Sunday, April 22, 2012

PAUPER’S LOG: Sleep As We Swell!



Sleep As We Swell!

By Abu Arsh

Post tsunami of 2004 has shown that our greed and callous attitude has given way to more degradation of our resources as if there's no tomorrow. Administration after making a meal of the whole Tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction has come up with great statistics on the decadal people count wherein we have increased a mere twenty more thousand heads. What has perplexed a majority of the Islanders is -where have all the people gone whom we see participating in every other sphere of life in the Islands. There has been an enormous influx in population which a common lay man can see but strangely our enumerators don't. In every trade you see availability of cheap labour and small trade operators of origin which no one has any clue about. We find people of either Oriya, Bengali, Chattisgarhi, Jharkhandi or maybe neither of these but Bangladeshi's. This was not the case a decade ago.    
A new breed of sharecroppers has come up dominating the production chain of vegetables all the year round. These people claim to be from 24 Paraganas or the Sunderbans. Technology adopted is effective with zero tillage and no farm machinery used. Virgin forest area adjoining the fields is also brought under cultivation. Entire government depots of fertilizers are bought and enormous doses of pesticides used. The seeds are extra short duration and of the hybrid variety. The veggies are of sizes and colours never before seen by Islanders. Consuming these lead to serious systemic health issues with young greying before their grandparents did. The growers themselves don't consume the veggies they grow but survive on potatoes and rice. Majority of these are seen buying rice and kerosene from Fair Price Shops at a premium which our affluent islanders by virtue of several pay commission dole outs, don't use for the costlier Ponni and LPG.
The local unskilled and semi-skilled market is also dominated by these. All the labourers of civil contractors are these and their efficiency or output is unrivalled, the contractors would vouch for this. Be it plumbing, carpentry or furniture maker, half of the auto drivers, all of the bearers and room boys in bars and hotels, porters at the airports, cleaners and mechanics at workshops, putchka and noodle sellers on all the possible junctions of the islands are these people. Every other Rural and Urban area of these islands has a sizeable population of these new islanders who wield Chinese make mobile phones with blaring speakers. They come out in the evening and hang out at various joints to have tea, watch television and more importantly charge their mobile batteries especially in rural areas. The reason for this prominently being their habitations doesn't have electricity in the rural areas. Every shack in urban is on rent and the landlord makes a quick buck.        
These new crop of Islanders have several sympathizers starting from their employers, leasers, general islanders, small time politicians and the big bosses of politics/ administration for their efficiency and vulnerability. They would get a ration card, an identity card, a driving license, a passport and what have you by the generosity of these sympathizers. They have contributed enormously to our economy post tsunami and have contributed to the fortune of many including their own. They have contributed even to the crime rate, novel ways of burglaries and encroachment of Government land. Many unsolved cases of heinous crimes like murder can be attributed to them owing to personal rivalries.
Many of us may argue we need these- 'may be or may be not Bangladeshi's' for the Island's economy to strive and survive like all the major cities in rest of India are doing. One fine day a Bal Thackrey would wake up from his slumber and ask his goons to bash and extradite these poor souls as they are eating up on the prospects of the local Marathas. Unfortunately these Islands cannot have this dubious distinction because by the time we realize who these people are they would have become important vote bank and outnumber us as is the case in some North Eastern states. An Administration which cannot count or identify their nationality nor prevent them from contaminating our food or enjoying our subsidies would not be able to stop them from easily assimilating in the Islands society. Who knows? One of them could become the Chief Minister of the islands when it'll have a Legislative Assembly to meet the aspirations of the islanders, sick to the bone of Bureaucratic rule.

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