(VIDEO) Thirsty Bundelkhand (प्यासा बुंदेलखंड) via NDTV

(प्यासा बुंदेलखंड) via NDTV

Courtesy: NDTV @ Youtube


Dear Friends, We are facing sever water crisis in Bundelkhand since last 15-20 years around. In modern democratic state when citizens are in crisis situation like this then it is the responsibility of state to respond to the problem. At the same time political leadership is equally responsible to envision new ways and means to overcome the problem. Equally, other social institutions need to respond in a similar way to the problem. Therefore, various govt., social and political institutions existing in our society must respond to the crisis to develop resilience as well as new adaptations to changing climatic pattern. My observation is that it is the "poverty of our existing institutions" (Govt., social, political etc.) that during last 20 years our socio-political institutions were unable to respond properly to the upcoming crisis. Consequently, we are constantly jumping up into the higher level of risk and vulnerabilities, thereby making our society more and more susceptible to crisis situation in which social and ecological system of Bundelkhan region may collapse in future. When I say Govt. institutions then I mean bureaucratic machinery- what is their response to this crisis? When I say political institutions then I mean the nature of political movement in Bundelkhand region as well as the vision of our politicians. When I say other social institutions then I mean various kinds of community based social institutions like religious institutions, caste based institutions, regional institutions for social welfare, and numerous other social institutions. My argument is that the way our socio-political institutions are behaving in Bundelkhan region need to be questioned by citizens themselves. Religion and caste based institutions are being manipulated by cynical political ideologues through divide and rule politics of colonial era by creating hatred and dissatisfaction among various groups in society. Their focus is not on current crisis of market economy in which people are forced to perform best in every situation (whether they are assured minimum security level for survival or not such as economic/employment security, health security, education and security of opportunities to live a better life). These securities are actually the basic rights of citizens; and that is why elections are held in a democratic state to ensure citizen’s interest/rights. Therefore, it is the responsibility of state as well as various other institutions to provide various securities to the individual as well as groups in society. This video paints the picture of crisis in Bundelkhand very well. When I visit my hometown in Bundelkhan then I see that how thousands of poor migrants are constantly on the move in search of employment opportunities. They are rescuing their lives by providing cheap labour to the growth oriented and profit making capitalist system of the market economy. In this system a well skilled farmer or craftsman from hinterland when arrives in urban areas suddenly becomes ‘unskilled labour’ in the privatized or neoliberal market economy of the cities. At the same time there is over negligence of earlier existing local agriculture or craft based self regulating economies in the name of change or transformation into a global economy where secondary and tertiary sectors are on top priority. Our Govt. institutions (especially bureaucratic as well as scientific) are drowned in the sea of corruption. Although there is acknowledgement of corruption in the system by govt. itself but there is no seriousness from the govt’ side to tackle it. This is very well recognised when I attend policy related discussions or meetings organised by govt. bodies. In such meetings from morning to evening everything is discussed about the issues but not even a single time corruption appears on the discussion table. The most sighted reason for this negligence is ‘it is illegal to talk about corruption in govt. meetings’; and that is how the over corrupt bureaucrats of this country get easy escape from real issues. The same is happening in our religious and caste based institutions. The visionless political leadership in entire Bundelkhand is constantly envisioning politics as merely extension of old feudal political system in which poor people used to be exploited by their lords. Caste has become the political power. Political awareness has penetrated into the hinterland of Bundelkhand during the last twenty years, which is always good for any democratic system throughout the world. But, the energy of this political awareness was mobilised by the cynical politicians of Bundelkhand to achieve, I would call ‘neo-feudal’ interests where caste and religion were used to gain power through the politics of hatred or divide and rule. Under this background of corruption, profit making global market economy and visionless as well as commitment less political leadership of Bundelkhand, middle class as well as poor people of Bundelkhand are being cheated of their citizen’s rights. No serious concern is observed for the citizens in the name of so called ‘common man’ politics. The rhetoric of ‘common man’ is quite appealing. People’s emotions and sentiments are touched powerfully to mobilise votes by such rhetoric. The question is what happens to ‘common man’ when it comes to ensure minimum basic rights of citizens. For instance in the modern global market economic system well salaried government employees as well as well paid so called ‘skilled labour’ (science and technical graduates, MBAs etc.) are able to enjoy all kinds of securities from life insurance to health and education as well as pension and better housing for themselves and their families. This group (community) of society constitutes a small portion of entire population in this country who vote for electing a govt. At the same time many times larger group of people who are called ‘unskilled labour’ are unable to have the privilege of their basic citizen’s rights which are guaranteed to them by the constitution. These poor people are forced to leave rural areas due to collapse of agriculture and other local economic systems. They are on constant move throughout the country in search of employment opportunities and struggling hard to find jobs here and there. By this, poor people are rescuing their lives to feed the profit making economy without life insurance; they work and keep on moving on various construction sites as cheap labour without health and educational securities to their wives and children. Over competition and exploitation at work places force them to work hard and perform in adverse situations for long time every day, thereby indirectly forcing them to take shelter in alcoholism or drug addiction to keep on performing for their survival. This kind of ‘social Darwinism’ is justified in the name of commitment for the job, competitiveness in the market, rhetoric of ‘quality’ and so on thereby, denying social justice and basic rights of citizens. The vision of development shown by bureaucrats mostly lies in the technocratic solutions for the social problems. The solutions proposed to the problems of rural areas mostly lie in the form of introduction of new and expensive technologies in agricultural system. Here, I want to remind that whenever a new technology is introduced in any system (especially market based economy) then always a high risk of failure is associated with it. Thus, these technocratic solutions (hybrid or genetically modified seeds, new agricultural techniques, new equipments and chemical fertilizers, climatic modelling, large dams) to the problems of poor farmers lie beyond their capacities to bear the burden of risk in case of technological failure. This risk is further aggravated in the absence of various securities like alternative employment, education to their children, adequate and affordable health care facilities etc. Consequently, whenever there is a crisis situation like existing one in Bundelkhand then poor people are the most affected; and due to absence of adequate security structures and institutional response their vulnerability is aggravated manifold. Therefore, my observation is that the crisis in Bundelkhand is not a natural one, but actually it is a man-made crisis resulting from inadequate institutional responses, where not only corrupt bureaucratic institutions but also other social and political institutions are equally responsible for current crisis in the region. Pravin Kumar Kushwaha Doctorate Student, Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi E-mail: pravin.kushwaha@gmail.com