I am 24 years old. I have lived in towns, cities, villages and metros. I have studied subjects ranging from quantum computations, genetics, biochemistry, physics to even art, and literature. I have worked on research oriented thesis, engineering projects, and now in a software development company. I have met people ranging from IIM MBAs, MIT PhDs, Army generals, IITians, company CEOs, to army soldiers, workers, and beggars. But when I decided to write a post titled, “Learn and respect”, the first group of people which came to my mind were “The Indian Farmers”. After learning and studying for so many years and finally working for a software company, I realised that what I do is nothing compared to the hard work and skills for being a farmer in India. Many of my relatives are in farming. I have also met farmers from various regions of the country and here is what I have learnt from them.
- Hard work, dedication, and consistency: Waking up at 4 am to staying late at 1 am. Eating lunch in fields. Working even on festivals, Saturdays, Sundays. Working in rain, hot summer noons, winter mornings. Quite easily the toughest field job after army men.
- Human resource management: No farmer in India is MBA. Hardly any of them have studied after 12th. But the way I have seen farmers manage their labourers (analogous to company employees) is very impressive. Though they are called labourers, but I have hardly seen farmers acting like a boss over labourers. They mostly treat them like a large family and the same labourers work for the same farmer for over decades. Company CEOs, start-up founders should take a note.
- Handling pressure, stress: Being a farmer is quite a stressful job. Many of them take loans, go on losses for years. It’s no surprise that we hear news about farmer suicides every now and then. It’s very unfortunate. But still, they manage it much better than a high class, well earning employee in a metro. Farmers are any day a more enjoyable company than a say software developer or a financial analyst.
- Optimisation (jugaad): Leakage in pipelines, shortage of labour, weather, malfunctioning tractors, snake bite at fields, pest attacks. There are so many variables, so many people to manage. But they start solving these problems from their childhood. Its no surprise that they are very good at optimizing and getting the best out of what they have.
- Work life balance: My first point was dedication and hard work. If you’re doing a job in a metro and you’re a dedicated, hard working employee, chances are you’re missing a lot on your lifestyle and personal family. However in case of farmers, farming isn’t just a job. It’s a part of their life. And also its a kind of work that doesn’t impact your lifestyle in a negative way (compared to a desk job where you will get fat, lazy, prone to diseases). They always manage to find time for their families, always attending important weddings, festival events. Eating the best, and fresh food products. And most importantly breathing a fresh, non-polluted air which is a rarity. Even our president doesn’t have that luxury. Honestly, I envy farmers in this regard. Sure there is darker side too, but still, their lives are much simpler and less stressful compared to the lives of urban millionaires.
- Cattle, animal relationship: Another reason to envy farmers. Be it their dogs, cows, buffalos, they have a close family like relationship with their animals. And yes again, they get the best, unadultrated fresh diary products.
- Down to earth, humble, happening: They are the biggest contributor to India in making it a self sustaining economy. Forget the production or IT industry. If there is a slight dip in agricultural production, it has a big effect on Indian economy and inflation. Despite of all this, the support they get from the government has usually been dismal. In short, they work against challenges, difficulties and that’s why I have never seen an arrogant, egoistic farmer. They are always down to earth, they respect and preserve our traditions, and most importantly are the happiest people you will ever meet.