Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Broken Green: Two Years of Modi

As the Narendra Modi government turns 2 today (May 26, 2016), here’s something to reflect upon:

We consumers wake up every morning and allow ourselves to be manipulated by the ideology of monoculture imprisoning various facets of our daily lives—what we think, what we eat, where we shop, what we drive, what we recycle, the euphemisms we choose, who our enemies are, whether the quinoa we buy is labeled non-GMO and/or gluten-free, which of the lesser of the two evils to vote for in the next election and so on and so forth. When we look at the bigger picture, however, our eyes tend to glaze over, forcing us to trip over our small focuses.

The continuing agrarian crises in India is just one of the more recent costs of our monoculture lifestyles that somebody else is paying for with their lives, and that has resulted in over 302,000 farmer suicides since 1995. This reality, just like the hundreds and thousands of dead and dispossessed Muslims and the subsequent creation of ISIS as a result of the United States’ response to 9/11, is perennial. For these folks, monoculture spells debt, displacement, drought, death.

A couple of bee stings won’t make us too uncomfortable, but imagine being bombarded by a whole hornet’s nest like tiny drones piercing our bodies; that would most likely kill us, horribly, slowly. That’s how it is for most of the world’s “sufferers” (a term a Dalit friend used to describe the planet’s shock-absorbers.)

These suicides in India are taking place not so much among food-crop cultivators but among cash-crop farmers, or those that produce what we line our closets and urban appetites with—cotton, sugarcane, groundnut, vanilla, coffee.

fatherpriti

31-year-old Sandeep Godse from Kodpakhindi village, block Zari, Yavatmal District, Maharsashtra, India, committed suicide on December 9th, 2011.  This photo of his father Pandurang Bapurao and brother Nitesh was taken on December 27.

The former Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, and author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought, P. Sainath, has pointed out that although unpredictable seasonal rains play a part in contributing to this suicide epidemic, it is mainly factors driven by state policies—issues such as “debt, hyper commercialization, exploding input costs, water-use patterns, severe price shocks and price volatility”—that are at the root. Drought only adds another layer to this endless cycle of shock after shock from which farmers can see no way out and feel totally abandoned, experiencing a numbing loss of self-reliance.

This year’s union budget has been declared ‘pro-farmer,’ as has the promise of doubling farm incomes by the year 2022. What that really means is that the budget and the future of agriculture is really more pro-agri-business friendly, not pro-farmer, and that someone living far, far away from India’s countryside will make money….a lot of it, but it will not be the farmer. In fact farmers in India are still waiting for the Modi government to deliver on its 2014 BJP poll campaign promise of increasing the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce.

This perennial, someone-else’s-lifestyle suffering stems from our non-participation in the bigger scheme of things. Our yet sleeping ability to raise dissent needs badly to wake up–now, to mobilize and take over the corporate czars that are currently monopolizing globalization, or maybe globalizing monopoly. I’m not sure.

This spring everything is lush and green in Kansas where I live, but I know somewhere in India, everything, including the green, is broken. Through climate change as well as debt, the global economy is killing farmers. At the same time as I am enjoying this wonderful spring weather, a devastating heatwave has descended upon the subcontinent. A new temperature record has been set: 124 degrees F. Countless lives have been lost during the heatwave, including many farmers.

While most of us will go to bed with a full belly (for many, it’s one full of non-GMO quinoa), the farmers of Vidarbha will continue to sleep on beds of non-MSP cotton, their walls lined with gunny sacks full of last year’s unsold toor (split pigeon pea) crop, their bellies empty, and their thoughts full of suicide.

cotton

December 26, 2011, Amla village, Amravati District, Maharashtra, India. Cotton harvest stacked under beds.

This essay accompanies one of my meal designs for the project series “One Pound Capitalism, a Pinch of Democracy.” Please go here if you want a taste of that.

More articles by:

Priti Gulati Cox is an interdisciplinary artist, and a local coordinator for the peace and justice organization CODEPINK. She lives in Salina, Kansas, and can be reached at p.g@cox.net. Please click here to see more of her work.

May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
Brian Saady
How the “Cocaine Mitch” Saga Deflected the Spotlight on Corruption
David Swanson
Tim Kaine’s War Scam Hits a Speed Bump
Norah Vawter
Pipeline Outrage is a Human Issue, Not a Political Issue
Mel Gurtov
Who’s to Blame If the US-North Korea Summit Isn’t Held?
Patrick Bobilin
When Outrage is Capital
Jessicah Pierre
The Moral Revolution America Needs
Binoy Kampmark
Big Dead Place: Remembering Antarctica
John Carroll Md
What Does It Mean to be a Physician Advocate in Haiti?
George Ochenski
Saving Sage Grouse: Another Collaborative Failure
Sam Husseini
To the US Government, Israel is, Again, Totally Off The Hook
Brian Wakamo
Sick of Shady Banks? Get a Loan from the Post Office!
Colin Todhunter
Dangerous Liaison: Industrial Agriculture and the Reductionist Mindset
Ralph Nader
Trump: Making America Dread Again
George Capaccio
Bloody Monday, Every Day of the Week
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Swing Status, Be Gone
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail