Former AAP leader and founder of Swaraj Abhiyan, Yogendra Yadav has hit out at his critics, who questioned his survey on Bundelkhand’s drought-hit areas.
Writing on his Facebook page, Yadav said, “I was accused of having released a survey report of agrarian crisis in Bundelkhand region, an area spread in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Actually, the opening line of our press release and the maps in the presentation make it clear that the survey was only about the Budelkhand region of UP.”
Yadav added that his survey was carried out in seven districts of Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh, but the media reported that his survey was based on only three districts.
“This is astonishing, because our press release and presentation clearly mentions that it was carried out in all the seven districts (and in fact all 27 Tehsils) of Bundelkhand in UP.”
A social worker in Bundelkhand region, Ashish Sagar had raised questions on Yadav’s survey adding that his mention of roti being made out of grass was wholly wrong.
Sagar said that the roti in question was made out of special grain, which Yadav had wrongly reported as grass.
Read his full Facebook post here
“I turned with interest to this article that questions the findings of our Bundelkhand survey and news reports based on that. Unfortunately, it begins by factually misreporting the survey itself — not one but four mistakes. It seems the author found time to read the colonial Gazetteer but not our press release and accompanying presentation.
1. It says: “Yogendra Yadav released a survey report of agrarian crisis in Bundelkhand region, an area spread in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh”. Actually, the opening line of our press release and the maps in the presentation make it clear that the survey was only about the Budelkhand region of UP.
2. Further it makes an astonishing assertion: “The survey was conducted mainly in three districts- Jhansi, Lalitpur and Jaluan in Uttar Pradesh”. Astonishing, because our press release and presentation clearly mentions that it was carried out in all the seven districts (and in fact all 27 Tehsils) of Bundelkhand in UP.
3. It also misreports the finding that it criticises: “The survey claimed that 17% people are feeding their families ghas ki roti.” That is not what we said. The presentation clearly stated the question “In the last eight months (since Holi) have you or anyone in your household had to eat Fikara (roti made of grass)?” After the initial release and some confusion, we issued a clarification on 27 November and specifically referred to this question: “जिन परिवारों से बात हुई उनमें से 17% ने यह कहा कि पिछले 8 मास में (होली के बाद) कभी ना कभी ऐसी स्थिति आयी कि उन्हें फिकारा (घास की रोटी) खाने पर मजबूर होना पड़ा।” At no stage did the survey say that 17% population has shifted to Fikara as their staple.
4. It says that the survey identifies Sahariya community as the ones eating Fikar. Our reports make no such mention.
If the author had paid more attention to what the survey actually found and its method, we would have had a more interesting and useful discussion on the main point of the article.
The main point of the author is that eating Fikar is not such a scandal, for it is one of the traditional small millets of the region like Kodon, Sawa, Kutaki, Ragi, Mandawa. To my limited knowledge, what the author says is true of other small millets but does not apply to Fikar (his own quotation from the District Gazetter does not mention Fikar). That is why the survey had two separate questions: one on “mota anaj” like kodon, kutaki which can be nutritious and another one on Fikar which is food of the last resort.
Is there something bad about eating Fikar? I think this question is best settled by its consumers. Are they are eating it out of choice, taste, habit or out of compulsion? What we know is that it is being consumed by the poorest community. Also, when asked by newspersons, they said that they disliked its taste and that they were eating it for they had nothing else to eat.
Can we now leave this avoidable debate aside and hope that we can focus on the drought and not on the survey? Can we discuss real issues of conditions of severe malnutrition and hunger and not its indicators? Can we talk about what is to be done?”