RECENT RAINFALL PATTERN IN MP BUNDELKHAND

BUNDELKHAND DROUGHT DISTRESS

MP Bundelkhand

RECENT RAINFALL PATTERN IN MP BUNDELKHAND

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AS IF INDIA HAS NO REAL PRESSING PROBLEMS!

All of a sudden, it seems, India has come out of the myriad problems that were proving to be its socio-political nemesis.

That you can construe given the kind of political discourse that has swept the vocal cords of this nation’s political conscience, an obligation that is supposed to maintain our social patterns in a texture of harmony.

Even if ten states in the country have officially declared drought. More are in line. Some more have many districts facing a huge water crunch.

Thousands of farmers have committed suicide as the third consecutive year of drought continues to afflict India. Almost reservoirs of the worst drought affected regions like Bundelkhand, Marathwada and Vidarbha have dried. Internal migration has become a chronic issue, making villages ghost localities and burdening cities to feed many more, the migrants who are forced to leave their homes to earn that elusive meal that has become a luxury for his family.

That is a human crisis that we all are entrapped in and until a better than expected Monsoon happens, as has been predicted for this year, it is going to drag us down, as a society, as a nation.

But why we are not talking about that.

At least that is not in the national discourse.

Drought distress is forcing thousands to leave their houses, their cattle, their families, their villages, their cities daily. And it is not just in one state. It is a pandemic that has gripped many Indian states.

How can an AgustaWestland Scam or a controversy on the educational degree of our prime minister be more important when we are in the midst of such a harrowing human crisis?

But if political escapism has become a hallmark of Indian politics of the day, these two incidents are its live and prime examples.

Yes, the so-called AWScam or Choppers Scam is important and must be taken to a logical conclusion to send out stern message against the corrupt practices that corrode our governance, but it must not take out the whole time of our Parliament as has been happening. Yes, aiming for political mileage and settling political scores is an established political norm the world over but what if it becomes the sole issue, as if nothing else is happening, even if the horrors of drought are still here.

And what about this degree issue of Narendra Modi?

A non-issue has engulfed out political conscious to the extent that it is conveniently making the whole lot blind, from BJP to Congress to AAP, to the human crisis deepening every moment.

But, a glance tells – as if India has no other pressing issues to cater to than these!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

DROUGHT – OF WATER – AND OF POLITICAL TRUST!

Acts of political apathy and their cruel symbolisms continue unabated – midst a deepening crisis that has forced thousands of farmers to commit suicide – in one of the worst drought seasons – displacing millions in India internally – in 10 Indian states in North and Central India including parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

And the problem is only exacerbating with the intensifying heat wave as mercury is soaring up. Heat wave has already claimed many lives in the affected regions.

A case study from Beed in Maharashtra came today where a Class 5th student died while fetching water from hand-pump. According to her family members, she was helping her family to get water and had repeated trips to the hand-pump where she collapsed. Beed in Maharashtra is one of the worst drought affected districts in Maharashtra (and India). In fact, we can say it is another Latur of Maharashtra.

Rather, we should say there are many Laturs in Maharashtra that need comprehensive government intervention to win over this tide of nature’s fury.

But how can we take the government seriously to the extent that all will be set right henceforth – because this nature’s fury is man-made as well?

And to add to the drought of political trust that we have towards our political fraternity, there are continued acts of insensitivity by some of our senior-most politicians – chief-ministers and ministers.

Now, it may be true that these ministers and chief ministers may not be aware that thousands of litres of water was wasted making helipads for them or in makings roads dust-free for them but when it comes to political branding based on symbolism, no one goes into the nitty-gritty of what lies beneath. It’s all about what looks on surface.

And on surface, the message that went was that the political class was not acting proactively to end people’s misery but was rather forced to act because of electoral compulsions – after Eknath Khadse (senior Maharashtra minister), Siddaramaiah (Karnataka chief minister), Akhilesh Yadav (Uttar Pradesh chief minister) and Pankaja Munde (again a senior minister from Maharashtra) were seen wasting water or exploiting their visits to drought hit areas as ‘drought tourism’.

