Wednesday, June 16, 2010


In the last 12 years – 1997 to 2009 – India has lost more than 200,000 farmers @ of 48 farmers’ suicide every single day for 12 long years to suicide because of various government policies, drought, floods, MNCs’ exploitation and dominance, GM crops, poisonous chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Farmers are the most important community of the nation and surprisingly, instead of helping the farmers to keep continuing farming, we all have closed our eyes because we get food on our dining table without much struggle.

On the 12th of March, I realised that I was also like all others, who are writing, reading, discussing and doing nothing to help the widows of the farmers who have committed suicide. So leaving everything I dedicated my life to support the suicide farmers’ families in Vidarbha. I set my base in Wardha on the 16th of April and since then have been working with farmers’ widows and farmers while trying to understand the reasons of suicide and how I can help these poor widows towards self-reliance to lead a better life with their heads held high.

I started the one-man-crusade on the 18th of March, walked on the streets of Mumbai with a donation box to raise funds for the widows. However, I realised that by living in Mumbai, I will not be able to do much. So finally, last month I have shifted my base from Mumbai to Wardha and will spend all my life serving the widows of Vidarbha. In my lifetime (I really don’t know how many years are left of mine) all I wish is to see farmers’ suicide to stop in Vidarbha and the widows of Vidarbha to become self-reliant as a force that will not only earn their living but also help save the environment through various projects that we plan to execute as funds will start trickling in.

The first project of our movement is setting up a small unit of making paper envelops for kirana / general stores, who have been using plastic to harm the already harmed environment. I have already convinced two widows in village SALOD, who are eagerly looking to start the work ASAP… (please read the exclusive blog: and visiting other villages this month to have more members in the team.

This is where your valuable contribution will play a major role to help these widows and nation’s environment. No my dear honorable citizen of India, we are not asking money from you instead in a very humble way, we request you to be kind enough to send us 1,2,3,4,5 or whatever you can, the old issues / used magazines lying in your home as waste, so that we can start making paper envelops, which will be sold to kirana stores… while the widows will earn money by making and selling these envelops, the awareness to safeguard our environment will also help the nation to shun plastic carry bags. If every single individual who is reading this post will send us used / old magazines per month, we will have enough raw materials to make these envelops. We are sure, you will not disappoint us and will send us all the waste magazines month after month… the widows of Vidarbha will be very grateful to you and bless you all from the bottom of their heart and so will the environment too!

Thanking you,

Johnny D
support 4 suicide farmers families
C/o Swapnil Barai
House No: 200
Opp. Dr. Harne’s Hospital
Dhantoli Chowk
Wardha: 442001
Phone: +91 98203 22549
Phone: +91 89830 04533

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TWO VILLAGES WITH THE SAME NAME (15th June 2010, 1530 Hrs)

It was really an amazing experience yesterday when I headed towards the village Khurjhadi to meet two deceased farmers’ families. While I pedalled my way in hot sun, the serene beautiful landscape captivated me to a new high with the vast expanse of land in every direction, dark ploughed fields, cattles grazing far away, few village folks looking at me in amazement and one sweet old villager in cycle asked me – ‘Itne dhoop mein kahan ja rahe ho bhai? (where are you going in such a hot sun my dear?)’ I told him I was heading towards Khurjhadi.

The up and down terrain, zig-zag narrow roads, chirping of birds all around and some beautiful landscape – all in all, everything was asking me only one thing – ‘When will the rain come?’ I surely had no answer whatsoever and felt sad as I pedalled my way towards the village. After an hour’s ride I reached the village. However, much to my surprise I had reached the wrong village. The villagers did confirmed the village’s name is Khurjhadi but they also informed me that there has been no suicide in their village. In a way I was a bit disappointed but I was happy to hear that no one has ever committed suicide in this village.

The villagers told me that I was looking at Khurjhadi (Fokta) while their Khurjhadi was Jamata. The one that I was supposed to visit is in another direction and far away. So I had to turn back. While I was returning, I saw an old farmer ploughing the field. I stopped to click some pictures and interacted with him. He was an old farmer and must have crossed 65 plus years and yet he was working. I asked him Kaka (uncle) how many acres of land do you have? He was honest to confess that he had no land and is working as a labour there. I was really sad to hear his confession and thought – when child labour is considered a crime, why is that old-age labour not a crime? A soldier who protects and serves the country is retired after 55 years to get pension… but what about the farmers, who feed the nation has to work till he dies and never gets pension from the nation… WHY? WHY? WHY? Is this what we call RIGHT TO EQUALITY – India’s Fundamental Rights???

