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MAKE INDIA FREE FROM HUNGER -IN THE 100th YEAR OF SATYAGRAHA
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MAKE INDIA FREE FROM HUNGER - TIME TO RESOLVE

In the 100th Year of SATYAGRAHA under the Mahatma, Crusader of Non-Violent Fight Path

Avadhesh Kumar          Phone:     27018015 / 27020903

A-16, Pundrik Vihar, Pitampura, Delhi-110034

Socio-Economic – Ecological Facilitator on Self Reliance

Ex-Member: A.I.Khadi & Vill. Ind. Board (Govt. of India)

Ex-Member: Cent. Cert. Comm. KVIC (Govt. of India)

Ex-Chairman : SLACC (Delhi), KVIC.

       Anna Sudha Village Industries (KVIC approved)

       PANI   :     People’s Action for National Integration, 1/13/190, Civil Lines, Faizabad, UP-224001

       SCRIA :     Social Centre for Rural Initiative and Advancement, Khori Centre, Khori Distt. Rewari, Haryana.

       MAP    :     Movement for Accountability to Public

 

MAKE INDIA FREE FROM HUNGER - TIME TO RESOLVE

In the 100th Year of SATYAGRAHA under the Mahatma, Crusader of Non-Violent Fight Path

 

In September, 2006, our Prime Minister, Dr. Man Mohan Singh Ji while leaving for Brazil en-route to Havana to attend the NAM -2006 Conference, underlined the need to combat the triple problems of Hunger, Poverty and Disease, for achieving peace and human development, on a lasting basis, the world over and that the NAM has to address them in a unified and concerted manner with a cooperative sprit. What is important in the international arena is equally important at the domestic front too. In this context the role of Khadi and Village Industries Sector, the only activity which is still alive and is being carried on, in the name of Gandhian Constructive Work, assumes a special significance.

 

As India enters its 60th year and the government arm, Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC), is all set to celebrate its Silver Jubilee, it is high time to take a stock. 50 Years is an important landmark for any one, more so for an Institution and that too which is directly related and the activity which is responsible to give birth to a Nation called India, the other side of which is Bharat. Can we have an introspective look at re-designing its approach so that the issue of “Freedom from Hunger” is brought on its radar, without further delay, and reclaim the role of “Livery of Freedom”?.

 

In this fight for the “Freedom from Hunger” a unified and concerted effort with a cooperative sprit is equally important by the various stake holders, be it the Third Tier of our democracy, the Panchayat Raj Institutions, on whose list “Khadi” has its own respectable place, or other arms of the government, Ministries/Departments etc., e.g. Social Justice and Empowerment, Rural Development, SC/ST, Department of Women and Children, National Commission for Minorities, and the like, including the Textile Ministry and the Handloom-Handicraft Board, if the lot of the weavers, i.e. Julahas is to be taken care of. It must be noted that most of them are Muslims, Ansaris or Julahas as they are called or they come form other SC/ST communities like Meghwals etc. Thus there plight leading to their impoverishment is a direct affront to the enormous toil being put by them and is no less than the violation of the very dignity of their skills and their human right to exist and ultimately have a direct bearing on the stranglehold on minorities and SC/ST’s, affecting the very fabric of Peace and Harmony in the society as a whole.

 

A bit of the Khadi and Village Industries potentiality to intervene is always there in the respective programs of all these Ministries / Departments etc. Time has come to recognise the strength of the powerful idea wherein each government department / ministry shall have an incentive to collaborate, rather than duplicate in building an Inclusive Society.      

 

Gandhiji during his life time used to observe his birth day as Charkha Jayanti, as he was a crusader of the cause of the down trodden and neglected lots. Can those who claim to carry forward his legacy in the name of Khadi or Sarvodaya i.e. ‘Unto the Last’, in particular and the nation in general muster enough courage to rise to the occasion to join hands to rededicate themselves by taking up the challenge of “Freedom from Hunger”, during the Centenary of SATYAHRAHA under the Mahatma.

 

Is it not the fact that challenges allow us to grow, both individually as well as collectively. So, why shy away? Even if one life is saved, in this way it surely is a great triumph. Just pause for a moment and think about, this earnest Appeal, in a calm and reflective way: ‘Can We Remake Ourselves?’ Please allow your imagination a brief space to conjure up, ‘Est Hunger’. The question is that with persistent hunger, poverty, depleting natural resources and simmering unrest, coupled with terrorism, how people can live together in future? Hunger is the greatest menace. Even the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) is reported to have ticked off the Centre for not doing enough to eradicate HUNGER, terming poverty as greatest violator of Human Rights.

After 60 years of India’s Independence, thy claim there is much be to proud of and our prospects have never seen brighter, as the World’s 12th largest and 2nd fastest growing economy. However, they agree, that one of the biggest threat to this potential is the glaring in equality, which in a large democracy like ours, will eventually provoke a social and political backlash.

 

Dr. M. S. Swaminathan, Chairman National Commission on farmers has also underlined the need for a true a national Endeavour in this regard, calling for a pan-govt. of India approach as hunger and poverty are multidimensional and cut a cross responsibilities of various Ministries and Departments of the government. Furthermore, it is official now, India’s dazzling growth has failed to dent poverty. It is politically worrying as it is indicates a rise in economic disparities. Economist say, uneven growth often leads to social unrest, which in turn, can create problems for politicians. Remember more than 50% population is below 25 years of age.                         

 

CHARKHA is not only the rural non-farmer livelihood initiative but generator of confidence as well, a pre-condition to development. While KVIC is now all set celebrate its Silver Jubilee, it is high time, to think if we can seek inspiration from the 65 year’s old Prof. Muhammad Yunus, who is hailed as ‘Banker of the Poor’, in his country Bangladesh and his Grameen Bank, the duo, who have been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, whose work as compared to KVIC is quite young, just 30 years old, born out of an experiment in a Bangladeshi village in 1976, with just 10 women, who could not get excess to a very small, rather a tiny Bank loan without collateral.                   

 

Prof. Yunus says, “Poverty alleviation is Peace”, “for hundreds of millions of people, peace comes only through poverty alleviation” and exactly that is what Mahatma believed. Eradication of Hunger is certainly the first step in this direction. Hence, let us resolutely resolve to make India Free from Hunger and for this KVIC should come out to stand the test of the challenge.          

                                    

News Reports say that if the current trend of development paradigm continues then soon we would be needing two planets’ worth of natural resources, every year. Only two Earths can sustain us or else we shift the Goal Post. Obsession with GDP can cost India, China dear. The Earth has a fixed bio-diversity, its total contribution of water, earth and air and ability to rejuvenate these resources with energy from the Sun. A tragedy is working within India’s shining story. Gandhiji’s oft quoted saying, “The planet earth has enough for everybody’s need, but not for anybody’s greed”, is a stark reminder of the need to shift the Goal Post from GDP to GNS (Smile). Hence, it is time to give a call to change the life styles. Can India grab the opportunity to give a lead in this direction? Tragically, it has no other option too.

 

In this context Gandhiji’s legacy of Constructive Programs hovering around Khadi and Village Industries activities has a challenging task ahead, as no less than around 150 million of our population are struggling keep hunger and death at bay, even after 60 years of Independence of India. According to the latest National Sample Survey Report, 58% of the country’s population is unemployed. As long as the economy is this skewed the potential for large scale disaffection, and therefore, terrorist as well as communal violence, is always their: warns the leading newspaper Times of India in its Editorial dt.28/10/2006.

 

Last but not the least, are we not signatory to the Millennium Declaration, setting forth the Eight Millennium Development Goals – specifying the targets and the deadlines, of which Hunger is an integral part? So, what else we want and are waiting for to give some space in our thoughts, expressions, and actions in the 100th year of ‘Satyagraha’, the non-violent – path against violence, as hunger itself is the greatest violence on Humanity.                  

