The Slap That Failed To Milkshake The Nation

The solar daytime Food as well as Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar received ‘the slap’ I as well as Sharad Joshi were speaking at a national conference of farmers inwards Haridwar. H5N1 picayune afterwards lunch, Swami Ramdev walked inwards to have got his spot on the dais as well as expressed his apologies for beingness late. He said he was belatedly because he had got busy responding to media questioning on the thappad.

The minute he gave out the word of the ‘the slap’ at that spot was a circular of applause. I mean value the clapping as well as cheering that followed was louder than the applause whatsoever ane of us had received during as well as afterwards our presentations. Meanwhile, the current of messages on my mobile seemed never ending. My twitter likewise was flooded with congratulatory messages. I am aware that howsoever nosotros may strongly condemn the incident, which was the politically right thing to do, the fact remains that at that spot was a feel of jubilation all around.
For a province reeling nether an unprecedented cost rise, corruption as well as economical policies that exercise goodness exclusively 1 per cent of the population, ‘the slap’ was an seem of the simmering anger as well as increasing frustration. While the to a greater extent than daring have got picked upwards the gun (in the Maoist-affected areas) against the inequalities beingness continuously perpetuated with impunity, the liberal as well as the educated inwards the urban centres likewise are getting restless. I grip with Shobha De when she says ‘this is non most Sharad Pawar. He exactly happened to last the homo at the receiving cease of the most recent slap’.
It sure enough could have got happened to anyone, including the Prime Minister.
Blame for beingness politically incorrect, but the self-righteousness as well as ‘we know what nosotros are doing’ sort of approach that ruling political party political leader exhibit solar daytime inwards as well as solar daytime out smacks of arrogance. The tu-tu-main-main that follows daily on the TV shows have got turned into the biggest lather operas where the spokesperson of all political parties merely essay to outwit the other to found his/her shirt is cleaner than the other’s. Not realising that every prime number fourth dimension TV present really helps construct upwards the disgust as well as anger against the political class.
Not exclusively the politicians, fifty-fifty the economists as well as the specialists who are regulars on the TV shows acquit similar the committed voters similar the people political parties select inwards to brain to leaders at political rallies. They know what is expected of them, as well as they deliver it faithfully. I am sure if they were to last ferried to a Congress rally, they would shout Congress Zindabad.  The side past times side time, if the BJP is inwards power, you lot tin await them to shift gears as well as non shy from raising BJP Zindabad slogans. Similarly, inwards the studio they know what is expected from them, as well as deliver it faithfully to larn their xv seconds of fame. It is real rare to encounter an skillful on a TV present who speaks from conviction as well as is basing his analysis on solid soil realities.   

Nevertheless, returning dorsum to nutrient inflation, for several years straight off Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as well as Food & Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar have got been setting fresh deadlines for bringing downwards inflation. Chief Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister Dr Kaushik Basu likewise has been making statements which have got picayune relevance to the realities as well as which clearly present that his finger is non on the right nerve. Certainly people are fed upwards as well as except for the media no ane takes these deadlines seriously. They know that the leaders are hiding their inability to stalk the rot inwards the organization as well as are refraining from a crackdown against the stockist, dark marketers as well as speculators.
Roughly a twelvemonth back, I call back when I was asked past times the media to reply to the UPA government’s latest claim that nutrient prices volition ease past times April. Although nutrient inflation has risen to 17.87 per cent for the calendar week ending February 20, 2010, Kaushik Basu was quoted equally saying that the nutrient cost have got come upwards down, as well as the high inflation is because of the base of operations effect. Analysts said that the Apr harvest would last crucial, as well as the pressure level on inflation volition ease afterwards the novel crop flows into the markets. 

I made it clear that nutrient inflation volition non ebb afterwards April. In fact, I went a mensuration ahead as well as said that whatsoever potent government, if it wasn’t faced with the compulsions of coalition politics, would have got removed the Food & Agriculture Minister past times now. He deliberately makes statements that have got helped lift the prices of carbohydrate as well as made India pay through its olfactory organ for wheat imports. The UPA hence cannot hold back whatsoever longer. It must larn rid of Sharad Pawar, and you volition encounter the prices coming down. I wasn’t wrong. Even Sonia Gandhi had reportedly told a grouping of visiting farmers as well as activists that she is helpless when it comes to agriculture.   