He is 65 plus years old and working as a labour

The owner, who was working in the nearby field came and we interacted for about 30 minutes to know about each other. I did counsel them about the building of bhaand around their fields to increase the ground water table, switching over to organic farming for better future, plantation of neem trees all around their fields for organic manure, avoid poisonous chemical fertilsers and pesticides to help save Dharti Maa… the farmers are well aware of all these things but informed me that they have no choice because they don’t have enough money to sustain for three long years to switch over to organic farming. Even if they switch to organic farming, who will feed their families for three long years till the land regains its fertility to give proper yield? I did tell them they should atleast try with a smaller patch of land and gradually increase the area for organic farming.

However, in some small fields I noted there were organic manure lying in big heaps, which made me feel very happy. I only wish the government should start a huge revolution to make organic farming a mandatory in Vidarbha at the earliest. After a while, my disappointment not to reach the correct village was turned into an amazing experience interacting with those farmers.


Sunday, June 13, 2010


Government projects are sanctioned and farmers are forced to sell their fertile land for a meagre sum of amount paid by the administration to facilitate the proposed projects… with a false promise that they will be given another piece of land elsewhere … however, in most cases the land compensated are barren lands, where no one can grow crops… What does a farmer do then? Either, he quits farming once for all to migrate towards cities to do labour jobs to survive with his family or else…

Mind you, the story of suffering and miseries doesn’t end here… the money from the administration takes years to reach the farmer… if he is still alive. And imagine acres and acres of fertile land is being grabbed by government at cheaper rates (if the current price for one acre of land is 6 lakhs or more, then government pays just 60 to 80,000 rupees to the farmers) to increase the woes of the already suffering poor farmers. I wish, all the farmers can go on an indefinite strike like all the other employed professionals or else stop growing food for two consecutive years for the nation to realise how serious their problems are… ironically, these poor farmers don’t even think about themselves, instead selflessly they grow food for the nation… and …

What does the nation give them?

SUICIDE: They are forced towards the brink by the government policies, MNC’s marketing policies, GM seeds and exploitation by politicians, which act in unison against them to force the farmers to take the extreme step.

NO IRRIGATION FACILITIES: Since the last 63 years, only 15 out of the 87 irrigation projects have been able to serve the farmers to an extent that only 20% of nation’s farmlands are been irrigated.

FARMERS HAVE TO SELL WIVES TO FEED THEIR CHILDREN: Bundelkhand farmers had no option left but to sell their wives to moneylenders to feed their children. A 48-Hour Probe was ordered by NCW (National Commission for Women) on the 7th of September 2009, and that 48-Hour has still not complete for the Congress Government…

GRAB THE FERTILE LANDS OF FARMERS IN THE NAME OF STATE PROJECTS: Fertile lands of poor farmers are grabbed at peanuts by the nation administrations to facilitate big corporate giants to establish their billion dollar companies…

POISONOUS CHEMICAL FERTILISERS & PESTICIDES TO SPRAY ON GM CROPS: While the farmers have no option but to use them, no one is realising the real impact of these poison that is crippling the nation with diseases like cancer, chronic mental disorders, mental depression, hyper tension, kidney failures, nervous breakdowns, cardiac arrest, swine flu and what not… These poisonous chemicals are indirectly and directly are also affecting the farmers who are exposed to them towards mood swing, depression and other diseases… so that the medical sector can further suck the blood and money from these poor farmers.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Clouds-clouds come to Vidarbha
Clouds-clouds shower on Vidarbha
Two years have been too long a time
Deprived farmers were forced to commit a crime

Poison is being consumed by crops, farmers and us alike
Once a boon, farming has become a curse today
Lives here have lost the will to live
Clouds please be merciful this year on Vidarbha

Children are becoming orphan at tender age
Widows have no more tears left to shed
Old helpless grandparents look in disbelief
Clueless about the future of Vidarbha

The dying soil has given up too
As poisonous chemicals seep all the water above
How long will the Mother Earth take it now
As the cry for monsoon echoes in Vidarbha!

Johnny D
11th June 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Every widow has a tale to tell in Vidarbha. Even though each tale has the similar themes of debt and suicide, each life is a tale of trauma, miseries, suffering and the bravery to lead the life that has been gifted by their deceased husband, is so-so different from one another. My second trip to village Salod yesterday evening took me to deceased farmer Jivan Ramji Barade’s house.

