Thursday, September 20, 2007

women suicides in Vidarbha

When the one who dies is a woman, Aparna Pallavi writes on the issue of women suicides in Vidarbha.
Are the pressures which make male farmers commit suicide the same for women farmers as well? Socially, legally, with respect to property rights, and given their family positions, in the farming communities of Vidarbha women are placed in situations strikingly different from those of men. How does this impact women's position as managers of land?
The suicides by women farmers have received hardly any official attention till date. No separate statistics on women's suicides are available with any official agency in the region. No official study on the suicide phenomenon has till date paid attention to the specific problems being faced by women cultivators. The numerous farm packages, full of holes as they are, also do not have any special provisions for women-specific problems, the major ones being the issues of land registration and access to credit.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

how many more will it take?

Opinion Research Business, a polling firm in the UK, is reporting 1.2 million violent deaths in Iraq since the U.S. invasion and occupation.


Two reports about this are: here and here.
So we are speaking of some 1.2 million people who have been killed in this way, and that does not count the numbers that were killed during the invasion itself for the crime of having attempted to oppose invading foreign troops, or the 500,000 children and old people killed by the US-UN anti-civilian sanctions in the 10 previous years.

Is the media near-you reporting this? How?

* * * * * * *

Two more related links are here and here.
What does it take us to shock us into action these days? An Opinion Business Research (ORB) survey of Iraqi families indicates as many as 1.2 million Iraqi civilians may have died as a result of the war. That's five times more than the death toll wrought by Fat Man and Little Boy in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It's also the equivalent of killing every Arab-American as per the 2000 census or every man, woman and child in, say, Amsterdam. And just why were those people's lives sacrificed again?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

live simply, that others might simply live

P.Sainath's Ramon Magsaysay Award acceptance speech--- (from here).

This is the 60th year of Indian independence. A freedom fought for and won on a vision that placed our humblest citizens at the centre of action and of the future. A struggle that brought the world’s then mightiest empire to its knees. A struggle which saw the birth of a new nation, with a populace overwhelmingly illiterate, yet aiming at and committed to building a democracy the world could be proud of. A people who, one freedom fighter predicted, would make the deaf hear and the blind see. They did.

Today, the generation of Indians who took part in that great struggle have mostly died out, though their achievements have not. The few who remain are in their late 80s or 90s. As one of them told me recently: “We fought to expel the colonial ruler, but not only for that. We fought for a just and honourable nation, for a good society.”

I am now recording the lives of these last stalwarts of a generation I was not part of, but which I so deeply admire. A struggle that preceded my birth, but in which my own values are rooted. In their names, with those principles, and for their selflessness, I accept this great award.

In that great battle for freedom, a tiny press played a mighty role. So vital did it become, that every national leader worth his or her salt, across the political spectrum, also doubled up as a journalist. Small and vulnerable as they were, the journalists of that time also sought to give voice to the voiceless and speak for those who could not. Their rewards were banning, imprisonment, exile and worse. But they bequeathed to Indian journalism a legacy I am proud of and on behalf of which tradition, I accept this award today.

For the vision that generation stood for, the values it embodied, are no longer so secure as they once were. A nation founded on principles of egalitarianism embedded in its Constitution, now witnesses the growth of inequality on a scale not seen since the days of the Colonial Raj. A nation that ranks fourth in the world’s list of dollar billionaires, ranks 126th in human development. A crisis in the countryside has seen agriculture — on which close to 60 per cent of the population, or over 600 million people, depend — descend into the doldrums. It has seen rural employment crash. It has driven hundreds of thousands from villages towards towns and cities in search of jobs that are not there. It has pushed millions deeper into debt and has seen, according to the government itself, over 112,000 farmers take their own lives in distress in a decade.

This time around, though, the response of a media politically free but chained by profit, has not been anywhere as inspiring. Front pages and prime time are the turf of film stars, fashion shows and the entrenched privilege of the elite. Rural India, where the greatest battles of our freedom were fought, is pretty low down in the media’s priority list. There are, as always, exceptions. The paper I work for, The Hindu, has consistently given space to the chronicling of o ur greatest agrarian crisis since the eve of the Green Revolution. And across the country are countless journalists who, despite active discouragement from their managements, seek to place people above profit in their reporting. Who try desperately to warn their audiences of what is going on at the bottom end of the spectrum and the dangers to democracy that this involves. On behalf of all of them, all these colleagues of mine, I accept this award.

In nearly 14 years of reporting India’s villages full time, I have felt honoured and humbled by the generosity of some of the poorest people in the world. People who constantly bring home to you the Mahatma’s great line: ‘Live simply, that others might simply live.’ But a people we today sideline and marginalise in the path of development we now pursue. A people in distress, even despair, who still manage to awe me with their human and humane values. On their behalf too, I accept the Ramon Magsaysay award.