Over the decades the remembered or imagined village as the ‘Other’ has become the forgettable village, the ‘Anti-self’. This rejection will cost narcissistic urban India dear, says Ashoak Upadhyay
story about two young graduates on the threshold of professional careers that was doing the rounds on Whatsapp recently went something like this: Ramasamy acquires a B/Tech degree, campus recruitment gets him a stint at an MNC with a six-figure CTC packet and he thinks to himself: my happiness starts…Now!
His neighbor Madasamy on the other hand, fails his B.A. examination, his family roundly condemns him; every male in Hyderabad gets a B.Tech and Madasamy hadn’t even a B.A. after his name! Down in his cups, the young man gets unsolicited advice: start a street counter selling idli, dosas…why not sell milk? He perks up at that idea, asks his mother for a loan matched by another from a friend. He buys a buffalo and sets up as a milk vendor.
Lifestyles reflect their respective paths. Ramasamy gets himself a credit card, a bank loan for a motorcycle and waves cheerily at Madasamy trudging by on a TVS weighed down with milk cans on either side of that rickety and sputtering two-wheeler.
Time passes and the wheels of fortune turn in strange ways presaging their futures. Ramasamy pays off part of his bike loan; Madasamy clears half his debt from the sale of milk in the neighbourhood. Six more months later a new word blows onto India’s shores: Recession! No pay hike for Ramasamy and prices of essentials rise. The yuppie-in-the-making smiles gamely; his family applauds as he steps deeper into the waters of plastic-money consumerism; Madasamy’s smile gets broader with milk prices rising and cash filling his pockets.
Ramasamy’s debts mount; the cycle of expectations begins to turn faster. The whiff of plastic money is irresistible. The best way to get rid of a temptation Oscar Wilde wrote, is to yield to it. Ramasamy acquires a house and a car and mortgages.He buys a life; Madasmay buys more buffaloes with his profits and pays for a house with cash. Over time his original debt with which he bought a buffalo has become wistful memory.
From this moment on, the story acquires the inevitabilities of a Bollywood film. You know where this is going; we have all been here and Ramasamy too arrives at that existential moment when, five years after that campus recruitment and its heady promise, burdened with crippling debt, lightened with slimmer pay packets, he confronts a beaming and prosperous Madasamy and a reckoning that is bitter and illuminating.
The story reads like an obvious parable. It is hardly worth one’s while and money to get an expensive engineering degree only to sink into debt. Madasamy stands out as the icon of enterprise and freedom.But the parable if at all it was intended to be one, is not sustainable because it does not stand the test of time and space; it does not mirror universal truths.
Madasamy makes such a killing at dairy farming; no property to his name just drive and a leg-up from Mom and a friend. Now imagine a free-market dairy farmer—a rational-decision follower that graduate students in post-graduate Economics courses extol—replenishing his stock of cows and buffaloes, packing off the “unproductive” onto his meat processing lines. Don’t even imagine what could happen to him, even in broad daylight as gau rakshaks descend on him for an account that could become a story of a hanging.
ast month, the Indian Express (June 29 2017) drew our attention to this precise problem in Punjab, a state with a very profitable and “unique cattle-breeding cum milk-sale model” now threatened by gau rakshaks. If the physical violence doesn’t get you the law will. The Union Environment Ministry’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (regulation of Livestock markets ) Rules(2017) say that only “agriculturists” that is those who can prove ownership of land would be allowed to trade in cattle. If you do not own land and think that cattle are good for a value chain business leading to meat or leather exports, think again. You risk beheading. Cattle can be used as draught animals though one wonders if they have any retirement benefits; what happens to them once they can no longer pull a plough or lactate?
The rules actually serve more than the stated purpose of prevention of cruelty to animals. Manu Sebastian writes in Live Law.in (May 27 2017) that the rules are meant to prevent cruelty to animals by disallowing the sale or purchase of cattle for slaughter. The rules insist on a written declaration to this effect.
Sebastian points out that this is contrary to the spirit and the letter of the original Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960; he quotes from its preamble that makes it clear that the Act is meant “‘to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.’ ” The Act does not prevent the slaughtering of animals; section 11 allows killing animals for “food of mankind” with the proviso that it be done without unnecessary pain and suffering.
The 2017 Rules takes an axe to what the 1960 Act had judiciously nurtured: trade in cattle that helped sustain the leather industry and a value chain in dairy farming.
