17 AUGUST 2018
P Sainath : The Real Picture
Nov 22 2005
Falling farm incomes, growing inequities
When many households spend less than Rs.225 a month per person, you really need to think of how people live. On what it is that they live. What can you spend on if the most you can spend is, on average, Rs.8 a day? And if close to 80 per cent of what you spend is on food, clothing and footwear, what else could you possibly buy, asks P Sainath.
Nov 12 2005
Compassion at the top
While editors and columnists sang hosannas to the brave new world, the resident of Rashtrapati Bhavan showed he had not lost his connection with ordinary people. P Sainath remembers former President K R Narayanan, who passed away this week.
Oct 31 2005
Shamrao Khatale breaks his appointment
The National Commission on Farmers team, the public at large, and even sections of the media have signalled the crisis, its causes and its appalling human toll. Failure to intervene in Vidharbha now has no excuses at all. P Sainath continues his series on Vidharbha's crisis.
Oct 31 2005
Vidharbha awaits a deadly harvest
In the three days the National Commission on Farmers team toured Vidharbha, there were six suicides. In Panderkauda, the body of the latest farmer to take his life entered that town's hospital the same day the team arrived there for a meeting on farmer distress. P Sainath continues his series on Vidharbha's crisis.
Oct 16 2005
The great Indian laughter challenge
If you decide that 75 per cent of the country does not make news, you're shrinking your potential zone of coverage. And if you decree that only a small section of the other 25 per cent does, you've painted yourself into a corner. P Sainath finds the deluge of trivia in the media decidedly not funny.
Sep 29 2005
Why urban AP's message is important
The municipal polls verdict has a significance beyond Andhra Pradesh's borders. None of the excuses for the Telugu Desam's rout in the 2004 elections works this time. Voters are protesting the pro-rich, anti-poor measures that pass for 'reforms' in this country, writes P Sainath.
Sep 29 2005
Mortgages are out, land grab is in
Farmers weighed down by debt are now falling prey to land grab by an array of predators that includes talatis and school teachers. A "proper" deed of sale is the preferred method. P Sainath continues his series on Vidharbha's crisis.
Sep 29 2005
The riots and wrongs of caste
The Bhagwan Datta mandir in Belkhed, Akola, was built by Dalits when they were still Hindus. It was ostensibly the focus of the fiery violence there earlier this month. The real reasons? Caste, the decline of organised Dalit politics, the crisis in agriculture, and wage conflicts - all played a role, writes P Sainath.
Sep 29 2005
Chor Bt aur Bt chor
Fake and costly inputs have placed lakhs of farmers in grave danger. Further, despair has led many to embrace costly Bt cotton as some kind of magic bullet. Meanwhile, Bt cotton has not only been attacked by other pests, it's been struck by the bollworm itself. For many, the results could be deadly, writes P Sainath.
Sep 18 2005
Of chit funds and loan lotteries
Many farmers deep in debt are trying to find a way out through playing bhishi (chit funds). Denied bank loans and desperate for credit to run their farms and for other needs, they take huge risks. The results are usually tragic. P Sainath continues his series on Vidharbha's crisis.
Sep 18 2005
The farmer and his festival lights
The Ganesh festival is the most important event in Maharashtra. This season, farm distress has hit the utsav badly in Vidharbha. Very few have money to spend. Meanwhile, farmers' suicides there are going up. There has been one almost every 36 hours this year. P Sainath continues his series on the region's crisis.
Sep 06 2005
A much larger house on fire
About the time 50 Dalit houses were set ablaze in Gohana, the country marked 50 years of a law giving effect to the Constitution's abolition of untouchability. As if to rub it in, 25 more Dalit homes were torched the same week in Akola, Maharashtra, writes P Sainath.
Aug 20 2005
The Raj and the famines of good governance
With the PM not entirely rejecting British claims to good governance, this Independence Day week is a proper time to review the legacy of the Raj. One finds that colonial governance was certainly good for the British, while tens of millions of Indians died of wilful and callous neglect, writes P Sainath.