Sheetal, the 13 year-young eldest daughter welcomed me and offered me a chair to sit and some drinking water to quench my thirst after pedalling for 30 minutes in hot sun. Her innocence and bright inquisitive eyes were questioning me silently as I enquired about her mother… ‘she will be here any minute now,’ she told me. Aruna Jivan Barade, widow of the farmer arrived shortly while I was trying to have little conversation with the kids (Roshni the youngest of the family is 10 years young)…

The first thing she asked was whether I was given drinking water or not… I nodded and in my broken Marathi told her why I had come to her house. The village Salod has an estimated population of about 6916 and since 2003, there has been only four suicide cases. 32 years young Jivan committed suicide on the 14th of May 2007 leaving behind Aruna with three little children, all below 10 years… Sheetal is 13, Akash is 12 and Roshni is 10 now and they are studying in Standard 7th, 6th and 4th respectively.

Widow Aruna with youngest daughter Roshni & eldest Sheetal

The Barades have just 2 acres of land and are considered to be the smallest farmer in the whole village. Debt is but obvious the only way out to some how make the two-ends meet in the poverty driven life and Jivan took loans from moneylenders to grow crops… the drought took its toll and with no money to return it… he thought the easy way out was ‘SUICIDE’. So gory and pathetic it is for any farmer to chose the easy route to escape the clutches of the loan sharks… How cruel can destiny be of the person who feed us all, to end his life, life that we don’t even bother to shed any tears or else feel any remorse. Every farmer’s death to suicide is the National Loss and Loss in the yearly food grains cultivated for the 1.2 billion Indians.

When I showed Aruna the sample of paper envelop and told her about the small unit that we plan to start in Vidarbha, she showed great interest. The simple reason being she has leased her two acres (45 minutes long walk from her house) for Rs. 3000 /- a month and is currently working as a labourer in her own fields. Now imagine how nature plays a cruel joke on the poor… who has to work in her own fields to earn few extra bucks, so she can feed her children and send them to school. Aruna got Rs. 1 Lakh as compensation from the government and she was brave to refuse to pay the loan amount because she says, ‘I don’t know how much my husband took and I don’t have money, so tell me from where I will pay? I don’t have enough to feed my children so how can I pay their loan? I refused point blank and some how am managing to see my children grow.’ Hats off to Aruna for being so brave to face the situation to see her children get the best from life!

Aruna trying her hand at making an envelop

Aruna is barely 30 years and she has a long way to go to see her children grow into fine earning citizen, so she can enjoy the rest of her life in peace and little comfort. Sheetal knows her responsibilities and promised that she would study well to become something important in life. I assured her that after her 12th grades, the movement will support her for her higher education. While tea was being prepared by Sheetal, I showed Aruna how the envelop is being made… she tried her hand and deep within I was so happy to see her trying with so much passion and eagerness. Sheetal too would chip in to make the envelops to help her mother. As is the village custom, after tea, Sheetal brought a small box, in which there was saunf and ajwain…

Sheetal offers me saunf & ajwain in a customary way

I was touched and took some to chew them to find relief from my long ride and once again become fresh to head to another farmer’s house. More in details about the next deceased family in my next post…

Sunday, June 6, 2010

THE TENTH ANGEL (6th June 2010, 1855 Hrs)

Finally on Friday, the 4th of June the Tenth Angel arrived through FB mail… Supriya Manjunath has been friends since last 8 plus years… now what is more surprising is that we met online on Yahoo chat and got to know each other better and better as the years went by. And finally, after chatting for two years, I happened to visit Bangalore and we met in person. It was an amazing meeting in many regards. Supriya even introduced me to her husband Manjunath.

After the meeting, we started talking over phone on and off. As usual, we both loved wishing each other on our birthdays without fail, something that was common to both of us. Interaction with Supriya was always fun and very joyful. In fact, last year we did lost touch because she was having a hectic schedule at her domestic front. We had stopped chatting because of phone calls. Out of the blue in FB, I got her invite and once again things were the same.

In total, I must have mailed to more than 50 plus people to support me for a year… and the Tenth Angel took her time to arrive. However, on Friday I was very happy to get Supriya’s confirmation and when I called to thank her… she told me… 'this I am doing because I believe in my Johnny and what he is doing…' How sweet it could be to one’s ears to hear the trust and confidence in her voice!

