Singers of Bagepalli

As the southern Sangharsh Sandesh Yatra continued its march ahead in Karnataka, additional plight of the struggling Indians came to the fore – an irony that one of the richest regions in the country is still awaiting basic living infrastructure despite 60 years of planning. A look in to the region and its people.
“We are the people passionate about the red flag;
We are the ones who were born with the red flag in our hands.”
Sings a local troop of singers in their rustic voice, accompanied by the beating of drums and other musical instruments as the Jatha, ushered in by a 1000-motorcycle cavalcade entered the dusty roads of Bagepally, off the NH 7 connecting the twin shining diamonds of the great Indian dream – Bangalore and Hyderabad.
As the group of 5 or so singers continued to sing about the plights and the hopes of the people, about 3,000 odd supporters of CPI (M) and its policies gave resounding welcome to the members of the Jatha. The Jatha has clocked nearly 1200 kms and covered three South Indian states and touched over 7,00,000 people directly over the last seven days.
The small township of Bagepally is caught between the proverbial dichotomy of India and Bharat. While the perils of the lack of living standards are rampant, it is about two hours from Bangalore and about 5 hours from Hyderabad. It has basic facilities that are small compared to what Bangalore can offer and that the people are struggling to make their ends meet.
One such citizen of Bagepalli is Ramdurulu, who runs a tea and snacks shop alongside the strip of land where the people are assembled in rapt attention to listen to the leaders and the vision of CPI (M) for a new India.
He has a family of five to feed to and has lost his capacity to speak legibly and the freedom to own his own land – all to a moneylender to whom he had mortagaged his land to survive a dreadful mouth cancer. He received one lakh rupees for treatment, but has turned from a farmer who had a comfortable living to a small time trader.
While chatting with us, in his not so legible speech, this small time entrepreneur told us that he wouldn’t care a bit if there is education, water, sanitation or employment for all with a look which didn’t hide his cynicism. According to him such issues are not that important to him as his primary aim is to repay his loan and get his land back. He needs the land to later use it to raise money to marry his daughters. His current profession does not give him that luxury.
He is more interested in knowing how the big companies like Wal-Mart are going to come to India to replace him. His questions were very pointed and matter of fact. “Will I be forcefully removed? Will they replace me? Will we be protected? How can I save myself?”
This region of Karnataka is known for its table top grapes (Known as Bangalore Blue), oranges, watermelons and an array of vegetables. The Jatha route from Bangalore till here is dotted with farms growing all these fruits and vegetables in a land that is rather dry. The hard work of the farmers and agricultural workers is quite visible. Only, their lives are not as fresh and lively as the fruits and vegetables they grow.
The journey of the Jatha through this unique land was an eye opener for many. Farmers are facing huge problems as far as irrigation and prices are concerned. Basic education and health facilities are too few to be noticed, one has to travel at least 20 kms for emergency medical care.
The fact that the people are longing for a change is evident from the turnout that the Jatha has witnessed throughout its journey and in its interactions with the people.
The Jatha, which was entered the region at Tippinagahally, travelled over 20 kms accompanied by the motorcycle riding comrades to the first meeting point at Gouribidanur.