The story of 61 year old Swaran Singh of Karmgarh Satran is best told in his own words. It is a good story to carry away from Umendra Dutt's world and to remember it by.
"Thank you. I am glad you liked the meal. Everything you ate was grown by me: the wheat, the pulses, vegetables, the oil and the spices. Maybe salt was bought in.
"4 of my six acres are leased out; I manage the other two. I have no help but I personally work the two acres fully. I never learnt to drive a tractor or a motorcycle. My bicycle serves me well. I am off at 5 every morning. The farm is three kilometres away. My breakfast comes there at about eight and I work till 1. I get physically ill if I miss my farm work.
"I have stopped attending family weddings. I attended my children's though; couldn't have missed them, could I? My daughter is married to a taxi driver in Singapore and my son works out of Mumbai on ships. They have been asking me to visit but no way I am going anywhere.
"Amarjit Sharma of Chaina is my guru. He talked me out of chemical farming. I was hooked by Subhash Palekar in a workshop arranged by Umendra's KVM. That was in 2005. Today I am a successful, happy farmer. I make a net of Rs.35,000 a year out of my two acres after feeding our family of eight and four buffaloes. We have almost no cash expenses.
"Let me tell you what I produce from my two acres in an year; note them down. 15 quintals of wheat, 50 quintals of fodder, 30 litres of mustard oil, 600kg of vegetables, 40 kg of garlic and onions, 30 kg of pulses, 8 quintals of cotton and 4 litres of milk per day.
"I carry everything on my bicycle. I take the manure and seeds to the fields and bring back produce. Canal water flows by and I use our borewell very rarely. I am a self taught homeopath; I minister to people and cattle.
"My two acres await me every morning. The soil is crawling with earthworms and birds are buzzing them all day. I lie under a tree for some time every day to take it all in. Wish I could take you to see. You wouldn't want to leave. Lots of people come seeking information. I have gained a lot of respect in the community."
Swaran Singh pauses, as though to clinch his case. "Do you know," he adds, a glare fixing me. "when my bicycle needs repairs, the mechanic refuses to charge me?"
How can you beat that life?
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