The Empire strikes back - and how!
The original report on 'paid news' of the Press Council of India sub-committee is relegated to the archive. Then too, it does not even appear on the PCI's website.
Media | Elections
FOOD FOR ALL
Food security - of APL, BPL and IPL
The official line is simple. Since we cannot afford to feed all the hungry, there must only be as many hungry as we can afford to feed. The truth is the government seeks ways to spend less and less on the very food security it talks about.
DROUGHT IN VIDARBHA
The colour of water
Two years of drought has started to take its toll on the people of Vidarbha, with a failed crop leaving them with no income to tide over the crisis.
How to feed your billionaires
Freebies for the IPL - at a time of savage food subsidy cuts for the poor - benefit four men who make the Forbes Billionaire List of 2010 and a few other, mere multi-millionaires.
Yet another pro-farmer budget!
Maybe the pro-farmer claim was a typing error. This is a budget crafted for, and perhaps by, the corporate farmer and agribusiness.
Farm suicides: A 12-year saga
In 2006-08, Maharashtra saw 12, 493 farm suicides. That is 85 per cent higher than the 6,745 suicides it recorded during 1997-1999. And the worst three-year period for any State, any time.
Nearly 2 lakh farm suicides since 1997
The share of the 'suicide belt' - Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh - remains very high; these states account for two-thirds of the total farm suicides in the country.
MEDIA AND ELECTIONS
It is shameful to misguide people
Well-known PR firms, professional designers, and ad agencies served the richer parties and candidates. They made up 'news' items in the standard fonts and sizes of the desired newspapers.
MEDIA AND ELECTIONS
Mass media: masses of money?
The same exclusive report, with different bylines, in three rival dailies. Swathes of advertising dolled up as news stories. Is 'paid news' getting institutionalised?
MEDIA AND ELECTIONS
The "era of Ashok" - a new era for 'news'?
The huge mismatch between the CM's stated accounts and the dozens of full pages of 'news' will surely re-stoke the debate over 'paid news.'
Elections | Media
MEDIA AND ELECTIONS
The medium, message and money
The Assembly elections saw the culture of 'coverage packages' explode across Maharashtra. In many cases, a candidate just had to pay for almost any coverage at all.
Elections | Media | Maharashtra
The winter of our austerity
Growing numbers of people with a big business background have ventured directly into the electoral arena.
All fronts and no backs
Will the Congress-NCP gain from a multiplicity of fronts which could dissipate the anti-Congress vote? Or will the Shiv Sena-BJP benefit from the Third Front's cutting into the Congress-NCP vote?
Maharashtra | Elections
Maharashtra polls, Act II Scene I
There are more fronts in the fray across the State this time. And with multi-cornered contests in almost all seats, there could be some major upsets.
Maharashtra | Elections
ORISSA: MIGRANT ECONOMICS
Put your money down, boys
Ganjam migrants in Surat send home Rs. 400 crore a year, a fourth of that through the unique Tappawala courier system. But global recession has seen remittances take a hit.
Drought of justice, flood of funds
Ask for expansion of the NREGS, universal access to the PDS, more spending on health and education - and there's no money. But there's enough to give away to the corporate world in concessions.
ORIYAS IN GUJARAT
More migrations, new destinations
Ganjam has been a high-migration district from British times. For two decades, the bulk of its labour force has gone to Surat, but that is changing now.
Home, not so sweet home
The recession in the West is having a profound impact on the deep rural interior of Orissa. Thousands are returning home, and those still in Surat are finding their wages suppressed.
REFUGEES FROM CIVIL WAR
Turning Tamil swords into Oriya ploughshares
Once-young fighters from Sri Lanka are now mostly family men entrenched in Malkangiri town. The way the one-time warriors have woven themselves into the community is touching.
MONEY IN POLITICS
The Age of the aam crorepati
If you are worth Rs.50 million or more, you are 75 times more likely to win an election to the Lok Sabha than if you are worth under Rs.1 million.
Price of rice, price of power
Most governments that stressed welfarist measures gained in last month's elections. Food prices and cheap rice are crucial, though not the sole issues.
Elections | Poverty
Celeb crusades and the death of politics
The Lok Sabha constituencies of Mumbai averaged over 60 per cent voting between 1957 and 1977 - all years of rising consciousness and ideological debates.
The dull days of White Gold
Across India, cotton growers make up the largest group of the over 180,000 farmers who committed suicide between 1997 and 2007. There's nothing like an election to spur policy change, though.
Agriculture | Maharashtra
Slumdogs versus millionaires
What does it mean to rank much better on GDP per capita than in the HDI, as we do? It means we have been less successful in converting income into human development.
Whose crisis is it, anyway?
