We, The Educated Class Have Failed
The educated class in India is living in a bubble. In India, we quite often forget that the majority of our citizens are in rural areas. This leads to us developing apathy to the rural section of society. We think of them as people who are not smart and who lack the political knowledge to make the right decisions. We think that they get swayed by religious issues and vote based on caste or creed. We think that they do not know what is good for the country. We couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Here is a transcription of a recent clip from an airing of NDTV’s Prime Time With Ravish Kumar on the recent debates and protests about the problems faced by women farmers in India. This transcript has been edited for contextual clarity.
Ravish Kumar: Aapke pitaji kheti karte hain?
Translation: Does your father farm?
Farmer’s son: Pitaji maa dono kheti karte hain.
Translation: My father and mother both farm.
Ravish Kumar: Jo aapke gaon me kheti karne vale parivar ke bache hai kaha padhne jaate hai?
Translation: Where do the kids of farmers in your village go to school?
Farmer’s son: Abhi sarkari school me paadhne jaate hain.
Translation: Right now they go to a government school.
Ravish Kumar: Vahan toh fees free hi hoti hain.
Translation: These schools are free of cost.
Farmer’s son: Lekin saatvi ya aathvi tak sarkari school mein jaate hain aur baadmein toh high-level ke education ke liye bahar hi jana padta hai. Udhar ki fees toh hume parvadti nahi hai kisan ke bacho ko.
Translation: Yes, but we only go to government schools till 7th or 8th grade. We have to go out [of the village] for higher-studies. It is not viable for us farmers to pay those fees.
Ravish Kumar: Toh aap nahi de paate hain?
Translation: So you can’t afford those fees?
Farmer’s son: Hum nahi de paate hain. Hum toh ya kheti karte hain ya toh berozgaar ho jaate hain ya fir kidhar bhi mazdoori karte hain. Toh aisi sarkaar kis kaam ki? Jo hamari kisano ki baat nahi sunti?
Translation: No, we can’t afford those fees. Either we farm, or we are unemployed or we do some kind of other labor. What’s the point of this government? [A government] that doesn’t listen to us farmers?
Ravish Kumar: Yeh jo TV pe Hindu-Muslim dikhate hain toh wahi karo, time kat jata hai wahi 25 saal aaram se kat jata hai.
Translation: All the time on TV is taken up by talking about Hindus, Muslims [and their problems]. This can go on for 25 years easily.
Farmer’s son: Toh rozgaar ki baat kaun karega?
Translation: So who will talk about employment?
Ravish Kumar: Uski zaroorat kya hai? Vahi baat na ho to isliye to TV pe yeh itne news channel wale Hindu-Muslim dikhate hai, wahi karo mann laga ke. Aap dekho mukhyamantri baat kar rahe hain, party ke adhyaksh Hindu-Muslim ki baat kar rahe hain, news anchor Hindu-Muslim ki baat kar rahe hain. Yeh sab dekhte nahi hain. Aap karo jo karana chahte hain.
Translation: What is the use [of talking about employment]? To avoid talking about [employment], TV news channels talk about Hindus and Muslims. The Chief Minister is talking about that, the chief of the party is talking about that, news anchors are talking about that. They don’t look at all this. Why don’t you do what they ask you to do?
Farmer’s son: Dekhte hai, dekhte hai, unko jo karna hai vo kare. Lekin hum shiksha ki aur rozgaar ki baat karenge.
Translation: We’ll see, we’ll see. Let them do whatever they want, but we [farmers] will talk about education and employment.
If a farmer who hasn’t gone to school after 8th grade can talk about issues that really matter, it shows that you don’t need 12+ years of school to be able to see through all the pointless discussions that we can avoid in the 21st century and really work on pushing our society forward. There must be thousands, if not millions of underprivileged people who think like this farmer.
Quite often, we put ourselves on a pedestal when it comes to political knowledge and debates. We see people who post on social media about how the current government is developing India or how it is ruining it and we see people talk about religious issues. Why do we talk about these things? Do they actually affect us directly? Do these things improve the quality of our lives? While talking and debating lead to policy change, are these the most pressing issues for our people?
News channels in India debate on unnecessary issues quite often just because they are paid to keep people away from the actual issues the country is facing. But one must ask, who is watching these shows? Not these farmers, it is the educated part of our society.
Watch the video here (skip to 18:32):