Aug 13 2005
The class war in Gurgaon
The scenes from Gurgaon gave us more than just a picture of one labour protest, police brutality or corporate tyranny. It presented us a microcosm of the new and old Indias. Different rules and realities for different classes of society, says P Sainath.
Jul 01 2005
Health as someone else's wealth
Many in Vidarbha, like millions elsewhere, have simply stopped seeking medical help for their ailments. They just cannot afford it. Some farmers have mortgaged land to pay health bills, writes P Sainath.
Jun 30 2005
As you sow, so shall you weep
With the rains finally here, spurious seeds and other fake inputs introduce a deadly new element in the survival struggle of the Vidharbha farmer. Fake seeds from Andhra Pradesh have come in on a large scale. P Sainath continues his series on Vidharbha's crisis.
Jun 28 2005
No rain, but 'snow' and waterparks
Water-starved Vidharbha has a growing number of water parks and amusement centres. The iron laws of rural life don't apply in the entertainment complexes built right next to the poor. In a region that scarcely receives adequate water to meet people's drinking needs, there is plenty of water for the playgrounds of the rich, finds P Sainath.
Jun 28 2005
Suicides: The price of power?
Despite a strongly held belief to the contrary, Maharashtra's farmers have never demanded free power. And the suicides in Vidharbha were certainly not linked to this issue. P Sainath finds that the region is really paying the price of political power.
Jun 28 2005
Russian roulette in Vidharbha
Should farmers sow early? Or wait to be sure that the first rains aren't just temporary? Should they borrow early, or wait until they are absolutely ready to sow, even if it means higher risks later? P Sainath finds that in Vidharbha, farming itself is a great gamble, with many victims.
Jun 25 2005
Whose suicide is it, anyway?
In Yavatmal district alone, there's been an eight-fold increase in farmers' suicides in just four years. Yet, thanks to a flawed counting process, even that is a huge under-estimate. P Sainath continues his series on the agrarian crisis in Vidharbha.
Jun 21 2005
BHEL: The turtle and the hare-brained
Going back on its promise made in the Common Minimum Programme, the UPA government has put Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. on the carving table, allegedly to fund health and education. But the proceeds from the proposed sale of equity in BHEL are a fraction of what could be raised by different, less repulsive means, says P Sainath.
May 31 2005
Six out of ten?
The United Progressive Alliance Government has no sense of how serious things are in the countryside. It seems to have forgotten what and who brought it to power. P Sainath has his own report card on the government's performance, and it's very different from the one with the Prime Minister.
May 08 2005
The bank and the big bang
The World Bank continues to push its agenda on water privatisation even though its much-heralded examples from recent years turned out to be such dismal failures. The result will destroy countless small farmers and hand over agriculture to the rich and corporations, says P Sainath.
May 08 2005
Water: How the deal was done
Why were more than a dozen bills introduced late on the last day of the session, giving legislators no time to even read them? Why was there no debate? Questions are now being asked about how the Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority Bill was passed, reports P Sainath.
May 08 2005
Maharashtra's coming water wars
A new law could put irrigation beyond the reach of most farmers in Vidharbha. Huge hikes in water charges, penalties against farmers with more than two children, and prison terms and large fines for non-payment, all signal the transfer of agriculture to a few rich farmers, observes P Sainath.

Palagummi Sainath is the winner of the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts. (click to read India Together's interview with P Sainath)


Over decades of reporting, he has established himself as among the pre-eminent chroniclers of rural life in our times. His stories, photo-essays, and other work record an India seldom visible to many of us. Sainath received the A.H. Boerma Award in 2001 for his contributions. In July 2004, he was awarded the Prem Bhatia Award for excellence in political reporting and analysis for 2003-04 in recognition of his 'outstanding, indeed exceptional, work on the problems of the poorest of the poor, especially in Andhra Pradesh.' He is the Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu.