Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some Thoughts on Our Society



Recently, I had the opportunity of attending various events and seminars. Here, I am trying to make a connection between them, on some of the ideas.

Delhi State
Annual Conference

Mr. Harpal Singh, Chairman Designate, mentioned about the skewed demographic pattern existing in Delhi. He said that there are only 750 girls being born in South Delhi as against 1000 boys. This showed the low level to which the most well-to-do section of our society had fallen.

In response to this, during the free session, I complained that one of the main reasons for this was financial, the same being the dowry system. If this system could go away, less families would object to having daughters.

I also blamed the younger generation, the one in the age group 25-30 years. Couples in this age group are the ones who are not allowing the birth of the child conceived if it would turn out to be a girl. Females themselves cannot absolve themselves and say that foeticide happened without their consent. The birth rate statistics relate to the current generation; not to the past one.

CII Northern Regional Annual Conference

Mr. Salil Singhal, the outgoing Chairman, too touched on the same subject of female foeticide in this region. Again, I took an opportunity to say that incentives should be granted for that female child which is the first child born into a family. This would encourage the people to permit females to be born. This idea was dropped with the reply that the Government is already doing much for the female child. If so, why are people continuing to kill the female child pre-birth? Many accept the birth of a girl only after a male child has been born; not before. The point they missed was that I was talking of the girl as the first child; not of any girl child. Someone even went to the extent of saying that if such a thing happened the people would start killing the first male foetus as there was no incentive for it! What a thought!

ICRIER Seminar on ‘Food Security in the SAARC Region’

There were many learned speakers and participants in the seminar. The Chairman, Dr. Panjab Singh, a reputed agronomist, said that the farmer today is suffering at the hands of the trader. He said that if a farmer carried his produce of vegetables to the market, the trader made him wait till the evening before striking a deal. This meant that the only choice the farmer had was either of throwing away his goods or to accept the price as dictated by the trader. He had no choice of taking the goods back as they would only rot at his own place. For example, he said that if the farmer had one ton of material to sell, he got the price for one ton; if two tons, he still got the price for one ton. If the quantity was four tons he get nothing and would have to throw away everything on the road side. He pointed to Dr S.K. Roy, sitting in the audience, inventor of a low-cost storage-bin costing only Rs.2,500 at that time. This bin required no energy and yet conserved the vegetables for upto a week. The irony of the situation was that while Dr. Roy received a national award for his invention, nobody came ahead to produce it. Had such bins been available to the farmers, they would not have been at the mercy of the traders, rejecting the low price offered at the end of the day, and bringing their produce back to the village – to carry it again the next day.


Mercedes was happy having been able to sell 10 numbers of its latest model, introduced in India at a cost of Rs.54,00,000 each, on the very first day of the launch. 6 of these were sold in an industrial town! Just imagine these being sold in a town which has neither a proper airport nor roads wide and free enough for driving a Mercedes. The only reason why hundreds of Mercedes cars are bought there every year is just for showing-off the wealth. The buyers are the same people who would not pay better wages to a labourer of their region, but would prefer paying lower wages to the migrant labour from Bihar. Against the cost of one Mercedes of the latest version, they could have financed the supply of over 1000 storage-bins to the poor farmer. Who has the heart for doing such a thing? Has someone the magnanimity?

I am reminded of what Chanakya wrote: ‘The trader is the trustee of the society; what he gains he should plough back for the society’s benefit’!

At the end, I would appeal to all those, who have a girl as their eldest child, to try to educate others who are newly-married and might be on the way to their first conception, not to deny the first child, if a girl, the right to be born.

Further, I would be happy if we could do something for the poor farmer. The nation cannot live without the farmer, just with the industry alone. I had made a suggestion for low-cost pilot food-processing plants to be introduced at the village level.

This could save much of the fruits and vegetables that get damaged in transit.

Surendra Kumar New Delhi 31-03-2009

No comments:

Post a Comment