ITF Not The Drama Seminar: Inequalities - P.Sainath, Questions & Answers
Duration: 00:18:14; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 5.153; Saturation: 0.110; Lightness: 0.323; Volume: 0.245; Cuts per Minute: 3.070; Words per Minute: 153.904
Organised 50 years after the original Drama Seminar in 1957, the Not the Drama Seminar (NTDS) brought together theatre practitioners from all across the country to convene at Ninasam, Heggodu in March 2008. This seminar meditated on the nature of theatre in India today, on how we got to where we are. The attempt was to understand 'Indian Theatre' in all its multiplicity and diversity, bringing these several faces of Indian theatre face to face, and problemetize the issues that arise therein. These ideas were exchanged through a series of presentations and discussions over five days, and each day ended with a performance.
Q: Can you say something about the role of the population explosion in all of what you've been talking about. You did not mention globalisation but you did not mention population either.
Q: There was this... you were saying about the malls and other places which use up a lot of energy, I would just like to know...
My name is Abhishek... I'm just curious, is there sort of a rule which exist which says... which sanctions a certain amount of electricity to a particular body? or... and the...
I mean you can use up as much as you pay, is it like that? Or is there something already that sanctions a particular amount of power...
Not really... apart from the question...
Yeah, yeah... and briefly...
Lynn. I just wanted you to say that when you were talking about media reports, about farmer suicides and also the budget and the discussions on the budget and the allocation of... you know, debt relief to farmers,
there was a huge one hour discussion on Aaj Tak and other channels where they were saying that won't we make our farmers... uh...
you know less responsible as citizens if we give them debt reliefs?
So that was one thing. My question is, if you can... uh... talk about the agricultural budget which supposedly is pro-farmer but isn't really. If you can just give us more details on that...
Sainath: Okay... okay... very quickly. First in the role of population explosion.
the argument is so old that I have forgotten the answers.
You know... its completely a fraudulent argument. Firstly, the same population which we were willifying,
today we are claiming as our USP and the same elite are saying what is our unique quality in India? Is it software? It's cheap labour.
We are promising people that we can hold the labour charges down, we can give you cheaper labour and some of that labour actually...
and some of the top end of that labour can even understand english.
Having... and since we have been a colony earlier, we are pretty good at it. We've got the skills required. This idea of pop...
China has a bigger population than yours. It ranks way ahead of you in the human development... in human development index, number one.
Number two, is population explosion... you are actually heading for a demographic disaster because you are killing
millions of women each year in this country, and its the educated classes who are doing it worst.
The ones who believe that population is the problem, they are the ones who do it most. Most educated city in India- Chandigarh, 100% literacy.
Worst sex ratio of zero to six girls in the Europea... in India- Chandigarh- 700. 300 less girls; now they are importing girls from Kerala for marriages in Haryana.
You are having such an incredibly bad situation because you've killed mill... tens of millions of future women, that
your population exploding is a different kind of explosion, they are killing them. They are destroying it. Okay...
Second as I said, that population is actually now being counted as a resource. What are we saying everywhere where Indian businessman of CII makes speeches in their annual conferences,
they say," We have the youngest population in the world", "we have the largest number of people below 35 in the world". We have the largest number of boneheads in any commercial organisation, but... you know population explosion is the story.
Third, we have 44 million people registered as employment seekers at the employment exchanges. That's about the population of South Africa, which is 46 million. Please understand that how large 44 million is.
You know how large 44 billion is? If you put them in a single cube, like sardines, my nose in the next guy's collar, that cube will be three and a half times length of the coastline which is 6,083 km. You calculate it.
Two to a metre, two thousand to a kilometre, 44 million over... well over 20,000- 22,000 km. We don't have space for 44 million adults, okay, because population explosion. But we have space for 53 million child labourers.
There the population explosion doesn't matter, because we would rather use child labour. Its cheaper, its more docile, there are not too many child labour trade unions.
Okay... so I'm saying so that is... I take your point, its a very central thing. I am glad you asked me the question because this needs to be discussed each and every time, that the population explosion is such red herring.
There are... okay... China which has gone in for that has ended up with such serious problems. There are... there is an enormous amount of reporting within China on this, whole huge provinces where the sex ratio is 650 and 677. Okay...
and its led to incredible violence because they are having villages full of males, and very few women. Now they are giving incentives in those provinces to have girls. Okay... I am saying this is a very...very tragic idea of the 60s.
Every ten years there is a new mantra that will solve everything. Right now its micro credit... micro credit, but those days it was population explosion.
What about the... okay, the malls and the complexes? This is... you see...it's now...pay and pee, that's it. Okay. You can do anything on the business of payment. There are exemptions given...there are lists, as you say, the one..there are those kind of lists that you're talking about.
