• ‘Tell me how to do farming?’

    Ajit Shelke or ‘Rapboss’ sings powerfully in this Marathi rap song about the acute distress of farmers in Maharashtra: ‘I see there is now only one option to choose, Around my neck, do I hang the noose?’

    Rapboss and Chetan Garud Productions/PARI

    July 1, 2019

    Image courtesy Purusottam Thakur/ People's Archive of Rural India.

    Sanga sheti karu kashi, karu kashi?
    Potachi khalgi bharu kashi, bharu kashi…?

    Tell me how to do farming? Tell me how?
    How to fill the pit of my tummy? Tell me how?

    These are questions that farmers in distress face every day in India. But who will care to listen on behalf of the poshinda – the one who feeds the world – asks singer and lyricist old Ajit Shelke.

    “I’ve seen with my own eyes how farmers have to struggle to get a fair price for their crops. Promises of MSP [a minimum support price] and loan waivers are only used for political purposes,” says 22-year-old Ajit, who is a student at an engineering college in Barshi town of Solapur district, Maharashtra.

    Singer-lyricist Ajit Shelke: 'The one who feeds the world, Has today gone to bed hungry'

    Ajit’s family owns eight acres of land in Shelka-Dhanora village of Kalamb taluka in Osmanabad district, on which they grow soyabean and Bengal gram. If it rains, they cultivate sugarcane too. “I have seen my father struggle to repay the loans he took to pay for our education,” he says. “For years, we went through some very hard times.”

    Many who live in the cities are insensitive to the daily struggles of farmers, he adds. “In the market, people will haggle over the price of vegetables with the poor men and women who sell them. But the same people will buy expensive goods in large shopping malls without any bargaining.”

    Chetan Garud, the producer of this video, has worked for over 10 years with Marathi entertainment television channels. He setup his own production house a few years ago and gives opportunities to young rural artists. Chetan’s parents are also farmers.


    सांगा शेती करु कशी ?                                    

    जनता सारी झोपली का?
    शेतकऱ्यावर कोपली का?
    आत्महत्येची कारणे त्याच्या
    सांगा तुम्ही शोधली का?

    शोभली का तुम्हाला
    भाकरी त्याचा कष्टाची?
    दोन रूपयाच्या भाजी साठी
    वाद केला त्याच्याशी

    चार घोट पानी पिऊन
    खेटर घेतलं उशाशी
    पोशिंदा तो जगाचा
    आज झोपला रं उपाशी

    सांगा शेती करु कशी?
    करु कशी?
    पोटाची खळगी भरु कशी?
    भरु कशी? 

    कांद्याला भाव नाय
    उसाला भाव नाय
    तुरीला भाव नाय
    खाऊ काय?

    आलेल्या पैश्यात
    उधारी दिली मी
    सावकाराला देऊ काय?

    पोराच्या शाळेची
    फीस नाय भरली
    पोराला घरिच
    ठेवू काय?

    एकच दिसतो
    पर्याय आता
    गळ्याला फास मी
    लावू काय?

    व्यापाऱ्याची मनमानी
    सरकारची आणीबाणी 
    शान के साथ यांचा थाट
    कष्टकऱ्याच्या डोळ्यात पानी

    पानी कसं शेताला देऊ
    वीज दिली रात्रीची
    रात्रीच्या त्या काळोखात
    भीती विंचू सापाची

    सांगा शेती करु कशी?
    करु कशी?
    पोटाची खळगी भरु कशी?
    भरु कशी? 

    मेहनत करुन पिकवलेल्या
    मालाला आमच्या कमी भाव
    सरकार जरी बदललं तरी
    कागदावरच हमी भाव

    भेगा पडल्या धरणीमायला
    दुष्काळी झाली परिस्थिती
    सर्वे,दौरे खोटे सगळे
    प्रचारासाठीची उपस्थिति

    जिवाच्या पल्याड जपलेली
    माझी सर्जा-राजा उपाशी
    उपाशी त्यांना ठेऊन सांगा
    भाकरी मी खाऊ कशी

    प्रश्न माझा, उत्तर द्या
    सांगा शेती करु कशी?

    सांगा शेती करु कशी?
    करु कशी?
    पोटाची खळगी भरु कशी?
    भरु कशी? 


    Tell me how to do farming

    Are all the people sleeping?
    Are they angry with the farmer?
    Tell me, have you searched for
    The reasons that led to his suicide?

    Was it befitting of you?
    To snatch his hard-earned bread
    When you haggled with him
    For vegetables worth two rupees

    Gulps four sips of water
    Rests his head on slippers
    How to fill the pit of my stomach?
    Tell me how?

    Tell me how to do farming? 
    Tell me how?
    How to fill the pit of my stomach?
    Tell me how?

    Onions don't fetch a good price
    Sugarcane doesn’t get a good price 
    Tur sells at a pittance 
    Tell me what to eat?

    The little money I earned
    Went to my creditors
    What do I give to the money lender?

    My son's school fees,
    I have yet to pay
    Do I keep him out of school
    And just at home let him stay?

    I see there is now
    Only one option to choose
    Around my neck
    Do I hang the noose?

    The trader’s caprice,
    The government’s emergency
    Their lifestyle is of luxury
    The labourer’s eyes have tears

    How do I water my farm?
    The electricity is on only at night
    In the darkness of the night
    Living in fear of snakes and scorpions

    Tell me, how to do farming? 
    Tell me how?
    How to fill the pit of my stomach?
    How to fill?

    Grown with sheer hard work 
    Our crops fetch a low price
    Even with a change in government
    The MSP is only on paper

    Mother Earth is parched and dry
    The condition is that of drought
    Surveys, visits, are all a sham
    They are merely election campaigns

    Those who I cared for, more than my life
    my Sarja-Raja are starving today
    Tell me, how can I eat bhakri
    While keeping them hungry so

    This is my question
    Now give me an answer
    Tell me, how to do farming? 

    Tell me, how to do farming? 
    Tell me how?
    How to fill the pit of my stomach?
    Tell me how?

    From the YouTube page for this song: या गीताचा (शेतकऱ्यांच्या भावनांचा) वापर कुठल्याही राजकीय पक्षाने स्वतःच्या हितासाठी करु नये. (This song and the sentiments of farmers should not be used by any political party for their own benefit.)

    This video has been republished with permission of the artist Rapboss (Ajit Shelke) and the producer Chetan Garud of Chetan Garud Productions.

    This article was originally published in People's Archive of Rural India on June 24, 2019.

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