Since the Rules disallow the transaction in cattle by “non-agriculturists”, that is those who cannot prove they own land, Dairy farming in Punjab is going to be hit because a large number of dairy farmers do not own land. Like Madasamy in that Whatsapp story, more than 70 per cent of Punjab’s dairy farmers are not landowners; with some capital they bought a cow and launched their enterprise. Now Inderjit Singh Randhawa, a “landless” dairy farmer, wonders, even if a tad dramatically, if suicide is an option.
Reading the story of dairy farming’s approaching collapse in Punjab and the country at large, of the inevitable decimation of the lucrative leather industry makes one wonder if enterprise and employment is heading down a hole. After all leather goods are a valuable foreign exchange earner. Perhaps no longer. In fiscal 2016 exports of finished leather goods dipped 10 per cent over the previous year but that was on account of currency fluctuations and a slowdown in demand from the European Union that accounts for half the market.
But now the new Rules will aim the final bullet into a dying industry, an industry that has been beset by falling exports, environmental slackness that importers such as the EU have not let pass. The new Rules or, to use its real name, Bigotry, will now asphyxiate the industry. A government that swears by its commitment to increasing employment is in fact doing just the opposite through Cow Politics.
Inderjit Singh Randhawa, the dairy farmer’s despair at the closure of all options but suicide, should not be taken lightly as a dramatic exaggerationor self-pity. It should awaken us up to the ease with which that option of self-destruction has seeped into the farmer’s consciousness. Not into the consciousness of the historically marginalized like the poor and landless sections of agrarian India as one would expect but into the psyche of the creamy layer; of the rich farmers now facing the prospect of closing options.
Their marginalisation does not come as does that of the poor farmer or landless from endogenous recognizable agents of power—be it the moneylender or the kulak, or even the local apparatus of State oppression— but from an exteriority, unrecognizable, invisible and therefore omnipotent, omniscient force—that strip him of agency. For those farmers caught in the webs of global capitalism reflected through policy prescriptions that manage to leach into their world—bank loans, GM crops, consumerism, micro-finance, Special Economic Zones, contract and now group farming, privatization of waters, the gradual absorption of natural resources that, for centuries have been in the public domain, the biggest loss is—self-identity and self-definition.
hat helped in an earlier age of colonialism and then post-Independence capitalism, perverted and half-baked as it might have been was the power of collective action. The history of peasant consciousness as an assertive, aggressive exteriorizing agency has peppered and shaped modern Indian history right down to the last two decades of the twentieth century.
Peasant movements for land, water, for claims on resources that had been appropriated from them also pushed policy. The Nehruvian discourse on development was predicated on the vital and strategic assumption that India was an agrarian society and that the national question (whatever that might be) hinged on the peasant question.
Development projects like the Integrated Rural Development Programmes and the concern,at any rate the rhetoric for more irrigation, welfare schemes for the landless, rural electrification and spikes in budgetary resources to the rural sector had unintended effects. They inspired agents of change along the spectrum of political discourse—from social service volunteers to the orthodox Left mobilization of peasants and agricultural workers for minimum wages. And in the sixties, soon after Indira Gandhi’s devaluation of the rupee and food riots, a surge in extreme left politics, where for the first time, urban youth took the peasant question, the centrality of the peasant in shaping the fate of the nation to its logical end.
If the peasant determined the welfare of the nation, then the the only wayto a righteous republic was via the liberationof the peasant. Class and State power had to be defined not in abstract terms and in the groves of academe but in the village itself.
profound transformation was underway. For the first time in post Independent India, agrarian India had moved center stage; middle-class urban educated youth slapped the peasant problem onto the table of policy and the national consciousness with a force never before experienced by a Nehruvian discourse reared on the belief that the benefits of government sponsored development would leach down to the poor and turn a peasant society into a modern agro-industrial one.
Two discourses were at work both sharing a common belief in the centrality of the remembered or, in this case to be more precise, the retrieved village.
