By Vasanthkumar Mysoremath
Mysuru, April 13:- No doubt, tobacco growers are also our brothers and sisters in the farming sector and they are also aware that their tobacco crop is harmful and causing death to their brothers and sisters; they are also aware that economic return for their sweat and struggle is not commensurate; that their labour is only enriching the tobacco industry; that they are not able to repay the easy loans being extended to keep them as eternal debtors to banks and loan sharks; that many of their clan are committing suicide on account of either failure of crops or vagaries of nature.
Farmers are also rendering a disservice to our country’s food security by cultivating poisonous tobacco instead of food grains in the available fertile lands. They do not seem to be aware that due to vagaries of the natural world is facing vulnerable situations like alarming reduction in fertile land mass due to global warming, melting of snow clad mountains that result in raising of ocean levels with enormous tidal waves flooding coastal areas and grabbing away fertile soil into the seas, etc. They must be educated for giving up tobacco cultivation and start adopting alternate crops that are useful to human beings since there is nothing good about tobacco.
The question that is arising in the minds of non-smoking voters is why they should vote for candidates who are promoting deadly and poisonous tobacco crop and rendering a disservice to the health of the people and also to the farming community.
The candidates interest in promoting tobacco is highly conflicting due to the following facts and figures: As Members of Parliament they have taken part in discussions about tobacco control efforts; how India, as a signatory to the UN/WHO sponsored Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), has to fulfill its international commitment in reducing tobacco consumption by 2020 and how, as responsible MPs, it is their duty and responsibility to help India achieve the goal.
They must be role models in this noble cause of control over tobacco and advise farmers not to continue cultivating tobacco. Political parties/candidates, if elected, must promise to initiate healthy debates in Parliament demanding necessary plans of action to help tobacco farmers give up tobacco and take up farming of alternative crops that can fetch them more than tobacco earning.
They must also advise the farmers about the urgent need for voluntary stoppage of tobacco cultivation with the help of tobacco control plans of action, surrender their barns, licenses and become beneficiaries of such facilities and amenities/loans. This noble cause of farmers will also save humanity from pains and pangs of deadly diseases caused by the consumption of poisonous tobacco crop. Similarly, the candidates must suggest to Government ways and means of rehabilitating other workers/traders dependent upon the tobacco industry. (The writer is honorary adviser, Cancer Patients Aid Association and convener, Anti-Tobacco Forum, Mysuru)