That’s why agriculture is stagnating!

Do you know what even the respected Hindu newspaper group business daily newspaper calls the Prime Minister’s recent speech at the first national conference of Krishi Vigyan Kendras? “These motherhood sentiments”! These pious hopes create ennui”!
The PM called for a Second Green Revolution! If he was not the Prime Minister the green lobby would have been up in arms against such innocence! Second Green Revolution can’t take place anymore! You don’t have the conditions that brought about a Green Revolution in the first place. Today, even China is battling with environment costs. You can’t exploit the water resources as you did then. Nor can you apply so much chemical fertilisers as you did then. Nor are there any breakthroughs in seed technology, unless you say all GM seeds are good for Indian farmers. Can you say this today?

So, we can ignore the PM’s “motherhood sentiments”. The Agri Minister is no less guilty. Has the PM or the Agri Minister of the Finance Minister all these days had ever once mentioned the farmers’ suicides that go unabated in the Vidharba region? They haven’t. Why? The plain fact is that we as a nation, as a nation of hypocritical people are plain double talkers. We talk so much about poverty, so much about guaranteeing employment for the poor etc.

But we don’t have the moral courage, or guts to ask ourselves some honest questions. Do we really believe in the sort of politics we practice in New Delhi? We indulge in a series of insensitive, shameless selfish survival politics.

We don’t believe in identifying the really competent people and giving ministerial responsibilities. The Cabinet had become an unwieldy, unperforming entity. The oil minister is also the panchayat minister! The defeated men are personal favourites and they go about with all pretensions of legitimacy. The people would surely see they are illegitimate occupiers of the Cabinet posts. Likewise, we have a cushy environment where all the retired officials and experts are very comfortably provided for. So, what you expect to happen in the most difficult of economic sectors, namely, agriculture?
Agriculture is saddled with outdated land reform laws. The tiny plots of lands owned by marginal and small farmers have become quite unviable. Yet, you, the policy makers don’t have the honesty either to relax land laws or go in for any new innovations. What about contract farming concept? A drastic new agri policy is that no small farmers can do farming on their own; they have to be on some contract farming project or other such group commitments. Unless the farming at the grass roots are given the security of a minimum guarantee price and also given a package of practices, funding, all can be tied with the Krishi Vigyan Kendras, better through some Public-Private Partnership concept, farming on small scale would be a loss-making activity.

This, a man like Pawar knows well. Rather very well. But then, he, being a shrewd man, might be saying to himself: “When everybody seeks his or her self survival, why bother with any altruistic thoughts?” Very likely, these sorts of thoughts also might pass through so many of the honest persons left in the government; men like Pranab Mukerjee are capable men. But then where is the room for really honest governance?

It is not Sonia Gandhi alone can reform the political cobweb. But then, she bears the cross. So, she has to bear the blame, if things go wrong. Unfortunately, today things are going wrong on the agriculture/poor front. Economic growth won’t take place unless big economic transformation takes place. For this we have to think big, we have to think afresh.

This is not happening in India, under the present combination of men and women at the top decision-making set-up. The Leftists didn’t help either. Their agenda is so narrow to the point of their own self-survival. So, the poor might have to resort to desperate measures. Farmers would continue with suicides. Not much tears will be shed.

The Union Minister for Planning M.V.Rajashekaran says that lopsided development could lead to social tensions and points out that once it was estimated 50 districts were affected by extremism, not it has increased to 110 districts. Urbanisation might accelerate rural migration. Already we see this trend taking several dimensions, migrant labor is another new phenomenon of new sources of social tensions in many states. So, we see agriculture neglect by our smug politicians and by our over-pampered bureaucracy are padded with bigger posts and fat pensions and perks are an eyesore in a country where we see such deprivation and all round despair.

All this in the face of an insensitive polity with all the unacceptable wasteful spending and careless governance. In the states these evils are too glaring. Accountability in economic management is missing at many levels. This, when, we pride ourselves, a reputed economic administrator is the Prime Minister of the country!

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