Thursday, December 16, 2010

My father is in Iraq-What?

In this post, Gandhi Fellow Kabir Arora writes about two kinds of migration, the difficulty of unreliable rainfalls and that eternal questions: to spray or not to spray....

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While interacting with the kids in school I came across a very interesting migration phenomena. A major chunk of kids had their fathers in the Middle-East which they commonly refer to as Iraq. Why Iraq? The answer was provided by the teacher in the school. Iraq started giving work permits in the good old days of the “secular socialist country”. Later other countries in the middle east opened for work which was mostly manual labor. Still the image of Iraq is by and large in the mind of people. Even educated people also refer Middle-East as Iraq. Those who leave are mostly men from mediocre families which included few high caste families and backward caste families. They leave the behind women to take care of household work and toil in the fields.

There is another set of migration happening in the well to do families. The younger lot of well to do families (at many instances whole of family) have migrated to different cities. The huge inherited houses are locked. In many, aged couples are found staying alone.

Kheti Baari
As Indian villages are identified, huge farms dotted with different crops, milch animals at home-goats, buffaloes, cows. Those who were owning land didn't find farming very profitable. They wanted to give the land on rent but there were no takers for it.

Desert soil with good quantity of salinity and sandy features made it suitable for pulses cultivation with Bajra. When I went there, it was  harvesting period for bajra. The rains were very good this year but farmers there were still not smiling. As heavy rain destroyed the crops, both pulses (which include moth & mung) and bajra were affected. The dew (common phenomena in rainy season) is not good for pulses cultivation as it doesn't allow the flower to bloom from which cross pollination is suppose to happen.

Farmers do a bit of organic farming with desi seeds for their own consumption. For market they prefer to use chemicals and hybrid seeds as they give more output.

I always used to hear that farmer should not buy anything except salt from the market. Nowadays high inputs have increased pressure on our agrarian class which later complains about losses. I shared this idea with my headmaster Bhagirath ji. He also accepted it.

Later he asked my opinion on spraying insecticide in his farms where pulses were sown. I had to be very diplomatic. If I say,"No," he can suffer a loss for which he will blame me and will not trust anyone who comes from the organization. I shared the potential dangers and health threats of chemical spray with him and motivated him to see things on his own and compare between  health loss and economic benefit. At the end of the day, it is going to be his own choice.

In vegetables Kaachri & Tindasi were in abundance. Every day or second I was served the same vegetables. Thought that the moment I get back to Churu my navel would have turned green after eating the greenery served in dinner and lunch. After coming back to the city I came to know that Kaachri costs more than Rs. 300/- per kg. Surprised and Shocked! the vegetable which is in abundance in the village is scarce in city.

Desert Fruits Kaakadi & Matiri (Siblings of Muskmelon and watermelon) were all around. This year because of good rainfall their length and breadth is increasing, but the sweetness is decreasing. I still loved eating them. 

For more of Kabir's experiences, see:
If I were my own teacher: confidence, colour and voices
Steep Climb 
Tourist Guide  

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