Friday, September 10, 2010

Victimization of landlords

It’s a common sight to see or hear landlords being criticized in our society. Allegations are put up against them that they are cruel, illiterate, violent, rich, etc. Everyone so easily goes about saying it without much thought as to if actually the scenario is like that too anymore or not. People who have never known a landlord or their family or been to the rural areas without any thought, but with all the audacity go about saying everything they possibly can about them. All the wrongs of the world exist for them in the rural areas and all the problems are rooted with landlords and a feudal society. These urban fellows reading textbooks and seeing the media have finalized their mindset hearing one side of the story and are strong defendants over their beliefs, so much that they won’t spare any room for criticisms if given any chance to speak over it. It amazes me how people still think that peasants are oppressed and how can they generally assume all landlords are powerful and cruel. It’s about time these people get a reality check.

Anything assumed generally cannot me true for each individual. Some surely may be of this sort but it’s completely wrong to generalize the assumption for everyone without even thinking about or looking at the other aspect of the story. Belonging to rural Sindh and from a landlord family myself, let me try and put the true picture together for all of such people I have come across and so often. Lands nowadays are so expensive that no one usually buys them anymore and the land holdings people have are finishing in terms of the divisions due to inheritance and in turn become so small holdings therefore big landlords are diminishing and small holdings being sold off and influence these lands brought to the landlords ending.

Nowhere in the world would it be like this that the output of the lands is divided on 50:50 basis among the peasants and the landlord. The relationship is the most favorable for peasants. They do not have a high standard of living that demands of them a lot of outflow expenses. They live on the lands of the landlords all their lives in simple homes that do not require a lot of maintenance cost, they do not have to pay for education as their children do not go to schools, even if they are acquiring they do not have to pay huge amounts for it, they eat from the output of the land that comes in their share, they have dairy animals that too support their food requirements, surpluses of crop and output from animals are sold, the animals too are fed on the lands they are living on and the landlord also provides them security and supports them in all times of need. And in any time of need for money they can easily sell an animal of theirs or surpluses of their crops or the landlord too does give it to them.

The pesticides and fertilizers cost is shared among the peasants and the landlords. Providing the water to the lands, the water tax and the land tax is on the landlord. The seeds and 2 ploughs on the land for each crop is on the peasants but paid initially by the landlord and deducted from the share of output of the peasants when the crop is harvested. One other plough and leveling on the land is also on the landlord. The de-silting of the water cannels to the lands each year is also a cost for the landlord.

The landlords have a higher standard of living to maintain as compared to the peasants. They have high education costs to pay for their children, houses rents, house maintenance, utility bills, petrol for home vehicles, travelling costs to and fro to the lands, etc to maintain in these times of high inflation. The output or investment for crops is a 100% risk. Any problems like weather, too cold or hot even for a day can ruin the crop completely, slight rain or dew is another huge risk, stealing of crop, being attacked very often by different sorts of insects, pesticides and even rats is quite possible, water shortages or delay in water supply can also add to not being able to harvest the crop on time or getting less produce and after the all the struggle it’s a common problem to get a proper price for it. The output is food for the whole country, but it isn’t insured. Being a perishable item it cannot be kept in store for too long but our beloved country does not have a fixed price mechanism for it. The prices keep fluctuating due to monopoly of the mill owners and there is no back-up support from the government. In other countries, government fixes a rate and buys it at that price and itself sells it to the mill owners. The landlords in Pakistan however aren’t even sure of their expected income. And whatever they earn they have to survive on for 3-4 months till the next crop is harvested.

The landlord usually does not have enough money to buy the seeds, fertilizers and pesticides for their lands and have to take it on credit from the grain merchants. The landlord pays an interest on these goods borrowed as the grain merchant seeing the landlord’s plight quotes a price higher than the prevailing market price. And then, the landlord is also bound to sell his crop through that same grain merchant who charges him 5-6% commission on sale of his crop for getting it sold. A landlord surely has lands but the bank does not accept it as a guarantee for any amount of loan. The only loans a landlord gets on the basis on his lands are agricultural loans that go only for agricultural purposes and with a loss all the time with the output has difficulties to pay.

Having to survive these realities our present society still advocates a strong dedicated criticisms towards them sadly with not much knowledge. The society remains a feudal one, not just because of landlords but because of industrialists. These modern bourgeous aren’t ever subjected to the kind of talk landlords/agriculturists face. Even though they are the ones who are the actual earners who buy cheap raw materials and with little finishing added, sell them at a higher price being the actual earners of someone else’s hard work. Storing and hiding of goods to create a short supply and earn higher, inflation has great attributes to their greed that has made survival for the common made quite difficult to cope with. Why then isn’t industrial feudalism challenged??

While industrialists are the actual bad guys around, all criticisms towards them is fine and forgotten as if hard work to earn is just put in by them. Lands of landlords are assumed as ‘kabzas’ without any proper proof and knowledge although for many it’s out of hard earned money. But taking for granted everyone boldly goes saying their heart. Easy to criticize? How about experimenting growing and selling output on a piece of land yourself? Then perhaps it would be worth listening to these trended criticisms and theoretical debate. For all the landlords families, educated your children don’t return to the occupation, why put unvalued efforts for the country’s food to face continuous harsh criticism? Let adopt the modern feudalist trend instead concealed good in our society’s mind.

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