The Nehruvian perspective believed that the village could be co-opted in a policy project of transforming the village into an adjunct of and feeder to an urbanization that was in fits and starts, proceeding apace. The development discourse seemed grounded, unintentionally perhaps, in the colonial division of the urban and rural, industrial and agrarian in terms of the centre-periphery relationships
The other was the so-called “Naxalite” perspective with all its atomizing and farcical elements. Peasant society (and for them this meant also the rich peasant) could and would shape a new republic through the seizure of power A republic that would assert the primacy of the agrarian as the centre. For the urban youth that took to the countryside, armed struggle would provide the peasant the most dramatic and potent agency to stamp the country with the imprimatur of the agrarian.
If the agrarian was the starting point for the development discourse, it became for the Naxalites an arrival, the final destination. Both discourses involved journeys from the city to the remembered village, to the ‘Other’.
or the first time and in a quixotic and perhaps in a tragic way, the peasant grabbed the public imagination by the short and curly. Before the upsurges began in the late 1960s, not just policy makers, the organic intellectuals of the development discourse but also academics spent reams of paper evaluating various programmes. But it was Poverty in India, the work of VM Dandekar and his protégé Nilkantha Rath that foregrounded the upsurges in their warning of the crisis in agrarian India.
The alarm bells were rung too late; the peasant movement for land and against usury had to happen because the development discourse was sounding exhausted. Help, came from unexpected quarters. The failure of the urban middle class-led upsurges in West Bengal, Bihar Andhra Pradesh and Orissa had the effect of galvanizing official discourse.
. Along with or a little after the brutal suppression of peasant uprisings and their middle class leaders, state governments launched programs for land distribution that would forty years later have their own deleterious effects in the fragmentation of land holdings. Alongside, the failed “revolution”” retrieved, for the urban consciousness the “imagined village” and its dark sinister backwardness.
Stories of village oppression usury, and peasant anger, inchoate at times organized at others, formed the new aesthetics of the film maker Shyam Benegal; the village, indeed peasant life in his films recalled half-forgotten realities of agrarian India.
atyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali that was as Ashis Nandy points out “cinema’s first Indian village.” (An Ambiguous …17) It was formally based on a novel that Ray had been given to read but as Nandy points in a memorable phrase, the film’s context was based on Ray’s “retrievable imagination of the village.” Shyam Benegal’s trilogy Ankur, Nishant and Manthan were rooted in the village as imagined by an urban aesthetic. But they were the product of an imagination caught in the chasm between the Nehruvian discourse of agrarian development and the peasant movements of Telengana of the late 1940s and the late 1960s for liberation from feudal oppression.
Bollywood could not have been far behind; the most successful block buster film Sholaymade in 1975 had to be based on an imagined village of Ramgarh in which the characters “have a designated role and status” (Bhatia inThe Wire). Butoppression and freedom from it typically were individualized; valorized or demonised characters were not grounded in a consciousness of collective agency. But for that decade the village would remain the locus for film scripts out of Mumbai.
The village was the well from which political parties too drank. The Left parties revitalized themselves, returning, just as agents of the development discourse had, to the village. Unlike the Naxalites, they cherry-picked issues for mass mobilization not for the overthrow of the State. Agitations for minimum wages, employment on public works especially after the severe droughts of 1971-73 did benefit all strata in the village deprived to varying degrees of the basic necessities of life. Agency was re-affirmed; the village and the peasant way of life, such as it was with its deprivations reasserted itself on the urban imagination. Needles to say, the Left parties too benefited in their quest for electoral fruits.
But you could hear the last gasps of both peasant agency and the development discourse. The farmer had reached the pinnacle of an aggressive resilience; the development discourse would reach its own peak in the first two terms of the UPA government in the 1990s and into the new millennium with the rural employment guarantee programs.
Not all the worthies in the policy world felt happy at the thought of public investments for employment guarantees to the rural folk; fiscal deficit was the new anxiety. Organic intellectuals of neo-liberalism’s free-market discourse pushed against a weakening Nehruvian ethos of welfare-tinted capitalism. The latter won its ground; rural employment guarantee programs came into existence and have been hailed for their benefits to the landless and marginalized.
But the tide had turned against the village. Policymakers blamed rising wages in the rural sector for inflation; when farmer-suicides began to be reported routinely in the mainstream media esteemed policy wonks blamed the victims for their new-found consumerism and debt.
At this stage it is important to sum up the objective conditions, the materiality of the discourse that placed, at times reluctantly at other moments enthusiastically, the peasant at the center of that discourse.