Those are on priorities of exemption. What areas will not be suffering power cuts. Okay. The malls have not suffered power cuts. You know something, problem with the malls, why they use so much electricity? because all the switches are central.
If there are four hundred lights on the floor, you cannot put off individual lights. You put off sections. You put off fifty, you put off eighty, you put off the floor. You don't have an individual switch for each bulb, that's one thing.
Now here's something that you should know. In the list of exemptions, it's very fascinating, I'm glad you asked me about it, army is exempted, hum..you know...fire brigade is exempted, police are exempted, all these are obvious exemptions.
In Vidarbha, they issued a G.O., a Government Order in 2005. You know which was the newest exemption on the list? post-mortem centres, because the suicides were being... were being wheeled in, one every four hours, one every six hours. So post-mortem centres were exempted from power cuts, but otherwise you pay.
Secondly...it's actually a very important question...I told you about Bazargaon using lakhs of units of electricity. Bazargaon paid less per unit of electricity that...sorry, Fun 'N Food Village paid less per unit of electricity than you and I do.
It paid less per unit of electricity than the people of Bazargaon did, because it was an industry, it was bringing enterprise, it was bringing jobs, it was bringing nine jobs... okay... and...
so it got huge concessions and exemptions as many people get for bringing industrial units to places which...where you have that whole racket on, that's, that's one thing.
So that's the thing about the lists and stuff. I would like to see a list of priorities of what's got to shut down first. That I would like to. Let's make that list, you and I. We'll do that...hm...a...
Third, don't start me on the Budget. Okay, typically, 2% of the Budget is for agriculture which supports about 58 to 60 percent of the population. That does not change. Second, what waiver? Does the waiver benefit the millions of farmers? Yes. Yes. Are there much larger number of farmers who do not benefit? Yes.
The loan waiver does not touch money-lending debt which is the biggest debt of this country, of the farmers of this country, number one. Number two, the loan waiver makes no distinction between dry land farmers and irrigated farmers. You will find that in dry land areas that...like Yavatmal, Vidarbha,
the most pathetic adivasis will own fifteen acres, nineteen acres. They'll have twelve family members and no irrigation, then get less out of those nineteen acres than you will get out of three acres in western Maharashtra.
No distinction was made between these categories. Why is there a loan waiver? Because the whole nation has been moved by the distress in Vidarbha, in Anantapur, those are the regions excluded from the waiver by this mechanism.
Third, Mr. Pawar, who pulled off this game, put a deadline of March 31st, 2007, on the waiver. When he did that he was deliberately screwing his political rivals, the Congress. The Congress has a base in Vidarbha, Mr. Pawar has his base in western Maharashtra. Loans for different crops are taken at different times of the year.
Mr. Pawar's sugarcane farmers take their crops between their loans... between... in a cycle of January to March. Cotton farmers take their loans from...in the cycle of April to June. So there's no 2007 waiver for the farmers of Vidarbha. Okay.
Fourth, 40% of the farmers are eligible for bank...do you know who the biggest beneficiaries of...the biggest beneficiaries of the loan waver are Bengal and Kerala. a) because of land reform no one has more than two acres. b) More access to bank credit than anywhere else.
Kerala is the only state in the country which has 100% bank accounts. It is the only state in the country that meets the Reserve Bank of India's financial inclusion clause. 100% financial inclusion in Kerala. Everybody has a bank account. Everybody has half an acre. Everybody, gets a waiver. Everybody loves a good waiver. And...so..
they're the biggest beneficiaries. Small holdings and...bank accounts. Now, fourth, you've not touched money-lender debt and your budget has nothing, nothing in your budget adds to the income of the farmer which means that everybody will be back in debt in two seasons because you've not increased his income.
Fifth, none of the recommendations of either the farmers' commission, National Commission of Farmers or the big unions of farmers, not one of the recommendations on price, price stability, the issues that really bother farmers, not one of them appears in the budget.
After some of us protested, they're now changing some of the details of the hectarage, the acreage, the divide increase in Vidarbha and Anantapur, Bundelkhand and in other dry land areas, and they've suddenly realised that there's a rotative cycle for crop growth so maybe those two things will change.
But they're not touching money-lender debt. Please understand that money-lender debt was waved, even by the colonial raj, even the angrezi raj...what is your movie Lagaan about? Karza-mafi. What is Lagaan about? what is the drama of Lagaan about? it's about karza-mafi. Whose karza-mafi? There were no nationalised banks in the colonial raj, there was only money-lender.