Through January the US has seen the loss of 17,000 jobs every day since the meltdown began in September. Here in India, too, things are slipping but the lessons remain unlearnt.
Changes ahead you'd better believe in
Over 16,600 farmer suicides in 2007
The broad trends of the past decade seem unshaken. Farmer suicides in the country since 1997 now total 182,936, but the real causes behind this devastation remain unaddressed.
US Economy: Business as unusual
Why the United States got it wrong
The unlikely martyrdom of Market Jihad
U S AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY
The Jurassic auto park
The U.S. auto giants are an example of how things work in the age of unbridled corporate power. Of how the collapse of restraint on that power fractures economy and society.
Transport | Health
NREGA: A fine balance
The employment guarantee in rural areas is having multiple and layered effects. With better wages, the bargaining power of the weakest has gone up a notch.
Employment | Andhra Pradesh
NREGA hits buses to Mumbai
The rural employment guarantee programme is life-saving. This time round, the poor have slightly more money than they did earlier. But all prices are up.
Employment | Andhra Pradesh
U S ELECTIONS
Elections in America
- Hurricanes : Natural, Political & Electoral
- The Almighty & the Electorate
- Wall Street transforms US Presidential Race
- Of Bank bailouts, public sellouts and media copouts
- The race could be over, but Race isn't
- The Last Lap - and the spectre of Socialism
- One emotional, incandescent moment
- The Jurassic Auto Idea Park, Nov. 20, 2008
From market yard to police yard
Fertilizer shortages have sparked unrest across large swathes of rural Maharashtra and other States as well. In Washim, every constable and officer is deployed right within the police compound, distributing fertilizer.
Maharashtra | Agriculture
ANDHRA PRADESH BY-ELECTIONS
Jadcherla 13 draw votes from the main parties
In Jadcherla, 13 candidates fought the same Assembly seat but contested for, not against one another.
Soybean trumps King Cotton in Vidharbha's Regime change
Fertilising profit, Sowing misery
Poplepally: Special Election Zone
They lock on to the NREGA
The complaints are many and often justified. People are sometimes exasperated by the way the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme works. But there is unanimity on its worth and value.
Poverty | Andhra Pradesh
Of loan waivers and tax waivers
An overwhelming majority of Vidharbha's farmers do not gain from the farm loan waiver because they are too 'big.' But the IPL waiver goes to some of India's richest millionaires and billionaires. They aren't too big.
Agriculture | Public funds
Between a rock and a hard place
The nations that taught us that state meddling in economic matters was blasphemy are now nationalising banks, bailing out brigands, and pouring in funds to stop factories from closing down. But a few true believers are still holding out, against all the evidence.
Losing hope In Vidharbha
Oh! What a lovely waiver
The UPA government's waiver of farm loans that was announced in the Union budget is no solution to even the immediate crisis let alone long-term agrarian problems. Nothing in this budget will raise farm incomes.
4750 rural banks closed in 15 years
The glory days of the Raj?
As more and more people pour out of the villages, voting with their feet against the distress in the countryside, the base the Sena built within Mumbai's own dispossessed and migrants of Marathi background is now under contest. It's a larger canvas that won't go away, arrest or no arrest.
R.K. Karanjia: Living Through the Blitz
Discrimination for dummies: V 2008
Increasingly, job quotas are cited as 'discrimination' - in reverse. But the word discrimination in terms of caste means something very different that the media mostly do not, or choose not to, understand.
India 2007: High growth, low development
Even nations that are far below us in the Human Development Index rankings - and which have nothing like our growth numbers - have done much better than us on many counts. December 2007
1.5 lakh farm suicides in 1997-2005
Close to 150,000 Indian farmers committed suicide in nine years from 1997 to 2005, official data show. While farm suicides have occurred in many States, nearly two thirds of these deaths are concentrated in five States, writes P Sainath.
Part Two | Three | Four
Indexing inhumanity, Indian style
It took minutes for the top guns to swing into action when the Sensex fell by several hundred points. But no Minister came forward to calm the nation when India hit the 94th rank in the Global Hunger Index.
Maharashtra's head-in-the-sand syndrome
'Incredible India' right here at home
The week-long 'Incredible India' campaign in New York aimed at boosting the vibrant image of an emerging, powerful India at 60 and showcasing its diversity. But the real action was at home. Incredible India will also, at some late and brief point, make its impact on the media.
Iran war scenario A disaster: Italy Dy PM
Nine decades of non-violence
Countless rural Indians sacrificed much for India's freedom, to fade into oblivion later, seeking neither reward nor recognition. Gandhian Baji Mohammed, who has been active for 70 years in one or the other cause, is amongst the last of this dying tribe.
Maharashtra's Marie Antoinettes
Giving Voice to the Voiceless
The last battle of Laxmi Panda
Countless ordinary Indians sacrificed much for Independence without a thought of reward. Much of that generation has died out. Most others are very old, and several are ailing or otherwise in distress. Many in rural India, like Laxmi Panda, have lost much and gained little.
"Invisible India is the elephant in your bedroom"
His intelligent and insightful views on agriculture, caste, media and other matters have been greatly appreciated by countless readers over the years. An India Together conversation with P Sainath, who has just won the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay award for journalism.
Interviews | Citation | Indian Magsaysay winners
Vidarbha's one-litre-per-cow package
By the Maharashtra government's own count, the 14,221 high-breed cows it gave farmers in Vidarbha add just 1.16 litres each to the milk collection in the region. These cows have cost already indebted farmers over Rs.7.5 crore.
Weaving a life in Anantapur
Families left behind by farmers who committed suicide face up to the odds, fighting for the next generation. "It is all for the children, sir. Our time has gone".
CEOs and the wealth of notions
Gross inequality does far more than breed resentment. It destroys millions of lives, devastates the access of the poor to basic needs, dehumanises both its victims and its votaries, and undermines democracy itself.
Unwilling parents, unwary orphans
In Anantapur, farm suicides are fewer than they were in 2002. But they still happen and could rise again in this fragile region. As elsewhere, agriculture is plagued by uncertainty.
In Yavatmal, life goes on
Yavatmal, where President Abdul Kalam's main function is, remains one of the most dismal parts of Vidharbha, the region hardest hit by the farm crisis.
Farmer's diet worse than a convict's
Several women in Karnataka's Mandya district like Jayalakshmamma, whose husband committed suicide four years ago, still stand up to the unending pressure with incredible resilience.
Farming: It's what they do
The agrarian crisis has seen over a lakh of women farmers lose their husbands. But survivors like Kalavati Bandurkar - with seven daughters - still run their farms.
Suicides are about the living, not the dead
In society's eyes, Kamlabai is a `widow.' In her own, she's a small farmer trying to make a living and support her family. She is also one of about one lakh women across the country who've lost their husbands to farm suicides since the 1990s.
No place for single women
Once, Andhra Pradesh's top leaders queued up at Bandi Lachmamma's home with promises. The debate on farm suicides hit the headlines when her husband took his life. Years later, she works as a coolie in Anantapur earning much less than the minimum assured by the NREGP - which turns away single women.
Andhra Pradesh | Women | Poverty
Jailhouse talk a fate worse than debt
After a lull of some years, farmers are being jailed for debt in Andhra Pradesh. Even those in drought-hit districts who cannot repay their loans. Farm unions see the banks as driving a dangerous and explosive process which lets off crorepati defaulters but jails bankrupt farmers owing a few thousand rupees.
Farm widow gets house from AP government
And now, for a commercial break
Knowing that big money is undermining the game as a whole, and pussyfooting around it, just isn't cricket
OPINION / BUDGET
Growth ideology of the cancer cell
In that the trend of falling state investment in sector after sector continues, this budget does not break with neo-liberalism. Instead, it just dolls it up. India is still on a path damaging and dangerous to the poor. The UPA has learned nothing and forgotten everything.
It's been a hard day's night
Hundreds of women in Maharashtra's Gondia district travel from small towns to the villages to earn a daily wage. Unlike most migrants, they are footloose workers from an urban setting seeking work in the villages. At stations along the way are labour contractors, waiting to pick up workers on the cheap. P Sainath reports.
When even Pax Romana seems gentler
Remember how keen so many of our national security experts were on sending our own troops into Iraq alongside those of the U.S.? Remember it was to have been such a good thing for India?
THEATRE in VIDARBHA
And all the world's a stage
While theatre struggles to survive in the metros, it thrives in Vidharbha where it draws audiences of thousands for plays that go on through much of the night.
WOMEN IN THE FOREST SERVICE
A forest road less travelled
Eleven young women in Maharashtra have chosen to become Foresters. These women Foresters are mostly from rural Maharashtra. From places such as Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, and Yavatmal and not from the big cities.
OPINION / ELECTIONS
Elite activism: can't vote, can vet
The Beautiful People whose next-door neighbours never vote are back, teaching the masses - who do vote - how to go about it in the civic elections in Mumbai. This is the upper middle class trying to preen itself in the one process where they matter less.
The fear of democracy
In the English media, the 50th Ambedkar anniversary rated at best as a traffic problem. At worst, as a potential nightmare. There was not even a pretence of interest in the person. But this is a time to remember that the larger society ignores or distorts the Dalits' struggle for their rights at its own risk.
