Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nagpur Test ~ the plight of cotton farmers of Vidarbha


The Nishada Kingdom was the kingdom of the Nishada Tribe, a tribe of people who the Vedic people considered valour and courageous.

Today, India plays England in the decisive fourth Test after embarrassing defeats in the last two Tests ~ some have been gunning for the head of Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose fortunes have fluctuated in the past 20 months.  It is not without reason ~ string of defeats abroad and now at famed home too…. , Indian cricket's big picture appears rather bleak.   There are media reports of internal squabble – not all is well – Dhoni Vs Sehwag and now Dhoni reportedly speaking on the selfish attitude of Gambhir, who is battling to save his place ..  In the recent past, our batsmen have been exposed, their technical inadequacies and fallibilities showing them up as men with feet of clay. Equally our bowlers have proved that they lack incisiveness.

Worst still, the performance of our spinners who were supposed to turn the ball at right angles and demolish England in three days in each of the Tests.  We thought that England would fold and perish in dicey Indian wickets ~ nothing of that sort as Cook leads the front in their 2-1 lead at this stage.  Dhoni is backed by board president N Srinivasan, Sachin Tendulkar supported by a lobby of sponsors,  Mohinder Amarnath has spoken out, blasted out rather, stating that selectors wanted Dhoni to go ~ and reportedly Sunil Gavaskar has appreciated that bold talk !!!!

The venue Nagpur –  is known as ‘city of Oranges’.  Nagpur lies precisely at the center of the country with the Zero Mile Marker indicating the geographical center of India  Citrus Sinensis is commonly grown tree fruit.  It is considered to be hybrid of pomelo and mandarin – the ones sold in Nagpur are generally small in size but sweet.  Vidarbha  is the eastern region of Maharashtra state, India made up of the Nagpur Division and the Amravati Division. Its former name is Berar (Varhad in Marathi).  Nagpur is the largest city in Vidarbha.  The region is famous for growing oranges and cotton.

India down in dumps is playing 1 fast bowler and 3 spinners today – Piyush Chawla is in the XI; Ravindra Jadeja in place of Yuvraj and Chawla in place of Zaheer is the change, as England won the toss and chose to bat first.  

It would need a monumental display of grit and determination from several below-par players if India are to bounce back from this dismal situation and prevent England from walking off with their first Test series win in India in 28 years. For a new captain, Alastair Cook, a draw would suffice and that would be a herculean achievement for the tourist.  There are talks that Test match No. 194 for Sachin Tendulkar, could be his last effort.  

If you move away from Cricket to the other important C ‘Cotton”, the cotton growers in Vidarbha region are once again in distress as prices of the cash crop were dropping below expectations in the open market. Though the Government has fixed the minimum support prices ( MSP) at Rs 3900 per quintal but prices in local market are far below expectations.  Newspaper reports state that as  compared to last year, the demand in the international market particularly China and Pakistan is virtually nil due to good crop there. This has resulted in less prices compared to last year when it rose to the higher side. The Maharashtra State Cotton Marketing Federation which is bound to protect interest of farmers have so far not intervened in the price issue.  Moreover, this year the produce or the yield of cotton per acre has shrinked to about two quintal which is worrying farmers. This is the third year when they are facing the problem.

A report in the Hindu quoting an activist in documentary film 'Bitter Seeds' states “Every 30 minutes, a farmer in India kills himself. Vidarbha”.  Capturing the helplessness of cotton farmers in the region, the film tells the story of a cotton growing farmer Ramkrishna Kopulwar of Telang Takali village in Yavatmal district.. It was here that the first case of farmers’ suicide of the district was reported in 1997 when a cotton farmer Ramdas Ambarwar killed himself.  According to agricultural scientist Dr. Vandana Shiva, who is featured in the documentary, “the conventional seeds were made completely unavailable and through vigorous campaigning, BT seeds were imposed on the farmers. GM engineering disturbs the physiology and the metabolism of the crops, so we have had crop failures in the GM cotton in a drought year and also in the case of too much rain. Or new pests start to occur again because the plant has been weakened.”

It is indeed sad to read of the plight of the farmers.  Ekalavya was a king of a Nishada tribe.  Nishadha was the kingdom of the celebrated king Nala Chakravarthi, who loved and married Damayanti the princess of Vidarbha Kingdom. Nala is known for his undeterred commitment to the path of righteousness even under duress.  This kingdom is identified with current day Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
13th Dec 2012.

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