WRONGED FARM POLICY
THESE two incidents need to be considered in all seriousness, beyond any political affiliation or affliction. The nation or its people or the Government can only ill-afford to ignore the import of these two episodes that actually bare the overall failure of India’s farm policy in the past seventy-plus years, no matter the political claims of its success.
Let us make no mistake in placing the blame at the doorstep of the present Government led by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. Let us try to understand the failed dynamics of India’s approach to agriculture over decades. Let us not try to make a political capital out of these incidents whose protagonists have nothing to do with politics. Let us, therefore, make an honest and apolitical effort to understand the various factors that have affected our agriculture and pushed it into a perpetual crisis mode.
The most unfortunate reality is that even as India won Independence in 1947, the people at the helm found themselves trapped in a confused ideological bind. On one hand, they wanted to promote industry -- from small to medium to large scale to heavy -in a combination of private and public sector enterprises. On the other hand, they wanted to treat agriculture sector as backward and push it to what they thought were modern ideas. The result was that the entire economy suffered badly, and more so the agriculture sector. India’s villages fell behind the cities in the developmental march and an agrarian crisis loomed large almost the next day.
Various ideas came up to help the rural sector and the resultant mess led to further deterioration of agriculture offering a fine blend of farming and rural industry traditionally. Various marketing schemes for farm produce, various monopoly purchase ideas, various loan waivers also came in the past seventy-plus years, but to little avail.
Meanwhile, genuine nationwide agitations of farmers, too, came up bringing to fore the real issues the farm sector faced. Most unfortunately, the Government, no matter its political leaning, continued to offer only piecemeal treatment to agriculture. The two incidents quoted earlier and a few more of those are only small but telling indicators of what has gone wrong to Indian agriculture -- beyond politics, beyond ideologies.
These incidents show how farming is becoming increasingly ungainful particularly to medium, small and marginal farmers. Most unfortunately, corporate farming and capitalist approach to agriculture now dominate the scene, leaving only pittance for the individual farmers. The obvious effort is that the corporate controllers of agriculture want to render small farming useless, so much so that the farmers would want to sell off their lands and seek some other means of livelihood. On many occasions, the small and marginal farmers are known to become farm labourers on their own farms under corporate control.
This is pathetic, to say the least. By resorting to massive indulgence in corporate farming, India’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) may rise, but the country’s Gross Happiness Quotient (GHQ) will sink since individual farmers will remain unhappy and almost eternally poor. The two incidents point to that ugly reality.
Doubtless, the nation has more money today, but many pockets of the population still live a poor life of want. This situation will not change for the better if the Government does not take a deep look at the overall agricultural scenario and introduce major and core policy changes so that individual farmer gets better RoI (Return on Investment) and finds farming genuinely gainful.
The question is: Is the Government -- belonging to any political colour - willing to make basic policy alterations to accommodate the welfare of individual farmers? Will it be willing to bring in sharp focus the farmrelated issues for early solutions?
These questions may appear simple, but are actually very complicated, thanks to the wrong policy framework India adopted about agriculture seventy-plus years ago in the name of socialism. Nobody realised that it was a wrong brand of socialism. It is time now to tell ourselves exactly that and endeavour honest rectification. MUMBAI, Dec 3 (PTI): Driven to despair by being offered a meagre 20 paise per kilogram for his brinjal production, a farmer in Maharashtra destroyed the entire plantation on his land to save himself from incurring further losses. Rajendra Bawake, from Sakuri village in Rahata tehsil of Ahmednagar district, claimed he earned only Rs. 65,000 after investing Rs. 2 lakh and putting in all his energy to cultivate the brinjal crop. ...“I had planted brinjal on two acres of land and laid pipes for drip irrigation. I used fertilisers, pesticides and modern mulching techniques to enhance the production. The total investment came to around Rs. 2 lakh. In return, I earned only Rs. 65,000,” Bawake told PTI on Monday. The cultivator said he now owes dues worth over Rs. 35,000 to fertilisers and pesticides supplier. “I don’t know how I am going to raise that money,” he rued. NASHIK, Dec 4 (IANS): In an unusual form of protest, a Maharashtra farmer donated a paltry sum earned from selling his onion crop at a huge loss to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund, officials said here on Tuesday. Sanjay Sathe had taken a tractorload of around 750 kg onion to the Niphad Agriculture Produce Market Committee wholesale market last week and was shocked to get just Rs 1.41/kg, or Rs 1,064 for 7.5 quintals . ... Piqued ... Sathe decided to register his grievance by donating the entire amount online to the PMRF, for which he shelled out an additional Rs 54 as the money transfer fee.
Let us make no mistake in placing the blame at the doorstep of the present Government led by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. Let us try to understand the failed dynamics of India’s approach to agriculture over decades . ... Let us, make an honest and apolitical effort to understand the factors that have affected our agriculture and pushed into a perpetual crisis mode.