NEW DELHI -- A large part of India's Rajasthan State is hit by a devastating drought and the reactionary Indian ruling circles' cruel exploitation and apathy have added much suffering to the people there.
Indian newspapers reported recently that heavy drought hit the entire Western and Northwestern Rajasthan, especially five districts bordering on Pakistan. Nearly 3 million people, or one third of the state's population, were seriously affected.
Poor peasants were forced to leave their villages, and in October, about one million villagers were roaming the cities and towns in search of work. Many of them especially children were starved to death. A large number of cattle died of shortage of wate r and fodder. In some villages carcasses of oxen piled up like hills.
Rain is the main source of water supply. But all tanks and reservoirs for collecting rain water had dried up. Under the ruthless exploitation by the reactionary Indian authorities, the people could not afford to dig enough wells. In the Jaisalmer district, 200,000 people needed about 100 tube-wells. They only received 10 working ones. They had to share their ration, with their cattle, which they received on alternate days.
Food rations for the people in the drought-stricken areas fell far short of demand. The local princely families, though, had huge stocks of food-grains and fodder. So did the big landlords and usurers. With the help of the local bureaucrats they sold food-grains at high prices to make fabulous profits from the misery of the people.
The reactionary Indian government forced the people, thousands of hungry people, including women and small children to build military roads. They were treated cruelly by foremen; wages were withheld for weeks.
Diseases were high as a result of the starvation and hot weather. The reactionary Indian authorities provided no medical facilities for the people. They even refused it. In Sangarh, a place in the drought-affected areas, a village woman was desperately looking for a doctor to cure her sick, four month old child. A government doctor refused to let her bring the child near him.