Much has been written about drought in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region with consecutive years of drought. The crisis is also deepening in Karnataka with drought now spread to as many as 19 districts of the state. The politicians should take a cue from Pankaja Munde selfie incident that was otherwise a perfectly normal human response but for a human crisis perpetrated by drought. Pankaja Munde would never have imagined the incident would be painted like this.

But here it is. And so are the helipad incidents related to Eknath Khadse and Akhilesh Yadav or a dust-free road for Siddaramaiah!

In the season of India’s worst drought, it may also lead to a drought of political trust among common men and it should be a clear and present danger for our political class – as every coming year this or that state assembly election or some bye-election or some local body election is due.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

EKNATH KHADSE’S HELIPAD AND PRIYANKA GANDHI’S BUNGALOW: THIS IS OUR POLITICS, FOLKS! (II)

If Eknath Khadse is emblematic of how crassly insensitive our politicians can become, can be, the row over Priyanka Vadras’ (or Priyanka Gandhi’s) house rent is equally disturbing.

The only thing is, we have forgotten ‘getting disturbed’ over such ‘undemocratic developments’.

Not so long ago, a senior party leader of Congress, the party of Priyanka Gandhi’s mother Sonia Gandhi and her brother Rahul Gandhi, Mr. Kapil Sibal, had taken a house in the same tony location, Jor Bagh, though certainly not as posh and VVIP as Priyanka’s house is, and less than half in size, for a whopping monthly rent of Rs. 1600,000 or Rs. 1.92 crore a year.

Now, let’s jot down the obvious:

Priyanka Gandhi pays a ‘super’ subsidized rent of just Rs. 31,300 a month for her Type VI house in Lutyens’ Delhi.

The house measures 2765 sqm in size and reports say that no such big house with all its natural extensions like lawns and amenities is available for rent in the area Priyanka’s house is located.

If we go by the reports of sky-high rent being paid by Kapil Sibal, the minimum that Priyanka Gandhi needs to pay as rent around Rs. 35 lakh a month. And even then, the rent cannot match house’s expanse and location.

Priyanka Gandhi was given this house in 1997 at a monthly rent of around Rs. 53,000. Her request for subsidized rent was accepted in 2002 and her rent was fixed at 8,888 by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Now, the person who fixed it can only tell us about this interesting combination.

The revelation here is, the loss to the public exchequer since 1997 – because even a rent of Rs. 53,000 a month for a larger than life bungalow in India’s most VVIP zone in Delhi, a city where people are cursed to live in cramped houses and flats, was a jaw-opener for anyone – for its sheer meekness.

Let’s go by the simple logic – that we common folks have to shell out 10% more every year on our housing rent. That makes it roughly around Rs. 350,000 a month after these 20 years – for Priyanka’s Rs. 53,000 in 1997.

Her current house rent of Rs. 31,300 is more or less in line with this ‘annual 10% hike’ norm. So, it is a direct loss to the public exchequer – running in millions – when India’s successive governments have failed to define a proper poverty line in the country – a political class that still accepts the wisdom of expert panels that find a person above poverty line if he earns Rs. 40 a day or so (Rs. 32 rural and Rs. 47 urban) – even if Rs. 40 cannot earn a decent one time meal on the prevailing market prices.

Like the Bombay High Court said while hearing the petition on water wastage by BCCI on conducting IPL matches in Maharashtra – that it was criminal that BCCI was wasting hundreds of thousands of water in every IPL game when Maharashtra was facing the worst drought of 100 years, when people were not getting water to drink and bathe – this, too, is criminal when poverty, quality literacy, education and healthcare still need critical attention.

How can this paltry sum be justified by anyone, let alone by the party that has been in power for some 60 years of India’s 70 sovereign years?

