Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Letter to Kalavati...

Dear Kalavati,

Did you vote? No? But, why? I don't understand why you people are so depressed nowadays. Actually, traditionally we Indians have all been ardent lovers of donating and voting is the holiest donation. Don't you remember having donated so many things in the last 60 years? Don't you remember? Let me help you recollect.

Your family has been farmers for many generations. Crores of Indians have been doing it for ages. Now, all of you buy seeds, pesticides, fertilisers, electricity, ropes and what not. You buy all these at the prices decided by the respective manufacturers. Then you till the land with your sweat for days and months. Whatever you grow; whether it's cotton, onion, potato, vegetables or grains; tell me do you ever decide the price for that? No. Never. Not a single farmer in India has ever decided the price of his produce. Now, is it not a donation? Donation of the right to decide the price of your produce on the basis of its production cost. Well, you don't stop at that. Whenever the selling price of your crop is unaffordable and you fall into the debt trap, you donate your life also. Your husband also donated his life and you call it as suicide. No. It's donation!

Hey Kalavati, you know I met one of your brothers at the bank. He had come for borrowing some money to buy a tractor and I had gone to approach for a car loan. The bank gave me loan at 7 per cent interest and the dealer had paid for the RTO tax and insurance. Since your brother wanted a tractor, the bank charged him 19 per cent interest. But your brother started arguing with the manager. Now, is there any comparison between my urban and his rural stature? No way! He kept on saying that the agriculture minister says that loans to the farmers are at 6 per cent interest. Now who will tell him that the RBI gives some loan to the NABARD at 7 per cent, then the NABARD gives it to the state cooperative bank which, in turn, then gives to the district cooperative bank (DCC) and the DCC disburses it to the rural credit society, which finally gives it to the farmer at 18 per cent because the operating cost (expenses of the board of directors, their air conditioned cars, guest houses etc.) gets added in the interest at every step. But since your brother is illiterate, he could not understand the importance of this donation of added interest.

Now, on the other side, me and all my relatives stay in urban areas, the million-plus cities of India. Do you know that our government is going to spend thousands of crores of rupees for the renovation and development of these select cities in the country? Arre, so many committees have been formed at city, state and the national levels. Monitoring, steering, scrutinizing committees, with many highly educated and experienced IAS officers sitting in those committees. The projects are going to be implemented through People and Public Partnership. They call it principle of PPP. Forget that representatives of the people or public are not present in those committees but the principle is there. And what is the use of taking suggestions from the people or what is the use of understanding their needs? If that is to be done, what is the use of taking so many highly educated and experienced IAS officers? Isn't it? And majority of the people have taken this as another donation. Now, you also consider this as a donation, ha!

Now what remains is our religious and linguistic issues. Are we all not Indians? We have given liberty to everyone so far to do anything they want. We had issues of hunger, poverty, unemployment but we allowed all of them to do whatever they wish. We gave liberties of instigating riots, of demolishing historical monuments, of taking or giving commissions, of releasing terrorists. Tell me, have we not given these liberties? Have we ever questioned them directly? Now a few are taking liberties of creating hatred on the basis of linguistic differences, isn't it? But you take all these too emotionally. That day didn't you ask me that these people who talk of linguistic pride educate their own children in convent schools. Didn't you say that? Kalavati, it is not the betrayal of their linguistic pride, but it is the donation of their linguistic pride. And we have to do everything for that pride.

And you silly woman, do you have the remotest idea that nearly 12.5 crore people in India do not even have the basic fundamental rights? They are not given birth certificates, ration cards, they are not allowed a house, education is denied. They don't even exist in the voters' list. But still, they are all silent and taking this as their contributory donation. Tell me, had you not existed in the voters' list, who would even think of visiting your home? Now, you exist in the voters' list and that's why even prince Rahul visits your home. And yet you don't vote?

Kalavati, have you now finally understood how large-hearted we all have been? If you get depressed, what will happen to all those people who have launched so many national and regional political showrooms? You have to think about them too. Now don't think too much also. Do vote the next time. Vote twice or thrice if you feel too guilty.

Yours truly,

Niranjan Takle

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