The 1934 Punjab Indebtedness Act, the Madras Presidency 1937 Indebtedness Act, the...the...what is it called...dopat...dopatum...the clause of money settling and brokering, the only commission of that sort that exists today exists in Kerela.
The Debt Relief Tribunal which brokers settle between money-lender and loanee on the basis of the 1934 Act which is- if the loanee has repaid in interest, the full principal that was borrowed, plus some interest, the loan is retired, on a negotiated basis between loans. You haven't touched that.
So you've done a relief, it is a relief, I believe it's a relief, I welcome that prolonged waiver. I'm just saying please don't make too much of it, it is not such a big sum of money, it's 0.25% of your GDP according to Chidambaram P.C., finance minister, number one.
Number two, routinely, every year...this is a one time, one off, one waiver. Every year in this country the nationalised banking sector writes off 25,000 crore for a handful of industrialists. Every year.
Mr. Ketan Parekh's classic card company got 62 crore write off, that was just one of his groups write offs, 62 crore write off in 2002. The NDA, the National Democratic Alliance wrote off, the BJP led government wrote off 45,000 crores, it wrote off 45,000 crores for 800 or 900 industrialists whose names you can see in the list of defaulters.
Now let me...why am I telling you this figure of 45,000 crores? If we take all farmers in India who own less than one hectare...hm... there are...they have 72 lakh accounts in the banks, okay, and the outstandings on that are 20,499 crores.
Then if we take the next tyre of farmers, one to two hectares, they have 58 lakh bank accounts, and the outstandings on that are 22,000 crores.
So together, all your under two hectare farmers, their total outstandings are 44,000 crores which is less than the 45,000 crores the NDA wrote off for 800 industrialists and you're talking about 13 million farmers who owe less than 800 industrialists.
Every year routinely, your ipods are being privatised. Thousands of crores of public money is being handed over mufat mein to these guys. Every year your alternative survey of the budget, every year you're...
...you've seen the alternative survey?...your question implies to me that you have seen such things and that you're familiar with that subject,
every year the alternative surveys of the budget show you that we give 40 to 50 thousand crores in concessions to the top 1% and corporate powers in this country. You can read Prabhat Patnaik on the subject, he's written extensively on it, all these issues are there.
So what you're doing actually is, picking up one element which is for a very large number of people and make...and beating the drum about it while this is done routinely for every thug on the block every year. Now...
I'll end with this. It's about how... it's about the ways of seeing. What we see and how we see it and very important, what do we see it with? How do we empathise with it? How do we feel about it?
A few...in 2005, the government of Maharashtra called a commitee of top doctors, medical officers, psychiatrists, shrinks, psychologists, to Yavatmal to counsel these dumb farmers.
Absolute idiots, killing themselves, must be mad. Obviously, they're nuts, right?
...um...I mean...imagine how nice it is to live in Yavatmal...and why would anyone want to kill themselves...such a beautiful place.
Not that I'm against the idea of counselling for people under stress, not at all, I think it's important. But they singled out that as a proposition and it has something to do with what we're discussing about how we see and how we respond.
So they brought these very highly qualified doctors from well known AIMS, Bombay, all these places and took them and they did a lot of research, they took down...they had extensive questionnaires, they badgered farmer after farmer in village after village with extensive questions.
Finally, one old farmer put up his hand and said, 'May I ask you a question?'. So the team said, 'of course, of course', they were very pleased and you know... they're all men and women of learning and qualification and skill.
So he stood up and he told them in this typical Indian villager way, "mujhko bahut achha lagta hai ke aap bade bade log hamara chhote se gaon main aa gaye aap...
...we're so thrilled that you great people have arrived in our little village, you've done so much work, you've given us such good advice, you've asked so many questions, you...
sekdo sawaal puchha aapne, you've asked us such important questions, 'are you drinking too much? please don't' and then
'are you fighting with your wife', 'gharvai se kya jhagra kar rahe the aap?', and you gave us excellent advice, you said, 'don't fight with your wife' and you said 'don't...don't drink too much'",
he said "you've asked us all these questions...and having asked us all these questions ask us one more question...
...ask us why the farmers of this nation who put the food on your table, on the nations table, why are they starving? ask us that question."
There was total silence in that team. They had...they are good people...they were totally demolished. One of them later told journalists, "I never felt so stupid in my life...that old man just killed us...
we had so many answers, he had the right question."
When you enter Vellore Medical College, from where one of those doctors were, the first thing you learn in Vellore Medical College is a principle which is: what the mind does not know, the eye cannot see.
Which means that if you do not know what is jaundice, you do not know what is tubercolosis, you cannot recognise it by sight. Very sound principle,
What the old man was putting to them there that day was an amendment of that principle.
What the heart does not feel, the eye can never see. Thank you.