Hyderabad: The Central government’s move to ban sale of cattle to slaughter houses would severely affect the cattle population in India and the desi breeds would bear the brunt of the government’s decision, veteran journalist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee Palagummi Sainath said on Sunday.
“Any decline in cattle population would affect the rural economy in India,” Sainath said, delivering the V Hanumantha Rao Memorial Lecture on ‘Rural Focus in Media’ on the occasion of 52nd foundation day celebrations of Press Club of Hyderabad here on Sunday.
The Magsaysay awardee said that the livestock population especially the desi breeds are dwindling in India. “The desi breeds population fell by 9 per cent as per 2012 livestock census and it is likely to dwindle further this year. The government’s decision to allow trade of only certified cattle and permit sale of cattle to only licensed slaughter houses would severely affect the breeding of cows, buffaloes, bulls and others. What happened to the fabled Ongole Bull is a live example,” he added.
The veteran journalist who is popular for his writings on rural India in mainstream media, strongly advocated promoting desi breeds of cattle which are being replaced by exotic varieties like Jersey. “The obsession of the NDA government for cows is actually causing irreparable damage to the entire breed as well as the rural economy,” he said.
Sainath stressed the need for regular media coverage of the severe water crisis looming large across the rural parts of India. He advised that the media coverage on water crisis should not be confined to meteorological phenomenon as the groundwater levels in rural India is dropping drastically.
On coverage of farmers suicides, Sainath suggested ground-level reporting on the plight of farmers and the causes for their suicides. “As per the 2011 census, there was a drop of 1.3 million farmers in unified Andhra Pradesh and the increase in farm labourers is 3.4 million. This indicates the dramatic and massive shift of serious farmers to give up agriculture which would not only lead to economic crisis but also food crisis,” he said. He also pointed out that about 53 percent of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture and allied sectors.
Quoting a survey conducted by the Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies during 2012-16, Sainath said that the front page of an average national daily largely comprises 67 per cent of Delhi news followed by Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. “Only 0.18 per cent news on the front page of print and prime time of electronic media during the corresponding period comprised rural stories and 0.61 per cent represented agriculture related news,” he said and emphasised the need for journalists to cater to the needs of about 75 per cent of the rural population.
On the occasion, Sainath was felicitated by the family members of V Hanumanth Rao with a cash prize of Rs 50,000 followed by a felicitation organised by the Press Club of Hyderabad.