Saturday, September 01, 2007

Is the farmer an unwanted Indian?

Clearly, the man who said India lives in its villages is not much looked up to these days. One is talking of Mahatma Gandhi. But what the powers-that-be are doing to the Mahatma’s children living half and quarter lives in the countryside even after so many years of independence?
Practically anybody with a little money in his pocket and extravagant ambitions to boot, is headed for the villages these days to buy out the farmer and his family; for an easy kill, as they say. Capitalists are capitalists and their wanton ways are understandable, but what is one to make of the so-called socialists and communists who have begun to behave similarly?
One has to visit West Bengal to realise how close yesterday’s comrades have chosen to be to the World Bank, indigenous and foreign fly-by-night operators and other carpetbaggers whose will to “succeed” at any cost provides many lessons in human depravity. This fateful marriage of convenience between the politicos and the **boxwallahs** of circa 2006-07 vintage has made a tragic mockery of the poor farmer on whose frail shoulders the Jyoti Basus and the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjees have ridden to power repeatedly. Once their usefulness to the party in power was thought to have ended, they were unceremoniously dumped.
The industrialisation programme of the CPI-M in West Bengal has been thoroughly exposed for the anti-people movement it actually is. Regardless of what the party, which has enjoyed unchallenged supremacy in the state for three decades, may claim, grassroots people have been grievous sufferers while capitalists, real estate sharks, speculators and other such shady players have been making hay under the overly friendly CPI-M sun.
Two places in the state have attracted the critical attention of millions of Indians ~ Singur and Nandigram. Amazingly, at neither place did the Left Front government, which is being run like a **zamindari** by a handful of white-haired autocrats, feel the necessity of holding talks with the farmers whose land was being practically gifted away to the Tatas or the Indonesian entrepreneur. It is difficult to believe that decisions were being taken regarding the farmers’ land and livelihood without as much as a single round of serious discussion with them.
Who has given them the right to toy with the future of so many thousands of farmers? Surely, electoral victories have not given them the authority to do as they wish, to run roughshod over the rights and sentiments of poor, powerless people whose attachment to their land is being repeatedly and rightly likened in the Press and other forums as a child’s attachment to its mother.
If this is not a burning example of absolute power corrupting absolutely, pray, what is it? It is wholesale lumpenisation of a political outfit. What a sad state of affairs to obtain in a region about which Gopal Krishna Gokhale said: “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.”
However, all is not lost yet, as evidenced by the extent of opposition to the government’s policies and activities in well-defined quarters in Kolkata, apart from the districts affected. One important thing to note is the role of the intelligentsia which erupted in anger and sadness when the man-in-the-street had practically given up on them as a lost case of abject surrender and subservience.
Significantly, the most prominent target of the ruling party’s campaign of lies and damned lies is the renowned octogenarian writer and activist Mahasveta Devi. Others who have been verbally abused, threatened with dire consequences should they continue to speak out, and against whom falsehoods are being calculatedly floated, include poets Tarun Sanyal and Joy Goswami, the educationist Sunanda Sanyal, dramatist and director Shaoli Mitra, and singer Kabir Suman. But it is extremely heartening that the lyrical conscience of the people, which is what poets and painters are, is holding out against threats and blandishments and whatever else there is in the discredited party’s armoury.
The latest ~ and surely not the last ~ act of mendacity on the part of CPI-M is to instigate the Kolkata Police to post a report on its website, www.kolkatapolice.org, branding Mahasveta Devi and others opposed to what the party has been doing at Singur and Nandigram and in all likelihood is set to do in other parts of the state, as Maoists and Naxalites.
When the writer-activist pointed out to the city’s policy commissioner that the accusation was of the vilest kind and as such was worthy of only being treated with the contempt it deserves, he is reported to have retracted and expressed his regrets. But what is even more serious is the manner in which such an important arm of civil administration as the infiltrated police has been thoroughly by the party in power. If it can dare to play monkey with such a widely respected person as Mahasweta Debi, it can well be imagined what it is capable of doing to lesser mortals should they ever say or do anything that is not to the liking of the men in uniform.
Perhaps a few words are in order here about the culture of pseudo-regret of pseudo-remorse ~ call it what you want ~ that the CPI-M in West Bengal has over the years, through repeated use at critical moments of contemporary history, honed into an art form. Public memory may be short, but it is not so short as to forget the party’s branding of Subhas Chandra Bose as a Quisling ~ a traitor ~ only to withdraw the charge hastily once confronted with heated popular criticism. Similarly, there are many who have not forgotten or forgiven the party for calling Rabindranath Tagore a “bourgeois poet”. Here again, the party beat a hasty retreat once it was angrily pulled up by the people.
Many other instances of political opportunism, and doublespeak, can be cited to savage the party’s waywardness, the latest being the effulgent praise heaped on Dr BC Roy, the first chief minister of West Bengal, who was systematically targeted during his year’s in office by the Communist Party of India. Caught on the wrong foot for its badly flawed industrialisation policy as put into practice especially in the last two years, the CPI-M suddenly woke up to the virtues of Dr Roy’s visionary efforts to industrialise the state in the 1950s and 60s in a peaceful and democratic manner.
In other words, each time it has met with stiff resistance, the CPI-M has employed its pathological craftiness to wriggle out of an uncomfortable situation largely of its own making.
The latest outrage against truth has been widely noticed in and around West Bengal, particularly since it involves a renowned writer and respected public figure. It should serve without saying that this modus operandi of the CPI-M needs to be highlighted, if for no other reason than to expose the party’s self-righteousness which, in the wake of Singur and Nandigram in particular, has become a matter of public discussion across the subcontinent. The traditional holier-than-thou attitude of the CPI-M and its cronies in the Left Front deserves to be met with open public ridicule.
Honestly, one feels extremely distressed writing these lines in the 60th year of independence. But how to escape the most important lesson that one has learnt at the feet of one’s parents and a long line of distinguished teachers in school, college and university, namely, no happiness is worth much that is gained at the expense of truth and justice. What Gandhiji, the principal architect of Indian independence, taught us more than anything else is that the fear of fear must be banned from our souls. Long live the honest and hard-working people of India, most of whom still live in its villages.

(The author is editor of Motif, Jharkhand’s English-language weekly paper)

2 comments:

Unknown said...

anek heche.apnader janyo bahu bhalo chele amara hariechi 70 dashake,mone pare?apnader intelligece ke namaskar.ja guchie nebar to niechen.future generation ke bachte din.

Unknown said...

anek heche.apnader janyo bahu bhalo chele amara hariechi 70 dashake,mone pare?apnader intelligece ke namaskar.ja guchie nebar to niechen.future generation ke bachte din.