‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’
Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India gave us the slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ in 1965 at a gathering at Ramlila Maidan, Delhi. It was a time when our country was battling on two fronts simultaneously, the war with Pakistan on one end and a severe food scarcity due to major draughts on the other. The slogan was meant to rally behind the two sets of people who could help India emerge victorious, the Jawan (soldier) and the Kisan (farmer).
As we head towards our 71st Independence Day (15th August 2017), we spoke with two progressive faces of the soldier and farmer.
Reminiscence of an Army Veteran – Brigadier (retd.) C. P. Nair
Coming from a predominantly agricultural family from Kannur in Kerala, the young C.P. Nair hoped to become a teacher. His education up to intermediate was in his native place, post which he moved to Mysuru to continue his studies.
Bangladesh war of 1971
The Bangladesh war of 1971 changed his aspiration. While following the heroics of the Indian soldiers, he was struck with the question, why not join the armed forces and do my bit for my country? Thus, he applied and cleared the UPSC written exam. Post this; the next hurdle to be cleared was the Service Selection Board (SSB). He was selected and sent to the Officers Training Academy and after a gruelling training was commissioned with the Madras Regiment.
Chinese border-inhospitable terrain
“My first two years were in Arunachal Pradesh, on the Chinese border which was a very inhospitable terrain with very difficult approach. We had to cross the Lohit River, en route to my post, at times even on elephant’s back!” he reminisces. Subsequently he served in Hyderabad, Mizoram, Nagaland and Assam. He remembers being kept ready to assist the Punjab police during the insurgency.
Military Intelligence – an eye-opener
After nine and half years in the regiment, he was short-listed for Military Intelligence. The tenure in Military Intelligence was an eye-opener. In the very first intelligence assignment in 1983, he was in charge of a counter intelligence unit at Baramulla, close to Pakistan border, to thwart the designs of ISI and deal with anti-national forces.
After three years in Kashmir, a ‘home posting’ was cut short when India decided to enter Sri Lanka. His team reached before the first contingent of IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) troops got there.
In a tenure he terms “eventful”, attempt on his life was made thrice, twice by the LTTE and once by the ISI.
From heading a hush-hush intelligence unit in Red Fort that constituted of officers from Delhi Police and IB to being CO of a large counter intelligence unit with jurisdiction extending from Jaipur to Andaman Nicobar Island to being posted as head of Military intelligence in Kashmir and serving as DDGMI in Central command for two and half years, Brigadier (retd) C.P. Nair has seen it all in his career spanning 34 years.
Between serving the nation
In between serving the nation, he applied for a two years study leave and joined Pune University for a post-graduate diploma in French Literature. “My classmates were in the age group of 20-25 and most of them were girls,” he shares.
Brigadier (retd) C.P. Nair has the honour of receiving awards twice for individual acts of gallantry, distinguished service and devotion to duty 1989 Sri Lanka and in 1993 Agartala.
“On 31 May 2006, I bid adieu to the profession which had been and still is dear to my heart and came back to my village to happily lead a peaceful retired life!
When prompted to say something to the citizens of India, he had these suggestions:
At least in some areas we can follow the example of other countries. USA, Israel, UK and other European countries, tenure in the armed forces for everyone is encouraged. Many heads of governments are ex-soldiers as are their children. This is missing in India. Lack of personal familiarization creates disconnect between the defence forces and the ones who rule the country.The conditions for serving in defence forces need to be made more engaging to attract bright young men and women.
The interaction between the members of the public and those serving in the armed forces needs to be increased.
A farmer by choice – Dnyaneshwar Bodke
An interior decorator / engineer -turned-farmer, Dnyaneshwar Bodke watched a number of farmers mortgaging their farms against loans to manage their household. To help the farmers become financially independent, he dreamt and founded the Abhinav farmer’s club, Pune. What started as a fledgling idea has slowly taken root. By focusing on floriculture and exotic vegetables, learning about marketing tactics and understanding the customer’s psyche has lead to growth and benefits for the farmers.
Tough to convince farmers
The first thing that Dnyaneshwar did was to persuade the farmers to stop selling their land. The process hasn’t been smooth sailing, says Bodke. “It was tough to convince farmers and I had to be very patient. I observed that all of them used to sell their products to agents in market and were totally clueless about prices. Things turned worse when they couldn’t recover even the production cost.”
To understand market logistics, Bodke decided to market agricultural products directly cutting out the middlemen.”Many farmers had burnt their fingers in the traditional market set-up. I decided to take the lead. A decade ago, many retail chains were coming up with departmental stores and I started meeting people in the business. They agreed to purchase vegetables and fruits directly from us and pay 30 per cent more than the production cost. However, there were limitations as their payments would come after three months. After that, we started supplying to hotels and understood the marketing chain. Now, eateries buy vegetables from us in bulk.”
Organized farming has helped farmers in not only clearing debts but also earning handsomely, claims Bodke. He says that every farmer in the group earns around Rs 1,000 a day.”There are farmers who earn Rs 8,000 to 10,000 a day. Of course, we work hard from 7 am to 8 pm, but we have no complaints as long as we get a fair deal.”
Emphasizing on organic farming, the group focuses 70 per cent on floriculture and the rest on exotic vegetables. Pune, Bangalore and Delhi are our main markets for flowers. We tried our hands at floral decorations in IT companies but didn’t get expected returns. We have handed over packing of vegetables to a female self-help group to help them in their enterprises.”
Today, Abhinav farmers’club has 256 members in Pune and 75 groups in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. According to Bodke, farming can be a lucrative option as it is an essential commodity and will never lose its importance. Educated youth should come forward, use technology efficiently. From Government, we expect better connectivity, transport, power supply and clean administration. Our fundamental aim is to make farmers self-sufficient,” he concludes.
The club provides training classes and workshops for organic farming, greenhouse cultivation etc. Contact them to find out more.
It’s not always your day if you are a farmer. However, an out-of-the-box idea can help farmers reap rich harvests as proven by Abhinav Farmers’Club.
We at RFI have tried to give you these Stories, which have individually proved to all Indians, that without these two, the country cannot survive.
India has moved ahead and with such Jawans and Technology prone Kisaans who are Rising for India, we can definitely hope for a better tomorrow.