I am a farmer and I want FDI
I was still in college when farmers' leader Professor MD Nanjundaswamy's men ransacked the first outlet of Kentucky Fried Chicken on Brigade Road in Bangalore. That was in the mid-1990s.
The vandalism attracted national and international attention. It led to a fierce debate over the entry of foreign retailers into India. Anti-KFC people argued that the American eatery would eliminate local poultries. I was confused. But I believed the anti-KFC lobby was right.
Fifteen years on, I admit that I was mistaken. It is true that KFC has opened outlets all over India and is thriving. But not a single poultry or chicken shop has downed its shutters because of the advent of the American fried chicken chain.
The ongoing debate over FDI in the retail sector brings back memories of those days when foreign brands ran into stiff resistance when they tried to enter India. I have been a journalist for 12 years. I have also been a farmer. I have inherited farmlands in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. I do both journalism and agriculture. I grow cash crops like areca, coffee, pepper, cardamom, vanilla, banana and cashew.
I believe I am competent to talk about the pros and cons of FDI in retail and its impact on Indian farmers. Political leaders and traders are just pretending they are concerned about what it will do to farmers. They have little knowledge about agriculture.
As an educated farmer, I welcome FDI not only in retail but in most other sectors. It is laughable that Indian traders, notorious for cheating and shortchanging customers and farmers, are now speaking for them. Such things happen only in Kalyug!
The entry of foreign companies like Walmart won't push farmers' down any further. In reality, it will rescue them from the clutches of local traders. Farmers who sell their produce to German trader Metro in Bangalore will vouch for this.
The BJP has always been a party of traders and middlemen. They are its core constituency; protecting their interests is a necessity for the party. The same traders have been supporting the Anna Hazare movement. The BJP talking about farmers is like a devil preaching virtue. It makes me sick whenever I see BJP rushing to defend farmers. If there is one party that has no moral right to speak on behalf of the farmers, it is the BJP.
In my home state of Karnataka, the ruling BJP has destroyed the farming sector and de-notified every available inch of agricultural land in cities and towns for commercial use. Moneybags are now building malls and ultra-deluxe housing apartments on these fertile farmlands.
Communism is an obsolete idea and communists have no role in a world that is flat, and is getting flatter. Communists have done much harm to Indian farmers. Their outdated, regressive ideas have destroyed the lives of millions across the world and people have dumped that ideology into the dustbin.
The greatest tragedy of Indian farmers is that people who have nothing to do with farming assume the role of their guardians. Foreign NGOs and their well-fed promoters sit in five-star comfort and talk about farmers. Arundhati Roy-type 'activists' write about the poor from their houses in elite neighbourhoods of New Delhi.
Talking against FDI is nothing but scare-mongering. Being a farmer (with my exception, no one in my family does anything but farming), I whole-heartedly welcome FDI in every sector related to agriculture. Local traders are not angels. Even if FDI leads to exploitation, it won't be worse than the exploitation of farmers by local traders and middlemen.
In reality, liberalisation has brought prosperity to farmers and villagers. It has made them mobile and opened up new opportunities for them.
Real farmers will have to speak for themselves. The time has come. We don't need self-proclaimed protectors of farmers to speak for us. They serve their own interests, and not ours.
More about D P SatishD P Satish has been a journalist for the past 14 years. Born at the picturesque Jog Falls in Shimoga district of Karnataka, Satish did his graduation in English Literature. He is a post-graduate in Journalism from the prestigious Asian College of Journalism, Bangalore (now in Chennai). After a brief stint with the Indian Express Group, he shifted to TV. He also worked for an American news magazine called ' Image '. He has widely travelled and covered some of the biggest events from South of Vindhyas in the first decade of the 21st century. He is passionate about English literature, classical music, cinema, history, photography, jazz and Cricket. A self-proclaimed centrist, Satish keenly follows major political developments from across the World. He blogs regularly and spends hours searching for readable material from the Internet! He belives that journalism is a calling and a person meant to be a journalist, can't escape from it. A hillman at heart and by birth, Satish lives and works in New Delhi. But, loves Bangalore more than Delhi!
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