 

Thanks to the latest National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report reveals the glaring stark disparity between Indian on the one hand and India i.e. Bharat on the other. While the economy on the one hand is on the move there is also another face with a major embarrassment. According to National Family Health Survey – III, 75% of all infants between 6 and 35 months of age are anemic, up to a one third, up to this age three are stunted and a sixth too thin for their age. Can we afford to loose a generation in this way? What we want to build – India or Bharat? It is time that the KVI structure awakes from its slumber and let it become the centers / power houses reminiscent of the days of the freedom struggle to provide intellectual and physical nutrition in the form of providing work through spinning and weaving and by promoting other village industries/ crafts and thus focus on the problem of the Hunger on a war footing, as Hunger is described as the distance from one illness to another illness.

 

Let us remember, what Gandhiji has said, ‘The test of the orderliness in a country is not the millionaires it owns, but the absence of starvation amongst its masses.’ He further has chastised that ‘India must protect her primary Industries, even as a mother protects her children against the whole world without being hostile to it.’ Is it not enough to look in to these guidelines for those Khadiwalas, who from house tops claim with full throat that they are following the precepts of Gandhian and values by promoting Khadi, through the governmental arm of KVIC.

 

Let us once again remember that the atma of Khadi resides in promoting three fold path of austerity –

Firstly, while cleanliness, simplicity, celibacy and non-violence are austerities of the body, secondly, truthful speech which does not offend others, and the regular recitation of daily prayer or of scriptures or sayings of various sages, sufi saints and or other philosophers of different faiths is austerity of speech and thirdly serenity of thought, compassion, gravity, self control, purity of purpose is austerity of mind. This three fold path of austerity is required to be practice by the votaries of Khadi/Gandhi, which would enable them to lead to a nature of goodness and righteousness, the ultimate object of Gandhian thought and values. Gandhi / Khadi without spiritual connotation is meaningless and the problem of Hunger cannot be solved without a spiritual bent of mind.  

 

Can we dare to have a look at India as against Bharat. In cities the average monthly expenditure per capita is Rs.1,052/- as against Rs.559/- in the rural areas.  This brings out a hidden story – 25 crores i.e. one forth of our people are destined to cope their day’s livelihoods with a meager Rs.14/-. Going further in depth reveals that in rural areas 10% of our people are cursed to live with only Rs.9/- a day at their disposal. Even in cities, the story for the poor is not very different, with just Rs.13/- a day for the 10% people. Is it not a reflection of the stark naked bankrupt state of affairs? Let this Bharat be not lost sight of in the glare of Incredible or Shining India. We can reap the harvest of the joy emanating from the emerging prosperity only when the larger chunk of the country’s population is not forced to sleep in the dark alley field with the din of an empty stomach. Disparities, no doubt do exists in every society, but they should not be allowed to go so deep and be stretched so far as to assume the proportions of becoming a sin. Let this survey, at least, a able to serve as an eye opener for the KVI Sector, which claims to have the fortune of inheriting the legacy of the Mahatma, the Father of the Nation, in Action. Is it not a paradox witnessing the small and big conflict between two groups of people in India, where the main point is not only the commercial feelings, but more importantly is the economic different level and hence the mute question is where does the KVI Sector places itself in the light of the Gandhian approaches as well as in the overall scenario, of the developmental process. Even the holders of religious mantles – Swamis, Sadhus, Mullahs, Priests, Pastours, Rabbis, Dasturs, Munis, Pirs etc., have the onerous responsibility to help the people to see those of the other faiths not as different but the same in the gift of humanness that He so lovingly have bestowed on every soul that breathes.

 

The economy on the move is faced with a major embarrassment. Our esteemed Prime Minister has, very recently, given a new paradigm of development by underlying the need of GDO (Gross Domestic Opportunity), as against GDP. This should be enough to open the eyes of the KVI Sector and lead them to think about readjusting their goals as to whom shall go first the opportunity from their doors.

