Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A small story of simple Indian Farmer

It has been an exhilarating and exhaustive experience to find a land for factory project in India. This exercise took me to Mahindra Industrial Park in Chennai, MIDC in Vile Bhagad - Raigad, Chakan -Pune, Shirwal - Satara, GIDC Jaghadia - Ankaleshawar, Sanad - Gandhi Nagar, Manesar- Haryana. Some of them were spanking clean with the entire industrial infrastructure in place while some with just barren land with dried grass and hard rocks. Both conditions made economic sense. But making a factory in a verdant landscape with rich black soil that has been already been tilled and sowed, ready to receive mansoon to make agricultural produce, intrigued me. Farmers in the vicinity seemed well off with motorbike reclining in the shadow of a tree. Village had plastered wall houses, eager students tucking along their mothers hurrying to reach school premises before the bell rang, a small grocery store with refrigerator and stocked every brand of cold drink and string of packaged munching chips hanged next to the counter that also housed candies, chocolates and essential groceries. In all, this place exhibited happy and contented village. Next to this proserperous, stretch of land was Hyundai Construction factory - impressive facade of blue glass structure surrounded by well-manicured lawns. This factory would produce earth-moving equipments. The juxtaposition of Modern industrial factory with fertile land stirred me. Is it wise for India to give up her fertile land for the factory? It appears, everyone is a winner, at least for today. Farmer gets remuneration that he could never ever have imagined. Factory employs more people than agricultural land would and provide indirect jobs to vendors, dealers and support companies, Govt be happy in giving employment ,country’s GDP soars, their coffers become heavier with taxes and duties. But considering the reality of India’s billion mouths need food to stay away from hunger, would this be considered as wise decision in the future? I do not have an answer but this thought still haunts me.

Y’day I watched ‘Goshta Choti Dongraevadhi' a Marathi movie. Stark and brutal reality of Indian farmer to this indolent, self-obsessed individual who wallops in city comforts and yet remains unsatisfied. ‘When price of potato per kg is increased current Rs 8 to Rs 10, city people come on the street but no one bothers but when branded chips with 100 gm of potato are sold at Rs 10 per packet. When an Injectibles that cost Rs 5 is sold at Rs 100, business magazine gloss the story with ingenious marketing' - a hard hitting statement by educated agriculture graduate can definitely shake any city bred viewer from his cynical attitude and approach towards farming community. This movie is a tribute to scores of Indian farmers who embraced death when left with no choice to live with dignity. This movie is an amazing portrayal of farming community that bring not just tears but makes one angry of being helpless spectator in watching corrupt practices devour basic human qualities in India. When an actor decides to produce a movie, it shows his conviction in a cause. Amir khan did in ' 'Tare Jameen par', Amitabh did in 'Paa' and now Makarand Anaspure and Sayaji Shinde did in ' Goshta Choti Dongraevadhi' .मातीच्या लेकराचा a theme song penend by Prakash Holkar & Arvind Jagtap and composed by Shailendra Barve brings out rustic fragrance of soil , anguish and pain of farmer in a spiritual intonation similar to Bhimsen Joshi

After seeing this movie, I am now more confused. Who is responsible and who to be blamed for the situation that prevails in India. Govt has meager resources and only industrial growth can augment its resources to provide any succor to farmers. Which provides more productive yield? Farming or industrial production? One third of the world's workers are employed in agriculture but they account for less than 5% of Gross Domestic Product. The agricultural output of China is the largest followed by the European Union, India and the United States. Can India give up its farming in pursuit of higher GDP through Industrial production? US, Canada, France, Australia, Argentina and Thailand - supply 90% of grain exports. Would India be happy at the mercy of these six countries to feed her own people? The United States controls almost half of world grain exports and so does global economy. Would India be able to follow her path? A prudent mix of Knowledge based Industry, Mass produced industrial goods and Farming be ideal. However, would this utopia be reached by keeping social balance? Would there be a concept of ‘Factory Farming’, a farming produced in mechanized industrial manner where farmer become employee of an industrial corporation that adds not just GDP but also feeds million hungry mouths.

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