Mr. Sainath's follow-up article (“Decadal journeys: debt and despair spur urban growth,” Sept. 27), wherein he says that the rural population is increasingly migrating to urban areas in search of jobs that are not there, proves that there is nothing to celebrate about this mass exodus. It is not a symbol of aspiration. Further, the gross exploitation of these sections, who become construction workers, etc., to make a living, makes us wonder how long it will be before their deprivation turns into exasperation with the unfair system. Votaries of SEZs and neo-liberalism lose no opportunity to point out that the jobs created in the IT sector create lakhs of jobs for the poor. But do these jobs give them the money required to lead a minimum standard of living? How can they have access to nutritious food and education for their children with dismal wages when they end up struggling to keep the wolf from the door in this era of scorching inflation and rising cost of living?
In an earlier article, on farmer turned migrants of Kerala (“Crisis drives the road to Kutta,” Dec.26, 2004), Mr. Sainath explained how the rural poor have been forced to migrate to find some work. The agrarian crisis, defined by him as “the drive towards corporate farming,” is what forces these farmers to become labourers.
Something which seems to have escaped the notice of many is the apathy of private corporations. When the flow of migrants increased, the private players in the transportation business also increased the fare and frequency of buses, so as to mint money.
In the 1990s, production from the tertiary sector formed a major part of the total GDP. Economists maintained that it showed that people had started to move on to the services and IT sectors. India was finally developing, they said. But agriculture was not only an important part of the economy of the Neolithic period. It is still the axis of the world economy. Farmers leaving agriculture is, therefore, a dangerous trend. India should try its level best to make farming not only a profitable, but also a graceful, respectable and honourable profession.
The revelation of the brutal fact that for the past 15 years, 2,40,000 farmers have committed suicide is terrible. That's almost four farmers killing themselves every day. It is ghastly that during these very 15 years, India has been celebrating, to emphasise, its robust growth story, GDP, billionaires, etc. From ‘India shining' to ‘India has arrived' it is clear that we are talking about the India sitting in corporate houses and the legislatures of our country (75 per cent of Parliamentarians are crorepatis, according to one figure). The rest of our 70 per cent population is struggling to kill hunger.
Bhanu Pratap Singh,
The second essay once again brings to the fore the disheartening discussion on the migrant workforce. For instance, it was unthinkable to see a person from the northeast working in Chennai. But in the last year, there seems to be an influx from the region. The onset of MGNREGA has not been able to reach millions of the needy. The neo-liberal philosophy and policies have deprived the mass of ordinary people of their self-esteem and denied them their right to existence, in the first place. The facts of the census cannot be reversed unless the root cause is corrected.