 

The view that social economics should be more than money is now being widely regarded even in continental Europe. David Cameron, the latest leader of Britain’s once rather materialistic conservative party, is espousing the notion of General–Well-Being (GWB), as an alternative to GDP. Similarly, in the US in equality is being much discussed in terms of wellness. And that is what the lesson is imparted in the most sought after so-called prestigious B-schools the world over. So why the Khadi sector is shying-off from taking up the ‘Challenge of Hunger’.

 

Today even the Corporate Sector has started looking up to its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), while we the Gandhian Khadijans want to run away from the Social Responsibility (SR), we inherently owe, as the legacy of Gandhi.

                   

“The test of a civilization is in the way it cares for its helpless members”, said Paerl S. Buck. If Khadi is a Philosophy, a Culture, then how does the Balance Sheet of KVI Sector look on this count? Is India not a signatory to the UN Summit -2005 declaration, which accepts the responsibility to protect people from starvation? Is this doctrine is meant to be purely rhetoric? Is there any mechanism in our scheme of thinks that the people most in need of help of opportunities are not only identified, but that their voice is also heard, specially, where decisions, neglecting the needs of the poor and the weak can mean life or death for them?

 

The KVI Sector must accept this responsibility as it is not a stage / forum for acting out the interests of the reach and strong. It is rather the fledgling of our social security system, specially on the food front, envisioned and concealed by Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation. More than ever today the Nation needs a functioning Food Security measure. Experiences has shown, that the system works poorly when there is a lack of the leadership, but much batter when there is far-sighted leadership. The leaders of KVI Sector today and tomorrow have a great responsibility. The votaries of Khadi and those who believe in Gandhian ideals must see that the leaders of KVI Sector live up to it and help this Nation to strive towards inclusion and dignity for the Dalits, and voiceless and the powerless and the deprived the ‘antyaj’ and thus help in dreaming that we shall succeed through imagining the coming up of a social order where all beings live in harmony free from fear of Hunger and Death. And may all share in the blessings springing from the good that will be done.

 

Let us remember that inner peace is a necessary condition to make peace with those around us. From there it spreads to the family, to the neighbor, to the society, to the nation and to the world. In J. Krishnamurti’s words, “If we know how to look at violence, not only outwardly in society – the wars, the riots, the national antagonism and class conflicts – but also in ourselves, then perhaps we shall able to go beyond it”. May all be peaceful and happy / May all be free from ignorance / May all be free from conflicts / May all be filed with infinite compassion and composure and thus contribute to built a Society free from Hunger and Violence in this 100th year of ‘Satyagraha’, as a true homage to the Mahatma and look forward to the days when we met, we would greet each other, recognizing beyond the tribal and kinship tie, a shared humanity – our diversity bound by the mortar of Solidarity as the writer Elaine Wilson fondly hopes. Khadi and Village Industry Sector surely is the door for the triple bottom line of developmental paradigm viz., the social, the economical and the environmental.

 

Khadi and Village Industry sector is the road map to discover the treasure–trove of the wealth of the social consciousness of the individual of the person and to sensitise the people to what is happening around them and more inclined to lend a helping hand after witnessing mass tragedies, such as riots, bomb blasts, floods, earthquakes, tsunami, drought or famine or starvation deaths or even farmer’s suicides or the deaths caused by malnutrition, anemia, etc. etc. Khadi is a dream in an effort to let the dreamers and the doers on the same page, helping to contribute in building a society free from Hunger and Violence. “Khadi vastra nahin vichaar hai”. Instead of selling a product, selling an idea that makes a difference to some one else’s life, is the Appeal of the Khadi Sector.

 

Hence would it not be prudent to gear the KVI sector into a people-oriented, consumer-friendly, performance-driven, poor-first organization, demonstrated through actual case studies and practical examples?                                                                                                                                                                

                              

 

 Avadhesh Kumar

Movement for Accountability to Public (MAP)

TRUTH SHALL PREVAIL