Agriculture is both economics and politics!
Do you know that currently Lok Sabha MPs are 147 times more richer than rural households! The time has come to realise this utter unreality of the Policy makers empty talk and the ground level realities!

32 years after the first farmer suicide in Maharashtra, nothing has changed! This is a lament we hear from Maharashtra where this tragedy saw a farmer who (name: Saheb Rao Karpe) killed himself along with his wife and four children in 1986. Anything changed after this tragedy? In the last five years(2014-2018) 14,034 farmers ended their lives( eight farmers a day).Even after 4,500 farmers committed suicide and the State government announced Rs.34,000 core loan waiver scheme in June 2017.Anything changed in farmers’ lives?

None at all is the dark reply!

Yes, it is a curious feeling we have noticed for long the right-now the much discussed rural distress, agrarian distress and called by various other names that problems of the Indian farmers continued to be couched in the same simple terms like loan waivers or minimum income-guarantees! And another curiosity, this remains essentially an urban debate! Not the agricultural realities we see in actual villages!

The debates, lately in particular, on the TV news screens is more about catching the attention of busy viewers and also the debator, be an active politician or a smart anchor man or a lady end up in quick succession about some catchy phrases like loan waiver or better in some acronm, like Nyay etc. More and more the debates, especially when the election dates nears the deadline more noisy and you lose interest in rural distress and try to catch what the parties’ leaders pronounce for the occasion. Thus, the Congress announced a scheme whose details missed our attention. As for the BJP, anything the PM says goes as a hoary text.

As for others, the state level politicians’ agriculture issues is all about state level election rhetoric! Drought in 2,150 Karnataka villages or many more such news about prices fall or excess output for particular crops, like potato in West Bengal or turmeric in TN are all what we hear. Suicides even don’t evoke anymore!

As for the national level issues or even for the international perspectives, we don’t even know or care to know what is going on between Trump’s US and the Chinese trade wars. In India agriculture is not an international issue or a trade and tariff dispute, though India is now the number one country in agriculture exports in the world. Also, what is happening in our villages lately? There is of course widespread migration to urban areas. Also, for the youngsters, there is a great deal of migration from the Northern States like Bihar, Assam, Bengal and even from UP to the Southern states where the job opportunities are growing faster.

In the villages in TM there is rural distress in the sense there is no incentive invest in agriculture. There are also in many other States there are land reform laws, like ceiling laws, tenancy laws and loans many other complications to own agricultural lands and take risks in engaging in agricultural activities. It is also true that good and well-informed and committed leaders don’t become agricultural ministers. Modi’s regime had grossly neglected agriculture. All agri talks seem to be geared to election-eve announcements. All short term issues and solutions. No long-term
perspectives.

When the Indian economy is growing the agri sector is caught up in a small, marginal farmers perspectives. Farm sector is witnessing a slow growth. Farm growth and farm prices also get low even when the farm production rises. The size of land holdings, the average size was two hectares, now it has come down to less than a hectare. It is obvious to anyone that farm growth is unsustainable. Prices are much lower than the MSP, while long-term low-capital formation in agriculture persist. Public investment in the sector as a percentage of GDP is also stagnant. Besides these factors are drought etc. Also, the persisting debts, legal cases owing to rent payment and other issues. Anybody talks of preventing suicides? And other social sector issues like education, health issues and the very latest buzz word, medical
and crop insurance or pensions for older farmers and their families. The list of untouched subjects is long!

The Nabard man says that 23% of rural income from the agri sector, the rest comes from non-farm sector activities. How to generate jobs in the agri sector?

No one seems to have any clues, except to let the market forces work to drive away unemployed youth to the cities, or as in the Northern State to migrate to states where jobs are plentiful, as in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, why even not then Silicon Valley, Bangalore. We like to ask some hard questions with politicians!

