Sharad Joshi, the founder of Shetkari Sanghatana, which launched aggressive agitations on farmers’ issues, passed away at his residence. He was 81. Joshi, who had been suffering from age-related ailments, is survived by two daughters. Joshi’s funeral will take place on Tuesday at Chakan, 30km from Pune.
Born on September 31, 1935 in Satara, Joshi completed his school education in Satara and Belgaum. He shifted to Mumbai for his college education where completed his master degree. He joined the Indian Postal Service in the late sixties and was deputed as Chief, Information Services of International Bureau at Bern in Switzerland. He, however, returned to India in 1977.
Joshi first drew attention to farmers’ plight in 1979 when he undertook an indefinite fast demanding fair onion prices. He drew massive support from farmers in north Maharashtra, which is also known as the onion belt. Joshi then formally launched the Shetkari Sanghatana.
While several farmer organisations are active in Maharashtra, they all draw ideological inspiration from Joshi, who took the state and parts of country by storm because of his massive rallies, fiery speeches and analysis of agriculture economics. He was popular in rural Maharashtra, especially among the youth, which shocked the then powerful Congress party.
Joshi wrote 20 books on agriculture. ‘Angarmala’, Joshi’s farmhouse near Pune, was visited often by politicians, academicians and social activists.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis condoled the demise of Sharad Joshi. He tweeted: “I am saddened by the demise of an advocate, an activist and leader of farmers whose struggle for better market facilities and new farm technology will be remembered and we will take it forward for betterment of farmers.”