Re: VIBRANT GUJARAT: lies, half-truths and illusions.
thanks Cedric.would like to add the following for those who donot see beyond headlines
Farmer suicides in Gujarat till 9th Oct, 2007
In the year 2005, the State of Gujarat reeled under the effects of wide-spread flooding and as per a rough estimate made by the State Government 2,39,000 hectares of land in 19 districts of the State was damaged. The State of Gujarat vide government resolution no. KAS-102005-1851-A-5 dated 25/07/2005 announced a scheme of Rs 187 Crore for providing compensation to the farmers whose agricultural land, standing crops or machinery damaged.
Again in the years 2006 and 2007, Gujarat reeled under wide-spread floods. A scheme of Rs 199 Crore was declared during 2006 (vide government resolution no. KAS-102006-1984-K-5 dated 4/09/2006) and in 2007, for Rs. 187 crore (vide government resolution no. KAS-102007-1722-K-5 dated 7/08/2007).
In 2006, Divya Bhaskar newspaper, dated 30/06/2006, reported about suicides by farmers in Madhiya Gaam, Bhavnagar, Vadali Village, Amreli, Sharabdar, Rajkot and Laaliyada Village, Surendranagar on account of lack of sustenance and loss of agricultural production on account of floods.
In response to a question by the opposition, with regard to the number of farmer suicides in Gujarat, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr Amit Shah replied that a total of 148 farmers have committed suicide.
There was widespread discontent among the affected farmers due to the abject apathy of the Gujarat Government resulting in the non-disbursement of the compensation due to them. It was suspected that many cases of farmer suicides, particularly those related to agrarian causes were being deliberately suppressed at the level of the police station itself. A rapid survey of many of the affected villages was undertaken by social activist Mr Bharatsinh Jhala along with like minded individuals and organizations. The information that the survey generated suggested that the situation on the ground was alarming. Therefore an RTI application dated 4/05/2007 was filed by Mr. Bharatsinh Jhala in order to ascertain the factual aspect of the problem. (The aforesaid RTI application dated 4/05/2007 is at Annexure "A". )
Use of right to information
The RTI application seemed to put the government on the defensive; it tried its best to deny information. The application filed on 4/05/07 had to go through a long drawn out process of appeals through the hierarchy of the police department and home ministry, with the Home Secretary finally directing the PIO of the DGP office, Gandhinagar (vide the letter dated 5/07/07) to furnish the information demanded under RTI within 15 days. The nervousness of the Government was visible in that the information demanded was still not forthcoming, finally forcing the applicant to appeal to the CIC on 27/07/07. A hearing on this appeal was kept on 23/08/2007. The CIC held that this information was to be furnished without any delay to the applicant. The CIC directed the representative of the State Government that since the information was being furnished after the stipulated time period of 30 days, all of the 169 pages of information, should be furnished free of cost to the applicant. The information demanded was handed over to the applicant on the 23rd August itself. It was noted that this information showed nil suicides for Bhavnagar District. This was challenged, and then the information of the 23 suicides in Bhavnagar district also was provided on 6/09/07. Even now the information is incomplete, with that of 6 districts still remaining, which the CIC has directed the GoG to submit by 10/10/07.
The scene that has emerged from this information is very frightening. 403 suicides over the last 4 years is indicative of an ominous trend in the agrarian sector in Gujarat. Junagadh led the state with 85 suicides, followed by Rajkot (62), Jamnagar (50) and Mehsana (48). More tragic has been the apathetic and irresponsible attitude of the GoG, which has not only failed to compensate these marginal farmers, but also tried hard to suppress this information.
The applicant Mr. Bharat Jhala had also simultaneously filed another application under RTI as regards the number and list of farmers who had died of accidents over the past four years, with the ministry of agriculture, GoG. This information was given in the stipulated time. This has revealed the shockingly high figure of 6055 accidental deaths of farmers, which also needs to be looked into very seriously. Moreover, it is quite unbelievable that only 1909 of the farmer households have managed to get insurance claims (under the Krishi Bima Yojana) passed after these accidental deaths.
Some of the real cases which were recorded during the field visit by the fact finding team have been annexed as Annexure I. In many cases seemingly incorrect reasons were attributed for the suicides, including mental instability, ill health, debt, family reasons and "unknown reasons". The manner and circumstances in which the FIRs have been recorded do not capture the reality on the ground as the case studies (carried out in March-June 2007) that have been done by Mr Bharatsinh Jhala clearly indicate. However, there are FIRs which in many cases have correctly and clearly mentioned that farmers killed themselves over crop failure or financial reasons.
The condition of the families of the farmers who committed suicide, needless to say is extremely vulnerable. Many of the family members were in an advanced state of despondency, and some of them even were contemplating suicide if there were no means to survive. This was clearly mentioned by some of them in a recent press conference in Ahmedabad.
After extensive survey of many districts and meeting many affected family members and also government officials both at the district level as well as at the Gandhinagar, it is very clear that the administrative infrastructure that brings the government to the poorer sections of the population, especially the farmers, has become immune to the needs of the farmers which has led to an unprecedented agrarian crisis.
In this atmosphere of globalization and liberalization where the threat of SEZs, EPZs, corporatisation of agriculture, influx of big players into the agricultural produce market, it is important to pay heed to the needs of the farmers on an urgent basis.
In fact our study indicates that the farmers are committing suicide due to the following reasons:
1)cost production exceeding the returns specially when agriculture is the sole source of income
2)non-availability of cheap and ready agricultural credit; therefore dependence on local moneylenders thereby getting trapped in the vicious circle of indebtedness
3)lack of investment in rural social infrastructure like health, education, transportation, sanitation, etc in the context of lack of alternate source of livelihood
4)general despondency in the rural farmers contributing to exacerbation of the aforementioned factors
Increasing Violence Against Women in Gujarat: Relation Between Hatred and Violence
'The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."
In gujarat, more than one woman was raped every day in 2006 as a total 388 cases of rape were registered. A total of 854 women were kidnapped and 5,284 women registered complaints of violence under IPC 498 (A). Ahmedabad, once considered the safest city in the country, tops the list.
It is shocking every morning to open the newspapers. The news of dowry deaths, female feticide, domestic violence and rape glares at the reader. One wonders if it is the same Gujarat where the Mahatma was born.
When the forces of hatred are unleashed in a society they cannot be contained easily. Spreading communal hatred dehumanizes society.
A pilot study conducted by Ahmedabad Women's Action Group (AWAG) under the 'Mental Health Care Pilots in Gujarat' project undertaken by the Indian Institute of Management , Ahmedabad (IIM-A ) revealed that a whopping 58 per cent of women in Ahmedabad suffer significant mental distress.
The study revealed horrendous forms of physical violence which include slapping, punching, biting, kicking and even branding with cigarette butts!
The abuse extended to the bedroom too, where 50 per cent women admitted that they were forced to engage in forcible sex amounting to marital rape!
65 per cent women conceded to being abused in public and in front of neighbours! 35 per cent women reported that their children, especially girls, were victims of violence and were physically and verbally abused by the father.
50% were subject to forcible sex (rape) , 50% were deprived of sex *Social violence , 76% abused before family , 69% before neighbours , 60% before friends , 67% in public places , Emotional violence , 70% report verbal abuse, threats , 62% report lack of support, appreciation
69% excluded from decision making , Slapping | 68 % , Kicking | 62 % , Punching | 53 % , Hitting with hard objects | 49 % , Biting | 37 % , Choking | 29 % , Branding with cigarette butts | 22 %
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