Why don’t you seek to relax the land reform laws that have now become a hurdle to own lands, invest in new generation agri-related business and food processing sectors? Wiping out of all the farm loans. How long and how many times you would do this? And who would believe these politicians? Banks are already facing distress! So, you can’t say very irresponsibly going on promising wiping out farm debts.
No farmers in the villages would look like a perennial debtor and the farmer is the most sensitive soul in the rural communities and any bad talk about his credit-worthiness touches his very sense of social disunity and seeks to end his life once for all!

Also, it is another rural reality that there would be economic and social inequality in the rural, feudal communities. So, recognise this gross rural reality and allow somewhat some liberal legal provisions to own agricultural lands in an open society manner. Let also be a situation in the villages that there is incentives for labour to live and work. Unless you allow the freedom for the land owners to engage rural labour at higher wages agricultural activates would slow down further. There has to be many freedoms for both the land owners and also the wage labourers to negotiate a higher wage for their activities. Wages are also going higher lately and let there be a liberal market for wage earners.

Let there be new legal provisions and protections for farm wage earners like social security, insurance so that there is village harmony and village solidarity. The present political atmosphere in the villages is such that election-time only politicians come and talk and also seek to bribe the voters. Already in States like TN, the money for votes is losing its attractiveness. Only an open and liberal situation for agriculture would create a favourable environment for commercial banks to lend freely. As of now only 54 % of institutional credit is available. This can be further raised only if we liberalise the many restrictions on farm activities.

Let also big farmers, owning sizeable land holdings invest and also live in rural communities. If you further restrict the farming communities only the lands would be left as drought-prone or some other activities like real estate and also rural areas might be abandoned altogether. Politician’s class is also becoming hostile to farmers. Once you enter politics and seek money making and accumulate wealth and indulge in corrupt practices then you only help to accentuate disparities. Also, select rural leaders as MPs and MLAs. Not the family dynasties! And lo! You know that currently, Lok Sabha MPs are 147 times richer that rural households, you know? So, let us not cheat each other talking in around about way!

Also, private sector capitalism accelerates economic growth and political compulsion like write-off of corporate Rs.5 lakh crore debts creates tensions and farmers become angrier and marches of farmers to Delhi are likely to become more intensive in the future. So, agriculture is not just an urban drawing room talk, it is both, economic and political issues of great urgency and top priority for any political party of commitment.

Hopes and despair in the agri sector persists!
May be we have to learn many more things in agriculture policy making!

There are reports from the Northern parts of India, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana about the hailstorm and unseasonal rains in these major wheat growing states. Varying stages of Wheat crop harvesting are reported. Favouring some who had harvested the crop already, others who could harvest and were waiting for the suitable times also reported to have lost much of the half-growing fields.

The reports are very detailed and much as it is encounters with the actual farmers and farmers’ spokespersons, leaders in their own right. Let us hope the government had taken notice of the same, it is very
important for the country for safeguarding food security. As we also read in others parts of the world there are food shortages and the FAO, World Food Programme are attending to this problem. The point here is the importance of agriculture in any nation’s development priorities.

Food security comes first for any country. And for countries like a large populated country with a long history and still a long memory of repeated colonial history of repeated famines and vast devastations of the people it is almost a national mantra to secure for food security and for this goal to be achieved any sacrifice is worth taking. And luckily or unluckily even now in the 21st century when India is rated as one of the five big economies and in terms of population, the number one country in the world, any election promise, either by the biggest parties or by the smaller ones, it is food security that is seen now as top priority. The PM promises the moon, the other party assures a minimum income level security.

Either way, we have to recall agriculture as India’s great industry and everyone, the young and the old, the rich and the poor must dedicate their energies and their time for some time in their life to the great, why even the holy and divine crop of agriculture. See how countries like Janapoa where the emperor walks into the muddy field and plants the rice crop! In Thailand the emperor ploughs his tool with the bullocks drawing the plough and starts the agricultural season as religious rituals. Here in India, our political leaders have become hard minded ruthlessness when they make false promises to farmers.