Through this post I wish to thank all my ten angels from the bottom of my heart. The Ten Angels are:

Mr. G A (Writer-poet) – Kerala

Mrs. Shachi Bhanushali (Housewife) – Hyderabad

Miss. Nausheen Sardar Ali (Well-know TV actress) – Mumbai

Miss. Bhumika Chedda (Fashion Designer) – Mumbai

Mr. Prem Nath (Well-known Architect-Designer) – Mumbai

A well-known Architect-Designer (prefers to be anonymous) – Mumbai

A well-known Bollywood Director (prefers to be anonymous) – Mumbai

Miss. Tejal Rajyagor (Works for GiveIndia) – Mumbai

Mrs. Payal Gidwani Tiwari & Mrs. Jyoti Gidwani (Celebrity Yoga Instructor – Housewife respectively) - Mumbai

Mrs. Supriya Manjunath (Housewife) - Mysore

Saturday, June 5, 2010


We often look at them with disgust because of their dirty clothes and smell oozing bodies… however, if they were not part of the solar system, our world would have been under the heeps of waste plastic bottles and other unwanted things long time ago. On the World Environment Day, this post is my tribute to all the ragpickers, who selfishly clean all our unwanted wastes to earn a meagre sum of money after scavenging all day long in hot sun and rainy days in the dirtiest place of the earth to save the earth.

Have you ever thought how they have balanced the environment without really knowing how to pronounce the word or else know the meaning of the buzz word in the world scenario? It is the hunger in their stomach and their poor condition of living that has made them to selfishly (they do it to earn some money, so I termed them as selfish) clean all the garbage that we so-called educated throw without a single thought about spoiling the environment. Isn’t it strange that people who are educated, are actually endangering the environment by splurging on their comforts while uneducated poor people are the ones, who are protecting the environment while earning money out of the wastes?

There are global conventions where in billions of dollars are spent for the comfort of the official respresentatives from various countries, ironical though, we will never spent money on the real people who are cleansing all the wastes from the world, just because they are poor. The difference between them and us is simple… while we will talk big and do nothing, they say nothing but do everything. Action speaks louder than the words – this quote aptly describes the two sides of human’s callousness.

A mere 10 minutes power cut in metros makes everyone swear the government for the inefficiency, ironically, a 12 to 14 hours power cut in rural India is silently taken in stride with a smile to get accustomed in every day’s life. While the villages of India contribute the bigger chunk or percentage to save environment, sadly once again, they are never even mentioned anywhere for their efforts and contributions, while in cities, there will be Tom, Dick and Harry shouting aloud buying the media to say how they have saved the environment by bragging doing such and such thing or else switch off lights for one hour for just one day in 365 days and then they claim they have saved the world…

These ragpickers are not at all helped or supported by our government or environmental bodies. While their efforts, which has a such a big impact on environment, goes unnoticed by one and all, they are not even provided with protective gears to spend 8 to 10 hours in toxic wastelands. On top of all that, their service doesn’t even get any pay hike or else pension from the government. Instead we look at them with disgust, little forgetting that it is because of them we are enjoying a better environment. Hats of to all the ragpickers in the world, who are doing what we educated fellows can never even think of doing to save environment! It is truly a boon and a curse to be born poor but it is the poor who always plays an important part to make lives better for everyone!

Time we wake up from our sleep before it is too late!

Friday, June 4, 2010


Yesterday I purchased a bicycle to pedal my way to all the nearby villages, so that I can save money spent on conveyance all along. And today morning, for the first time after so many years, I pedalled my way to SALOD, a village that is situated 10 kms away from Wardha. The heat surely turned my hands in a well-tanned colour and by evening, it was hurting a little. However, when I was pedalling my way to the village, I felt nothing at all. In fact, I enjoyed my ride in an amazing way looking away the dried landscape of the surroundings, cattle resting in whatever little shade they got, ploughed fields and some farmers still working in hot sun.

As soon as I entered the village, I enquired in a shop about the two cases of suicide. Fortunately, I met brother of the deceased farmer Prakash Bhagwan Jhod, who had committed suicide in 2005 because of debt. The brother refused to talk to me and told there was no one at home, inspite of my request to share some information. I approached the next house of the deceased farmer Jivan Ramji Barade… the house was found lock. So I had no choice but to return back, when immediately I thought about the Gram Panchayat Office. A little boy in cycle was too happy to guide me to the office.

I was given water to drink and then I got to know of two more cases that had happened long time back in Salod village. From there, when I reached deceased farmer Bapuram Sitaram Bhosari’s house, it was locked too. The last one was the house of deceased farmer Prabhakar Ramrao Sagare’s house. Fortunately, the family was at home. I was welcomed, given water to drink, followed by orange squash and then a small box was handed to me. When I asked what was it, one of the daughters told me it was supari (beetlenut). I chewed on two small pieces and wondered that why such warm hospitality is missing in today’s urban life? Inspite of the poor lifestyle they lead, the villagers have a very big heart to welcome a guest, truly amazing and worth mentioning.

