Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Wherever workers from neighboring States are available, agriculture is somewhat managed there. But rest of Orissa is suffering loss in agriculture as local workers are reluctant to work.

Some allege that availability of rice at the rate of one rupee per kg is making them lazy.

This is not true.

I have interviewed hundreds of workers in my own place Tigiria and Athgarh that are receiving one-rupeean-rice to know why are they reluctant to work.

As I love them, I had no hesitation to ask a group of yesteryear’s excellent agricultural workers at Puruna Tigiria: Alasua hoigala ki re? (Have you become lazy, dear all?). Many of them said, “Alasuami nuhen; Bala pauni” (laziness is not the reason of our reluctance to work, but we lack in strength to work.)

If you read it correctly, you would know, though they are not starved because of the one-rupeean-rice, they are in slow-starvation because of this rice. And, condition of slow-starvation is eating away their stamina.

In this regime, people have been forced to fill up their stomachs with stone. An instance had come to light as two TV stringers had captured stone eating in their cameras and a TV channel owned by a BJD heavyweight had telecast it. Naveen babu’s government dismissed the news as fabricated and subjected the two reporters to prosecution under charges of sedition. In ORISSA MATTERS I had put the matter before the public under the caption:

Stop prosecuting OTV reporters and admit your mistakes, Mr. Minister

And, I had conducted an investigation into how the government was handling the issue. The details of my finding were published under the caption:

Starvation: Govt tries to hush up stone eating

Thereafter, rice for Rs.2 per kg scheme was contrived.

This scheme was meant to avoid starvation deaths by putting people in slow-starvation.

ORISSA MATTERS had carried the official version under the caption:

Orissa Administration Finally Admits that 59 lakhs of families are under slow starvation

When it was noted that the people had no money to pay even Rs. 2/- per a Kg of rice, Naveen reduced the rate to Rupee one only, so that slow starvation would continue and mass starvation deaths could be avoided.

And, this scheme has kept our people in slow starvation, even as the party in power has been exploiting their  inanition to drag their votes to its boxes in elections from Panchayat to Parliament.

Naveen perhaps is sure that as long as the poor people of Orissa are kept in slow starvation, he shall be in power by dragging their inane votes to BJD boxes.

And, we know, this trick may keep him in power as long as stark inanition of the majority population thriving under slow starvation keeps the voters confused. But unless the trick is foiled, agriculture – the real strength of the State – will be lost in the labyrinth of misrule.

Sociologists, social scientists, political economists, medico-legal specialists should come forward to study this serious phenomenon without any loss of time.

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