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Bihar has the privilege to celebrate a great historical event- 100 year anniversary of ‘Champaran Satyagrah’ which was not only important for the farmers of Bihar but was very much relevant in the contemporary history of entire India at that time. The simple but the systematic approach by Mahatma Gandhi had changed the fate of farmers especially the indigo planters in the history of this country.
Many water has been flown since than in the river like Ganga and others which are flowing through Bihar. But the question is whether the condition of the farmers particularly in Bihar have changed? After the long years of Independence how far the policy makers at Bihar so far able to provide adequate assistances to encourage the agricultural activities in the fertile lands of Bihar?
There are many pertinent questions which are to be answered but the in the overall big spectrum of Bihar, the centenary celebration has once revoked the issue of the condition of the farmers. Many distinguished guests who shared the centenary celebration dais, raised the same questions.
Former civil servant, diplomat and governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi who also happens to be the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, on April 10 raised the question. He was delivering the inaugural address at a national convention on ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s life-philosophy’, to mark the launch of the year-long centenary celebration of the 1917 Champaran Satyagrah, at Patna.
He drew a parallel between the plight of the farmers of the country, at present, and of indigo farmers of north Bihar in 1917, when Mahatma Gandhi had launched the ‘Champaran Satyagrah’, on the call of a peasant, Raj Kumar Shukl.
“It was the atmosphere of fear and coercion that had brought Gandhiji to Champaran. It was again a similar atmosphere in 1974-75 that resulted in a movement led by JP. Today, we again need to ask if such an atmosphere has surfaced once again,” said Gandhi’s grandson.
Like Gopalkrishna Gandhi many other distinguished guests, social activist Medha Patkar, Gandhian philosopher Prerna Desai, Retired judge and freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari, Gandhi Sangharalay chairman Razi Ahmad, Gandhi Peace Foundation president Kumar Prashant, philosopher Sachidanand Sinha, Gandhian thinker Dr SN Subbararo and others who were came Bihar to join the centenary celebration, virtually underlined government’s seriousness towards the plights and problems of the farmers.
Recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of ‘Sampurna Swaraj’ and his concept of integrated development of Indian villages, the distinguished guests delivered in length on Gandhi Ji’s philosophy.
Ordinance, one after another for taking farmers’ land without debate and discussion on social impact assessment or involvement of Gram Sabha, the issue of farmers’ suicides, illegally acquiring of cultivated lands for industrial corridors along with other important aspects were highlighted by the distinguished guests.
Interestingly, some of them also appreciated Nitish Kumar’s government in Bihar to implementing total prohibition of liquor in Bihar. “It’s an ideal work for paying real tribute to Mahatma Gandhi from this land of Bihar,” they pointed out.
But the state government perhaps has no answer to the question on the its achievements on agricultural front. Though it is true that Bihar has adopted scientific modern farming and also set record of yielding high of rice and wheat. But such miracles were happened only some parts in the state where farmers are economically and socially affluent. But what about others who still struggling for their survivals? Bihar government also had initiated for a separate agriculture road map, but still the farmers have to suffer lots here. It’s a matter of fact that during the 100 long years, the plight and miseries of the farmers remained the same- at that time they had to face the extreme tortures by the British government and presently they became the victims of governmental apathy. Plight of farmers remained same as when Gandhi launched Champaran Satyagrah in 1917, alleged some of the speakers.
State government and the policy makers should have taken lesson from it and should come forward for the betterment of the farmers here. The government should focus on how to improve the basic infrastructure facilities for agriculture and its related other items. And this would be the best way to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi.