Massive farm debt write-off and farm diversification schemes can only revive agriculture and rural employment

The Prime Minister’s immediate  future prospects look uncertain. His pet project of the nuclear deal is unlikely to see the light of the day before the next elections, if at all. His other pet scheme, rural employment guarantee programme also lost its momentum.

The allies are on war path. At any rate in public, the CPI(M)openly strikes a betrayer’s role! It has the gumption to talk of a third front without the Congress! This, at a time when the Nandigram issue is still burning. And the West Bengal Communists are openly toeing the Congress line of embracing Capitalism as the only way ahead!

One thought the CPI(M) would become closer to the Congress, or at any rate ,closer to Mrs.Sonia Gandhi  ,and the PM and the FM. The first as the leader of the party and as a warm ally of men like Yechury and the Karat couple and more in particular to the senior patriarch, Jyoti Basu. After all, Basu is the last of the great Left intellectuals who also has some similarities in the Nehruvian mould of old style Soviet era Leftism. But now, in election eve times, to speak of a break when the many other regional allies like DMK,BSP are proving to be suspects and they might jump guns if their own narrow agendas don’t serve their immediate purposes. Of sharing in the spoils of office and funds.

But then, there is this grim prospect of the Congress losing out in the next elections.

The party has no credible programme, no credible manifesto and no credible alternatives in the absence of the present schemes not sustaining the enthusiasm of the people.

Elections are becoming quite unpredictable. The series of defeats for the Congress party could unnerve any leader. But unfortunately for the Congress, the PM and the FM, in particular, are not the right types of leaders to inspire the cadre or  the general public. Both are, let us be honest enough to admit, at least at this moment of reckoning,  lightweights, they have no big stakes in the outcome of the elections. They could secure assignments elsewhere in the sorts of assignments they seem to be impressing the unsuspected people.

Yes, one doesn’t know in what priorities of development the PM believes? Nor one knows in what economic reforms priorities, the FM believes. Both speak of the rate of growth being the most important priority. A 9 per cent or even a lesser percentage of growth is all they care for and nothering else seem to be priorities.

But who then can din into their deaf ears that the mere one point agenda of  just the rate of growth without reference to the nature of the growth, in a skewed development pattern is no genuine growth at all. It is growth for a few, for a minority and a lack of  growth, or in fact a decline in growth, for instance in sectors like agriculture and rural employment, as it is happening, are sure way to disaster. More so in a context like this when the country is all geared up to see the next election as the big moment.

The CPI(M) and the BJP are seeming to be for pursuing an adventurous path, both are talking big and planning big, the BJP with Advani projected as the next PM is all out to organise itself under a single leader  and united to unseat a government to seize the initiative under a strong leader with an agenda that might mean anything to anybody! All that matters would be a win, combined with all sorts of allies, the allies are also seem to be adventurous types, ranging from the ADMK to the Trinamul to others whose sole aim would be to get maximum advantage in a highly polarised context.

As for the CPI(M) it might be simple posturing to serious adventure. One can suspect the CPI(M) might finally come round for it has not much space, given the unlikely event of the third front not maturing in any credible fashion. What would be a third front in which the ADMK and the Trinamul are not partners?
All these imponderables don’t give the Congress party any edge in the  next elections. As the single largest national party with a long history, with a long list of worthy basic principles like secularism, liberalised economic reforms and a strong sense of national presence, the party can attract allies across wide spectrum of ideological  divide only if the party projects a leader with a vision for a more radical change on a spectrum  of development priorities.

A massive farm debt write-off is a must, given the present crisis and the continuing farm suicides and the continuing crisis in the sugar industry. From UP to Maharashtra to Karnataka to TN, go anywhere and you see only uncut sugarcane fields left abandoned! Sugar factories are left to tackle a sugar crisis of unprecedented proportions. Here too a massive sugar subsidy, issue sugar bonds as you have done for the oil bonds and come to the rescue of a sector that was once the agri sector’s pride.

Besides a farm debts write offs and sugar industry subsidy is also the  need for a entirely new farm diversification scheme that would induce  a wide variety of farmers and new generation investors to take to farm-related businesses and enterprises, including food processing, so that there is real farm diversification.
There are so many things the government can do, if only it calls for industry leaders and veterans like Varghese Kurien and Narayanamurthy to come out with schemes that would  immediately draw the rural youth into employment generating schemes. Amul types, Grameen bank types of institutions are a must if we are to go out of the present bureaucratised ways of implementing the government programmes.

Real PPP, public-private participation, in most of the agri schemes are  a must. As on date most of the subsidies in horticulture to medicinal plants to other agri-related  schemes are creamed off by officials themselves at the lower to the higher levels!

That is one more reason why most of the current schemes have failed to impact.
So call the experts, give the PPP a try in the agri/horti related schemes.
You will see a massive new confidence down the line in the rural India!

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