Ayodhya Nahin, Karz Maafi: Chant Farmers

Ayodhya nahi, karz maafi chahiye”. “Ab haq ke bina bhi kya jeena, yeh jeene ke samaan nahi (life has no meaning without rights),” sang one of the performers at the ‘Kisan Night’ organised to lift the spirits of the farmers on Thursday. Leaders of opposition parties as well as activists showed solidarity with the community. Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday called for a farm loan waiver, asserting that peasants are asking for what is due to them and not a “free gift”. The Congress supremo joined opposition leaders including AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, veteran politicians Sharad Yadav and Sitaram Yechury at Jantar Mantar, where the thousands of farmers gathered on Friday to press for their demands, including debt relief and remunerative prices for their produce. “The country has been divided between Ambani and Adani. But your farm loan waiver does not happen, you don’t get the right prices and hollow speeches are made,” Rahul said. He trained his guns at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that if Rs 30,000 crore can be given to Anil Ambani, an apparent reference to the Rafale fighter jet deal, why can’t loans of farmers be waived off? Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal alleged that PM Modi has “stabbed farmers in the back” by not fulfilling the promises made to them and warned him that they would “wreak havoc” in the 2019 general elections if those promises are not kept. In his address at the venue, Kejriwal claimed that the Centre had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying it would not implement the MS Swaminathan Commission report. “The government had made a number of promises to farmers in the last election (2014), but it has not fulfilled those promises. By not implementing the Swaminathan Commission report, Modiji has stabbed the farmers in the back (‘kisano ke peeth mey chhura bhonka hai‘),” he alleged. He said the Union government should implement the report in five months. “The affidavit filed in the court should be withdrawn and the report should be implemented, otherwise, farmers would wreak havoc in 2019 elections (‘kisan agle election mey qayamat dhah denge‘),” he said. “The Fasal Beema Yojna is a fraud and is cheating farmers. The insurance companies withdraw money from farmers without their permission and thousands of crores have been withdrawn in this manner. When farmers lose their produce, these companies impose the condition that compensation would be given only if 70 per cent of the produce has been destroyed,” the AAP chief claimed. (PTI)]]>

#FarmersMarch: Activists haul up Centre

Farmers rise! @newssting1 cartoon #FarmersMarch pic.twitter.com/LGAoPiaDe8

— Satish Acharya (@satishacharya) November 30, 2018 They were stopped near Parliament Street police station, after which they assembled there. Over 3,500 police personnel have been deployed on the route of the march. According to a senior police officer, special arrangements have been made in Central and New Delhi police districts. Farmers have come to the national capital from different parts of the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. Banded under the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which claims to be an umbrella body of 207 organisations of farmers and agricultural workers, many farmers arrived in the city on trains, buses and other modes of transport. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader S Sudhakar Reddy, AAP MP Sanjay Singh and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah also joined the protesting farmers in the heart of Delhi. Reddy, the national secretary of the CPI, alleged that the BJP dispensation led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is most the “anti-farmer government”. “Modi government tried to pass the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill. But, as the opposition parties opposed it, the bill was not passed in the Rajya Sabha. If the BJP wins again then it will take steps to pass the controversial bill,” Reddy said. He alleged that the BJP government at the Centre has no wish to implement the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation All farmers bodies across the country have been demanding implementation of the panel’s report. Yechury said, “This is the same police station (Parliament Street police station) where Bhagat Singh was taken into custody for throwing a bomb (in the Legislative Assembly).” “We have the power of votes, if the government does not change its stand, it will be overthrown,” he said, adding, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari the country is united and “we will remove Modi (in the next elections)”. Anjaan added that continuous neglect of farmers will “ensure Modi’s and the BJP’s downfall in 2019”. Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said the protest – Kisan Mukti March 2018 – to Delhi is a historic development as not only farmers across the nation have been assembled under one platform but also it has enjoyed supports from all section of society. TMC leader Dinesh Trivedi said, “Farmers of India stands before us. This is India’s movement. Mamataji (Banerjee) has sent you love. If you have a strong resolve you can achieve everything. There are talks about loan waiver but should the farmer even have to take loans.” He also said this gathering was the “real parliament” and called for a special session of Parliament. NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the condition of farmers in the country needs to be changed but the government is “not sympathetic” towards their plight. (PTI)]]>


‘A Sweeper Can’t Avoid Pollution’

Every morning when I pick up my broom, I brace myself for the heavy breathing that results from dust swirling up when I sweep the streets of this town. People in other jobs might have the option to escape the dust and air pollution. But people in my vocation have no option. Like firefighters, we sweepers have to run towards the very same thing that people are running away from.

In most small towns and cities, sweepers come to town from far-flung areas. I myself walk 5 km on the dust-laden streets from my home to reach work. Yes I walk the distance — I can’t afford to pay for public transport four times a day. I sweep vast stretches of road from 8 am to 10.30 am, and then walk back to my house, help my wife with household chores then again go back for another round at 3 pm. I finally finish work at around 5 pm. This has been my routine for over two decades, but now my body seems to have given up. My body refuses to put up with the onslaught.

Deoghar is a holy town, lakhs of devotees keep pouring in all year round, which means that several hundreds of tonnes of waste is generated here every day. Most of it gets dumped on the roads. The stink is unbearable. Most people walk past it, but we have to pick them up, segregate them and then clean the area. I have to clean the stretch four times a day, so you can imagine my plight. Add to that the fumes coming from vehicles, and the dhabas that line the road.

My immunity has weakened due to continuous exposure to pollution and dust. Winter months are especially difficult. My eyes keep watering continuously and the cold and cough never ends. And the cold weather prevents me from taking a bath after finishing my duty.

My cotton gamcha (a thin cloth meant for wiping sweat off the face) is my only shield, which obviously doesn’t work. Dust gets into my nose, eyes and even my mouth. I wish the government equipped sweepers and manhole cleaners with better gears and equipment so that we did not have to suffer so much. Gloves, good-quality masks, all-weather footwear etc — are they too much to ask for?

Even though, waste management has gotten better with time, people are yet to give it the importance that it deserves. The government has advised people not to burn leaves or garbage, but people here don’t care. Leaves, plastic toys, diapers, sanitary napkins, food gone waste, polybags –they indiscriminately burn it all. They have been made aware of the impact this mindless burning of garbage has on the environment, but no one bothers.

The fumes emanating from these burning dumps on the roadside are toxic, which puts the health of every citizen at risk. But it is our job to clean it up. Whenever it comes to our notice that waste is being burnt, we have to take cognizance and inform our superiors.

Traditional wisdom in rural areas puts in a lot of emphasis on ecological sustainability. Our village elders used to say cleaner air leads to cleaner thinking. I wish people (especially in cities) could learn something from this treasure trove of wisdom.