Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is Democracy costly or people make it costly? Election and Farmers

"Nearly 200 millions live on less than one dollar a day and nearly 500 millions do not have access to modern sources of energy," he said. "Our overriding priority, therefore, has to be eradication of poverty for which we must address our energy poverty and use all sources of energy, including fossil fuels," he added. TOI
The 'He' mentioned here is our External Affair minister S.M Krishna. He said this at a conference on climate change in Copenhagen. It is very good to hear that 'eradication' of poverty is still on the high priority list of Government.

Lets come back to Maharashatra from Copanhagen, a state in Indian Union, where now election festival is going on. Maharashtra - One of India's most industrialized state and the capital of Maharashtra - Mumbai - 3rd or forth biggest city in the world by population is also considered as the financial hub of India.

Vidarbha which is infamous for suicide of farmers also in the same state. According to reports [I don't have the recent data],
"There are no authentic figures on the exact number of farm suicides in Vidarbha, but the Maharashtra government accepts a figure of 1920 from January 1, 2001 to August 19, 2006. The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers' movement, puts the toll at 782 from June 1, 2005 to August 26, 2006. And, in the last three months, there has been a suicide every eight hours." DNA
In another part of country[according to the report from Yahoo News] people already started to sell their daughters and wife to repay the debt[see the below link]. Who can imagine the situation of people who are forced to sell their beloved ones to others. The things they are selling is not potato or rice but human beings with flesh and blood. The people who want to live freely, who have beautiful dreams about the future; and in one moment everything is shattered. Just like a fly approaching the fire.

Drought-hit Indian farmers sell wives to pay debts

They just become commodities in the hands of others. They are no longer measured by the yard stick of humanity, but by the totally unacceptable yardstick of slavery. Thanks to our policies, people are actually doing so - selling and buying are no longer limited to commodities like rice, potato, steel etc. And anyone can at least imagine the plight of these people who are being sold to others. Will any Lincoln come to power to end this?

One suicide every 8 hours
15,725 : West Bengal tops suicide list in India
Has Bollywood shut its eyes to movies on farmers?
Drought, debt drive Indian farmers to suicide
1,500 farmers commit mass suicide in India
20 farmers commit suicide in southern India after lack of rain

Authorities can blame anything from lack of rain to agricultural subsidies by western governments. But in the end of the day people who are suffering have nothing to do with the agricultural policies, they are not participated in the process of formulating policies which may revolutionize their life - to the best or to the worst.

Long time ago we heared a successful motto, i think it was coined by our second prime minister - Lal Bahadur Shastri - 'Jai Javan, Jai Kisan'. But the so called modern India failed to satisfy both. Army is facing shortage in the officer's ranks. Reason - Salary is not attractive compared to private sector companies. Kisans (Farmers) situation is turning from bad to worse to worst.

In the middle of all these problems new election came in Maharashtra. According to Indian democratic system government have to 'face' people in very 5 years(if the cabinet didn't survived 5 years duration will become shorter). Both government and candidates have to spend money to fulfill the process of electing a new government - Campaign costs. Election commission of India put a cap on this expenditure - 10 Lack/candidate/constituency.

Campaign costs may cross Rs1,000 crore

Don't open your mouths in wonder - now a days democracy is costly. If you think that it will not be possible for a common person to spend this much money and the cap should be much lower. you are totally wrong according to the eyes of politicians. Lets look what they have to say,
"The election commission ceiling of Rs10 lakh per candidate per constituency is not practical." He, however, admitted that "honest people are sidelined" as money power plays a significant role in politics. DNA
'Honest people are sidelined' - is this the meaning of democracy?

Each candidate is expected to spend 1 crore for election campaigns. Assume that a middle class person have a salary of 5000Rs/ month. How many years it will take to reach 1 crore, even if he didn't spend anything? Even if a person get 12lack package a year it will took 10 years to reach 1 crore- Assuming his expenses is 2lack/month. Can you explain to me how he can compete successfully in this situation?

Not only this,
"NCP's campaign manager Prakash Bhinsale said the party has to hire at least two helicopters to help party leaders, including Sharad Pawar, campaign across the state. "Only then can he manage five to six rallies a day," he said.

The BJP and the Congress have also booked two helicopters each for the entire campaign period. The hourly tariff for a helicopter is between Rs60,000 and Rs75,000." DNA
Of course this money will not be raised entirely from public. Industrial houses have to support the move to raise these astronomical amounts, but in response they will expect something -After all they are investing money, and they have the right to expect. But is there any right for farmers to expect something?


[PS: In order to overcome the time hurdles helicopter become necessary, it will also help the campaigners to cover the places quickly. But why don't we have bullet trains and other cheap but fast transit systems? Just like the campaigners face difficulties to cover this distances quickly, people too is facing this situation in their day-to-day life.]

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