How can Congress counter this when a simple two bedroom house less than 100 m in size in Delhi costs around Rs. 20,000 in monthly rentals and its goes up to around Rs. 50,000 or so in many upscale areas?

How can Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi justify that Priyanka Gandhi indeed needs a ‘super’ subsidy for her housing rent when Robert Vadra, her millionaire husband, claims that ‘he always had enough and he didn’t need Priyanka Gandhi to enhance his life’?

But nothing will move folks, except some hue and cry. It will die down soon. That is the state of affairs in Indian politics. That is the standard here.

Be it BJP for Eknath Khadse or Congress for Priyanka Gandhi – the colours fade into oneness, the lines blur when it comes to ‘certain’ political compulsions. It was a BJP government in 2002 that had ‘super’ subsidized Priyanka Gandhi’s housing rent. It was a BJP government that had retained Robert Vadra on ‘no frisking VVIP list’ at the country’s airports in 2014 in spite of strong reservations. It is a BJP government in Maharashtra whose minister has made mockery of farmers’ plight by wasting precious water even if his chief minister says in the Bombay High Court that the IPL matches could be taken out of the state to save water.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

EKNATH KHADSE’S HELIPAD AND PRIYANKA GANDHI’S BUNGALOW: THIS IS OUR POLITICS, FOLKS! (I)

They are quite a lot, in our kaleidoscopic politics, be it any party, including its newest entrant, Aam Aadmi Party, though the malaise there has not reached chronic levels.

In fact, if any factor that has been a constant irony in an otherwise robustly functional Indian democracy, it is about our politics, that has dragged us back, that has let us down.

Yes, there have been and there are good politicians but they have always been a rare breed.

Most have been – like in the category of Eknath Khadse – being parasitic on us – even if we are being forced to die – because our politicians have not been able to take us away from the pangs of an agricultural economy dependent on rains – even if we have seen almost 70 Independence Days.

When Maharashtra and India are witnessing one of the worst drought years, such apathy, such callousness can only be expected from a politician. Mr. Khadse saw it unfit to take even 40 minutes of road, even if he was rushing to take credit over dead bodies. Yes, Marathwada and Vidarbha crisis is as much man-made and as it is nature inflicted.

IPL was a symbolism. Its court-forced shift from Maharashtra for wasting water in maintain pitches when the state is reeling under severe drought is a lesson for everyone to get back to the business of humanism, to get sensitive to the cries of people dying, to contribute as a social obligation for your place in society.

But who will tell this to our politicians, politicians with their fiefdoms who are as much a culprit as nature in forcing droughts in lives of the common men of this country. The biggest water guzzler in Maharashtra, the sugarcane industry, has names of some of the most prominent Maharashtra politicians as its barons.

Yes, they employ thousands in their factories, but are they beyond this basic tenet of social behaviour – that you have to care for the survival of your fellow human-beings. In fact, it becomes all the more imperative for them to come up with alternatives to compensate for the cruel exploitation of natural resources, in this case water, in a drought year, as they are from the bunch who is entrusted with writing policy guidelines in crisis hours – like the Maharashtra drought of the these days.

But our politicians have made it a habit to fail us, even if we try hard to repose our trust in them.

What Mr. Khadse did was akin to mapping another level of bad politics, something that politicians like Mr. Khadse feel adept at. Books and articles have been written on how a drought is eagerly awaited by bureaucracy and politicians in India – with free flow of resources and credit to exploit.

IPL’s forced shifting from Maharashtra is a defining moment for all of us and Mr. Eknath Khadse should have thought 100 times before going on his ‘helipad bravado’ that wasted some 10,000 litres of water, 10,000 litres that are lifelines for many families. He could have taken a road journey to receive the water train. Showing a bit of sensitivity would have only helped him in claiming his share of credit in this season of photo-ops, drought-politics (and water politics).

But only if they care! But only if our politicians care for what we think!

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/