Price rise? It’s not less than a systematic genocide of the poor and Adivasis

Xavier Dias

Reminiscing on Dal-Pulses-Lentils power games.

Some four decades ago when I came to live in this beautiful Adivasi homeland Jharkhand, I spent a lot of time traveling amidst its villages and people in the Saranda forest region.

Coming from a Mumbai or Bombay, working class family, I was struck by the simple diet of the people here.

They would offer me a plate of steaming rice, a sag or spinach or leafy vegetable dish made with just green peppers, a little garlic and NO OIL cause they could not afford oil. Green chillie or pepper and salt was always there but occasionally a bowl of dal or lentils or pulses.

This Dal or pulses was made with the rice-water or starch (recycling precious food) we urban people normally discard in the drain when straining the rice. But even then in those days they my Adivasi host could afford just a fist full of Dal. I could count the grain of this important protein in the bowl they would offer me. Again it was made of just a little salt, turmeric, green chilly and a few garlic pods.

For me a Goan brought up on a diet of Pork Vindaloo, Beef roast and Fish curry stewed in Coconut sauce as a regular diet, it was extremely difficult to understand how my Adivasi host and especially their children could live on such a low protein diet.

Today, in Modi’s fascist era circa 2015.

I have not partaken in a meal with Adivasi villagers for the past five years. But then pre ’80’s the price of Dal or lentils was about Rs 10 a kg. Today it is Rs 200/- I am sure that a majority of Adivasi peoples living in villages CANNOT AFFORD these pulses any more. So then what are they eating right now? What protein are their children getting?

I am still a lower middle class person and for the past month I JUST CANNOT AFFORD LENTILS which is costing now Rs 200 per kg today. Stopped cooking it even though my children demand it.

If this is my condition then just imagine what is the condition of the Adivasi people in this Adivasi Homeland? What are they feeding their children with in order that their brain, bones, muscles, develop?

And Onions? forget them I do not purchase them any more.

I personally feel, and I know most of my elite friends will call this, my testament, a bizarre statement, but : I feel that the classes that rule us the SUPER RICH have consciously conspired by manipulating the food market to ‘cut off’ about half of the population of this country from essential carbohydrates and protein. They would just like them to DIE provided that they, these Adivasi Dalit people can provide them with ‘servants’ ‘domestic help’ before they die.

This manipulation of the food market is an act of GENOCIDE; but most privileged super rich class Indians will not accept it: They would like the poor to just vanish. And they will get the support of English speaking Intellectuals academicians politicians et all for this their agenda.

Remember they not only control the markets but also the definition, the idiom, the ideology, of it through their excellent academic jargon – IN ENGLISH is important.

Think friends! Because some day you my friends too will be on this vanishing list.


Xavier Dias lives in Ranchi and has participated in the Jharkhand movement for the past 40yrs through workers organisations and land rights and homeland rights movements


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