Mainstream

Home > Archives (2006 on) > 2020 > Farmers’ Mann ki Baat | Sukumaran C.V.

Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 51, New Delhi, December 5, 2020

Farmers’ Mann ki Baat | Sukumaran C.V.

Saturday 5 December 2020, by Sukumaran C.V.

Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know
But leechlike to their fainting country cling...
—P.B.Shelley (sonnet England in 1819).

Two centuries ago, the great poet
Shelley told the Peterloo protesters,
Who were agitating for greater
Reforms and who were confronted
By the charging cavalry of King George:
“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many- they are few.”[1]
Oh! Farmers, you feed the nation,
But the nation heeds you not;
If you cultivate not, the doctor
And the engineer will starve to death;
But the doctor and the engineer live
Better lives and you live miserably.
If you cultivate not, the ruler and
The bureaucrat will starve to death;
But the ruler and the bureaucrat live
Better lives and you live miserably.
If you cultivate not, contractors and
The brokers will starve to death;
But the contractors and brokers live posh
And you lead a life in misery.
You feed everybody and nobody
Listens to you and sees your woes.
We are taught to be proud of being
IAS and IPS people; never we are
Taught to be farmers, not even to
Appreciate them and their toil,
Which enables us to have our posh style.
Everybody wants to be bureaucrats;
And nobody wants to be farmers.
Yet, nobody can live without farmers!
And when you walk together to
Meet the Maharajas and tell them
Your woes and your problems,
They dig moats across roads to
Stop you reaching around their City.
They know not you are the children
Of the soil and you can metamorphose into
A placid yet turbulent river whose flow
Their moats and barricades can’t stop.
You left your villages and formed the river,
That flowed and flowed and breached
The moats and barricades and knocked on
Their City gates and put the City under siege.
Then the Maharajas put forth conditions;
And you said to hell with the conditions.
The rulers are not, but the people are
The authority to put forth conditions.
You taught them the bitter truth;
And it will be better for them,
To be wise enough to learn the truth.
And they will be wiser, if they learn it.
I feel proud of you when I see you
Walk and cook and sleep on the roads;
While the north Indian winter is unbearable,
Even if we have a roof above our heads.
I feel proud of you when I see you
Stand united not by caste and creed;
But by your economic woes whose
Creators the corporate-friendly rulers are.
I feel proud of you for telling the Maharaj
You are bored to hear his mann ki baat, and
For forcing him to listen to your mann ki baat.
And I wish to be with you, to flow
With you, to walk with you and
To confront the Maharajas
With you and to tell them that the
World goes on only because you are
There to saw and reap and feed it.
And I wish to be with you to tell you:
“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many- they are few.”
Oh, No; We are many, they are few.


[1] Quoted from Shelley’s poem The Masque of Anarchy. [On August 16, 1819, cavalry regiments of King George III attacked the 60,000 protesters who were agitating peacefully for political reforms assembling in St. Peter’s Field, Manchester, led by the radical orator Henry Hunt. In the cavalry charge, around twenty people were killed and hundreds were injured. This incident is known as the Peterloo Massacre. Shelley wrote the poem lambasting the authorities. But it was published only after his death. Shelley lambasts the combination of power (God, and Law, and King) that oppresses the people. The fascinating and salient feature of the poem is its eloquent portrayal of non-violent resistance. Timothy Bloxam Morton says in his essay ’Receptions’ included in The Cambridge Companion to Shelley that the poem has played an important role in inspiring Gandhian non-violent resistance. See how beautifully and powerfully Shelley delineates non-violent resistance in the 79th, 84th, 85th and 86th stanzas of the poem:

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war. (Stanza 79)

And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there;
Slash, and stab, and maim and hew;
What they like, that let them do. (84)

With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay,
Till their rage has died away. (85)

Then they will return with shame,
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak

In hot blushes on their cheek." (86)]

Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted