Of onions, tomatoes
Who says that agitations do not help the community? Here is an example. Because of the agitation that is going on in Andhra Pradesh, several lorries...
Koyembedu, the main marketplace at Chennai, receives 40 to 50 truckloads of tomatoes each day. This time another 15 trucks arrived. Consequently, one kg. of tomato priced at Rs. 32 a fortnight ago, crashed to 18.
Who says that agitations do not help the community? Here is an example. Because of the agitation that is going on in Andhra Pradesh, several lorries carrying vegetables from North were stopped near Madanapalle in Chittoor district at the State’s border. As they cannot go back all the way to their place of origin, the owners cleverly diverted them to the nearby Chennai market.
Koyembedu, the main marketplace at Chennai, receives 40 to 50 truckloads of tomatoes each day. This time another 15 trucks arrived. Consequently, one kg. of tomato priced at Rs. 32 a fortnight ago, crashed to 18. Ginger that used to cost Rs.175 per kg. came down to a mere Rs.80; onions for Rs.40 at Ayinavaram joint. There is a cryptic caption in a local (Chennai) Daily saying “Telangana makes tomatoes cheaper’’.
Likewise, political campaigns aimed at courting the votes of the masses in one State benefit the neighbouring States. The erstwhile DMK regime, headed by the great visionary and senior most leader Karunanidhi, distributed rice to the poor at Rs.2 per kg. (Now, Andhra Pradesh is proving its magnanimity in one-up campaign by distributing rice for Rs.1 per kg).
The Tamil Nadu government has tried to procure fine variety of rice for this purpose. What happened? The poorest of poor never cooked their food with the choicest rice. What about pulses, vegetables, salt, oil, gas, etc.? They sold the rice to middlemen at lower prices and purchased whatever they required. Truckloads of rice were seen crossing the State boundaries into Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The Tamil Nadu government distributed bicycles to poor students. Not one student seems to have used them. Several smalltime workers purchased them for takeaway prices. The bicycles, particularly ‘painted’ to give focus to the gesture of the State, were giving the focus for its abuse by the recipient.
And then colour TVs were given to poor people living in huts. While their thatched rooftops leaked rain water, while the stink of the garbage outside percolated into their lives, nobody rejoiced over the colourful tamasha in the idiot box. Instead they made money by selling them to parties outside the State, lest the State should sense their noble gesture. This is a typical instance of one State spilling its valuable resources into another because of mindless freebies.
I had an interesting encounter the other day at Chennai SRM university campus. I was at the university to admit my granddaughter along with my son, when I saw two boys greeting me with a smile from a distance. Naturally, I surmised that they were students from Andhra Pradesh. I beckoned them to my car. I learnt, to my surprise, that they were from Subedari, Hanamkonda in Warangal district, the very place my son was born 51 years ago. My son greeted them with glee: “Hi brother!’’. One boy’s name was Ram Bhoopal Reddy. But why was he here, while there was a wonderful university at the very place from where he came?
The answer was simple. He was here just as the onions and tomatoes did. Perhaps his education was disturbed because of the agitation there for the last three years. His father, who must be anxious to see him become an earning member of the family so that he can supplement his income and his only daughter can get married, could not reconcile to wastage of three valuable years in the boy’s career. Perhaps, he could not afford the extra cost. However, he had no choice. And hence Ram Bhoopal is here.
An agitation, surely, reflects the discontent and unrest in a community or a society. It has a price to pay and a prize to achieve. But it should not result in total disconnect. Can the reflection of an agitation be seen in onions, or in the stunted career of a boy whose father is paying through his nose with many holes in his pocket?