However, a few days afterwards the thappad incident, I was expecting roughly visible changes inwards the means Agriculture Minister has been operating. But nada seems to have got changed. It is work concern equally commons for Sharad Pawar. In the midst of the logjam over FDI inwards retail, he said: “The critics are overlooking the fact that the policy’s main objective is to heighten the fiscal mightiness of the farmers who are responsible for the produce. If the farmers’ create is straight lifted from the fields, with them receiving higher remuneration for it, why should at that spot last whatsoever objections?” he asked. “It has ever been my essay to address farmers’ interests.”
This is merely untrue. There is no empirical study that details the benefits that have got accrued to farmers from large retail. Nor did Sharad Pawar or for that affair his Cabinet colleague Anand Sharma has held whatsoever wider populace discussions on the subject. Somehow, ministers have got increasingly begun to believe that ane time they have got elected they have got the right to exercise anything inwards the parent of ‘inclusive growth’. The work is that if the people protestation exterior parliament, the media chastises them maxim street protests campaign inconvenience. If parliamentarians protestation inside, it is the wastage of populace money. How as well as where people limited their dissent?     
And this brings me to roughly other burning number that many felt was an ‘unhealthy’ as well as ‘undemocratic’ trend. I am talking of the spate of editorials on Jarnail Singh’s bold initiatory a few years dorsum of hurling his shoe at Mr P Chidambaram, the Home Minister. I am aware that it volition last politically wrong to admire the trajectory the shoe took. But even so what our political leaders (and the so called enlightened media) believe, the fact remains that the nation is finding it a simple way to limited their anger. After all at that spot has to last an outlet for a deep-rooted anger as well as disgust. If commonwealth provides no avenues for people to phonation their concern, people volition eventually notice other ways to brand their phonation heard.     
If shoe hurling as well as ‘the slap’ is undemocratic, is committing suicide democratic? In the 2004 full general elections (correct me if I am wrong), the as well as then primary government minister of Andhra Pradesh Mr Chandrababu Naidu witnessed a piquant province of affairs when a farmer stood upwards inwards a political rally beingness addressed past times him as well as drank pesticide. He died earlier he could attain the hospital. Imagine, if he had instead thrown his chappal at Mr Naidu. It would have got caused commotion inwards the crowd, as well as to a greater extent than attending to the campaign for which he eventually died.
Not exclusively inwards Andhra Pradesh, farmers all over the province have got tried to post a potent political indicate past times taking their ain lives. Over the years, when all democratic norms failed to depict attention, they took their ain lives. By committing suicide they really delivered what should last seen equally a powerful statement. They failed hither too. The world’s largest commonwealth did non have got notice. Since 1997, the National Crime Records Bureau tells us that over 2.5 lakh farmers have got committed suicide.
I ever idea that suicide was an undemocratic tool beingness used past times the voiceless to brand their phonation heard. But what puzzles me is that why none of the political parties are taking it upwards equally if it was a enquiry of life as well as expiry (which you lot volition agree, it is). After all, people are taking the extreme fatal mensuration equally an expression of their anger. I ever wondered why the enlightened media, which tin depute some 450 journalists to comprehend the Lakme Fashion show, or post an regular army of reporters as well as cameramen to comprehend the IPL cricket inwards South Africa (as if it is a Mahabharata battle), are non fifty-fifty moved to have got upwards the number of farmers committing suicide. 

Come to mean value of it. Wasn’t it undemocratic on the business office of the politicians equally good equally the media (which never tires of telling us that it is the Fouth Estate) to ignore human suffering inwards the crop fields? Media has no regrets when the farmer took their ain lives but it sure enough would have got been furious as well as “want these perpetrators to last booted out of society” if they had instead thrown shoes. Imagine if the 2.5 lakh farmers had non died but instead flung their chappals/jutis, wouldn’t it have got been a more civilised cast of angst?

Please exercise non larn me wrong. I am non advocating throwing shoes to last a democratic cast of dissent. But at the same time, I desire you lot to think, as well as mean value deeply, equally to why this democracy finds nada disturbing when farmers kill themselves in monastic enjoin to depict the attending of powers that last to their plight. Such arrogance as well as indifference inwards a people’s commonwealth can’t become on for long. “The slap’ as well as the chappal cannot last merely dismissed equally the run of a mentally unstable person. It is an seem of growing anger alongside the masses. Let us non hold back for an Arab saltation to forcefulness the Indian commonwealth to really reply as well as stand upwards for the people. It is a enquiry of the forgotten 99 per cent. #

An edited version of this article appeared inwards Tehelka magazine, December 10, 2011.
Slaps, shoes as well as suicides