Sunday, January 23, 2011

MY JOURNEY SO FAR - PART II (23rd Jan 2011)

It was in the month of April that I visited Vidarbha for the very first time. The soaring high temperature touching 49 degrees with hot winds blowing was an experience that didn’t affect me at all. One may call it a miracle or the hands of divinity, I didn’t feel the heat on my body since then and the surprising part was that throughout my stay (15 days) I was calm, cool and composed roaming around villages interacting with farmers’ families. Heartening it is and it certainly wasn’t an easy task to get to know the truth behind each farmer’s death... however, I must say I have been blessed by Sai Baba because I was readily accepted by villagers... discussions at gram panchayat’s offices (village committee) with the members to know problems of the farmers were enlightening.

There were many ground realities and complexities that surprised me about farmers’ suicide in Vidarbha. For one, I was surprised to know that there are more than 7000 listed NGOs in Vidarbha region and many dedicated and devoted individuals who are doing their best to achieve whatever little they can, to provide succour to the farmers’ community of the nation. The biggest surprise of my visit was the irrigation canal near Deoli (on the way to Yavatmal) that has taken more than 23 years to complete... the construction is still incomplete after 23 long years... it shows how callous the State and Central Government are when infrastructure facilities for the agriculture sector are concerned. Even though Vidarbha region is the richest when it comes to rivers, ironically, the fact that all the water that should be used for irrigation purposes, are being diverted for rich corporate industries and generating power. Another ironical factor is that even though Vidarbha generates and has the biggest Thermal Power Station (CSTPS) in the country, there are many villages in the region, where villagers are still living in darkness. I wonder how the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh can talk about growth of the nation! Is living in darkness without proper drinking water THE SIGN of the nation’s GROWTH?

May and June in Mumbai, I prepared self to shift once for all to Vidarbha. There were various personal problems I had to face during this period that delayed things. However, I must thank from the bottom of my heart the ‘Ten Angels’ who were kind enough to support me financially for a year to pursue and continue the movement in Vidarbha. Once the support system was in place, I shifted base in August permanently in Wardha. When I came here, I must confess without realizing the ground realities and monthly schedule of the farmers’ community, I had loads of plan to execute. However, things are not easy as it may seem from the other side of the reality... I had to unlearn all that life had taught me because I had entered a complete new territory and it was back to school again.

Farmers were succumbing to suicide and every day when you open the newspapers, the dreaded column used to give me a sense of helplessness. Emotionally I was fighting a war with the everyday situation that had never bothered to me to such an extent earlier. Things were not easy and many times, I went into deep depression... at times, I used to cry silently lying on my bed with tears rolling down for hours feeling so-so helpless and not able to save another precious life of another farmer... at times, I would just go on a silent bout with my Sai Baba demanding WHY? Why HE cannot stop such a phenomenon where poor are dying for the sake of others... for days and even month-long depression became a way of life for me. I realized things are going to be more difficult with each passing day and every day I prayed to Sai Baba to give me strength and be strong. For many who are reading this post, may feel that how can I be so weak hearted to cry and go in depression... well, these bouts of depression are the outlet for me being all alone in my journey of life... things none of my friends would like to discuss at length because each one of us have their own problems of life... however, Sai Baba has been very generous to send amazing angels from nowhere to encourage me and give me moral support. Such support system came from unknown people who have been following the movement and I was surprised to know that I was not alone any more...

... to be continued...

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