There is a lot of upheaval around the World these days. Libya’s Gaddafi regime is imminently crumbling; Egypt is now under another thrust of military power other than Mubarak’s; people power is still elusive in Tunisia and Yemen too is under similar stress; London is emerging from one of the worst states of unrest in a long time although the reasons behind it are still being debated; moreover, the great power that is the USA is reeling under severe financial strain as is much of mainland Europe. The impact of these occurrences has seen the currency which was for so long written off – gold – regaining supreme value. In every corner of the world, the clash between two simultaneous existences within the same nation is emerging where some have access to opportunity and wealth whilst others have nothing.
India too is under the spell of a new phenomenon, that of Anna Hazare. The Government is tearing itself apart by losing touch with the masses and he has offered a popular response. As I wrote previously, Anna-ism is not a panacea, but the result of years of neglect, non-governance and a widening divide between two sides – those who are in power and those who are always with nothing. This has resulted in a loud burst of rebellion in the form of Anna Hazare.
All the while in our Punjab, a village by the name of Gobindpura in the Mansa district has been under seizure by the Punjab Government and it’s security forces. The reason being a forcible takeover of land for the building of a new thermal plant. Residents with only these pieces of land to their name and farming the only work that they know are unwilling to part with their source of sustenance. Worse still, the brutality of forcible removal in Gobindpura is shocking. A group of eminent writers led by Ajmer Singh Aulakh have released a report incriminating the State Government – the very same Government who projects itself to be farmer oriented – and have strongly condemned the crude force and neglect being utilised in the village. Nobody has been spared; teenage girls have been targeted and badly brutalised along with other women and old people. One farmer has died as a result of police firing.
No Anna Hazare has risen up in Punjab to stand up for the brutalised and isolated lot. Some voices of concern have been raised by different political parties, but it is mostly farmers groups who are trying to thwart the forcible takeover of land by a private company who have no previous experience in power generation. This is the fifth thermal plant being set up in a 50km area, so you can well imagine the fall-out from coal ash and other forms of harmful emissions that are engulfing the area which is already reeling under the curse of cancer and hepatitis diseases.
These unfriendly decisions and progeny policies are driving our people towards hopelessness and other vagaries of life. The rapid, unplanned industrial cultivation of rural areas is shrinking agricultural land and facing increasing neglect, people are being driven towards the cities. It has been projected that in the coming 10-15 years, the urban population is going to increase by at least 30 per cent and no system is in place to make way for this type of urbanisation. As most of the development in infrastructure is urban based, villages are left to fend for themselves, enhancing the unrest amongst village youth. Shrinking job prospects are driving them to reach other countries where they engage in menial tasks, creating financial strains on their families and unnecessary separation amongst relations.
More laws are not the answer; a creation of self assurance in individuals is needed to overcome various dilemmas which plague us all. Anna Hazare has created a yearning in the common people to bring about some kind of way out of this suffocation and greed which is dividing nations and societies. From London to Libya, we need to find support in one another. Today the people of Gobindpura are struggling to say that their homes and livelihoods are not for sale. That day will come soon to many more, maybe you and I too, but let us not wait until we too are forced to say that our land is not for sale.