But then we need a wide debate, criticism and even dissent
What is the role of corporate social responsibility in such a time?
So that government is on the alert and in a pro-active mode?
This year monsoons are poor, half the country, 246 districts, nearly half the country are drought hit. There has been a steep decline in rice output, as much as 10 million tonnes, says the agri minister.
Yes, there are certain hopes, Punjab and Haryana say their output of rice can be secured, seed stock is also secure, and 1.5 millions of surplus stock is there.
The PM convened the CMs and the food ministers and of course no one is sitting idle.
The Congress party is sensitive to the situation and so are other parties.
The morale of the public is intact thanks to the new challenges and the growing awareness, the media co-operates and the country has food stocks that could last for three years, assured the PM.
But the states are all not acting in responsible ways. Bihar and Karnataka are asking for funds, Bihar has stepped up its demand for a big amount and Karnataka less so.
But then there are other issues like price rice and the essential commodities are becoming scarce and there is hoarding and always the anti-hoarding operations makes a government unpopular and we need more innovative measures.
In a time of crisis like this, when the government finances are also not good, the Centre had come out with a budget whose calculations are very likely to go off tangent, what we need is some plain common sense.
First, the mideries of the poorest of the poor, in this case the situation of the farmers’ plight in drought hit states and areas like Vidarbha and AP and Karnataka and other states where the distress has become so acute there have been alarming number of farmers suicides.
The government has to come out with an anti suicide policy, make sure and rich to those spots an urgent relief package, new and fresh crop loans, disburse insurance amounts and other stop-gap measures, including fodder and water to the affected cattle population and some sort of a war-time accelerated action to give some relief and hope for the distress regions.
There is the megaexpansion of the NREGS and this most welcome at a time like this.
A new convergence of schemes NREGS expansion plus the BRGF and the Backward Regions Grant Fund are all supposed to be pitched in.
Yes, these are positive moves and we must welcome such constructive activities.
But then there are also other related measures which are always integrated with any scheme to rejuvenate and revive farm activities or farm related activities.
The immediate employment guarantee is a much welcome step.
Then, we have to target the farm households, their milch cattle and their other trades and services. All such small and medium enterprises schemes need to be looked upon as an opportunity to invest and here the banks can really play a proactive role.
The co-operative credit channels need to be streamlined and one doesn’t know why the government is reluctant to bring in the PSU banks and other private banks, the microfinance and the co-operative credit societies.
The monsoon s always don’t fail, they often come delayed and in a sphere like farming even a week’s delay could spell disaster…Also, ironically even a delayed monsoon sometimes helps as it is expected in many of the areas.
We see in Vidharbha and Yavatmal in Maharashtra, the two famous or notorious districts faced with series of disasters like large scale farmers suicides for many years, there is now a new hope. Every farmer here, a highly motivated lot after the farmers agitations under the Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti demanding banks, the farmers, hundreds of them beating drums incessantly and thus the banks have opened their doors and this year the farm loan target had exceeded. A more receptive administration this time had also helped the farmers to get their demands met. Says the Yavatmal district collector, Sanjay Deshmukh that we “have reached the target, nay exceeded, from Rs.520 crores to Rs.560 crores”!
There is here a good lesson for farmers at other places.
There is no point in blaming the government every time, farmers have to gather together and knock at the doors of branch banks and let these banks come out with some additional crop loans so that local distress is addressed locally!
There is no trust among the officials as far as farmers’ character is concerned. The recipients of crop loans not necessarily turn into crop loan defaulters. It is a question of interaction between the farmers and the rest of the society. Genuine indebtedness need to be addressed by the government.
But on most cases farmers are honest and highly respect conscious and that is why they resort to suicide once they feel their honour is at stake.
As we see everywhere farmers haven’t given up all hopes. They all wait for the rains and let us hopes even a delayed monsoon can help the farmers and their cattle.
Now, the rural development ministry has allowed, it is said, digging ponds in the private lands under the NREGS. This is again a welcome change.
There are many highly motivate local leaders of farmers, not just agitators as we may imagine, real and genuine do-gooders! One local farmer in Vidharbha it is reported buys cows that were sold out to slaughter and cares for them in genuine, non-religious intent and there are such efforts and such efforts must be supported by some special schemes for cow protection, not in any religious sense at all but purely in the interest of saving them and their use in enriching the soil and the family economies.
There has to be more community involvement. Why, even the corporate social responsibility (CSR) concept can be exploited at this time of widespread distress in the rural areas.
Yes, there will be criticism and more criticism. When the Finance Minister dismisses out of hand when asked there won’t be another farm loan write off. Why not?
Or, when the rural Indian asks the urban India: why not come to rural India’s distress help from your hundreds of crores of profits, when even the psu Air India asks for Rs.25, 000 crores to save itself, when the corporate sector asks for so many concessions, Ambani brothers openly accuse each other and the government plays so many dubious roles, there is so much corruption and even the PM openly admits and yet he seems to be helpless etc…
So, when the largest people are in distress, there is no one to stand up and speak for them!
So, in what sense we can say that leaders in high positions are elected in a democratic way and they are all working to make democracy work and deliver!
Is this criticism not in the right spirit?