Loss of Identity: vulnerable guardians of the earth – WHO IS THE ‘FARMER’?
Once seen and hailed as the guardians of the earth, farmers are today undergoing an imposed identity crises of sorts. The very term ‘farmer’ has been subject to repeated degradation and misinterpretation through centuries – first under the Mughals; then the the British; and henceforth post-independence – under the rise of Industrialisation.
It is no news that over time the bulk of so called land reforms, settlement acts, tenancy acts, agricultural subsidies and such governance tools – have often proven to be failed projects, succeeding only in mass displacement, disenchantment and even suicide in the farming communities across the country.
There must be certainly a real disconnect between the intellectual class of policy makers and the rest of the populace – that under all sorts of leaderships the journey of farmers has been ever regressive, and has taken them from being landowners to crop growers; to landless labourers; and for many disenchanted poor it has led to the suicide solution over and over again.
Today the terms ‘farmer’ and ‘suicide’ seem destined to be interlinked! This forces upon us the question that – who is really a farmer today? It has become easy to confuse ‘farmer’ with the terms such as ‘peasant, rural, illiterate, ryot or labourer’ and what have you!
Needless to say, that pretty much the very need for technological, industrial and scientific modernisation of the nation itself is turning out somewhat to be to the detriment of the identity of ‘ the farmer’. One shudders to think what’s next?