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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 49 New Delhi November 24, 2018

The Real News: Farmers on the Move

Sunday 25 November 2018, by SC


Several developments of late are in the focus of national attention. These include the public face-off between the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, and the Union Government that has somehow been reversed for the present with both sides pulling back from the brink at the RBI board meeting last Monday (November 19) and agreeing to work out solutions to the contentious issues thereby aiding both the financial markets and investors; the events in and around the Sabarimala shrine following the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all ages to pray at the temple; the problems plaguing the nation’s premier investigating agency, the CBI, that have come out in the open and the Chief Justice of India’s expression of anguish over some aspects of this case appearing in sections of the media. The Maharashtra Government’s decision to clear reservation for the Maratha community in education and government jobs also falls in the same category.

Yet all these cannot obfuscate the importance of the latest terror assault in Punjab—last Sunday (November 18) witnessed a grenade attack on a congregation of Nirankaris on the outskirts of Amritsar leaving three dead and 21 injured. There is justifiable apprehension that Punjab’s “hard-earned peace”, a term used by State CM Amarinder Singh, would be frittered away and the nightmare of the 1980s could well return to haunt it and the country at large unless all measures are taken to prevent such an eventuality when reports have confirmed that Pakistan’s ISI is extending every possible help to the Khalistani elements to regroup and strike at the opportune moment.

Meanwhile, the farmers are once again restive. Eight months ago the farmers and tribals had organised a huge march in Maharashtra—50,000 of them marched in gruelling heat to cover a distance of 200 kms from Nashik to Mumbai last March to highlight their demands before the State Government including the CM. (Needless to underscore, the farmers in Maharashtra are among the worst affected in the present scenario.) As was mentioned in these columns in the March 17, 2018 issue of this publication,

the State Government.... had highly fruitful talks with the farmers’ representatives lasting about three hours.... what was agreed upon included inter alia (a) the right of farmers, tribals to till forest land, (b) loan waiver to cover loans outstanding since 2008, (c) MSP for farm produce on the lines of the Swaminathan formula.

Eight months have already passed but the promises remain unrealised till date. Now the farmers are again coming to Mumbai in their thousands. If the first farmers’ march in March was organised by the All India Kisan Sabha, the latest one is being organised by the Lok Sangharsh Morcha. Unless the authorities in Mumbai are forcibly woken up from their slumber, nothing is expected to happen.

The toiling people, notably the farmers, are on the move. A huge kisan march is to be held in the Capital too in the next few days (November 29 and 30, 2018) buttressing, among others, the above mentioned demands.

These are the real news which the influential segments of today’s media do not find it worthwhile, unwittingly or otherwise, to publicise.

November 21 S.C.

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