Since Independence, the village or peasant life had been central to policy as reflected in the Nehruvian discourse on development. Perhaps there were residues in it of Gandhi and Tagore’s visions of the village playing as Mother Earth nurturing life, the village embodying the unity of life on earth. Idealised as the village might have been— the result even in Gandhi’s case, of a retrieved imagination—these visions carried over into post-Independence Indian planning.
Of course Gandhi and Tagore’s visions of the village were points of departure for planners—the first generation of migrants to the urban centers, Presidency towns of Madras, Calcutta and Bombay among others. The development discourse was clear about its goal: to modernize the village as an adjunct to industrialisation with modern farming techniques better irrigation electricity and so on.
The instrumentality of such exercises was partly informed by an economic discourse from out of the metropolitan universities eagerly lapped up by a rising middle class in the early decades after Independence. Indian policymakers saw merit in a telos of growth that placed the country somewhere down the ladder. It was a apoor country, a peasant based society and the way forward was cast in stone for policymakers who set out earnestly to “reform” the peasant and the village; formal education, electricity, hygiene. India was defined by what it was not; and it was not an industrialised nation. The aim was to get there by modifying the nation’s agrarian, pastoral legacy.
Ideologically driven discourses from the West aside, what mattered more were the subjectivities about village-hood in the consciousness of the nation’s leaders and policymakers. These were essential in shaping and defining that remembered or retrieved village that space or terrain that would figure in the discourse all through the first five decades of planning.
or the first set of migrants from the village post-1947, the city beckoned with its promise of lucrative freedoms; New Delhi and the state capitals the old Presidency towns now morphing into centers of vast opportunity. This was seized upon mostly if not entirely by upper caste youth who left the village with alacrity for a university education, the slots vacated by departing British expatriates and the opportunities offered by anmushrooming bureaucracy.
For these early upper caste migrants, the move to the urban centers was a flight from a stagnant village; they carried memories of claustrophobic and hierarchical familial relations, a society; of stasis. Excited by the colonial contempt for stagnant village India, they found both in Macaulay and Marx, the ideal metaphor for the village—a sack of potatoes. The village became in their psyche the ‘Other’ self, the one they had to disown.
Over time and as urban life’s de-personalised mores and competitive demands, covert endorsements of self-advancement began to whittle away at their enthusiasm for the city, the village would be imagined as a romantic resting place once the development goal had been achieved or their careers ended—whichever came first. So for them, the village as the ‘Other’ acquired an ambivalent and uneasy balance: current negativity and the promise of a rehabilitative future. (See Note )
Under such circumstances how could the peasant not feel the power of agency? Or to put it differently, how could he imagine suicide, taking his own life as the option out of the present hell? His conditions could be changed he had the power and the instrumentalities to do so; and he had the consciousness to figure this out.
he annual Economic Survey for 2013 had an interesting little table that told us what many would have guessed by then about the ‘parlous’ state of agriculture. The table presented a sectoral composition of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 1950-51 to 2011-12. The data paint a portrait of the relative importance of Agriculture Industry and Services over 60 year, and it is a portrait of a reversal of fortunes. Agriculture’s contribution to the national kitty falls from more than half at 53 per cent six years after Independence to 13 percent sixty years on; till about 1980-81 it retains its primary position against Industry and Services but the slide accelerates thereafter till it becomes the poor country cousin by 2011-12. In that year the star performer is not Industry as one would have thought but Services accounting for 59 per cent of the national product.
For the policy wonks writing the report, this small table was stunning vindication of a trend they had suspected for some time and year end for even longer: India was moving into the universe of the developed economies. They called the movement a structural shift in the composition of the national product, a euphemism for the dramatic fall of agriculture from grace. The village and the peasant were no longer the backbone of the nation; agrarian India had not failed so much as Services India had succeeded in propelling us into post-modernity.
This ‘structural shift’ was a matter of pride to policymakers ion North Block and to the urban middle class, that generation of urban youth born in the 1980s, on the cusp of the digital revolution. The dominance of Services told us that India had entered the stage of the highest growth, leap-frogging from an agrarian economy to a services economy—like the United States and to an extent Europe.
The data reflected a new found self-identity for the urban middle class rapidly globalizing via the Internet. Since the end of the century Indian IT services had hit world stage; IT companies began to re-draw the nation’s image, with the hues of Wall Street and Silicon Valley narcissism.