Wipe out the farm loans! Write off the farm debts! Make farming profitable. Relax the regressive land reform laws! Let market forces come into play, step by step. Let the market forces push the educated, unemployed youth to the urban centres for productive jobs and decent earnings! These are the ways to move. Let not the past institutions setup long ago, during the Green Revolution days and before go away. Let us create afresh new institutions, be it for e-Marketing or even for Producers Associations, give power and funds and put in place experts and scientists in charge for new research, alternative crops, micro irrigation, new crops and new growing strategies, from Israel or from Netherlands.

The one university in Netherlands is the world’s largest exporter of flower and fruits, you know. We have to establish collaborations with the leading US agri universities, European universities and once we set up such high profile collaborations our laziness, as we see today in many of the agri universities may go away. We have to act, act fast. We cannot sit here and bemoan the crisis, the distress and the sad
talk of continuing farmer’s suicides. This is intolerable.

We appeal to all leaders of all sort of political parties, casteist or non-casteist ,please give some time for new thinking in agriculture. We at the Vadamalai Media, as we say, are dedicated to agriculture or more than half a century. We run many online initiatives, we run website www.agriculureinformation.com and videos, we interview agriculture experts and success stories and cater to lakhs of farmer’s subscribers. We answer all your queries. We invite all the state agri ministers to this service. Let us debate and discuss issues. So that we can hit at the right answers for many of the daunting questions!
Single handedly.

Please all of you support us, the state governments and the Chief Ministers, please do take notice of our appeal! Jai Hind!

Issues like climate change, monsoon changes and natural disasters seas rising. Complex issues for the educated society to give some thought from where their food is coming from!
India is a youthful country, with majority young age groups!
But is Indian agriculture a youthful area of development?

No, Not at all. We still read about farmers’ suicides, one story of suicide is more grim than the next! Why is the scenario so bad for agriculture and more so for the villages. What is happening to the younger generation in the rural India?

We read every day that how youth migrate from villages, from agriculture to the nearby smaller cities.>it is a natural process as we see. Just now we also read how Indian IT sector is booming. Something like 1 million youth are in one segment, called the Global Capability Sector in the Informational Technology sector and in one city, Bangalore alone this number is concentrated. Migration to smaller cities, interstate migration is now accelerating almost every day when you see stagnation in agriculture, agriculture prices are depressed, most segments of farming, in most of the states are drought-hit and the current positive story seems to be this accelerating g internal migration of the youth.

The youth with some basic education, even a school -pass or school-dropout is good enough and incomes are attractive, ample employment opportunities and what is new feature with comparatively low living costs are driving interstate migrant population is a pervasive sight in most of the Southern states. Go to Chennai for instance by road transport and enter into a roadside restaurant you see you are politely welcome and served and if you strike a conversation you find soon the Youngman is from Assam or Bengal! What brought them there?

Word of mouth information from someone in the distant home environment or on a vacation back home he or she, yes there are many girls from North East who run many homes or work at more attractive prices jobs in various types of establishments, beauty salons or why even at the reception counters in high class hotels. Some hotels and restaurants in Oory are now run by these North Eastern youngsters!
Some towns, some enclaves are now looking like new colonies, these peoples make for a nice change in a dull environment. The point here is that Indian agriculture is no more what it was yesterday!
Today’s agriculture is a changing occupation for the vast majority of traditional farming families and in these families there are educated youth, both boys and girls and there is a steady migration of youth towards cities. Yes, cities draw well-educated youth and for instance today in a city like Bangalore it is virtual dreams come true, totally 1,250 MNCs are alone in India, in a city like Bangalore and also in others like Chennai, Pune, New Delhi-NCR they are concentrated. The new phenomenon is that this urban migration has now spread to smaller cities too. In Surat, Faridabad and Ludhiana, says a report, that over 55 per cent of in-migrants fill the city spaces and other state capitals like Jaipur is turning into an urban agglomeration with migrants spreading across the suburbs. Why, take remote villages in Tamil Nadu. Every small village is now crowded with ‘outsiders’, out own villagers say to us whenever we return in the week-ends(from Bangalore) @we in the villages don’t know who are the new comers!@.Such is the rapid changes taking place in the rural interiors.

