Two superstars of South Indian film industry, took decision to join politics of Tamil Nadu. Mr. Kamal Hassan has formed his party and named it as Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM). Whereas, Mr. Rajnikanth has only made his intention clear but not officially formed his party yet. Both superstars of Tamil film industry have an army of their followers in India and abroad. Can these stars transfer their silver screen followers into political arena?
It is natural that new politician will try to catch on emerging issues to consolidate their impression on voters. What is more appropriate than raising issue of farmer distress and farmer suicide in Tamil Nadu. It is not surprising that both Mr. Kamal Hassan and Mr. Rajnikanth expressed solidarity with farmers agitating for formation of Cauvery Management Board. Formation of this board will facilitate sharing of water of Cauvery river between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states. In the absence of proper water sharing farmers in Tamil Nadu are facing water shortage. Many are committing suicide unable to payback debt when their crop fail due to lack of water. Both, Mr. Kamal Hassan and Mr. Rajnikanth demanded that Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket competition should be postponed or not played at all in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, till farmer distress is resolved. It was argued that by postponing IPL, pressure may be exerted on central government to resolve water sharing issue.
Undoubtedly, farmer distress is a serious issue. However, as Mr. Swaminathan Aiyer argues, farmer suicide in Tamil Nadu is not unusually high. Over the years number of suicide related death has come down18241 in 2004 to 11,370 deaths in 2016. Mr. Aiyer argues that suicide rate is three times higher among unemployed people outside farm sector. In Tamil Nadu as many as 148 girls commits suicide per one lakh people, a number which is ten times higher than farm suicide rate.
Without underming plight of farmers, it is difficult to understand how issues related to farmer can be resolved by stopping IPL matches? IPL is run by BCCI. By blocking IPL how will pressure be put on central government? Besides, IPL creates job opportunity for Indian cricketers, many accessory business opportunities crop up as IPL happens. Shutting down all such job related opportunities would create more joblessness. Instead of stopping IPL, why not billionaire actors Rajni Kanth and Kamal Hassan give their personal wealth up, live with farmers and try to assuage farmer distress? Why does Mr. Rajnikanth not stop release of his next film – Kabali? Or better, transfer proceeds from his film earning to alleviation of farmer distress?
Farmer distress is in India is due to outdated farming practices. No one talks about making farming efficient, improved water storage for tough time, use of drip irrigation and use of crop that is less water intensive. Almost everyone talk about loan waiver, a short term solution. For many many years farmers have been suffering. Strange only since 2014 the issue is being highlighted.