Sunday, January 6, 2008


This is the question that I asked my self while driving through the sugarcane belt of Kolhapur . One thing for sure that my writing skills will be definitely under scrutiny while writing this article. Reason being that I wont be able to express through photographs, as my digicam vanished from the car at Goa on New Year’s Eve. And whether I can make readers smell the evening smoke of Cow dung cakes,feel the warmth of reflected sunlight from the black soil of Deccan Plateau ,drown in the glory of setting purple Sun behind the Sahyadris or smell the pungent sweetish aroma flying out of the green Sugarcane fields is what I am not sure off.

I could not resist putting all these on paper,so bought one pen and note book at Daund Station and started writing on 2129 Azad Hind Express.

Driving towards Goa we halted at Belgaum and had a good night sleep.Next morning our driver,fellow batch mate at I.M.D.R,Pune, Siddhu aka Chacha drove through one of the Ghats on NH4A and could not resist using slangs seeing the condition of the road which is too bad for around 50 km. Finally, reached Goa for the new year which everyone is going to remember for different reasons… ;-)

Because of the bad condition of road that we had faced while coming to Goa,we took a different road while returning back to Pune.That was directly to Kolhapur and then to Pune.And now I feel that was a well made decision or else I would not have got this article to write.We had a good night sleep at Sawantbadi having paid rupees 125 for a nice cozy bed in the basement of an Inn. Next morning we started for Goa through a well metaled road which criss crosses through one of the richest agricultural belt of Maharashtra.It’s not a surprise that Kolhapur has a Mercedes Showroom-thanks to cash churned out of sugar mills.Driving through Phonda Ghat was a pleasure with greenery all around and full of hairpin turns. We stopped at the highest point on the Ghat to admire the beauty from the top and gazing blank at the serpentine roads.This ascent in altitude is actually climb on the Western Ghats towards the Deccan Plateau. There were “Angire trees all around on the Ghat .I could not stop my hand from plucking a bunch. I was surprised that the Ghat ended around 200 meters from this highest point .But this was because we had climbed up to the Deccan Plateau. Driving all along the Radhanagari lake ,I was just wondering about my lost camera.The road also passes through Radhanagari Sanctuary.

Another thing of Maharashtra that always attracts me is the state run Road Transport Corporation.No doubt that it is one of the rare state run transport corporations that is running on profit.But this is the result of lot of planning and application.Every village or small “kasba” has a good bus station where you see Marathis sitting with their “Bhakris” and “Red Chatni”,waiting for the buses to come.

There is no specific plan that I follow before any of my trips which perhaps get reflected in my writing….

Finally, coming to the point on Sugarcane farming- There is a saying that “Grass is greener on one side” but for me this does not hold true for Sugarcane.As we neared Kolhapur ,we all were amazed by the prosperity of farmers of Kolhapur and Satara region. Vegetables that you see in the Gultekdi Market yard in Pune comes from Satara and this is the reason once Bhupi( we fondly used to call our Director, Ashutosh P. Bhupatkar at IMDR,Pune)did send us on an assignment to understand the subject of “Systems Thinking”. Now question is “What is the relationship between Systems Thinking and Gultekdi ?”. Vegetables coming from Satara region and distributed at Gultekdi is a perfect example of one Cooeprative macro system working towards the prosperity of farmers. We in Orissa have a familiar kind of setup for Egg distribution through OPOLFED and milk distribution through OMFED,but can we look at the vegetable distribution through a similar kind of setup?

Everywhere you look around on the road to Kolhapur ,you see Sugarcane plantations.You can literally smell the aroma of Sugar as the Sugarcane laden tractors passed by.Signs of prosperity and happiness every where.As I look back at my village in Orissa,I just wonder that how every one is completely dependent on single yield of Paddy ?For rest of the year, fields remain as they are- waiting to be farmed. But who cares? That much money is enough....Another striking feature in these farmlands of Kolhapur region is that there may not be sufficient water but pumps work over time to quench the thirst of the fields.

A feeling of completeness and colourful canvas one gets after seeing all these. Adding up to all these are farmers smoking beedi,sitting along with Oxes having colourful…yellow..horns.All these yield collected are then carried to local Mandis which are run by Co-operative societies.One such Mandi ,I came across and saw hundreds of bullock carts fully loaded with sugarcane.

To end the travel on a high note was the famous Kolhapuri Mutton Curry and and Bhakri on a roadside dhaba on Kohapur Pune highway.Red Chilly gravy ready to scintillate your test buds.In all one of the journeys worth remembering for good and not so good reasons………

IMDR,Pune,I.M.D.R,Pune,Institute of Management Development & Research,Pune,I M D R Pune,I M D R