Vol. XLIII No. 16 April 21, 2019
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SFI Organises Relief Fund for Marathwada Drought Victims

Vikram Singh

IT was a mixed feeling for Aniket Tambade, a fourth standard student, when he received new bag, copies and financial help during a programme at Beed, Marathwada on July 1, 2016. A feeling of natural joy and happiness was there on his face, a nascent feeling which a child experiences after seeing new books, but there was also a hidden pain of losing his father. Perhaps he was aware of the reason of his presence on that particular day. The father of this small kid was forced to commit suicide due to the prevailing situation of drought in Marathwada.

An environment of brotherhood and comradeship was there during this programme, where no one was doing charity and nobody was at the receiving end. Students collectively helped them as family members help each other. It was an environment mixed with joy and sorrow – where small kids studying in class fifth and sixth were feeling happy to receive new bags, copies and pencil box, that innocent feeling of joy, but with a feeling of deep pain realising that they are here as their fathers are no more in this world.

A call for fund collection was given by the Students’ Federation of India which got an overwhelming response from the students and the general public. July 1 programme was to distribute this relief material among the students of Marathwada. This programme is a beginning of a series of such programmes. In this programme, different kinds of study material was distributed to 85 students. Financial aid and educational material was given to 54 students and 31 students were given only educational material. Ten schools were given a water tank each. After this function, same kind of material and financial help will be distributed to 350 students in the coming days. Programmes will be conducted on their school campuses. Schools and students have been identified for this purpose.

This is a solidarity of the students of India with their fellow brothers and sisters who are facing problems, for which they are not responsible but it is being imposed on them by the successive policy makers of the state as well as central governments. This effort reflected the real character of India at a time when there is an effort to change divide humans based on caste, religion, language and state, because the contribution to this relief fund is made by all sections of Indian society irrespective of their social identities. It is also applicable to the students who received a part of this contribution.

In this programme, former MLA and state president of CITU Narasayya Adam Master was the main speaker. He explained the apathy of the state government regarding the problem of drought and farmers facing drought. There is no loan waiver for the farmers of Marathwada but at the same time, big business houses are getting big concessions. Even Rs 3,000 crores was allotted for the management of ‘Kumbh Mela’ at Nasik but nothing for farmers. At the same place of Nasik, there was a Kumbh Mela of farmers, in which thousands of farmers protested in the city overnight and only then they got the relief. He appealed farmers to take the path of struggle instead of committing suicide. He also appealed students and youth to take forward the torch of struggle which will strengthen the struggle of working class and peasantry. He also spoke in detail about corruption in the appointment of teachers in education which is very prominent in Maharashtra. Politicians of the ruling party are directly involved in this corruption. It is very important to organise people on their issues which will result in the politics of unity and will be a deciding factor against the politics of identity which is aimed to break country and society into fragments.

This programme was a good effort of its kind which reflects the sensitivity of students and public and at the same it very important to mention that such efforts have their own limitations. They cannot be a supplement, and cannot replace the role and responsibility of the governments. Not even any NGO can replace the responsibility of the State. It is the responsibility of the elected governments to help its citizens who are facing any kind of problem.

It is generally discussed that drought is not a natural crisis but man-made crisis, and by saying these, farmers who are the worst sufferers are made the culprits. They are told that man means they themselves; and therefore it is they who are responsible for their situation. While acknowledging that it is not natural crisis and man is responsible for this situation, it is important to ascertain that which man is responsible, the poor farmer or the policy makers. Basically, farmers are following the directions of the research institutes and government departments, even he has left his traditional ways of farming under these directions. It is also a part of politics to say it is an un-natural condition created by humans. We should also fix the responsibility of those who were responsible for policy matters, which had all machinery under its control, who were responsible for managing these conditions. This is not a suicide of farmers but murder by the system.

It was also discussed in the programme that it is a right of the farmers to ask for compensation and assistance of State as elected government are responsible towards the public. If the governments are not responding like the present one that is giving big benefits to big business houses from public exchequer, then it is our duty to make governments responsible, through struggles.