Sri Rangrao A. Patil

Venu Madhuri is my life

Ranga is 36 now. At the age of 18 he moved from Ramanwadi to Ichalkaranji to work on power loom. The reason to leave Ramanwadi was no water to do agriculture, although he had enough land. Ranga worked at Ichalkaranji for 13 years, he stayed in separation from his wife, children and homely atmosphere. Ranga: “working on power loom was a vain attempt to support my family as it was very difficult to fulfill the basic needs of family & for my stay at Ichalkaranji”.

Work condition as power loom operator: Ranga: (recalls the situation with deep sad feelings), “It was inhuman, 12-15 hours of continuous standing work, severely affecting health because of loud noise, fibers affecting lungs and little inattentiveness, you have to pay for your finger or hand. I was always treated as sold out labor, without any concern, because I had no better alternative; I somehow tolerated the abuse for 13 years”.

Accommodation: Ranga: “It was a small room of 10x15 feet. We were 10 of us staying and would cook in shifts. The room was congested, without proper ventilation. All stressed and abused inmates like me used to share feelings, it was more “misery loves company” but staying was miserable with bedbugs sucking during day and night and tortured room mates fighting in intoxication, with thefts being a common issue”.

Trap: During the 13 years of work at Ichalkaranji, Ranga was never able to save any money, nor was he able to send any substantial amount to Ramanwadi. It was always tough time; situation always forced Ranga to get loan in form of advances from the owner. Such advances never use to get cleared as the rate of interest would be very high and the need for next advance use to be very often. This powered the owner to do verbal abuse, to force him to work in three continuous shifts and during leave, when he would spend little extra time with family, the owner use to send gundas with vehicle to drag Ranga.

Second Trap On top of loan trap was another trap of staying in passionate city life that made Ranga’s situation from bad to worst, as several times, although he had less money, Ranga was carried away to spend money on cinema, eating non-vegetarian food and addiction. It was a vicious trap.

Home condition - Ranga got married at the age of 22 and left his wife back home with his father. It was tough time for her as she went through hard struggle at mental and physical levels in absence of Ranga. Farm work, cattle care, looking after three children, managing livelihood, and taking care of in-laws managing all together was very difficult. She always felt insecure and anxious for her husband at long distance, without any communication (this is before cell phone era and Ramanwadi was absolutely unlinked with road and wire). Ranga always use to be homesick and use to visit for 3-5 days once in 2 months. Several times during festivals, all family members used to eagerly wait for Ranga’s arrival; in that situation Ranga was pressurized with work target because of market demand.

Turning point Ranga: “I was well aware of Venu Madhuri’s village organization activities at Ramanwadi since 2001, as my family was already involved and was getting benefitted by it. It took me little extra time to get involve. But when the irrigation project was under planning, my wife and I decided to be a part of it, although it was difficult to contribute the individual contribution of Rs 5000. I again took loan from loom owner, & THAT WAS MY LAST LOAN, in first year itself I got returns three times more my investment share. As the irrigation project was successful, I worked very hard on my own field and that of my elder brother (as he was also trapped at Ichalkaranji) and gradually got completely settled at Ramanwadi.”

Before irrigation After irrigation
Own land under irrigation 10 gunta (1/4th acre) 3.5 acre
Sugar cane harvest 6 tones 80 tones
Sugarcane income at Ramanwadi Rs 12,000* Rs 1,60,000*
Income from other agriculture produce Rs 10,000 from rice Rs 21,000 from rice & oil seeds
Additional income from agriculture Nil Rs 5,000 for sugarcane cutting
Asset development - In 2009 constructed new house of Rs 3.5 lakh and developed 0.5 acre of cultivable land.
Income comparison as labor and farmer Rs 30,000/year as power loom labor Rs 1,86,000/year (2009) from agriculture as farmer
Total Income Rs 52,000/year from agri. & labor Rs 1,86,000/year Only from agriculture
*Calculated as per 2009 sugarcane rate of 2000Rs/tone

In year 2009 Ranga developed 20 gunta (1/2 acre) of land. Now he is cultivating sugar cane, ground nut & rice. With water, fodder got available so cattle number increased from 1 to 3. Today Ranga has 3 bulls named Nimai, Nitai and Kailas. With available dung gobargas was feasible. Due to gobargas everyday walk of 8km for fire wood collection is saved, conserving health and environment. Today the saved energy and time, family is able to utilize it for productive work like farming and for educating kids.

With agriculture development Ranga repaid the loan, developed existing farm, plotted wasteland into agriculture land and constructed new house. Today he is happy staying with his family and practicing agrarian lifestyle. Today Ranga is financially self-sufficient, he grows enough food for his family and surplus is sold in market. His health has improved because of homely atmosphere, good food, fresh air, and anxiety free lifestyle. Previously Ranga use to work hard for 12-14 hrs and now with much less time and work on own field he is earning many times more with additional perks.

Bull care Today the family takes care of three bulls’ named Nitai, Nimai and Kailas. Bulls are utilized to plough field in contrast to fuel based mechanized devices. Bulls help maintain the fertility of soil. Farming with bulls is a decentralized, traditional, eco-friendly, economical way of farming. In photo above Ranga is seen with an 18 year old bull, who has worked hard for the family for almost two decades. Ranga worship the bull as his father and has decided that the bull will die a natural death with the family and will not be sent otherwise to slaughter house.

Venu Madhuri fulfilling Mahatma Gandhi’s desire

Gandhi was trying to get the Indians back to village. His philosophy was that these capitalists, they are exploiting these poor men, so all these poor men, they should go back to village and be satisfied with the village economy, not to come out. Actually that's a very nice program. But as soon as Gandhi died…the whole program was changed-industrialization and attract the poor man and let them live in wretched condition of city life. Gandhi's policy was to make them happy by agriculture in the village, produce their own cloth, not in the mill but in charka.

S.P- September 28, 1972,