It is a well-known fact that prime minister Narendra Modi is given to hyperbole while deploying his oratorical skills to dramatic effect. But for once his wise-crack in Kerala went awry. During electioneering in the state he waded in with his controversial comparison of Kerala with Somalia. No sooner had he made the remark that he was hauled over the coals in the social media. He was trolled with the hashtag #PoMoneModi (Get lost Modi), an improvisation from actor Mohanlal’s punchline PoMone Dinesha in “Narasimham”, a huge box-office success. He could have acknowledged Kerala’s high human development indices before highlighting the plight of the adivasis in the state. Had he qualified his comment by stating that the adivasis still live in destitution despite the state’s well-appreciated standards of living and admitted that the unmitigated poverty in the tribal belt is a collective failure of the central and state governments, he would not have provoked a public outcry. He would have got trolled less trenchantly, if he could boast of higher levels of nutrition in Gujarat and other BJP-ruled states. If Kerala model of development is replaced with Gujarat’s model of development, it will be the nightmare scenario. The similitude he drew between India’s adivasis and Somalians was only an attempt at exploiting the situation for his own purposes. A ‘nationalist’ prime minister cannot trumpet that Wayanad in Kerala, where adivasis live, is India’s answer to Somalia. PM can still salvage the situation by announcing a special economic package for the impoverished adivasis in Kerala’s Attapadi, no matter whether his party opens an account or not in this round of election.
G David Milton
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Promote desi cotton
This is in reference to the article “Nationalism in cotton fields” (FE, May 11) The failure of Bt cotton crop (grown incurring debts on buying costly seeds & pesticides) accounts for the maximum number of farmer suicides in India. Not only has Bt Cotton failed to control it’s target pest, bollworm, which has developed resistance to the toxins in the crop but is also creating new non-target pests like whitefly, aphids, jassids, apart from harming pollinators like bees, beneficial soil micro-organisms and also animals like goats, sheep and buffaloes which graze on these stalks. Studies by the Navdanya foundation run by the illustrious environmentalist Vandana Shiva have revealed that pesticide use has increased 13% times since Bt cotton was introduced, while organic cotton yields have doubled, earning the farmers 10 times more income. She also says that toxicity of Bt cotton impacts Ayurveda which uses cotton seeds, roots, flowers and oil to treat various ailments. The solution is to embrace natural farming based on desi, non-GMO seeds, organic fertilizers, pesticides which makes the cotton farmer self-sufficient and free from debts.