Friday, 30 December 2011

Vidarbha farmers to get a helping hand from Ludhiana-TIMES OF INDIA

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Vidarbha farmers to get a helping hand from Ludhiana

NAGPUR: We hear and speak about the wonders of the Internet all the time, about how it brings people together, fuses the physical distance between them. In one such example, the Internet proved to connect two different worlds - one where debt-ridden farmers living in hellish conditions were committing suicides and the another where farmers were considerably well off, and even owned costly mobile phones and cars.
Munish Dadhwal, a maths teacher, Pritpal Singh, a physics teacher and Jatinder Kumar, a civil engineering student, all from Ludhiana, Punjab visited the families of debt-ridden farmers who had committed suicides in the villages of Yavatmal district to take stock of the agrarian crisis there.
Their journey began when Dadhwal read about the plight of farmers in Vidarbha on some online portals. He spoke to his colleagues and friends and soon the trio reached Yavatmal.
"Once we started researching this topic we began to see the horror behind the whole issue. We came in contact with Kishore Tiwari and when he suggested that we see the sufferings of the farmers first hand, we made up our minds to coming here," said Pritpal Singh.
Their field of study doesn't come near subject of agrarian crisis. When this was pointed out to them they said that they were humans. And as humans they were moved by the troubles the farmers of Vidarbha faced and wanted to do something.
They say that trip was an eye opener. "There is a difference between listening and reading about these issues and actually seeing them. Coming from good families where we are served a host of food items, its disturbing to see these farmers struggling for three square meals a day," said Jatinder Kumar.
"The farmers over Punjab are considerably much better off. And we think the main reason is education," says Singh. The trio says that it's a vicious cycle here. "The farmers aren't educated, they don't know how to manage their resources and fall into debt which they fail to return and commit suicide. Their children have to leave school and work leaving them uneducated and the cycle continues," added Singh.
They now plan to spread awareness among people of Punjab about Vidarbha issue. "We have thought about some steps and once we get back to Ludhiana we will plan it. Firstly, we are going to organize ourselves into Friends of Vidarbha Society. Then we are looking into possibilities of networking between wealthy and experienced farmers of Punjab and needy farmers of Vidarbha. We are also looking into how we can provide for educational opportunities for farmers kids," said Dadhwal who thinks that issue is not being highlighted enough.
The group will be making a documentary of their visit to help the cause. Tiwari, who was working for this for a long time and who helped the group organize the visit, said that such visits are good. "More than anything else, such initiatives boost morale of people like us that someone out there is listening and cares," he said.

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