Its interesting that debate on farmers is catching attention of friends. It nice to hear someone start the debate with Its Elementary Mr. Telanganite! ! Like who is farmer, whether they are alive, elements of farming system, testing knowledge of farmers, teaching market to our farmers. I think we are far different from many societies where farming is not looked down upon and farmer is treated equal with other elites. I don’t think reasons are agronomic or technical for this discrimination. It was not very old history that our country’s first citizen Sanjeeva Reddy can take pride of being a farmer, great poets and scholars can take pride of farming background. Now not even tenth failed fellows or lecturers or successful ward members have anything to do with farming directly. That’s just another source to get some kaulu/ rent and give some other privileges of commanding other services in the village.

Farming over the past two and three decades is becoming more a vocation of the small farmers. Unnollandharu oorlidishi patnamla bathakapothe bakkachikkinolla vyasanamga maarindhe eenaati vyavasaayam. Big farmers have become benami and moved into agro-business and all other trades possible with operations shifted from village to the mandal head quarters to Hyderabad . Old influential farmers have now become busy in more money spinning rackets and occupations. Some of them are the suppliers of spurious pesticides and seeds and moneylenders that killed so many farmers. They are also the main beneficiaries of the little government assistance that came to clear the loans of farers who committed suicides.

Land, agriculture labour, farming, livelihoods, rights are inseparable. Farmer by any means is the producer, and plays major role in any society in feeding the people. Today, we talk so much about farmers as illiterate and ignorant and in need of awareness because we are now urban, middle class or exported to distant countries and from where we have convenient perspective of our farmers (forefathers) who need to be reformed.

Why the farmers are ‘backward’ and ‘poor’ and disorganized. Who are responsible in bringing politics into farming and polarizing people for political agendas that are never pro poor or pro agriculture which is backbone of our culture, and our survival? Why farmer suicides are going up instead of declining with growing wisdom or wise people around. Why growth of farm experts is making farm crisis much more deeper??

Why farmers movement is ‘weak’ now.(many struggles are happening time again but unfortunately media doesnt project) Why students’ movement is weak, trade unions are weak and educated sections getting lured by dollars than facing the challenges at home and why the opposition parties are carbon copies or shadows of the ruling group, why the media is making Aiswarya & Abhishek wedding or some cinema actor’s birthday into national news? Where did the students movement gone where there were thousands of students into street on Rameeza Bee police lock up or if there was hike of bus fares? The question is not one of only farmers’ movements. Farmers are just as good and bad as any other section of the society. As united and divided as the so called educated minds are.
Movements have not died. They have become different. Social structure is more differentiated now. ippudu evani baadha vaanidhe. Still the fire is there and struggle is on. One example is the massive response to ‘maddatu dara’ rally organized recently by TDP. They could gather national leaders and brought lakhs of people into that forum. That was not a peoples party it was not ML party or TRS or communist party. That was not a party which has waged peoples struggles. Yet there was such response. Irrespective of parties if any organization or party takes up the genuine issue of farmers or poor people there is people participation. There are struggles, dharnas, strikes facing lathicharge, firing, arrest and killings also. CPM land struggle and Polavaram struggle and so many struggles by other parties have seen people participating in large numbers and for many days and weeks and facing worst repression. But these movements are not lasting and growing because the priorities of political parties are different from the demands of the farmers and people.

We are part of status quo. Caught up in capitalistic mode of development and global-privatized ideas suitable to those who moved out of the threshold of the poor and framing households. and its more convenient to ignore social realities, regional imbalances, social inequalities and discriminatory structures that make development resulting in more displacement of the adivasis and dalilts, power inequalities in village, gender and caste inequalities, farm seen as if its only those of pattadards and not of those women or landless because they do not have entitlements. It is comfortable to see things in isolation or one see from one dominant perspective.

Have we ever thought of why there is not strong movement of farmers, ever thought of why there are farmers’ suicides, migration, and unethical development practices? Why we always segregate issues into ‘them’, why can’t we analyze problems which are part of our lives? Why women’s issue, children issue, youth issue do not become our problems .Why do we de-link politics from people’s realities. Why we displace people from politics and see them only as means of getting votes for us? Where has people’s power become the basis of power to political parties?

Friends, can we underestimate our ‘annadaatha’ . They are in crisis. There is need for all groups to come together and giving them a helping hand. Let’s wake up before its too late and stand by the framers. Without framing and farmers everything is going to be upside down. Water, power, electricity, land, community, policies, politics, parties and governance is going to be just elements larger than the system if they get isolated and thrown apart. Elderly friends who have seen more of the people and history and have not lost trust in themselves or our people would hopefully advise means to get into action and stand by our people in crisis

Jai Telangana

Sujatha Surepally