Among many, many other things, one of the most complicated things after purchasing land in India is to get one’s name entered into the land records.

In the local government office there is a book which is called the “Red book”, which makes a simple entry that on such & such a date, the land belonging in so & so Survey number, which belonged to so & so has been transferred to so & so’s name & that this new so & so is now the rightful & legal owner of this land. Once that entry is made, then a true copy of that entry, which will be duly sealed & signed by the revenue authorities has to be handed over to us.

Sounds very, very simple, does it not ?

Yeah, sure it is simple, the time involved in making all this entries is 15 mts, add another 10 mts to get the true copy made, so totally it takes 25 mts. In our lives somethings which takes 25 mts we are even capable of doing it even in 10 mts. But this is not our lives. This is the lives of the privileged lot & in this case the one’s who belong to the Indian bureaucracy. Forget the minutes, forget the days, forget the mental torment, forget the daily hours spent & wasted outside the corridors of power; I eventually got the paper in my hands after two months !

The mafia in this case is the Revenue department of the GOI & the lynchpin pin in this whole episode of this  “go slow, demand bribe mafia” is somebody who is known as the Circle Inspector, because he is the one who authorises that this new entry should be made.

Finally after i got the papers in my hand, it was actually a sense of relief more than anything else. Because the more one sees any government department’s functioning….. be it the judiciary, be it the police they are all mafia gangs in uniform. Sometimes i feel they put the real mafia gangs to shame.

While sharing my experience with my co-workers on the land, they were actually laughing & saying now even the doctors are also like a mafia & with the rains lashing down in the area, people also go down with gastroenteritis, malaria & fever etc. Any one who has the misfortune to be ill & has to meet a doctor in Velhe, have to make sure to have atleast Rs 1,500 in one’s pocket, because that is what will be required as “extortion fees” from the doctor. Be it private doctor or a government doctor, the “extortion” never ceases.  Instead of a simple Paracetemol or a Quinine dose or a Domstal or a Lomotil prescription the doctor has better ideas with a normal dose of 10 salines & another 10 injections, plus a prescriptions for a strong dose of antibiotics…… If on that fateful day there are more patients, then one escapes with less extortion, or if there are less patients…… then extortion from Rs 1,500/- can even go upto Rs 5,000/- They were telling me yesterday how a woman in her 40’s with gastroenteritis  was denied entry into any hospitals in Velhe, then she was taken to a private hospital in Pune, where they were asked to pay a deposit of Rs 50,000/-, when they said  they do not have the money, she was not admitted, she was brought back to the village & she died !

Life is cheap, money for nothing……..

Even though I’ve got the papers in my hand & now that i know i know legally i am safe. Hopefully !! But i recieved the papers with a very sick feeling inside me. As a common person in this land/country, i realise i am powerless. If i make a noise, then the mafia has 101 ways to stall proceedings & they can extort more.

I realise i am no different from anyone who is eking out a living  & trying to make his/her house legalised in any of the slums in India, nor am i am any different from any tribal who is trying to get the land that he/she has been cultivating for decades into their names.

In the area Land agents are also like a mafia. Farmers are allured by the cash & a rapidly expanding city 50 kms away. Since there is not much public transport available in the area sometimes i stop & give a lift to people, just to get out of the boredom of driving alone & also sometimes to get to know people.

On one such ride, a farmer told me he wants to sell his land.

I was shocked & asked him, Why ?

He said he wants Cash.

I asked him how long will the Cash last ?

He said 2 years

I asked him after 2 years what will you do ?

No answer for a while…

then he said he will work as a labourer for the new owner of the land.

I asked him:  do you believe in a word called dignity ?

He said yes

I told him… if you believe in dignity you should’ve never even thought of selling your land, it’s a land which has fed you & your family for years, plus you never had to work under anyone, nor take anyone’s orders. Now in my eyes you are a master, you are a king, you are living in paradise….. but unfortunately you are lured by/for cash & if you sell your land, as you only said you will become a slave in two years…… So what’s your choice ??

silence….. for a while & then he said

OK,

I will not sell not my land & listen bhau (brother)  you are welcome anytime to my house, you are so different, plus i want to come & visit your land & see what you are doing, plus as farmers we need to be together, you gave me strength today, at some point of time i want to give you strength…..

Well… that’s  the story. Something which stressed me out just once is something which local people are dealing in their daily lives …… i.e the mafia !

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