In Conversation with P Sainath

Dear Sir

One thing that has changed significantly in the past 15 years is the size and the quality of lifestyle of the Indian middle class. Lives have changed since the 1991 economic reforms. But these reforms are also responsible for the downfall of these lakhs and lakhs of farmers’ death. A country cannot run with an alloy wheel and a wheel not rotating at all. This has to be stopped. Unfortunately, we only end up blaming the government for all of these.

I strongly believe, that the middle class of India can change this. All it needs is a change of perspective. The middle class has started following the millionaires worldwide- here lies the potential problem. We buy Levis t shirts and pay thousands in a mall. But we fight for every penny with a vendor on the street. Ek ek rupaye ke liye jhik jhik karte hain! The same middle class eats luxuriously in a foreign franchisee restaurant- shells out a thousand bucks there. This money hardly matters to the owner of the Institution seated in US or UK. But the same money, even smaller, if spent in a local cart wala eating masala dosa can lead to his son’s education! We have failed to realize this! we are in a similar situation that had once led the great Mahatma to call for non co-operation movement. The middle class should stop looking upwards and start pulling those below them- even one poor child being educated by one of us would help.

My request to the India Together team is to look into it, and wherever feasible, inspire my countrymen to start using Indian goods.

Sourav Roy


To Sourav Roy

I respect and admire your appeal to idealism and support it, too.

However, there are no simple categories. There is no single homogenous body called the Indian Middle Class. Certainly not in the sense we have in the West. In India, the stratification is far more complex and layered. Which is why I always refer to our situation as middle classes in plural. The vice chancellor of a university and the LDC clerk in the same university would both, in Indian terms be broadly classified middle class, though their lives are very different indeed.

You’re right, it needs a change in perspective – and that cannot come about easily for the reasons you’ve outlined. Very differing sectional and class interests. Yet, we absolutely must appeal to reason and idealism.

However, Sourav, the agents of change in our history and that of other nations have been ordinary, everyday people. India’s freedom movement became a movement, went from being a gymkhana tea party to being a political party and a movement when the mass of Indian peasantry rallied behind the Mahatma. That was a force none other on earth could stop.

So yes, we need to address those middle classes – but others too.

Regards and thanks for your interest



Dear Sir

Thanks for replying to my letter. Your reply gave me answers to many questions that have haunted me for long, but they raised many new questions.

I compared the situation of farmers in Maharashtra with those in UP. Farmers in UP grow food grains- rice, pulses, etc. Most of these grains are consumed within the country and their demand and supply does not vary significantly with changes in the International market. On the other side, Maharashtrians grows cash crops. It grows crops like Cotton and oil seeds that have a large international market. India’s leap into global market has cost these farmers their lives.

However sir, no matter how much relief government provides them, it is afterall a one time relief. Something significant and lasting has to be done here. Releasing them of debt will not help in the long run. Debt is just the tip of the iceberg. The real reason lies in the demand of the goods they produce. Can’t we raise the level of demand of the goods they produce sir? Is it just a matter between the farmers and the government?

I deny to just sit and read newspapers while so many are drinking poison or hanging themselves to death. There has to be some way a common man can be involved in bringing our fellowmen up. Please guide sir.

Sourav Roy


12 responses to “In Conversation with P Sainath

  1. Pingback: My reply to P Sainath sir’s letter « Sourav Roy

  2. I appreciate to see a courageous person like Sainath addressing the struggle and pain a farmers goes, today saw the presentation on NDTV, it is true the poor farmers are still struggling and in spite food has become so dear, no one in the country really gives full support to the farmers for them to improve their living status. the most competent Agriculture Scientists are not even recognized by the Govt of India, a very brilliant person like Dr KPP Nair has always been preaching the change in the policies of the country, I think people like Sainath with guidance from Dr Nair can work as a team to create more awareness in changing the Agriculture policies and look far ahead so as the country can produce good quality grain, food and commodities, if these steps are not taken , a country of +1Billion population could face shortage, through this mail, I will request P Sainath to please connect to Dr Nair and they together address the technical and financial impact to the Government.

  3. can anybody give me Mr.P.Sainath’s Phone number and email address

    SAMPATH.S. (

  4. I will be delighted to have Mr. Sainath’s email address to have fruitful communications with him on various issues. Please provide me the same.

  5. I will be delighted to have Mr Sainath’s email address to have fruitful communication on various issues. Please provide me the same.

  6. I want to arrange a lecture of Mr. sainath in my college . Can anyone please pass on his contact details.

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  8. Pingback: My letter to P Sainath Sir | Sourav Roy

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  10. Hi, can you please provide me with the contact details of P Sainath. I would like to contact him for a feature in my magazine.

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