Friday, October 26, 2007

Rural Poor March on New Delhi Demanding Land Reform

Twenty five thousand people are on the march to Delhi. They are on the Delhi-Agra Road and will reach Delhi in a few days now. These are not even people in the eyes of the state and the urban populace blinded by the advertisements for TV, reality shows, cars and holidays. These are the tribals, the untouchables, landless labourers, people who have nothing left to loose.

Photos:Raoul Amaar Abbas

They are marching on to Delhi to demand land, land that was promised to them, land that was stolen from them, communal land which was sold out under their noses, land that they cannot recover from corrupt land developers and politicians.

But can a mere 25,000 people with no voice in the system, change the fate

I talked about Naxalites last year and agreed with the Prime Minister that the Naxalites were the single most threatening issue to the integrity of India. But nothing much has happened to them. The same corruption, the same ignorance and same mindless consumerism has taken hold.

The Naxalites have used exactly this issue, the issue that the rural poor are not being looked after. The government has become a parasite at worst and uncaring at best. When that happens, there is a vaccume of governance and it is no surprise that ideologies such as Maoism have crept in and now threaten the viability of a large democratic state such as India. The same thing is happening in China as well.

Land reform which started promisingly in many states such as West Bengal, Kashmir, Kerela, Andhra Pradesh, etc. But the Bimaru states suck at this. See here for a great overview of this very complex issue.

Another factor, given the state of the world agriculture markets, it is impossible for a small 1-2 acre plot to be economically viable and support a family. It is simply impossible. But still, that is an asset to the family and if you do want to take away the land under the eminent domain laws, then you are then forced to pay compensation to that poor tribal, landless labourer or untouchable. That is fair, no? But corruption takes away his land, his living, his compensation and more importantly, rots away the framework of the state which allows termites like the Naxalites to bore away and weaken the state.

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