Why I put up the P Sainath Transcripts

By | January 11, 2012

I am not putting these P. Sainath transcripts up because I’m out of typing assignments, but because I think he is bringing up something vital that people need to listen to. And because I think his styles and focus of writing and lecturing differ enough for it to be useful.

Several people counseled me about his ignorance, and my gullibility among other condescending ways of calling me stupid. I am not going to debate opinions, but sharing the value I see. What you choose to do with it is not my business. This is a special post for you supersmart people in particular. So listen up:

I “marry” no one. My game is ideas. If an idea works for me, it works for me. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. There are things he said I don’t agree with. And I’m glad. Never had an ambition to be a hive mind.

His ideas work for me, because, like me, he’s into seeing patterns. Patterns are useful, because you get an idea where they are going, and they help you understand what is coming up. Unlike me, he has astonishing statistics to provide insight – and a laser sharp brain to work with them.

You give me data, insight and clarity of analysis like that, and I’ll transcribe your phone call. That’s a promise. No matter what your name is.

I see his work as crucial for people to think about, because it illustrates in an indirect way, three recurring concerns of mine – existential concerns – for our country and our world too, perhaps. And these have nothing to do with capitalism. It is more primitive. It is cannibalism.

Those concerns are:

People in power have no intention of safeguarding those not in power.

Sainath did not say this. I am saying it. I have been saying this for a long time.

Sainath has presented data about the increasing gap between the rich and the poor. Data that fits in seamlessly with my understanding of the mental dynamics taking place.

What about the real people whose country will get richer and but they starve anyway? Is a country about numbers or people? That, I think is the real question here. Or rather, who we consider as people and who not.

This is like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner – “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink”. Only a few of the Indians are able to drink at that impressive – and until recently growing – number. The rest are told that there is plenty of water. What is more, there are arrangements for more water being made – the poor thirsty man already can’t comprehend the scope of the sea – but these arrangements of water are also in a way they cannot drink. They will die in that sea just as dead as they would be in the desert.

P. Sainath outlines bluntly how this draining is happening. He shows the many ways in which the elites collude to deny prosperity to others. Or rather, grab the large chunk of everyone’s prosperity for themselves. He gives you facts you can verify. If you value information, it is not such a great idea to dismiss it because you don’t like hearing it.

A mistake happens once, and if it is a mistake, it gets watched out for and corrected. Sainath is throwing on the table hard data on twenty years of agrarian distress. When a mistake is not corrected, it is called convenient. Or more bluntly, intent.

But this is still Sainathish. Try this – Classic Vidyut:

In any group the weakest members are the first to manifest problems, but the decay of the system is all pervading and spreads.

Let’s not talk money at all. Let’s not talk poor, farmers, etc – that would be me being brainwashed, no?

Crimes against women. They are rising. People with authority are shrugging, saying women are not covering themselves. They didn’t tell that to the tribals in Andaman where women are made to dance naked in front tourists for the reward of food – by? Cops. Yep. You got that right.

The slutwalk Gejje Hejje got denied permission because of security concerns by a right wing group. Now, in theory, you arrest people for making threats against other people. Instead, the organizers were arrested in spite of complying completely with the last minute cancellation. The people making threats? Nope.

Andhra Pradesh. 3,807 rape cases in NCRB’s latest dump. In every case. In each and every case the offender was known to the victim. Guess what DGP of Andhra Pradesh said? The problem is food and women’s clothes.

To me, the underlying process with the farmers and the rapes is the same. It is the same for brutal suppression of protests. It is the same for corruption. It is the same for atrocious health-scare. A culture of arbitrary and selfish application of power that belongs to all combined with a paranoia of inconvenience or unpredictability. Where destroying another is better than losing the conditions for easy gain.

Do you know what it says when people with the power to change things lack the inclination? It means they are fine with it. No matter what they claim. They do not anticipate this problem harming them, and they do not wish to take on the challenge and risk of tackling it. So they invent reasons why it cannot be fixed by them. Once enough people are gone, it will be your turn, unless you manage to exploit someone else into the pit in your place.

Now apply all this to farmers, to healthscare, to education – every area that can go wrong is reeling under this exact same thing – because the people in the system are the same, and an attitude is central to the personality – manifests similarly in all situations.

But here’s why the government needs to sit up and take notice fast. To steal Sainath’s term, it is “unraveling”. You don’t need me to explain this. You are seeing the cracks in the “All is Well” facade, the scams, the anger, the anxiety for survival in terms of necessities in the face of inflation, the frustration that you feel. You don’t need me to tell you what you feel, what you see.

Status quo is not enough anymore.

Things are reaching a tipping point

Confrontations are beginning. Protests are increasing, brutal suppressions are increasing. It is soon going to be a face-off.

Sainath throws in overwhelming statistics of the connection between hunger and unrest. I had earlier brought up the question of a possible connection between the economy and fasts becoming more popular and connected it with an unconscious perception of scarcity that makes the sacrifice of food for the greater good look extra-noble. The bottom line is that scarcity, hunger, inflation and lack of attention are getting people to confront governments like never before.

Right now, our youth are the most of our population

Population growth is slowing. In twenty, thirty years from now, there is going to be a steady increase in lots of old people and lesser young people to provide for them. Considering that the divide between rich and poor is still growing, we are going to have the vast majority of our population really poor and without support in their old age. Compute that.

As I like to keep reminding, unless your income is incrementing faster than inflation, that’s your destination too.


Some other things you guys brought up.

Why are you putting up Sainath’s work and not Arundhati’s? Is this not misogyny?

I am not putting up Sainath’s work because he is a man. I am putting it up because I value the ideas in it. I think she nails the psychological dynamics of inequality in her diagnosis but fails to convey it in her hurry to conclude with blame. I have written a lot about Arundhati here, and there are actually a few posts planned around some of the diagnoses she throws in without explaining.

Clarity in me evokes clarity in you.

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About Vidyut

Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

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