Now, in this fastest change environment what chance is there for traditional type of farming? Tenancy farming is no more the standard farming type. In Kerala the tenants have vanished! Instead, have come new types of contract farming. Just for one crop, say, banana cultivation for one crop, one season! No risk and no complications.

We are talking of the South. May be in the North too the farming patterns must be changing. There are issues like tenancy contracts not being enforceable, paying land rents are defaulted and no way to recover rents. There is vast corruption in the revenue departments the original sinners! Revenut department proceedings happen in sheer anarchy! If only you own a piece of agricultural property only you would realise that paying bribes is the routine.

Just now we read a High Court direction in Karnataka where the Joint Director of Land Records had refused to correct the mistakes in land records and there are plenty such cases in every land record noting, you can take it!, and the Joint Director has been ordered to be enquired into! Do you know how long this process would take> May be the litigants’ all the life time!

So, we have an agricultural social system where there is feudalism, inequity, inequality and also social ostracises when it comes to borrowing loans from private lenders and also from banks that to survive today as a land owners is almost an invited hell on your future!

So consider the dilemma of the farming families, the younger generation in particular as to what to do today?
To stick to traditional farming or give away the effort and simply board the next bus to nearby town?

Besides, agriculture is today in great distress. There is drought, water shortage for drinking purposes and for irrigation. The nearby lakes are dry. Drought creates a clutch of problems like retaining the cattle or selling them off. And lo! Today agriculture is becoming more integrated with the outside world. Farm prices are dictated not by the local traders but by the international commodity markets.
The future of farming is going to be much more challenging. There are international agricultural trade wars between big countries like America and China. Also there is this natural phenomenon of natural disasters, psunami to climate change. So, it is time the society at large must give much thought for the future of Indian farming.


Only implementation is questioned!
Insurance regulator, IRDAI, asks the Insurance Companies to honour farmers ‘crop insurance claims!

High Court petitioned for enquiry over crop insurance schemes! The Karnataka High Court ordered issue of notices to the Union and State governments on a Public interest Litigation petition seeking directions for the disbursal of crop insurance to the farmers who suffered loss due to drought and to ensure effective implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojan (PMFBY) by strictly adhering to
mandated guidelines. The Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice L.Narayanaswamy and Justice P.S.Dinesh Kumar passed the order on the petition filed by Akhanda Karnataka Raitha Sanga based in Shapur of Yadgir District.

The petitioner, obviously, representing many farmers and taking time and energy with not a little amount of money and travel etc must be having certain drive to fight for a public cause. Knowing how the judiciary is already burdened by a heavy backlog has also taken time and paying attention had many loopholes in the PMFBY! It is not a secret that the scheme, a new one and we have to support the government and also at the same time we have to look at these farmer schemes not in a routine way but with certain mental agony, knowing well how bureaucracy operates in the country with so many farmer suicides in Maharashtra where the bureaucracy tried to avoid payment of compensation on some technical ground, the crop insurance schemes are not making big positive news in any big manner.

The petitioner has claimed (The Hindu, March 22, 2019) the PMFBY has been implemented in an improper manner! The farmers in the state have been deprived of what is due to them. Farmers were deprived of their premium as well as the crop insurance loss compensation. The farmers vulnerability, claims the petition before the High Court, has been only exacerbrated. The petitioner further said failure to follow the full mandate and procedure of the scheme has resulted in denial of crop loss compensation.

Media reports also point out the short-comings of the scheme, the petitioner has asked the authorities to investigate the total amount being paid to private insurance companies and also why the companies, numbering some 18 companies for denials of funds due for the farmers for their legitimate claims. The petition has asked for constituting a committee representing the Central and the State governments and go into the details of the disbursal and the withholding of the premium rates and the premiums so-collected, the fixation of threshold yields, the crop cutting experimented and the settlement of claims so far done etc. We are not sure whether this petition has prompted the insurance regulator (IRDAI).Let us all remember how the bureaucracy works in India.

