India’s Tribal communities are under extreme pressure, right from big dams and mines to violent insur gencies and militarisation engulfing their lands. In 25 years, will these communities cease to exist? Or, will they represent thriving, revitalised models of egalitarian sustainability that the rest of the world has come to recognise and is learning from?
Heera Bai reports: Across the Tribal Belt of Central India, indigenous communities are constantly being evicted from ancestral lands to make way for development projects, industry, tourism and government-sanctioned conservation initiatives. In the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Baiga community have faced a legacy of evictions that dates back more than 30 years.
From People’s Media: In January 2017, two people were killed when the police fired on villagers in Bhangar, in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district. They were protesting the forcible acquisition of their fertile agricultural land for a proposed powerg-rid substation. Read reports and watch a short film made on location, as the events unfolded.
Devinder Sharma writes: In the past 21 years, over 3.18 lakh farmers have committed suicide; that’s one farmer ending his life every 41 minutes. Every death on the farm infuriated the farmers, their families. But political leaders have always ignored the warning. Not realising that the day farmers wake up, Indian politics will change forever.
Fifty-six years after the foundation stone for the Sardar-Sarovar dam on the Narmada was laid, the Gujarat government has got permission from the Centre to shut its gates. It will open the gates of misery for more than 100,000 people, whose houses and land are likely to get submerged. A Down To Earth ground report.
From Vikalp Sangam: Located in the village Vinchurni, in Maharashtra’s Satara district, the 100-acre Maganlal Gandhi Smrutivan was originally a rocky grassland, that has since been transformed into a fertile estate that now teems with various interdependent lives. Behind this makeover is the 89-year-old former ‘Bhoodan’ activist Babulal Gandhi, aka Babu Kaka, and his family.
From The Hindu: For long, we’ve said that the solution is to get people off farming. While we need more manufacturing jobs, latest projections show rural India will still have 800 million people in 2050. Moving people to the cities could deepen the urban imbroglio. So solutions have to be found for agriculture, and fast.
R. Jagannathan, Editor, Swarajya Magazine, writes: It is time for a mea culpa on demonetisation. This writer has been largely positive on the medium-to-long-term benefits of notebandi, as opposed to its short-term downsides. Now, especially after the farmer agitations for loan waivers, I believe the negative side is larger than the positive. It has failed.
From People’s Archive of Rural India: From farmers being shot dead in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, to those across Maharashtra out on the streets, to those from Tamil Nadu on hunger strike in New Delhi not so long ago, this has been a season of agrarian discontent. Why is this happening, which way will it go?
A recent article by Tim Worstall on the Forbes website states that, in effect, India’s farmers should be allowed to go bust because that’s how economic development works. This response from Countercurrents.org traces the criminal role of neoliberal policies in undermining farmer’s independence and livelihoods to favour global agribusiness. The article has since gone viral.
This series of timely reports from Hindustan Times surveys the explosive situation in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district, epicenter of the violent protests that left six farmers dead from police bullets. The lead article looks at the impact of demonetisation in creating the crisis, while another report examines the role of social media in organising farmers.
Why, please ask yourself, does the city get 24 hour electricity, schools, colleges, dispensaries, hospitals, roads, public transport, even cooking gas and the village either not at all or services that are a pale shadow of their urban selves? Why this inequality in allocation of resources, even though 68.84% of Indians live in rural areas?
IndiaSpend reports: A plentiful harvest in 2016 and imports drive some prices down 63%. A shortage of cash because of demonetisation. Despite Rs 3.5 lakh crore– invested over six decades to 2011, more than half of all farms depend on rains. These are the three factors agitating India’s 90 million families who depend on farming.
From The Tribune: Two developments seemed to have triggered the current protest. On the one hand, bumper crops have led to crashing down of crop prices for the farmer. On the other hand, the crop loan waiver announced by the newly elected BJP government in UP has reminded the famers of their long unfulfilled demand.
Former Union Cabinet-Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian writes: The promises of higher yield and lower pesticide usage which induced many, including myself as the then Textile Secretary, to welcome Bt cotton have now been belied… The main advantage now trotted out in favour of GM mustard is increased yield—there’s sufficient evidence that this claim is a myth.
Ken-Betwa river-linking project, if realised, will destroy livelihoods and ecology, including a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve. Curiously enough, ground reports show that farmers in the project area are themselves not keen on it. Also included is a documentary, ‘Links of a Broken Chain’, as well as a detailed technical analysis of the project.
Requiring no special equipment and no special expertise, and very economical to boot, earthbagging is famous as an ‘idiot-proof’ technique, popular with first-and-only-time owner-builders the world over. Venetia Kotamraju, who moved from busy Bangalore to a farm on the Western Ghats, writes on her experiment with earthbagging. The final installment in a series of four.
The Bishnois may be considered as India’s first environmentalists. The famous ‘Chipko Movement’ was inspired by the true story of Amrita Devi Bishnoi, who refused to let the king’s men cut trees in her village. Her head was severed. More than 300 people who did the same were killed for trying to protect the trees.
From The Hindu: Bidar’s Naubad karez, or tunnel wells, are an ancient engineering marvel. It’s a complex system, which works inversely underground to leverage gravity — that is, the plateau’s natural gradient ascends from the mouth to the mother well but the tunnel underneath has been cut to descend from the mother well to the mouth.
From The Hindu: Ten years ago Siddharth, an IIT-IIM alumnus based in Chennai, put the brakes on his corporate career, that of vice-president for a technology R&D firm. He was 35 when he picked up a shovel to become an organic farmer instead. Not a landlord who employs labour but, quite literally, a subsistence farmer.