The “Vulture” is a short story by Franz Kafka, written sometime between 1917 and 1923. It’s about a vulture that takes his wing and thrusts its beak into the protagonist’s head, killing him, but also drowning in his blood. This is a typical nightmarish situation to which most Indian citizens can somehow relate, even though it’s a strongly surreal one. Discerning readers may find some striking parallels between the vulture in the story and Indian politicians. It is true that a majority of Indian politicians and vultures share eerie similarities, except that vultures perform a vital role as scavengers. No such merit can be attributed to the typical venal local politician of this country.
Yesterday as Gajendra Singh perished as a crowd watched, one could have safely predicted that the issue would fast acquire a political tinge. It did. Before his death was even confirmed, talking heads were polishing their face paints, ready to accuse all and sundry for staging a conspiracy. The sequence of blaming went something like this: First the Aam Aadmi Party blamed the police. Then the Congress blamed the Aam Aadmi Party. Then the Bharatiya Janata Party jumped on board, holding a press conference to insist the Delhi Chief Minister was to blame. Then an AAP leader implied that there was a conspiracy. The circus went on for a while and then as quickly as it had begun the din died down. Lost in the chaos and the crocodile tears was the harsh reality of the average Indian farmer.
Television screens across the country have been busy broadcasting images of everything from Narendra Modi’s trip abroad to the new outfits of Indian Premier League (IPL) teams in the past few weeks. What was perhaps glaringly missing from them was the sight of a common Indian farmer standing in his field and mourning the loss of an entire crop he had painstakingly nurtured over many months. Even yesterday, rather than focus on the severe agrarian distress affecting the farmers of this country, all the intelligentsia could focus on was the irrelevant question of blame. As politicians across the spectrum indulge in a mad rush to score brownie points by blaming each other, they resolutely ignore the real underlying issues plaguing Indian farmers. Crop loss, drought, price crash, the Indian farmer is battling many challenges. What he does not need is a game of political football on top of this.