This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Politics Of Noose

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Abhilash:

Revolution, or the talk of it, is in vogue now. Everyone’s talking about the counter currents that are sweeping through India’s hinterlands. Film makers these days are busy imagining and creating their own Robinhoods for the big screen. As a mark of wide acceptance, they find a huge audience among the urban middle class, whose understanding of the hinterland revolts often gets restricted by (sometimes mired in) the designer fittings that this messiah wears, his existential dilemmas in a conflict zone, so on and so forth.

The two hour stint at the cinema, more often than not, would leave them with a certain sense of admiration for the rebels and the causes that they are fighting for. It’s all romantic. Add to this the stories of the cultural revolution of 70’s (that my generation grew up listening to) and you have just created a cocktail topic for this Saturday night. Now hold on there. Don’t lift your beer bottles yet.

The funny part in all this is that, we are often not allowed to imagine. We are not allowed to imagine a day when a few thousand, or maybe a few hundred thousand people, storm our cities seething with anger and carrying all kinds of weapons with them. We are not allowed to imagine that day. If at all some of us do end up creating those scenes in our heads, we often try to place ourselves among the revolting populace. We don’t consider ourselves as the bad guys. We would never consider ourselves as ‘the class’ towards whom these few million strong crowds are marching, with a single intent to eliminate. Well, we can live in that denial as long as we please. After-all nobody’s bad.

My prayer is that this kind of revolution never comes; because if she decides to hit my city, I will be one of those who will have to lay his head for those angry swords. Not for what I did, but for what I didn’t; and for all that I chose to ignore while I made money in the last two decades. And then to demand civility in that war will be futile. Because when people are angry, they don’t listen, they don’t care. They would only have revenge on their minds and they would violate everything that comes their way — man, woman, child, dogs, cats, cars, all of them. That’s the danger. Revolution is bloody.

As I stood among the 600 odd farmers who assembled in the capital to discuss about agrarian crisis and the spate of suicides that the country has witnessed since the mid-nineties, I was imagining this ‘march of the millions’ in my head and I was repeating that prayer in my mind. I was wondering that if these guys and their people back home, a 400 million peasant farmer population of India, fall into the wrong hands tomorrow,it’s so easy to manipulate their anger into an act of vengeance. If that happens, then it’s a human tsunami that’s going to hit us. Because these guys are angry, sad and desperate they can be easily exploited and aligned to any extremist theories. In misery, enemy’s enemy is a friend. Mind that.

Over 270,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years because the state decided to withdraw all kinds of support to them. It’s as simple and cruel as that. Call it the capital influence or aid politics or corporate control; the truth is that over 400 million peasant farmers in India today, are facing unemployment and the natural state of starvation that comes with it. And as one among the privileged class, I was sorry for them, wanted to hold them and tell them that it will all be right. But that wouldn’t have worked. Two decades of soapy tears and solidarity has only left them with a noose to hang. Here is why.

Look at this table. 67% of the farming population of India earn less than Rs.2000 a month.That’s more than 250 Million of them. And all these 67% people have a monthly expenditure that’s about 50% more than their income. That’s the story every month. And as days go by, the debt accumulates till a point where they can’t take it anymore. That’s when one or all of the family members commit suicide.

In the last 15 years, as the country liberalised itself to the open markets and as me and my friends hopped from one IT job to the other, we lost over 250,000 farmers to this cruel joke.

The food on our table is the trickiest thing in this business. We all like it when it’s cheap and easily available. The most we care is about how much we end up paying for these food at the super markets. We don’t care about the politics behind it as long as they are served to us in a platter at a rate that’s acceptable. But here is why we should care. Because if don’t, one day that food will never be served.

The most hyped point in India’s agricultural history is the period of the Green Revolution. That was a time when the celebrated economists of this country decided to open up our farm lands to the rules of the Industry; A glorified time in history, when synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides entered the Indian market in its full might. They promised a large scale production of any one variety of crops over a short period of time. They promised to make our farmers rich overnight. Advertising is a funny business. All of us fall for it most of the times. So disregarding its environmental impact and other side effects, India also embraced the Green revolution. In the short run, the production shot up. Everybody was happy. Grass for the first time was greener on our side, or so many felt, till a few years passed.

There is a common rule in agriculture that the farmer in your neighborhood will vouch for any day. It is the culture of multiple crops. The farm land is not meant to grow the same kind of crops all the time. So usually we plant about 3-4 varieties of crops over a period of 1 year, depending on the season to maintain the fertility of the soil and other factors. What Green revolution did was to flout this fundamental rule of crop rotation. That killed fertility. On top of that, It also made agriculture way too dependent on costly inputs like pesticides and fertilizers owned by private corporations, with only profit in their minds. Punjab is often touted as the shining example of the success of this Green revolution. An independent study across the state in the year 2011 has revealed that 40% of the agricultural laborers have committed suicide — that’s even worse than Vidarbha. It’s a story that you will never hear, because it points its fingers straight at the proponents of Capital farming like Cargill and Monsanto and WalMart who also has friends in mainstream media.

The latest stunt on the part of the government is to redefine suicide. They have coined a new term these days — “Genuine Farmer Suicide”. So if you are a farmer and you have committed suicide, it could be because your son has failed in his class V exams or that your daughter has threatened to marry someone outside your caste, but it can never be the debt. That’s too unlike a farmer. The National Crime Records Bureau might tell you that over 2000 farmers committed suicide in AP but they can go to hell. The government would only stand by a much lower number — 141.

That’s what they call genuine farmer suicides, which to my mind makes the rest of the forms of suicides fraudulent maybe? It’s worse if you are a woman. In India, it’s difficult for a woman to find acceptance as a ‘farmer’, even when she spends double the amount of time in the field as opposed to her male counterparts.Now on top of all this if you commit suicide, it can only be because your husband has been an alcoholic, sex-holic or some kind of a maniac. It can never be debt. Debt and women don’t go hand in hand. Depression and women do. So over 42,000 women farmers who committed suicides in the last 15 years have to now rise from their graves and explain to the living, on why should their death be considered genuine farmer suicides and not some inexplicable vagaries of a few mad women. We play strange games with the dead don’t we? I call it the politics of the noose.

At this point in time, as we report fervently about freedom of speech on Facebook or India’s loss to England or about the new Ford car that has hit the market; we must also listen to the cries of a quarter million populations. It’s a cry for attention first and action second. What they are asking is not the impossible. All they need is the state to support them with a minimum assured price so that their incomes don’t hover around the Rs. 2000 mark forever. All that they want is a comprehensive relief and rehabilitation package that would certainly reach the needy, a widow pension scheme and a link to some of the schemes like NREGA pensions etc.. None of these are outrageous demands. These are exactly those demands, or as logical and rightful as the ones we make to our employers when we hop between our high flying jobs.

If we don’t listen to those cries now, many years later when that much romanticized version of revolution finally comes, we might find ourselves on the wrong side and any call for sanity and order at that point in time will mean nothing to anyone. Anger is a savage. He can be ruthless.

**********
Lash is the editor of www.that70sradio.com, a personal blog on past and contemporary events. This article has been originally published there on the 29th Of November 2012. He also consults for an International Non-Profit Organisation involved in the issue of land & livelihood rights.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Charkha Features

By Sreenandan Shashidharan

By Vikas Srivastav

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below