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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 19 New Delhi May 2, 2015

Moving Towards Dark Times

Saturday 2 May 2015, by Humra Quraishi


Murders, killings, rioting over rotis have always taken place but going by the present condition of affected hectares there are more than indications of an extremely difficult period ahead.

It is estimated that 94 lakh hectares of crop area across 14 States over the past three months have been affected. In Uttar Pradesh 29.64 lakh hectares of crop area was affected. In Haryana, 22.24 lakh hectares of crop area was affected. In Rajasthan 16.89 lakh hectares. In Maharashtra 9.89 lakh hectares. In Madhya Pradesh (5.70), Punjab (2.94), Bihar (1.86), Gujarat (1.75), J&K (1.33), HP (0.67), West Bengal (0.49), Uttarakhand (0.39), Telangana and Kerala (0.01 each).

This grim scenario carries two major offshoots. The condition of the farmers and their families has reached hopelessness. Hundreds have already died and hundreds could be dying. With crops failing, with output declining, their very survival seems grim. And all those talks of compensations coming through in the form and shape of cheques seem lingering at the talk stage. If the government was serious enough then cheques should have been distributed weeks before the crisis situation arose. And going by television reports in several belts the compen-sation money does not tally with the gravity of the loss. What, with few hundred rupees thrown at farmers as compensation money where crop worth thousands perished almost overnight...

The other offshoot is the obvious—scarcity of grain coupled with rising prices could kill thousands if not hundreds amongst us. Are we getting so immune of news reports of the dead and dying that few bother to react or counter react? This when we seem to be moving backwards towards those Dark Times when people had begun selling their own flesh and blood—their newborns—to survive. In fact, last evening a television report focusing on baby girls bought from a government-run orphanage in the rural belt Telangana, bared the ground realities of the day. Buying and selling and trafficking of children will increase as the days go by, because we are reaching that phase where there’s little to eat...