Saturday, September 28, 2013

Vidarbha Farm widows fightback Agrarian Crisis-Times of India

Vidarbha Farm widows fightback Agrarian Crisis-Times of India 
Nagpur-29th April 2013 

Though the lives of most widows of farmers who had committed suicide isn't better than when their husbands were alive, many of them seem to be giving life a tougher fight than their husbands did. They admit women are stronger than men and also they could not shun the responsibility of their children and family. The despair is not gone completely but they are learning to swim even with tide against them.

Three such women who spoke at an open session at a two-day national seminar organized by Tirpude College of Social Work spoke to TOI. Bharti Pawar, apparently the strongest of the three, had never even stepped out of her house until her husband killed himself in 2008. She now runs a flour mill, stitches clothes, and is educating her children. "I belong to an educated Thakur family in which women were prohibited to get out of the house. When my husband died, I told my in-laws that either they give me money for mine and my children's expenses or they let me step out and work. They had no option but to allow me to work. My son is in Std VIII and daughter in Std VI. I also cultivate my share of two acre land," she said.

Rekha Gurnule, who lost her husband in 2006, is now an anaganwadi worker. She has leased her three-acre land and gets just Rs 10,000 annually from it. She is managing her family with her Rs 4000 monthly salary. "My husband had been giving me hints about suicide and I had always promised to stand by him and not give up. Now I realize that agriculture can never be means for survival. So I have decided to educate my children and go for other occupations. Come what may, I will not give up," she said. Both Gurnule and Pawar are from village Sai Kheda in Yavatmal district.

Nanda Bhandare from Bhadumri village, also in Yavatmal district, is extremely optimistic and strong too. She is cultivating the family land herself. "My husband was being harassed by bank officials for a fortnight when he committed suicide. I had never imagined that he will take his life. I am more optimistic. However, I will have to stop education of my daughter who has passed Std XII as my financial condition is not good enough," she said.

The three women can definitely be inspiration to thousands of others. Rekha could have gone to her parents' family who are better off but she decided to fight it out by herself. They all could have remarried as they were widowed when they were not even in their 30s. But like any other mother, all of them preferred to bring up their children than think of their own future. They did face a lot of humiliation in family, in village and in society in general but they didn't give up. "Women are always stronger than men and all of us have proved this. There are ups and downs in life and we still have a long way to go but we will not kill ourselves," reiterated the three together.

Earlier, the UGC sponsored seminar was inaugurated by the BJP state president Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday. He said various steps by central and state governments to curb the problem failed due to lack of political will and commitment but blamed the crisis primarily on lack of institutional credit policy.

Kishor Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, Keshav Patil, principal of Tirpude College, T V Gedam and W T Kombade, Yuagantar Education Society vice-president and secretary respectively, M S Gautam and Swati Dharmadhikari also addressed the gathering.  

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