Image by: Ranganath Krishnamani
For the world, this coronavirus pandemic has turned out to be one of those Hollywood movies about contamination and world domination that the rest of us used to make fun of apart from the fact that there are no bunch of dashing heroes to fight back and out of all the countries, America is not at all being a humanitarian role-model. The American paranoia has come true but with a major plot twist. Someone call Spielberg, please!
Once again fiction proves that it’s never away from reality. The only difference is that when people die in reality, it hurts tenfold and millions of people have died already.
I am not here to talk about these WhatsApp forwards or FaceBook talks. My point is to address something that the people of my own country under the colonial influence have been neglecting for years and the western propagandas have only added more fuel to this internal distancing post-independence.
Pardon me if I sound all mysterious or gibberish. Let me begin with a title to be precise.
The Fall of the Facade of ‘Development’
For long we have been sold everything in the name of ‘Development’; both personal and societal. We have been always under the notion that development is about ‘well-planned’ concrete structures and man-made solutions.
Quicker (the word; not to be confused with Quickr) isn’t better in all the things in life. Certain processes need to have their own pace and that’s how they have been engineered. But unfortunately, humans have the habit of putting themselves in the pedestal. We alter the things that we can not control. In fact, the need for control is what gave birth to everything including civilization, religion, science, technology, and even democracy!
There’s a funny quote on democracy that goes like this:
“I think we should get rid of Democracy. All in favour raise your hand.”
Almost all the post-colonial countries like India, Africa, China, etc have always had their richness in their natural resources and their own ways of utilizing these resources without exhausting them for the need for capital. But when the invaders came in, they negated all our ways in the name of ‘uncivilized behaviour’ and ‘madness’. Instead, they not only made us unlearn what we knew was actually good for us as well as nature and but also gave us faster ways of reaping out the benefits of our own resources. Barter system was soon removed/replaced and with the rise of America after the second world war, India was no more the same.
One needs to realise that the foundation fo the USA in itself lies in capitalism and unlike countries such as ours, their freedom was bought at a hefty price. Who bought the land? The colonizers themselves. What do when you own something through trade? You aim to profit off of it. The land was a prized possession and it will always be so.
I mean, the USA has one of the most beautiful natural places and formations in the world and yet you’d almost always see them promoting New York for its money-minting businessmen and concrete towers, California for Hollywood and the ‘Dream’ and Las Vegas for you know what!
Agricultural Holocaust: The Tragedy of Farmers in India
Over the years the so-called ‘developing nations’ are still ‘developing’ and it seems like they will never be ‘developed’ enough for the American media. The pressure for every country to be like America is so much so that they forget the beauty that lies within their land. The madness goes to the extent that a plain paper made from the very trees cultivated our own farmers end up taking their lives once they are printed with the face of a man who fought for their freedom. The ‘Mahatma’ would be rolling on his grave if he could see this.
Do you know who supported him the most in his freedom marches? Farmers. For decades after the Indian Independence, our need for concrete jungles has only increased so much so that in a nation consisting of 1.3 billion people, barely anybody wants to be a farmer anymore. Even farmers do not want their kids to pursue farming. The only ones who are into it are the ones who are unable to do anything else. People in the villages are ready to sell their land (if they have any) and migrate to these manmade jungles and do whatever they can in the name of better living.
What is this better living that they come for? The same printed paper with a higher numeric value, better ‘education’, hospitals, etc. All of these could have been availed even in their villages. If the past governments had valued the farmers enough to see to it that they were being developed in a better way and if the future generation and technology would have been based around the agricultural sector then India could have been the world capital for Agriculture. Unlike any other country in the world, India had been blessed with a lot of resources, both renewable and non-renewable. The decline of the agricultural sector began when the government in the name of Green Revolution, shifted its focus on cash crops instead of promoting regional crops for minting quick money. Look at how increased rubber plantation has affected the northeast of India and the south as well, to know the impact of cash-crops on the environment. Not only has this practice been killing India’s biodiversity but also become the reason behind the extinction of a lot of important regional crops like red okra from Karnataka, black rice from Gujarat, red corn from Tamil Nadu, raayan (a summer fruit grown in central and western India), timru (an evergreen Himalayan berry) and Kuri (a type of small millet), etc.
The pitiful condition of Indian agricultural scene can be best described through this excerpt from a Times of India article titled ‘Why India’s native crops need to be saved from extinction’
“We have 6,000 types of paddy in India. There used to be 5 lakh at one time. The urban consumer today can hardly name three,” says Dwarapudi Ravi, an organic farmer from Andhra Pradesh.
