This evening in office, a couple of people(Jive Matthew , one of them) organised a screening of Nero's guests - a Deepa Bhatia documentary dealing with suicides of farmers(http://www.nerosguests.com/). Nero's guests takes its name from a Roman incident where Nero had a party thrown to people and to illuminate the place he had his men literally burn people.
The documentary turned out to be an hour of creating awareness about a cancerous disease that has spread to every nook and corner of the country. Leading the crusade for the last couple of decades has been the well known Hindu journalist Palagummi Sainath (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palagummi_Sainath) . In the documentary, he speaks about the various causes and illnesses that hamper our farmers and explains what we all know really well - that in this country, the rich get richer and the poor end up penniless. He ridicules the Western countries and our system which is hell bent on bowing before them. A colleague of his, once apparently said "The dream of an average Indian farmer is to be reborn as a cow in Europe"(coz' atleast there, the Govt. mandates spending 2.7 pounds/dollars per day on each cow..
He highlights the inadequacies in our society where 500 reporters travel and cover the India fashion week( which by the way happens twice a year) but can't have a dedicated reporter to talk about abject poverty. He ridicules the political system in which a finance minister can fly down to Dalal street within 2 hours of a stock market crash to pacify the sensitive , tear-jerker billionaires but takes a Prime minister 10 years of continuous deaths in Vidharbha(that's where the documentary is shot) to visit that city. He points out, almost in a matter of fact way, that the power cuts in Vidharbha mortuary and Govt. hospitals had to be stopped because there were 6-8 post postmortems to be conducted at various times of the day and night, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Shocking isn't it?
This powerful yet painful, eye opening documentary was watched by around 40 people and as you can imagine, shook us all up. Followed by that, we had people from Bangalore highlight issues currently being faced by farmers in Karnataka. Did you know that many silk farmers in Karnataka( the destination for 60% of the silk of the country) are now contemplating suicide, because the interest rates were brought down to 5% from 30% in the recent budget ? Did you know that the so called micro finance companies lend out money to farmers at 50% interest rates ?? Yes, you read that correctly , bloody 50% when vehicle loans are offered to the IT crowd at less than 5% interest. What sort of Government policies are we talking about here ? The kind of policies that help kill people easily ? What happened to all those values we learnt as we grew up ? Here is a story that was covered in a couple of newspapers (after a lot of convincing) about one of the farmer's suicides that happened recently - http://www.hindu.com/2011/03/12/stories/2011031265991300.htm%20 . Farmers, for your information, go ahead and take that step for loans of Rs 25,000. Why can't we do anything about this ?
Many of us middle class citizens, after reading about farmer suicides, just say that its unfortunate, curse the Govt. for a minute and don't do anything about it(I definitely am part of this list, unfortunately) and the so-called responsible media has almost stopped covering these topics because its considered passe. Today 10 farmers , tomorrow 100 and the day after, 1000 . Who cares ?? To the Rajdeep Sardesais and Arnab Goswamis of India - why don't you cover these topics extensively on your channels ? The best was what one of the editors apparently told some of the protestors recently - We won't publish about suicides because this will encourage other farmers to take this path. . That means that we should not talk about those several thousands and lakhs of farmers around the country who die every year.
What sort of a society are we living in ? Have we all become so materialistic and absolutely emotionless that we don't care one bit about the deaths ? Does it take a Sainath to wake us up every now and then before we go back to our slumber ? Wake up and try to do something about these. As one of my colleagues pointed out, it needs a determined effort to go to the other side to even contribute in some manner and to take that leap in this system in many ways, would also mean spoiling a lot of things for yourself. Do we have the courage to do that ?
I would urge all of you to watch this documentary. A snippet of that can be seen in this video -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPa6AomH1Ao
The action task force group in Bangalore have started to raise their voice and there is an email group that I will publish on the blog as soon as I am a member of that group. I hope and trust that we can all make a difference in any which way, be it by attending protest marches or making a monetary contribution or just lending support to this cause.
FOLKS , BE THE DAMN CHANGE THAT OUR SYSTEM NEEDS.