Damoh – the centre of India

By Virma Ram | Last Updated: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 20:10
Virma Ram
A voice of Thar

Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh was in news recently due to some unfortunate circumstances and incidents. Four farmers have committed suicide and more than 10 have tried to attempt the same here. Crop destruction caused by cold wave is the reason behind such unfortunate incidents.

Damoh, known as the city of grace and affection, lies in the heart of India. We can find it at the centre of India if we trace it in a map. I got the opportunity to visit Damoh few days back. Far from the hectic life of metro cities, Damoh is a sleepy and peaceful place. A wonderful kind of silence can be found in the urban as well as rural areas of Damoh.

However, backwardness and deficiency have their own stories to tell. All the roads which lead to Damoh are in a very bad shape. There is only one big cement factory at Narsinghgarh in the name of industry. It was built in the 1970s by the Birlas. Unemployment is a big problem here. People regularly migrate to big cities in search of jobs.

Tribal people comprise an important part of Damoh’s demographic set-up. They mainly live in jungles and remote areas of the city. They mostly depend on natural resources, while the rest of the population depends on agriculture for livelihood.

I was mesmerized by the lavish, green paddy, pulses, vegetable fields and jungles during my visit. But unfortunately, the same fields and jungles are sending across horrible news these days. Crops are getting destroyed due to intense cold and frost. Farmers are helpless; no one is there to help them financially or even sympathize with them. Four farmers have committed suicide under these circumstances. Over 10 other farmers or their family members attempted the same. Such horrible news is commonplace.

Damoh is part of the Bundelkhand region. No one knows what happened to the much hyped Bundelkhand package? Where was the money and aid distributed? Three ministers including the state Agriculture Minister represent Damoh in the state government. The highest number of such incidents happened in Pathriya constituency of Ramkrishna Kusumariya, the Agriculture Minister in the Madhya Pradesh government. “All such incidents take place because God is angry,” said Kusumariya. Why and what kind of enmity does God have with these helpless, innocent, honest and laborious farmers? At least I cannot understand. Anyways, the minister is doing something in the name of help, aid and grant. He is organizing “Ram Katha” at various places of Damoh.

As Opposition, Congress is very weak in the state. The party has won just one or two seats in the assembly elections and has never won any Lok Sabha election here in the past 20 years. The party mainly suffers from groupism. BJP’s strategies are also responsible for the weakness of Opposition.

Under these circumstances, it appears nobody is concerned about or cares for the farmers. Unfortunately, our policy-makers have failed to realize the cost of farmers’ sweat in the past 60 years. I can only pray for them, but the government must take some action urgently.

However, not everything about Damoh is negative. For example, Mahatma Gandhi came to Damoh in 1933 and laid the foundation stone of a gurudwara between Harijan and Muslim colonies. The Sikh community is taking care of gurudwara very well. Famous Kundalpur Jain temple, Bandakpur Shiv temple and historical temple of Nohta on the Jabalpur- Damoh highway (which is in a very bad shape and has been under-construction for the last 8 years) are important destinations in the city. There is a lot of potential for tourism here.

Let’s talk about my friend in the last part of this piece. He is Ratnesh Soloman, a Christian and a Congress MLA. There are total of only five votes from the Christian community in his Jabera Assembly constituency. Soloman has been contesting elections since 1980. He had won the election on a Congress ticket during the saffron wave of Uma Bharti and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. I think Soloman’s example shows how sometimes our constitutional institution works despite various negatives like caste and community in electoral politics.

The education industry is also flourishing in Damoh. Education business here is mainly controlled by people who have a say in the government or can influence the government machinery. What they now need to do is to establish employment-oriented industries here and bring opportunity to those who need it most.

First Published: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - 20:10

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