P R Sagare left behind three daughters and his widow wife in 2003, when he committed suicide at the age of 35 years because of debt. He was also suffering from high sugar level and since he couldn’t take the every day harassment of the loan sharks, he gave up on life. The eldest daughter have been married away and the younger ones are both doing their Diploma in Education from Deoli, in the hope to become teachers in coming years. The widow wife revealed that they had got married at a very young age of 16 or 17. She was talking to me in Marathi, which I could understand but since I cannot speak the language all that fluent, the youngest daughter Vaishali was translating to her mom. It is really heartening to see the pain in their eyes for missing the only important person in their lives. It has been seven years now and I can well imagine how the young daughters must have faced the situation to find one day, their father is no more.

Shefali, widow of P R Sagare and Vaishali

I told them that I am planning to involve all the widows to start making paper envelops and establish a small unit, which will help them earn some extra money. I gave them the samples and asked if they would be interested to be part of the team. I was really happy because the daughters along with the mother gave their ‘yes’ to me. So here I am, we are all set now to start making these envelops to save the environment in our own small ways while the widows of Vidarbha will start earning some money to support their families in a small way. The ride back home was very amazing because now we have the first member of our small unit! And when I came back home, I got my TENTH ANGEL also… truly a good day indeed!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Even before she gave me her confirmation to support me for a year, I knew well before hand that I can always count on Payal Gidwani and her mom Jyoti Gidwani, whom I have known from the past one decade. The wonderful aspect of our friendship has been that without fail, we used to wish each other every birthday… even if we have not talked over phone for a year.

In my earlier post I had written about the nine angels and there I had mentioned that one angel would confirm later… so finally today I got Payal’s confirmation as she was busy with her hectic schedule. Payal and husband Manish Tiwari are yoga instructors, who train celebrity clients in Mumbai… prominent among them are Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan.

I met Jyoti Gidwani at Fashion Designer Seema Roye’s studio and since we both are Sai Baba’s bhakt, we related almost instantaneously. And since then, we have kept in touch over phone and at times do catch up once in a while. Amazing are some relationship that are always there to help each other at such times… May Sai Baba bless all the angels with more bigger heart to change the world in their own small ways… Om Shri Sai!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Right from the very beginning I have always believed that widows of the farmers, who have committed suicide, are going to be a force to reckon with in near future. The only drawback is that the world has so far treated them as an object of pity, rather than the force of the future. Hence, there has been no progress at all.

I have been visiting villages and interacting with them, trying to understand their needs, aspirations and the will to lead a life of dignity with their heads held high. Even before I came to Vidarbha, I had thought of various plans that would be implemented in a slow and steady manner over a period of time under – support 4 suicide farmers families – project. In another 15 days’ time, we plan to set up a small unit of paper envelops to be used by kirana (general / ration) stores, first in villages and gradually as we grow, it will be taken to the cities’ shops as well.

Initially, I am working on teaching them the art of making these envelops and will provide them with papers (magazines’ sheets) and material for glue. Once we are able to get at least five or more widows, who are willing to be part of the small unit, we will start making these envelops. First, we will start from their respective villages and give free 50 / 100 envelops to the shops for trial. And then these envelops will be sold to shopkeepers for a price, there by generating earnings for these widows. While the these women will be earning, indirectly in their own small ways will be saving environment by reducing the use of plastic bags, which is used so extensively in every part of the nation.

Even though, the government knows the ill-effects of all these plastic bags that is affecting the environment, they are simply not bothered at all about it. I still remember, in my school days I used to make paper envelops in my free time with the magazines’ sheets and sell it to earn my pocket money. Truly so, how handy and environment friendly that experience has been for me to utilise it in Vidarbha today. Pray that very soon, we the family of – support 4 suicide farmers families – are able to supply these envelops to all the Mumbai shops and generate awareness among the urban population about the ill-effects of plastic bags.

The journey has just begun with a bright age-old idea that I learned in my school days.

The small project has multiple benefits:

Widows will be able to work in their free time in their respective homes to earn some money (will depend on the number of envelops they make in a month).

Paper envelops are environment friendly and so will help save the environment in a small and steady manner.

The paper envelops will generate awareness to shun plastic bags, which is bad for environment.

Shopkeepers will play a vital role to bridge the gap between the customers and the family of – support 4 suicide farmers families –