The Prime Minister in his Independence Day Speech made many bold and new announcements to lift the economy from the slowdown. These schemes like empowering the farmers with several hopeful positive supports are welcome.
Considering the tone and temper of the day and mood with the Jammu and Kashmir developments heavy in the background every Indian was in a receptive mental framework.
One of the key factors in the general economic slowdown is the rural distress and the agrarian crisis.
Indian agriculture is perhaps the most neglected sector in the country and now, given the flood devastation and the loss of lives and the need to attend to rescue and rehabilitation task the burden on the government resources is too high to think of any other aspect of the agriculture life and economy.
The average farmer is in distress and in great many handicaps. Let us say this to ourselves in the first place. Now, the issue of climate change and the latest floods and many land slips have accentuated the timeliness of the climate-related actions that are overdue. Unfortunately, the government has not come out in the open and said anything that make an impact on the minds of the concerned sections. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has added a new dimension to the fight against climate change.
The urban media is full of scholastic deliberations on green house gas etc. One important issue is that even such unthought out political action like free electricity to farmers has added to great land degradation, so too deforestation and such new unimagined consequences.
Politicians played their own negative roles in providing populist politics and these actions for so long let unchecked had contributed to the current crisis and the climate change debate.
If we can add here one more critical factor in farm distress is the consequence of a regressive land reforms such as tenancy act where the cultivating tenant in no more an actual cultivator but often an absentee tenant who take land long ago and now does many other things, not actual cultivation nor pays any rent, fair or unfair, the law permits him in his delinquency.
In TN in particular if you visit the temples in Thanjavur district there are notice boards prominently kept with the name of delinquent tenants, some of them bigger than any actual landlord? So too the land ceiling act that doesn’t allow an economical size and therefore most of the actual land parcels are below one or two hectares.
The BJP government simply talks in vague terms about doing this or that relief to farmers.
Actually what is their land reforms proposals? The PM has spoken many things about farmer’s reliefs, like crop insurance, actual cash transfer etc.
But not one has heard him deliberate on farm reforms in detail. There must be structured land reforms, given the very radical socio-economic and even cultural transformation that has taken place in the rural India.
As per one latest report on actual farmers, not just in India but also in the Western countries that average farmers’ age is advancing. No more younger age groups are forth coming to take up farming as a modern profession.
The harsh reality is that farmers are a very dejected lot, more debts, pushing them towards suicides, India iks one of the prominent countries in the rate of farm suicides.
What sort of talk we make when we talk of farmers’ policies? The very phrase doesn’t occur in any of the government policy documents.
There must be a drastic policy to prevent farmer’s suicides. The topic is very timely but stop at this. Second, the farmers must be made to feel they are respected and attended with great sensitivity by the society. If the farmers to the Weekly District Collectors’ grievances day how farmers grievances are solved or attended to?
There is a picture that we like to show to our readers. In one biography of the Austrian emperor, Ludwig Joseph, he is shown to have got into an actual farm and ploughing the farmer’s land! How much it would be if our PM or President stops on the wayside and gets a farmer’s plough and actually seen ploughing the mother earth’s soil, sacred soil! Then, the very ground level officials, high and low, must attend and answer the farmer’s issues on the smartphones, online and every farm households have educated young boy or girl!
Then, there is the agriculture media!
Do we have any policy to support such media outlets with suitable subsidies? Why you neglect the rural media?
The late trend towards partisan propaganda slant in ads and news distortions have made the matters worse! Let us show that as politicians, MPs and MLAs, we respect the farmers, we visit the villages?
The agri ministers must be seeing, they must travel and they must be seen by the people. Now, do you see any of these things happening?
Let us shed hypocrisy. Let us award farmers Padma awards and such other recognitions!
Agriculture is a vast subject. It touches our lives and actions and our beliefs and core convictions at many levels. Let us recognise the serious side of agriculture. No way otherwise!