THE PLIGHT OF A VILLAGE DURING THE ‘LOCK DOWN’: Linganapura, Ramanagara District
Kaveri Das

About one thousand people live in Linganapura village, which is a part of Ramanagara District. Among them, some of them are daily wage workers. Some of them are construction labourers and some are tree-cutters. The youth and the women of the area work in cardboard factories in nearby Harohalli and some are menial labourers in the cooker, doll making and ice-cream factories. They receive an average salary of about Rs. 7000 or 8000 per month.

Some of the people of this village cultivate small agricultural plots. They do not totally depend on agriculture. They just grow some millets and legumes for their own requirement. They are totally dependent on daily wages and factory labour.

Presently with the ‘lockdown’ they are unable to do any work. The factories have declared ‘lock down’ and they have not received any salary. They should have at least given them half the salary; but no; they have not given them anything of that sort. Further, as there is no work, they are forced to spend their time at home. Almost fifty percent of them are very poor and are totally dependent on their daily wages. As no work is available they are almost starving as they have no money for food.

None of the benefits that the government has announced have reached these villages. Moreover, from the time ‘Lock Down’ has been announced, rations have not come to the ration shops. The pension for old age that is given to senior citizens and which was supposed to be given for three months has also not reached them. None of them have received any of the benefits that the government has announced. Currently, they are forced to take loans with interest for theirliving.

There are no provision stores in this village. They have to travel five kilometres to Maralavadi to buy provisions. Right now, some of the people from the neighbouring villages are selling a few vegetables that they have grown. This is only once in three days. As a result they get only a few vegetables, that too for high prices.
There are no health centres in this village. If they encounter any health problems, they have to go all the way to a hospital at Maralavadi. It is not easy to take the patients there. Added to this, proper medications are not available in this Government Hospital. The patients have to pay more and get them from the medical shops. In the current situation, they are trying to take home medicines and get some first aid within their homes.

Neither the Village Panchayat members nor the representatives responsible for this village are bothered about the problems. They have not even bothered to ask for certain commodities that are supposed to be supplied by the government. Further, they have not taken any trouble to take precautions for the emergency regarding the Corona pandemic. The drains in the village are filled with putrid matter and the elected representatives of the village have not taken any action to get them cleaned. The continuous rain that has lashed for the past three to four days is the right time for ploughing the farms. But, no tractors are available. Even if they are available, the cost is too high and small farmers cannot afford them. They have no money and they are in great trouble.

In case they have any bank work, they have to go to the UCO Bank at Maralavadi. This is the only bank available in the hobli. Presently, some people have received Rs.500 deposited into their account from the central Jan Dhan Yojana; but they have not been able to withdraw the money from the bank as there are no transport facilities to go to the bank. As there is only one bank in the hobli, quite a number of people from all around will have to gather together near the bank which is presently not possible and is dangerous.

Recently when Modi requested people to light lamps, people had spread rumours that lighting the lamp and doing poojas will kill the corona virus. Quite a number of people have done this. During difficult times like these, spreading of false rumours and superstitious beliefs will push these village people into more problems.

The most important thing is that almost 50 percent of the people in the village are poor and they have exhausted their rations. They have been borrowing money as loans from their neighbours. Quite a few of them have been generous enough to lend. In the present situation people who are lending could also become bankrupt. Now, the government should at least provide the poor with what is required for their dailyfood.

There are first generation learners who have been to high school and done their PUC. Due to poverty, about 75 percent of them have discontinued their studies, and have started working in factories. Only three-four of them are able to continue their degree and post- graduation studies on a part time basis. The students of this village do not have proper internet connections and mobile phones and are unable to participate in the online classes.

Only a limited number of people migrated to the towns from this village and therefore those who have returned are also very few. This is the picture of our village Linganapura.

The above article was written in Kannada by a village resident. Translation from Kannada to English was done by Ms. Srijaya Char.