In a situation when we find the Indian agriculture in debts and droughts and floods!
Why, even you can add litigation and much else!
This year’s Christmas double issues of the internationally known magazine, The Economist, has written its major editorial on Optimism vs. Pessimism.
The widely read intellectual elite journal has highlighted the radical changes now caused by the growth in technologies that are not only creating enormous wealth, also benefitting man by improving living standards, spreading education, also health by the many medical miracles that allow us to live longer and also helping us to travel thanks to revolution in aviation, not to also add the telecom revolution and the IT industry that had transformed a traditional society like India to emerge as a Superpower.
So, how can be unaware of the various revolutions in technologies should also must be causing a great revolution in agriculture?
This question is nagging in our minds when we sit down to write any editorial. As educated persons with some privileges of wealth and opportunities we have to be morally committed to the rural people, farmers and other underprivileged sections of society in which farmers occupy central place we are duty-bound to speak the harsh truths as well. This is for the rural farmers.
Agriculture is a risky activity. In distress and debt!
How the government policies work?
After Modi took over as the Prime Minister of India there have been too many new policies and too many risk taking outcomes. In agriculture and rural; development there has been a sea-change in the announcement and implementation of the various schemes. PM’s two bold decisions, demonetization and GST have really impacted the way now citizens use the banks through online transactions.
Of course there have been mixed results. Yes, the radical decisions led to some pain, some might say more pain than positive results. However, any new radical step would distort and destabilize some sections. Now, after all these years we see much positive changes only. This much if fine and fair. As for the agri sector is concerned, the new schemes from farmers personal pensions and insurance cover the scheme has been yet to show results. The various subsidies that always go with any agriculture schemes go also under the many other agri schemes.
One obvious and much discussed and much politicized schemes are farm loan waivers. The latest one is by the Maharashtra government under the new Chief Minister Uddhav Thakeray. This scheme is likely to cost Rs.50, 000 crores and can the rising NPA be sustained by the rising NPAs of banks and also the already strained deficit, fiscal position of the State government?
One simple and straightforward retort is: who cares?@Today’s political environment is such that no rational response is welcome and always some sort of shrug is welcome and people react favorable to such confrontationist political gestures. So far, the public and private sector banks had written off Rs.80, 893 crore during April-September 2019.
The government in Delhi pretends to say and maintain still that that the loan write offs continues to be for repayment. So farm loans very soon turn out to be bad loans and continue to hang around the necks of farmers, though the final and realistic outcome nobody knows! As per RBI, the rate of recovery of bad loans has come down from 18.4% in 2014 to a low of 12.45 by March 2014..And so on so forth!
We don’t believe in going into detailed data from the official sources that have become suspect in recent times! What is reliable is the ground level reality and we have to be very robust in mind and body when we talk of Indian agriculture. Agriculture in India is highly distorted, officials and ministers are known for their silence when such hot topics come for public debate. There are political priorities in drawing up agricultural policies. Unfortunately there are widening gaps between the politicians who draw up policies and the rest of the agriculture=-linked groups of people. Apart from farmers who belong to the lowest categories like marginal and small farmers who are as of today own an average one or t wo hectares, there are other categories who fall into the category of big farmers, or big corporate who also accumulate vast acres of agriculture lands.
Our humble suggestion is that the ICAR must be recast. It must be recast to bring together agriculture leaders, agriculture veterans, leaders like Sharad Pawar and Chandrababu Naidu and many others who in their tie had done much for improving agriculture after the series of radical land reforms laws were introduced soon after Independence.
What lessons we have learnt from the radical land reforms that abolished zamindari and also to the extent of tenancy reform laws. The Prime Minister must convene a meeting, why a series of such meetings to get an update of the rural reality today.
Why even a veteran like Deve Gowda who in his Chief minister days, likewise Sharad Pawar(we have met them then and interacted with them. They also sought progressive ideas as to bring in large investments.
So, we too should do now and take the agri reforms as continuity. New technologies are coming out everyday. From IT to AI. So, we can have much optimism and must be able to take forward reforms and policies that would reach out almost every single farmer So, we request farmers generation today to have optimism, the younger generation specially to help to spread the new optimism that they find in non-farm sectors. Also from urban centres, from big cities like Bangalore to remote villages.