We are the world, the urban middle class decked out in bermudas and horizontal stripe T-shirts in the malls and vertical stripe shirts in the cubbyholes of their work places said to each other.
ver the years since the start of the twenty-first century their narcissism had grown by leaps and bounds, fed by an older generation of policymakers basking in the illusion of their achievements in turning this peasant nation into an ‘emerging’ economy; a Wall Street banker in his spare time even coined an acronym to sum up all the parts of that emergent status and provide yet another self-image to feed a growing urban narcissism: BRICs became the metonym for a state of being in which India was on its way to super-economic power status.
With the structural shift in India’s national product and its confirmation in the economic idea theory of stages of growth what would become of agriculture?
Given the urban preoccupation with Services as the engine of India’s rapid growth during the first term of the UPA government it was hardly surprising that agriculture was gradually pushed to the margins of policy discourse—and what is worse, in the urban consciousness as well. A sector that had garnered a major chunk of budgetary resources now began to feel the squeeze as funds were snipped from one budget to another. Perhaps the one exception to this was the persistent efforts of a section of the UPA to ensure the implementation of the rural employment guarantee programmes. But th corridors of North Block echoed the occasional dark mutterings about the impact of rising wages (!!) on farm labour and inflation.
he die was cast. Global capitalism was working its way into the countryside with GM seeds and crops promising quick returns; river waters were being privatized; Special Economic Zones were being planned, owners of dry farm lands were tempted to sell their lands with promises of jobs as uniformed security guards. In Pune city in Maharashtra an enterprising farmer got together members of his community to forsake farming, pool their lands for a township that not only turned fertile lands into a gated community but the land-owners into contractors and petty traders with deep pockets.
Even left parties fell for the temptation of industrialsation on farm lands. In West Bengal the Left Front’s attempt to entice Tata’s car project to Nandigram may have inadvertently revived peasant movements in that region and certainly led to its down fall at the hands of the TMC and Mamata Banerjee. The SEZs were the UPA-I’s dream child but every party succumbed to its irresistible and indiscreet charms of turning agricultural lands into swanky gated communities and manufacturing hubs most of which served as land banks for real estate sharks. .
There are any number of reports that bear testimony to the benign neglect or deliberate exclusion of agriculture; the accompanying distress that was caused paradoxically precisely in those areas that had grudgingly accepted the gifts of global capitalism in the form of GM seeds, formal credit and the like. When calamity hit and debts rose and rich farmers of Maharshtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana took their own lives, many blamed that neglect.
Journalists became celebrities chronicling the growing number of farm suicides without really delving into the causes of such tragic fatalism. After all, as Nandy noted to a feature magazine recently, the Indian farmer had been “one of the world’s most resilient, autonomous, self-willed peasantries along with its counterparts in Russia and China.”(Nandy in Suicides and…)
So what explains the suicides–some 200,000 in the last two and a half decades? Why have members of a resilient autonomous community with a rich history of resistance to oppression, a community in which Gandhi grounded a refurbished freedom struggle been self-destructing in such large numbers?
Perhaps the answers might lie in what Nandy describes as desperation and the loss of agency. This desperation emanates not from a depression-induced personality or the materiality of debt and the inability to service it. Perhaps despair is rooted in a realization of abandonment, of a feeling of irrelevance in the scheme of things. The loss of agency flows from anomie in which historically adduced standards of achievement have collapsed or are collapsing.
For the Indian peasant oppression is not a new experience; but in the age preceding global capitalism the moneylender, the rich landowner and their henchmen were part of the same universe; the laws or customs governing their relationship were anchored in a recognition and acceptance by both parties of mutual need. With the arrival of global capitalism and its impersonality its limitless urge for self-propagation, that world with its oppressive power invested in double-edged intimacy,collapses.
qually, agency is weakening with deepening liberalisation. The decline in the fortunes of agriculture has been accompanied by the displacement of the farmer in the developmental concerns of policy. The recent announcements of farm loan waivers cannot mitigate the sense of neglect that has been deep rooted for decades particularly after Sam Pitroda walked into the court of Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s and planted the idea of new-age prosperity into his receptive ears.
Ever since then and with mounting speed after India assigned itself the status of a world IT power with its body shopping exports to the US and EU agrarian India has disappeared from the subjectivities of the urban middle class; a class that in an earlier age, gave it agency, whether through policy, organizational leadership for transformation or even in an aesthetic that valorized the peasant’s resistance to oppression.
