India has to change and specifically Indian agriculture sector has to change radically in many ways.
Today the politics in India is so polarised that even if you want to make any honest and even innocent pronunciation it is suspect and mistaken in terms of the highly polarised politics. And let us not forget for a minute that agriculture is very tough subject and very difficult to articulate in any objective manner. Agriculture is also a state subject and it is for the states to draw up and implement any meaningful agriculture policy or policies. Unfortunately, the politics in the States too is so polarised that those states what are under the Congress party dispensation are asked by Sonia Gandhi not to implement the Centre’s new policies. So we have to keep in mind the larger interests of the very entire farming community.
Here we would tackle only a few basic points. One, we have to first of all take a very broad outlook. Agriculture is the least efficiently performing sector also, the allocation in the budget for agri research is near zero do you know? Just one percent ! The reasons are many, one, the rural areas are so left our socially backward, the castes and the ethnic. Communities are too many and they have all remained tied up with so many traditional beliefs and superstitions. Democratic politics had brought about a very unpredictable rural society. The lands are fragmented and thus, those who support the government and others too often talk about the meagre land holdings.
The data about these vast landscapes is also lately twisted and thus, one new issue that is going to affect the future immediate as well as remote is how we are going to implement the new policies in the absence of reliable data. How to implement, say, the PM’s many welfare schemes, how to put the money in the hands of the small and marginal farmers’ hands?
So, we have to pause and suspect at every stage of policy implementation. The existing and emerging gaps in data pertaining to the dispersal of real potential beneficiaries. You can already see the allegations in the Pradhan Mantri schemes of how the free loans are diverted into hands of corrupt officials. And as we read in Tamil Nadu, the scheme is already in the dumps before it is put into practice! These are the sort of ground level realities we like to highlight and many more such government money-swindling acts are likely to come in the way very soon. So, first of all we have to ensure, the Central Government must first get reliable data is not fudged and the very openness and transparency must be ensured before we start talking about our hapless farmers.
We welcome them, the new bills, with certain qualifications and also with a progressive mindset! You see agriculture is a vast area of economic activity.
Yes, agriculture in India has been the subject of much controversy today. In sum, we can say with certain confidence that all who talk of farmers’ issues are very superficial and they don’t know, we say with some confidence, anything at all about the ground level realities.
The BJP has come out with the three bills, all related to the marketing freedoms for farmers and also with the promise of MSP and much else. The opposition led by the Congress party and in particular by Rahul Gandhi who has lately turned into a full-scale opponent of the BJP and more so directly towards the Prime Minister has turned the whole debate into a partisan politics whose end we don’t know yet full impact of the three bills on the future prospects on the Indian agriculture. The agriculture sector of India is a vast subject of importance. It is a bit ironical that politics in India today also has become so unprincipled that anybody and everybody who speaks on agriculture these days seem to be totally unsuited and unequal to the task! Unfortunately, democratic politics has brought out a sort of rootless people to high offices!
You live all your life in Delhi, you inherit some office or title and you become a leader, even a party functionary is now a leader. In the political parties too most of the persons who appear on the TV screens or get your name inserted in some obscure corner of a newspaper or a TV show is a leader and given the sort of politics we have fashioned in the country with so many of the present or past leaders, the numbers are so significant that there are no resources, we are told to book and carry out court cases against those implicated in criminal cases, the past MPs and MLAs and so on. Given the whole corrupt scenario of the politics and also the unconcern of the common citizen about these allegations, the number of lawyers and others who are making news by associating themselves with political parties and had held offices of ministers even for a brief period are all experts on their own assumptions, these persons also add to the vitiation of politics.
As for agriculture it is a no-man’s land for the mass of people. The office holders speak with authority, those who had lost their offices turn into a sort of permanent residents of the Lutyens’ bungalow zone for years and years. They don’t vacate their residences and for continuation of their occupation they somehow manage to hold on. Just you see how the members of the Congress Working Committee become members in the first place.Today each and every member of these sort of parties’ core committees are New Delhi residents and they are totally cut off from the ground level realities of the rural India.
The point here is that when we talk of agriculture we seem to speak so superficially and has nothing to do with the actual lives and livelihood realities. We are a small media group and we live and practise farming, you believe?
So we are totally unimpressed by the comments and criticisms of all these politicians, the crorepathis and the corrupt politicians who dare and comment and dare to give such bogus statistics etc. Everyone said without exception, it seems, that the average holds of farm lands has declined and now less than one hectare is hell by the majority of the farmers. Is this a magic reality? Is this something very unusual? Only those who live in the villages know well that in every village inequality and inequity is the basic ground level reality.
Not every one can hold big land holdings. It is the village reality that only a few, often one or two families can hold large holdings, every past century you can see that farming lands ceasing to remain big holdings, from old jagirdari holdings to progressive fragmentation. May be if we don’t further attend to farming issues, very soon villages would become desolate and the rest of the farming households would see their members further reduced and there could be empty villages without any younger generation continuing the traditional farming operations.
So, it is one more reason why we have to make farming a productive enterprise, we have to make farming change to respond to new scenarios. Let us welcome all changes with an open hand!
Any change is welcome in farming sector, so too the latest fermium bills. Only sad thing is how the bills were rushed through, may be the government has its own compulsions.
The government needs much sympathy and support, at least they enacted the bills! Of course politics is in reality very controversial politics one, it seems! Where the heads you win and tails you lose!
Now, we like to say certain things very clearly and emphatically!
First you have to reconcile with the Indian rural realities. One, the rural India would have to protect and promote the landless labour. You have to sustain this rural population segment as a permanent feature of Indian countryside, namely, the rural landless population!
India welfare State must address all the economic and social issues, like education, health and minimal protect from exploitation. This is a big issues but these issues will be there with us for long, in one election or other and politicians will continue to mislead and make false promises and this is a subject that needs a great deal of ideological debate and debate, a sort of education and even popular education.
Education is spreading now very furiously and education reformers have a great responsibility as to how to educate and awaken the public consciousness etc. Next to landless labour, there is the issue of the legal and traditional human rights. Land is becoming limited and therefore there will always be the land ownership issues.
Tenancy farming will also be there. You have to reform the current state of issues that remain unresolved. The old type, that is, the existing type tenancy r reforms. Have to go and new type of land ownership and tenancy reforms have to be brought out.
So, that there is a friction free environment in the countryside. The key to these issues like in the panchayat raj institutions that remain a part work only as of now. You have to address the panchayat reform in a committed way so that at the very bottom level the ordinary villager, the very bottom-level citizen feels the security of a non-exploitative social base. This is not there now. Today, there is a sense of insecurity and a fear of government itself prevails. The media and the NGOs and other voluntary agencies are all treated with a sure and dismissal outlook and this is very unfair and arbitrary government.
The Collector’s raj and the local party bossism must go. The corrupt and criminal elements are driving the social relations and the end result is no government and near anarchism and lawlessness.
Agriculture is the very root of Indian ethos. The latest agri laws are likely to contribute towards modernisation of Indian agriculture. There is no other way. The new generation agri laws would surely wipe out the old time mandis and commission agents. And the sort of nexus that had been built up in the mandis, be it paddy mandi or horticulture, like that of the onion mandis and the politicians and mandi bosses in mobilising election funds to other social and political nefarious relationships would go and they must go!
Yes, in their place the new age silos like those of corporate giants like Adani agri silos would come and there is so far everything positive and the farmers who take their produce only the good things have been said! Why not we acknowledge the ground level realities!
There would be only slow change in the rural Indian realities but we can think ahead and articulate rational policies even from now onwards. These are only some stray thoughts and let us debate and discuss issues without any ulterior motives.