The hard-hitting fact is that agriculture has employes approximately 50% of India’s overall workforce and yet its contribution within India’s GDP is only 18% and is still in the decline. The poor farmers who resort to natural and honest methods of cultivation are being sacrificed in thousands on a daily basis to inhuman capitalism that only focuses on finishing off consumer demands in every way possible, be it unethical. In the past 20 years alone, more than 296,438 Indian farmers had committed suicide. If you find coronavirus pandemic shocking then what will you call this? Can you imagine yourself taking your life for any possible reason? Have you ever? If you have even thought about it once in your life, you would know what state of mind and situation you were in while thinking about it. We are talking about 300 thousand deaths in just 20 years! There are at least 54 countries with their total population less than that and the figure is whopping 360 times that of the entire population of Vatican City, the smallest country in the world.
Blind Citizens Guided by One-Eyed Visionaries
All of these could have been avoided if the nation builders had enough sense and vision to understand that at the end of the day, we are only reduced to what we food, water and air, the sustainability of a Minimum Viable Person (MVP). For years the promotion of white-collar jobs has only resulted in the rise in mindless and aimless youths who are mostly unemployed because they either do not have skills necessary for the work that they are looking for or are too self-consumed by the thought of white-collar jobs that the blue-collar only looks good when endorsed by a bunch of cricketers. Nobody wants to bleed blue when it comes to manual jobs.
Barely a handful of privileged people chose to be agricultural reformers and officers with most of them keeping money in their mind instead of the betterment of nature and natural methods.
This was the case until a few years ago and thanks to Information Technology, the tables have gradually started changing.
It has taken decades, millions of farmers’ deaths and chronic health problems for the Indian consumers to understand that at the end of the day healthy food habits and healthy living matter more than the money they have earned. The earlier mentioned TOI article states
With Indian households becoming more conscious about healthy eating and the natural benefits of consuming local food — thanks, in no small measure, to the social media stardom of nutritionists who espouse the indigenous cause — awareness among both consumers and farmers is increasing.
But healthier living has simply been reduced to the consumption of genetically modified (GM) products or imported food items that barely have any nutritional value by the time they reach us. To induce the guilt of what we have lost until now, I am quoting our organic farmer from Andhra Pradesh, Ravi, again who shares this with us:
“When a plant variety goes extinct an entire knowledge system is lost. Our elders knew what rice variety to eat if you had an ailment. For instance, Nawara red rice helps with diabetes; a rare black-rice, Kalawati, helps prevent cancer and vitamin B12 deficiencies. Pregnant women were fed Kullakar rice and sandstone rice was known for its aroma. Most of these can’t even be found now.”
While we spend thousands on heavily promoted imported ‘nutritional’ super-foods we are also to remember that our educated minds are susceptible to these gimmicks due to our zero-knowledge of flora and fauna in general. The treasure you are seeing is usually right in front of you and you’d be able to see it if you take off your shades and mind getting down the high horse.
Fast Food and ‘Exotic’ Items: The Western propaganda
The brainless inclination of the highly-educated urban class towards ‘exotic’ fruits and vegetables is quite cringe-worthy because not only does it make zero sense but also lets the rest of the country standardize it due to the growing demand and validation of idiotic habits. If you ask them to name some healthy veggies and fruits, they’d name either one or all of these; broccoli, zucchini, lemongrass, lettuce, avocado, dragon fruit, blueberries, etc all of which came to India through western nutritionists endorsed by ‘Hollywood’ whose stars are not known as American stars but International stars due to their mass appeal and fan-following which is mostly restricted to the third-world countries.
We Indians are foodies of the highest order and can even digest spices that usually sets the western intestines on fire. But in the past few years with the advent of popular American food chains and with the association of ‘pizzas’ and ‘burgers’ with modernization and status symbol, exotic dishes and junk foods have gained such prominence in this country.
In fact, one of the biggest propagandas run by these chains in India is through various articles citing these western items to be a better choice than local snacks such as samosa and vada pav that’s life-threatening on a long run. If you think about it, it’s as funny as promoting cigarettes to replace Bidis (known as Indian cigarettes). Substituting one for the other because of added filters isn’t going to change the fact that both of them can cause cancer. There are hundreds of Indian snacks that are quite healthy with the right ingredients. But with the adulteration of almost all items such as ghee, cooking oil, sugar, jaggery, honey, and what not in order to meet the demands of consumers as well as make more profit margin, vendors have shifted to unethical ways of making most of these snacks since quite some time.
