Aanadata to Bhagyavidata

B L Saraf
Farmers have won. They have won against spate of invectives, epithets of Andolanjeevi, Khalistanis, state’s assault and round the clock calumnious tirade launched by the ‘super nationalist ‘ TV anchors and the like minded key board warriors. Three contentious farm laws are on the way out. More than for their personal interests, the farmers have won it for the democracy and established parliamentary ethics. Farmers have done it again: triumphs are not unknown to them. In not so distant past , Kisans won many a battle for the good health and honor of India -that is Bharat . Their win against the acute food shortage and rampant starvation of sixties and seventies of the nineteenth century is legendry- making the deficit country a food exporting one. But the biggest battle these farmers won was for the restoration of India’s pride, lending weight to its voice in the international fora. They relieved us from the curse of going all over with a begging bowl-particularly to America-to seek food grains under its-not so honorable-Public Law 480 ( PL -480 )
At the height of Vietnam war, in late 1960s, whole world got ranged against the US barbarism let loose on the poor Vietnamese. Pope, the head priest at Vatican, joined the course of indignation. India, then led by Mrs. Indira Gandhi, also, expressed strong disapproval of the US Action. But it did come at a cost. Lyndon B. Johnson, then America’s President, tightened strings on funds with a debilitating effect on the developmental projects here, run on that country’s aid. The food grains supply got the hardest hit. When friends of India in the White House and around protested to Johnson as to why he was singling out India when Pope’s criticism of the Vietnam misadventure was more strident. The US president replied with great condescension “Yes, Pope has the luxury-after all he is not the beneficiary of our PL 480.” Thus signifying the fact of India’s abject poverty and acute dependence on US munificence. Indira Gandhi did not take this unbecoming statement to the liking and on the expert advice of ace Agricultural Scientist, M S Swaminathan, and untiring efforts of farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Western UP ushered in a much respected Green Revolution, which made country not only self-sufficient in food products but also an exporter of these items.
Seen thus, it won’t be an overstatement to say that, in our case, farmers have given rebirth to the national pride which is an inalienable hall mark of India’s great civilization. In that sense our Anadatas (Farmers, food providers) have proved Daniel Webster right in saying “When the tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers are the founders of human civilization.”
The farmers have been our real Anadatas who changed our Bhagya- the destiny in those days of gloom and despondency. In such a situation it would be very appropriate to describe them a real Bhagyvidata. They have changed our destiny and to call them Aandolanjeeve, made them suffer the atrocious weather conditions on the roads which resulted in death of hundreds of their brothers would be a share act of ingratitude on our part – bordering on callousness.
The farmers agitation has taught us that it was not so much about farm laws as it was about democracy and right to protest. It is the triumph of one’s unflinching belief in a cause and the solidarity to pursue it. Well, some may say that Government’s response to the protest was marked by hubris. Others would go on to say that the upcoming state elections in UP and Punjab and not the real concern for farmers has lead government to back down. Whatever may be the case, PM Modi’s announcement to roll back the farm laws sounds good for the democracy. Certainly it is a welcome development that he has risen to the occasion and shown requites sensitivity and compassion for the farmer’s cause. He did not stand on prestige – much against the wishes of diehard sycophants and shrill TV anchors. We hope to see end of the tendency to delegitimize a genuine movement launched by the people for redressal of a grievance.
Was it quirk of fate or by a design that same day Kashmir administration acknowledged the gravity of situation which had unfolded on the Hyderpora terrorist incident, conceded the demand of people and handed over the dead bodies to the family members for a proper burial. We hope that PM Narendra Modi turns his eye on what is happening in Kashmir. The increasing incidents of targeted killings in the Valley have made minorities and migrant workers jittery. These terrorist attacks have punctured the hard -earned good will between the communities and the security scene has deteriorated so much that many knowledgeable feel that Kashmir is on the brink of slipping back to the dark and gloomy days of 1990s. The beleaguered residents of the Valley expect some amount of empathy to ameliorate their plight. Now that farmer’s front has cooled down it will be good to address the security dilemma in J&K.
(The author is Former Principal District & Sessions Judge)