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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rahul G!

Yes ‘the prince’! Rahul Gandhi was in Madras last week and there was a call from a friend that there was a non-political meeting. RG wanted to meet ( – an “Intellectual interactive meet” as I was told) some progressive journos, activists and socially concerned individuals. Hmm, where did I fit in that? Why ask? I didn’t:-0
Firstly I wanted to really go and see how deep this man was- like it or not, he is going to be out here on top of the political arena for days to come. The very idea of reaching to cross section of the society and get some information, discuss, trade idea(l)s.. truth be told, I was impressed.
This very gesture to reach out to people and consult was a fantastic one. Let alone how effective it can be.
So I was there and the regular security screw er screening and all that happened. One cant take even a notebook. Some one wanted to ‘present’ RG a book and even that wasn’t allowed. But my strong opinion is humanity has brought this on itself with all the bombings and screw up. So one shud learn to ignore all this security circus.
He is one affable nice guy with neat demeanors. He started off nice and reassuring but that petered out soon with shallow comments and real superficial diplo-sentences. All this backed by a strange confidence of having understood the issue or question and replying a strange ‘off tangent’ response. I would question the understanding itself. For a question on gay rights he went on and on about morality and kept explaining how and why he wudnt impose his rights and wrongs on others. As if that was not understood he kept on explaining that so many times that even his party people out there wud have been bored to hilt. For most questions the stock reply was ‘come join; participate; be a part and make the system work’..oh no! I didn’t expect this from someone who shud be able to make a difference and not give inane responses. Then the film makers dominated the session with their problems and RG went on and on..here we were sitting and expecting some livelihoods and other important issues wud be discussed, but the glorious and tamasha problem was to dominate:-( The only good question came from inimitable M.B.Nirmal, who asked about the acquisition of farm lands and to stop it. Where as RG’s reply shocked me. He coolly said he understands the whole problem and said various solutions including ‘considering the corporates buying 80% on their own and govt helping only for 20%..’ was sounded by him. So much for the depth!!!
Actor Revathy asked me at the beginning if we (the usual agri suspects)had our questions ready and who was to ask and I didn’t get it. I thought it was just an interactive meet and that we shud take it as it comes. Revathy was right in asking us if we were indeed prepared. But the take away for me from this meet is- don’t wait decently for ur turn! Its good to be prepared with your question and to barge in loud and get the answer:-)
I did want to ask him on his opinion on GM foods and to explain him why there was a great need for the govt to think in lines of sustainable agri and to promote such farming techniques . Actor Rohini and Dr.Shivaraman had more incisive questions to ask (but cudnt pose that, as RG suddenly, abruptly brought the session to close and swiftly left) on GM and about the need to see the livelihood of farmers more objectively and their suicides more broadly. Hmm, if only they had asked…Another friend wanted to press up on RG the need of encouraging small and marginal farmers and how that alone can help in today’s agri crisis. She also had some good insights about how organic farming can be an answer to the world’s requirement as explained by some study in Michigan univ as well as oxford. But…
I shud still say this is a good move and gesture- to set a consultative process. Like how a similar process unfolded during the BT crisis and really helped in getting a nice democratic and reasonable participation and hence a decent outcome.
He came a solid 1hour late and many of us used it very effectively. I for one used this opportunity to meet Gnani, Madhan, Maalan, Director Vasanth and many others whom I rate very high. To get such a quality time with them all under one roof was a jackpot. I felt flattered by Revathy and Rohini showing so much interest in the Kisan swaraj yatra and asking my views of it.

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