Sanga sheti karu kashi, karu kashi?
Potachi khalgi bharu kashi, bharu kashi…?

Tell me how to do farming? Tell me how?
How to fill the pit of my tummy? Tell me how?

These are questions that farmers in distress face every day in India. But who will care to listen on behalf of the poshinda – the one who feeds the world – asks singer and lyricist Ajit Shelke.

“I’ve seen with my own eyes how farmers have to struggle to get a fair price for their crops. Promises of MSP [a minimum support price] and loan waivers are only used for political purposes,” says 22-year-old Ajit, who is a student at an engineering college in Barshi town of Solapur district, Maharashtra. 

Ajit Shelke or ‘Rapboss’ sings powerfully in this Marathi rap song about the acute distress of farmers

Singer-lyricist Ajit Shelke: 'The one who feeds the world, Has today gone to bed hungry '

Ajit’s family owns eight acres of land in Shelka-Dhanora village of Kalamb taluka in Osmanabad district, on which they grow soyabean and Bengal gram. If it rains, they cultivate sugarcane too. “I have seen my father struggle to repay the loans he took to pay for our education,” he says. “For years, we went through some very hard times.”

Many who live in the cities are insensitive to the daily struggles of farmers, he adds. “In the market, people will haggle over the price of vegetables with the poor men and women who sell them. But the same people will buy expensive goods in large shopping malls without any bargaining.”

Chetan Garud, the producer of this video, has worked for over 10 years with Marathi entertainment television channels. He setup his own production house a few years ago and gives opportunities to young rural artists. Chetan’s parents are also farmers.

Watch video: ‘Sanga sheti karu kashi  – Tell me how to do farming’

सांगा शेती करु कशी ?                                    

जनता सारी झोपली का?
शेतकऱ्यावर कोपली का?
आत्महत्येची कारणे त्याच्या
सांगा तुम्ही शोधली का?

शोभली का तुम्हाला
भाकरी त्याचा कष्टाची?
दोन रूपयाच्या भाजी साठी
वाद केला त्याच्याशी

चार घोट पानी पिऊन
खेटर घेतलं उशाशी
पोशिंदा तो जगाचा
आज झोपला रं उपाशी

सांगा शेती करु कशी?
करु कशी?
पोटाची खळगी भरु कशी?
भरु कशी? 

कांद्याला भाव नाय
उसाला भाव नाय
तुरीला भाव नाय
खाऊ काय?

आलेल्या पैश्यात
उधारी दिली मी
सावकाराला देऊ काय?

पोराच्या शाळेची
फीस नाय भरली
पोराला घरिच
ठेवू काय?

एकच दिसतो
पर्याय आता
गळ्याला फास मी
लावू काय?

व्यापाऱ्याची मनमानी
सरकारची आणीबाणी 
शान के साथ यांचा थाट
कष्टकऱ्याच्या डोळ्यात पानी

पानी कसं शेताला देऊ
वीज दिली रात्रीची
रात्रीच्या त्या काळोखात
भीती विंचू सापाची

सांगा शेती करु कशी?
करु कशी?
पोटाची खळगी भरु कशी?
भरु कशी? 

मेहनत करुन पिकवलेल्या
मालाला आमच्या कमी भाव
सरकार जरी बदललं तरी
कागदावरच हमी भाव

भेगा पडल्या धरणीमायला
दुष्काळी झाली परिस्थिती
सर्वे,दौरे खोटे सगळे
प्रचारासाठीची उपस्थिति

जिवाच्या पल्याड जपलेली
माझी सर्जा-राजा उपाशी
उपाशी त्यांना ठेऊन सांगा
भाकरी मी खाऊ कशी

प्रश्न माझा, उत्तर द्या
सांगा शेती करु कशी?

सांगा शेती करु कशी?
करु कशी?
पोटाची खळगी भरु कशी?
भरु कशी? 

Tell me how to do farming

Are all the people sleeping?
Are they angry with the farmer?
Tell me, have you searched for
The reasons that led to his suicide?

Was it befitting of you?
To snatch his hard-earned bread
When you haggled with him
For vegetables worth two rupees

Gulps four sips of water
Rests his head on slippers
The one who feeds the world
Has today gone to bed hungry 

Tell me how to do farming? 
Tell me how?
How to fill the pit of my stomach?
Tell me how?

Onions don't fetch a good price
Sugarcane doesn’t get a good price 
Tur sells at a pittance 
Tell me what to eat?

The little money I earned
Went to my creditors
What do I give to the money lender?

My son's school fees,
I have yet to pay
Do I keep him out of school
And just at home let him stay?

I see there is now
Only one option to choose
Around my neck
Do I hang the noose?

The trader’s caprice,
The government’s emergency
Their lifestyle is of luxury
The labourer’s eyes have tears

How do I water my farm?
The electricity is on only at night
In the darkness of the night
Living in fear of snakes and scorpions

Tell me, how to do farming? 
Tell me how?
How to fill the pit of my stomach?
How to fill?

Grown with sheer hard work 
Our crops fetch a low price
Even with a change in government
The MSP is only on paper

Mother Earth is parched and dry
The condition is that of drought
Surveys, visits, are all a sham
They are merely election campaigns

Those who I cared for, more than my life
my Sarja-Raja are starving today
Tell me, how can I eat bhakri
While keeping them hungry so

This is my question
Now give me an answer
Tell me, how to do farming? 

Tell me, how to do farming? 
Tell me how?
How to fill the pit of my stomach?
Tell me how?

From the YouTube page for this song: या गीताचा (शेतकऱ्यांच्या भावनांचा) वापर कुठल्याही राजकीय पक्षाने स्वतःच्या हितासाठी करु नये. (This song and the sentiments of farmers should not be used by any political party for their own benefit.)

This video has been republished with permission of the artist Rapboss (Ajit Shelke) and the producer Chetan Garud of Chetan Garud Productions.

Cover photo: Purusottam Thakur/ People's Archive of Rural India.

Rapboss and Chetan Garud Productions