Monday, July 28, 2008

More on Kalawati...A first-hand report

My friend Kiran Moghe from AIDWA has sent me this note that she prepared after a personal visit to Kalawati's household. She had visited Kalawati about 2 years ago with Kalindi Deshpande, another activist-leader of AIDWA: Ram

Kalawati Parshuram Bandorkar

The Bandorkar family is originally from Chandrapur district. They permanently migrated and settled in the Jalka village of Yeotmal over a decade ago in search of work. Parshuram Bandorkar had taken 9 acres on lease in this village for Rs. 1000 per acre. Parshuram cultivated the land together with wife Kalawati. She has 7 daughters and 2 sons; youngest of the sons is 7 years old. Two elder daughters are married.

When we met Kalawati in her village, she shared the sequence of events after the death of her husband. Parshuram had died two months ago by consuming pesticide. The factors leading to this drastic step were related to crop failure. He was expecting 15 quintals of cotton yield, but actually got only four quintals. Kalawati knew her husband was under pressure and constantly worried about repaying loans. She often used to tell him not to worry, as most loans were taken from her relatives. She comforted him by saying that they will pay back over a period. However, in the end it did not help.

For this year, Parshuram had taken a private loan against Kalawati's ornaments. What he did before ending his life was to get them released. He brought back her Mangalsutra and earrings from the money lender and purchased a new pair of Jodvi for her from the payment he got by vending the cotton crop. One day, Kalawati had gone to meet her daughter and Parshuram was alone at home, when he consumed pesticide.

Most loans were from her relatives, such as son-in-law, brother and sister. Kalawati admits repayment of Rs. 35,000 last year. Parshuram had given their pair of bullocks to their son-in-law towards repaying his loan of 15,000.

After Parshuram's suicide, the BDO sanctioned an immediate relief of Rs. 10,000; however, it proved of no help. A local shop keeper (PDS), who also helped her by giving grain on credit, helped her to get the amount. In turn, he requested her to give him that amount for some days. Obliged with his support, Kalawati could not refuse. Unfortunately, the person died in an accident before he could pay it back. No one in the village knows about this personal transaction and Kalawati hopes to get back her dues from the respective family.

The local MLA and the BDO visited her family after Parshuram’s death. However, no concrete help seems to be reaching the aggrieved family.

It was a slack season when we met Kalawati in February. The agricultural wage work situation was bad. She was doing cotton picking for meager Rs. 10 a day. In other seasons, the wages went up to Rs. 25. It was very difficult to raise a family of 7 dependents on such meager wages. She has decided to cultivate the farm this year at any cost. The input cost is 30,000 and the lease amount is 9,000. Kalawati has no credit access to fall back up on to meet these costs. She said, local people do not help financially. She expects the villager leaders to help her get back ten thousand from the concerned family.

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