My point is that the outlook towards the word ‘local’ has to be changed. While vegetables like onion, potato, tomato, etc are abundantly available, the word local doesn’t simply limit itself to these items. In order to understand the variety of local produce available in our country, you need to get out of your cubicles once in a while and visit beautiful villages in India and try their desi cuisines. You would be amazed to find more than 100 different dishes that can make you trample your love for ‘pizza’ in just seconds. Trust me, there’s no exaggeration in this statement. I can swear by it.
Information Technology: The Harbinger of Change
The coronavirus pandemic has finally succeeded in doing what many social reformers haven’t been able to do i.e to promote natural and healthier ways of living. It has not only locked people inside their homes that in the name of social distancing, the familial distancing has decreased but also has forced people to properly cook and eat as healthy as they can. With rules imposed on transportation of items domestically and internationally, people have also resorted to buying items from the local grocers and stores. The coronavirus pandemic has boosted the use of organic food in daily life because the only hope against coronavirus right now is a better immune system and I am glad that people have realized it now.
When it comes to our honourable PM, Narendra Modi, he is either the most loved or the most hated man in our country and there’s no in-between; considering the support that he gets every time he addresses the nation, he can rightly be called the People’s PM. One of the main reasons for his constant wins is that in the past few years, he’s made a lot of things accessible for the middle-class and the rural population of India one of which is an affordable internet connection to help them connect with the world, the reformation of APMC Act and mandis and the ability to market directly due to easy access all of which seemed to be privileged enough to avail.
Just a week ago Hindustan Times in their recent article ‘A multisector road map for recovery| Analysis’, stated that the current government and the RBI have penned down 10 major reforms as a part of the proactive action plan for growth in 2021-22 in which their primary focus will be agriculture and villages. Here’s an excerpt from the article, stating the first two points:
One, usher in the next green revolution. While the green revolution in the 1960s resulted in massive productivity enhancement, India still ranks 103 of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index. Hence, we must enhance farm productivity and introduce more automation in agriculture. Boosting the agricultural processing industry with integrated cold chains, streamlining logistics and building mega food parks will lead to the stated goal of doubling farm incomes.
Two, we must set up smart villages with essential services. This will involve modernising over 600,000 villages, and it can transform the lives of at least 500 million citizens. It will also decongest cities. Ten essential services are required in villages — pucca housing, all-weather roads, 100% electrification, potable water, affordable gas, broadband infrastructure, medical clinics, primary and secondary schools, Kisan shops and cattle farms.
While the government is playing its part we need to remember that in a democracy, we are the government. Our dependence on the villages of our nation is not a temporary set up but a lifelong agenda. They are our Mitochondria, our powerhouse. Hence it is necessary to stay connected with them directly and cut out the middlemen robbing us and them as well. If we are to pay to the farmers half the amount we pay for the fruits and vegetables they cultivate for us, it would not only stop them from committing suicide but also help in their overall development as the government intends for them.
In times like these, IT has come as the only beacon of hope to the farmers in our country and also can serve as the building bridge between us and the farmers to promote a novel and a healthier way of living. The proof for this claim is the rise of eCommerce in India in the past 5 years has given birth to some of the biggest online grocery delivery chains in India. The retail ecosystem-based online news magazine Retail4Growth states that Online grocery market will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20.63% post lockdown across the world. Do you know what’s going to be the CAGR of online grocery markets in the coming years in India? A whopping 68.66%! That’s three folds more than that of the rest of the so-called ‘developed countries’.
If you are eyeing for a business opportunity then you can surely plunge into the Grocery Pickup and Delivery app business and mint some more money out of it like a lot of people who are eyeing at the chunks. But if you are a visionary then you must have realized that with proper planning you can begin a Green Revolution of the greatest kind in a country full of favouring conditions. You can do this movement and the farmers of India what Verghese Kurien was able to do for millions of cattle rearers of rural India during the White Revolution.
Be ‘Men With Vision’, guys. Archisys yearns for people who intend to disrupt no matter how small or silly their aims seem to be initially. There’s a world beyond the now-popular terms like cashless transactions and contactless delivery where apps are made not to sell but to save people from their problems; we will meet you there.
Wish you a safe and beautiful day until then!