Protest is taking a new form in Gujarat. 16 members of Dalit community attempted suicide in protest against four men from the community were beaten up for skinning dead cows near Una.
Suicide attempts were reported from Junagadh, Kesod, Ahmedabad and Godhal on Tuesday. One amongst these was local Congress leader Anil Madhad. According to local news agency Sandesh, one Hemant Bhika Solanki died after drinking poison in Khambaliya village, Bhesan.
Protestors blocked a national highway and set state transport busses on fire. While, clashes between protestors and the police were also reported from Amreli District.
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The Gujarat government had earlier suspended four police officers for negligence about the beating of the Dalit community members. The government has also ordered a probe by Criminal Investigation Department.
The incident that triggered all this was the when four men from Dalit community was beaten up. The victims were skinning a dead cow they had bought, when around six men intervened and started asking them how and where they got it. They accused the Dalits of killing the animal and started thrashing them. A video showing the incident, ironically uploaded by an accused himself, went viral on social media. Apparently, the accused wanted to caution people against killing cows. The accused belong to a cow protection committee in the area.
Ahmed Patel, a Congress leader, said, “People who have faced violence need to be given justice. Failure of authorities to protect Dalits in Gujarat is absolutely shocking. Is it the Gujarat Model? Independent probe is the need of the hour.”
The protest is spreading throughout Gujarat and this is a cause of worry for everyone.
Most of us might still remember our social sciences’ class, where we used to learn that India is majorly an agrarian economy, with around 60% of the population engaged in agriculture and related activities. This hasn’t changed much in the time elapsed, even with the onset of the sparkling start-up generation. What has also not changed are the incidents of farmer suicides per year. The government has apparently been increasing the relief activities for struggling farmers year after year, so everything should be taken care of right? Wrong. Farmers still find themselves in the midst of a make-or-break situation, similar to what a start-up heading towards bankruptcy would face. So, following are the reasons why you should care about their situation while reflecting the reasons in the context of a new start-up:
1. Farmers get only 25 % of the final market price. Imagine a situation where you get only 1/4th of the final price for your start-up’s product, your brainchild, and the rest is pocketed by some middlemen who you know nothing about, whose only job was to get your wares to the market. Think you’d be pissed?
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2. Farmers are pressured to be productive even with irregular weather patterns. Farming is a process where all the necessary conditions are to be fulfilled to be productive. The weather is a condition which is in God’s Hands, rather like the initial seed funding required by any start-up; it’s all in God’s (Investor) hands. Wouldn’t it be harsh to tell you to succeed with inadequate funding?
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3. Farmers are entrapped into taking large un-repayable loans. All entrepreneurs dread taking large loans which they deem unpayable. Once in a while, it so happens that a loan shark gives them a deal too good to be true. And it turns out that way in the end.
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4. Farmers are ill-educated and unaware of all the advancements of agricultural technologies. Most people would agree that without proper awareness of the market and the correct technology required for the production of their products, it would be very difficult for any start-up to survive.
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5. Government relief does not always reach the farmers. The situation where you realize that the funds promised to you do not reach you at all. In fact, they were being whittled away by the subordinates of the investor of your start-up.
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6. Farmers are also human beings. Entrepreneurs are human beings. Farmers are human beings. You and I are human beings. Would you let anyone, stranger or a loved one, suffer such despicable injustice?
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Clearly, the current conditions of the farmers are beyond wretched, leaving them no option aside from suicide. Though we may ask ourselves what we can do about such a major issue; I say, even speaking out about this issue would be a step in the right direction. Let the government and the farmers realize that we are aware of their situation and that we care. I leave you with this quote by Martin Niemöller which is apt for the situation: First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
It seems the worst is not yet over for Marathwada. 65 farmers committed suicide due to the unflinching drought in the first three weeks of April as the death toll rose to 338 this year.
So it’s a Saturday evening and you want to enjoy the weekend with your friends. You choose an expensive restaurant and invite everyone for an exotic dinner. You order the waiter to bring some of the expensive delicacies on the menu, not all of which you can eat. But did you know? Farmers who made the food you are eating are committing suicides because of debts.
According to a report in TOI, Beed district reported 60 farmers suicide cases, the highest in the region while Aurangabad came next reporting 57 and Nanded 50 cases. Latur (44) and Osmanabad (43), both severely drought-affected districts followed a close suit, while 37 cases have been reported from Jalna, 27 from Parbhani and 20 from Hingoli. Out of 338 cases reported, only 146 have been declared eligible for compensation, while 75 have been rejected. 117 cases are pending for investigation.
A senior official said the district administration had roped in health department officials in Osmanabad to boost the morale of farmers and look into the case of farmers committing suicide in huge, particularly those in the district’s drought-affected pockets. Divisional commissioner Umakant Dangat asked the doctors in both the private and government sectors to extend every possible assistance to farmers in distress, and ensure they do not miss out on proper treatment for want of money.
Moreover, social workers are also helping and counselling farmers. Accredited social health activists have reached 2.21 lakh houses in the area preparing them to fight the draught conditions.
When we order food in the hotel next time, think whether you are ordering it or asking it from farmers. Someone somewhere is taking away their lives. Solace!
And in the end we portray our gratitude with 100 bucks saying food was awesome!