Tuesday, 30 October 2007

March of the Landless: Pamper Premjis but don't forget the poor

A unique rally of 40,000 landless tribals and farmers that reached Delhi after a harsh journey of nearly a month, has woken up the politicians and policy-makers in the national capital from their slumber.

Enthusiastic young reporters of TV channels are quite excited, for having seen or covered the story of 'tribals' for the first time. How else they would have known that these people existed in the same country. After all you don't get to see them at Cannaught Place or any of the Multiplexes and Malls.

Without any money or food they started off from Gwalior and walked nearly 400 kms to reach Delhi. Most of them had barely a blanket. Seven died on way due to accidents, disease and hardship. But they have made Delhi sit up and take notice.

In this country where industrialists are gifted huge chunks of lands, these tribals are evicted out their lands and forests where they were living for centuries, just by a bureaucrat's signature. Narayanamurthy and Premji are treated as icons for 'creating' jobs and Chief Ministers fall over each other to welcome them.

Further, these tycoons have temerity to still demand hundreds of acres of land on their terms. And these greedy men still want 'subsidised land'. But the poor peasant is treated like dirt. I have nothing against Narayanamurthy or Premji or for that matter any foreign investor.
But the issue that is nobody asks a tribal before deciding to gift away the land he lives on or cultivates in the name of indstury, jobs (for whom?) and development. Does he get anything except a cheque of compensation of Rs 25,000 (if he is lucky), of which also he has to part with an amount as bribe to the babu.

These tribals haven't shown their might yet. Delhi must understand that something very serious is happening in this country. Mukesh Ambani may become the richest man in the world through the syndicate of brokers and the 'satta' in un-governed Indian share market.

But in this very country a former Chief Minister's son is being killed by Maoists. And when Gujjars get out of their houses in thousands, the state gets paralysed. The poor man, the indigenous tribes, the farmers, the villagers, the qasba people, everybody is getting marginalised by the day.

And once they get out of their homes, this artificial boom in stock market and the fake glitter of Shining India wouldn't save the government. Just 40,000 have come. What will happen when 40 lakh will leave their homes? We better wake up.

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