The policy wonks of the generation maturing in the glowing after-light of Independence, those who would shape the development discourse for an agrarian demographic. “…with living memories of the village” were “hesitant, self-doubting city dwellers.” (Nandy, An Ambiguous… 74)
here does the idea of the agrarian or the pastoral fit into the urban imagination now? “For a new generation of Indians, the village has increasingly become a demographic or statistical datum.” (Nandy, 22).For this generation of middle class Indians born into urban families in the mid-1970s onwards , those Millennials sired on a mouse in the hand and the Internet on the brain, the yuppie-in-the-making whose self-definition is wired into constant and immediate gratification and the impersonality of Wi-Fi what can the village mean? Can they even contemplate the village, the peasant as the ‘Other’ in the way their parents, those “hesitant city-dwellers” did, as the remembered retrieved village of the imagination? Do they even want to?
For the millennial nursing dreams of an impersonal de-socialised life, infatuated with chronological time and the seeming orderliness of his hierarchy-ridden existence in the urban sprawl, the peasant is no longer the ‘Other’ as the antidote to his Self ; he is not even the statistical datum of Nandy’s description.
For the millennial, the peasant is the ‘Anti-self’, the negation of the Self that must be forgotten, written off. The peasant is the antithesis of all that is considered worth striving for: a content-driven life instead of a content one: individual ambition instead of community caring, a swimming pool instead of a river, sensations not contemplation, noise instead of silence, manicured lawns instead of a forest with creepy crawlies—in short, the agrarian is the negation of the metropolis, its nightmare.
So in the public imagination there is no retrieval, urban is all. And yet the casual cynicism of mainstream media about farmer suicides, the indifference with which the news of such tragedies is received by the urban audience,collapses when it is confronted with the anarchy and violence nesting in the post-modernity that urban Indians so desperately craves.
A subjectivity that has no antidote for its uncertainties and anxieties other than itself;that tries to heal itself self-referentialy cannot but become dysfunctional. And that is the greatest danger that the urban imagination wishing away the pastoral,faces. Its narcissism, fed by an ideological apparatus urging extreme individualism (Go ahead!You owe it to yourself!) will split us from the very forces of nature that have sustained humankind for millennia; the recognition that at the end of the day, we are one; that the Self also contains the Other, that the Other is our reference point; that journeys to that Other are journeys into our own Self
The death of the peasant, of an agrarian way of life,even to wish for it will spell our own doom. We need the village, remembered, imagined retrieved (like film maker Saeed Mirza tried with his TV serial Nukad) in all its messiness its diversity, its communitarianism, its versions of time and space to remind us in the cities of what we are not and who we really are.
For the lower castes and especially for the lowest, the city’s broken lights were beacons beckoning them to a safe haven, a refuge from the hell that the village had been for centuries. Not for them the romanticized pastoralism of those writers who liked to believe that the village was foregrounded in an order of stability, of a social and economic division of labour that ensured peace and harmony.
Dalits fled that imagined village for an imagined city with its impersonalised life, a life in which relationships would not be founded on caste ties; in the city they could unloosen the shackles of history and become free agents. They flocked to the cotton and textile mills and dockyards of Bombay, many joined the communist parties; they built Bombay but their subjectivities were not assured by the anonymity of the city; nor by the promise of social and economic mobility.
Their self-identity was and is urban. But it is torn, splintered by an ambivalence for the city mirrored in Namdeo Dhasal’s metaphor for Bombay as “My Beloved Whore “ (Shirin Kudchedkar in Bombay… 155)
References --Manu Sebastian: http://www.livelaw.in/prevention-cruelty-animals-regulation-livestock-markets-rules-2017-unsustainable-law/ Ashis Nandy: --An Ambiguous Journey to the City. Oxford University Press, New Delhi. 2001 --Suicide and the Indian Peasant in http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/suicide-and-the-indian-peasant/1/203042.html Sidharth Bhatia :Sholay is also the story of India in the 1970s: https://thewire.in/8493/sholay-is-also-the-story-of-india-in-the-1970s/ Shirin Kudchedkar in Sujata Patel and Alice Thorner edited: Bombay. Mosaic of Modern Culture. Oxford University Press. 1995