabricated stories of Farm widows and has been evoking very strong response from Vidarbha and all over the world.

This German relief aid distribution programme, will boost morale of these farm widows, at last, after the sheer apathy of local Congress and NCP government, and top local bureaucrats of Maharashtra, who are more interested in book keeping and making media statements, debating the reasons for farm suicides in cotton belt of Vidarbha.

– Gita, with her 4 month old kid
Kishor Tiwari visited KopaMandvi, yet another village on National Highway no.7

“I was shocked to look at pathetic condition of 23 year widow of Sharvan Chichodkar, a Vidarbha cotton farmer, who committed suicide.

She asked “who killed my husband?”
Gita narrated .. “It was constant worry of family debt and food starvation, that forced him to kill himself.
After Sharvan, nobody is there to look after me.
I will have to feed my kid and old father in laws.
We are fed up with this crisis.”..
Sharvan is third farmer suicide in KopaMandvi.
More than 100 farm suicides in this belt in last 4 years.
All GM cotton growers in Vidarbha are in debt, as per Shri Kishor Tiwari of VJAS.

Indian Finance Minister, Shri Chidambaram, had high profile photos and media coverage with top Indian industrialists, like Ratan Tata, on eve of Congress 2007 Budget. He did not have even 10 minutes to spare for debt ridden and suicidal Vidarbha cotton farmers, as he was too busy putting final touches to the Sensex Budget in New Delhi.

More Blogs :

Rural Distress among Indian Women –

Indian Farm Suicides Tracker –

Farm Debt and Indian Economy –

Indian Farmers and Retail Sector – Agribusiness, AgriEmpire –

Indian Prime Minister Cotton Farmer Relief Package -

While India Makes Record Cotton Exports to United States of America. Who is benefiting from WTO ?

The Tale of Three Indian Widows :
Savita, Sunita and Pratibha are three women from different contexts, background and age groups, yet engulfed by the continuing tragedy that plays out in Maharashtra. The number of widows is growing at a frightening speed in the cotton country. Jaideep Hardikar reports.

The most senior Indian bureaucrats and politicians, continue to deny any agricultural emergency in Indian rural areas, that calls for their attention.
Some IAS Relief Commissioners, are waxing eloquent on farmer’s folly, in pursuing high cost cultivation practices in un irrigated parts of India, while some IAS bureaucrats are issuing mental insanity certificates to suicidal farmers as “sirfira”. The Indian story of bureaucratic incompetence is tragi comic.

The Sensex Minister is following the bears and the bulls closely, while the Cricket Minister is celebrating the return to form of Saurav Ganguly in Indian cricket.