Shangri-La and sub-Saharan Africa
Sure, we have this crouching tiger economy. But life expectancy here is less than it is in Bolivia, Honduras or Tajikistan. Per capita GDP ranks below that of Nicaragua, Indonesia or Guatemala. And the inequality we so strongly pursue breeds its own mindset.
Three 9/11s, choose your own
There were three 9/11s in history. The New York one of 2001. The neo-liberal one of Chile 1973, and the non-violent one of 1906 - Gandhiji's satyagraha in South Africa. The authors of all three tried to change the world, but only the Mahatma's Weapon of Mass Disobedience helped change the world for the better.
What the heart does not feel, ...
After 15 years of a battering from hostile policies and governments, the world of the peasant has turned highly fragile. But the onus of changing is on the farmer. Not on those driving a cruel process and system, who have only contempt for ordinary folk.
A withering crisis
In Maharashtra, robber baron politics exists on a scale many other states cannot dream of. Here, one finds crony capitalism at its worst; two or three parasitical and incestuous lobbies can get anything they want done. There is much the state can do differently, but then it will be not be the Maharashtra of our times.
Farmers' suicides | Maharashtra
OPINION: PRIVATISATION OF WATER
Thirst for profit
People pay more for water than corporates do; in many parts of the country soft-drink giants get it almost free. Whole communities lose out as heavyweights like Coke step in. The corporate hijack of water is on and if the current trend continues, India's water sources will be in private hands before long.
India Shining meets the Great Depression
In the villages, we demolish their lives, and in the city their homes. The smug indifference of the elite is matched by the governments they do not vote in, but control. P Sainath contrasts the tongue-lolling coverage of the Beautiful People with the studied indifference to the plight of millions.
Media | Farm suicides
PRIVATISATION OF WATER
Privatisation, come hell or high water
Converting water to a commercial good to be sold for profit invites disaster. Most of all for poor people whose already pathetic access to water will shrink swiftly.
PUBLIC HEALTH EXPENDITURE
The health of nations
India needs a strong public health system, but our direction is the opposite. Public spending on health is a mere 0.9% of GDP, and medical care is now the second most common cause of rural family debt. Public ill health, private profit - that's the partnership we are forging, writes P Sainath.
NSSO ASSESSMENT OF FARMERS
Falling farm incomes, growing inequities
When many households spend less than Rs.225 a month per person, you really need to think of how people live. On what it is that they live. What can you spend on if the most you can spend is, on average, Rs.8 a day? And if close to 80 per cent of what you spend is on food, clothing and footwear, what else could you possibly buy?
REMEMBERING K R NARAYANAN
Compassion at the top
While editors and columnists sang hosannas to the brave new world, the resident of Rashtrapati Bhavan showed he had not lost his connection with ordinary people. P Sainath remembers former President K R Narayanan, who passed away this week.
Blood, sweat and sugar
- The dull days of White Gold
- Package deals, credibility discounts
- A leaderless region goes to the polls
- Contest elections? Sure, on our terms
- BSP: Decisive factor in several seats
- It's cars versus 'karyakarthas'
- A recession of the intellect
|Palagummi Sainath is the winner of the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts. (click to read India Together's interview with P Sainath).|
Over decades of reporting, he has established himself as among the pre-eminent chroniclers of rural life in our times. His stories, photo-essays, and other work record an India seldom visible to many of us. Sainath received the A.H. Boerma Award in 2001 for his contributions. In July 2004, he was awarded the Prem Bhatia Award for excellence in political reporting and analysis for 2003-04 in recognition of his "outstanding, indeed exceptional, work on the problems of the poorest of the poor, especially in Andhra Pradesh." He is the Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu.
The great Indian laughter challenge
- Why urban AP's message is important
- The riots and wrongs of caste
- A much larger house on fire
- The famines of good governance
- The class war in Gurgaon
- BHEL: The turtle and the hare-brained
- Six out of ten?
- The coming water wars
- The unbearable lightness of seeing
- What happened in Vidarbha
- Maharashtra: The last lap
- Mass media versus mass reality
- AP's electoral earthquake
- Pick your favourite millionaire
- The millions who cannot vote
- The feel good factory
- The Tower of Gabble
- Warning: Monopoly Media
- Drought in the driver's seat
- Chowkidar to the Empire?
- A gruel-ing season
- Hi-tech, low nutrition
- The bus to Mumbai
- The wrong route out?
- Little pani, less panchayat
- Back-door water-grabbing
- The poor and the permanent 'drought'
- Have tornado, will travel
- TIME out for Vajpayee
- Survival of the fattest
- It's the policy, stupid!
- The people who matter most
One litre per cow
The cross and the crisis
Agrarian crisis in Andhra
In this multi-part report from rural communities in Andhra Pradesh, P Sainath traces the various elements of the agrarian crisis in the state.
When farmers die
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