Given this very discouraging big picture and also knowing how the many rural development focused agencies, from Nabard to other newly constituted agencies, the newly promoted Indian AGRICULTURAL insurance Corporation is not yet taken off, do you know? The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bheema Yojana, the Restructured Weather-Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS, cover a higher number of farmers. But large scale coverage has also resulted in higher claims from the sector (Times of India of the same date). The regulator IDARI has instructed insurance companies to meet with various stake holders and ensure there is adequate representation from all sides before rejecting claims. It is the election season, so it is in everyone interest if the government’s schemes are seen as succeeding!’So, the wider public can take it that the government’s schemes are having an election-eve urgency and publicity value!

Now, about the government crop insurance schemes spread and success. For the kharif 2016,rabi 2016-17 and kharif 2017 seasons, the total premiums collected by 18 insurance companies was Rs.42,114 crore, while Rs.32,912 crores has been paid out as claims. IRDAI’s 2017-18 that 4.7 crore farmers paid Rs.25,292 as cumulative premium. While the claims were Rs.26,051 crores. For the insurance industry it is unhealthy if the amount of claims is higher than the premium they collect. Despite a fairly decent harvest this fiscal, insurers continue to face high claims, says the insurance industry.

IRDAI instructed(on Wednesday) insurance companies ensure proper representation in stake holder meetings relating to crop insurance with deputation of senior level officers with adequate powers to decide major issues, if any. IRDAI also instructed the insurance companies how to conduct the meetings and, for each allocated clusters, in a collective manner for each major crops, not on an individual’s farm, to farm basis, also to put in charge senior level official to run the disbursal of claim amounts without any hitch. Also upload data on the National Crop Insurance Portal with the help of partner banks.
In case of an individual loss claims the companies should honour the request. In case of any rejection the same should be communicated to the individual in vernacular language, said the IRDAI.

What are our thoughts?

Freedom of the press and the freedom of the citizens and the future of Indian democracy!

These are all the basic issues of how Indian democracy functions in the country. The General Election, 2019 has thrown up many unprecedented other issues that have caused many ripples verging on the very frontiers of the limits of the Indian Constitution.

Elections this time has become desperate for the obvious reason that for the first time a party other than the Congress had succeeded in 2014 to upturn the apple cart, so to say by winning an absolute majority and this had changed the very perspectives of the tradition one-part dominated Indian democracy. But then times change. And many politicians of the old school, were upset and there is also the desperations on the BJP for retaining power.

So, this election sees fierce competition and the outcomes are the flow of funds into the system.Crores have been seized and the funds outside the EC ambit are many time more. So, there is demand for cash for all the voters. The has changed the whole game of playing fair in the electoral process. There are various private NGOs who are coming out with the many fault lines.

There are more crorepathis, more criminals and more dynasts in the grabbing process. The causalty is the fall in all norms of democratic standards. Some of the election rhetoric, of course, many caused in the heat of the platform frenzy with the mass of audience cheering wildly at the prospects of their favourite candidates promising victory have led to the orators to utter words and promises and even threatening the opponents, why even perceived enemies at the gate so to say, keeping our neighbour country in mind are all creating a new type of fear and uncertainty.

The Prime Minister himself had uttered words and phrases that amount to much uncertainty. To talk of nuclear weapons at such a time is clearly unprecedented. Also, the world over the terror attacks are happening almost uninterrupted, the UN seems to be almost defucnt, we are sorry to note and the USA in its own ways functioning as a sole authority to ensure peace. Is this the right time to talk of other lesser issues? Where is a sense of some security in the international sphere?

The West is now very divided. The UK is in its own way caught up with Brexit. The European Union seems unconcerned about issues outside its Union. The Middle East in great deal of turmoil. The civil wars have not abated. There is a long list of terrorist attacks in some of the Middle East and African countries. There is also a food crisis looming in some of these hot spots. The USA as the biggest power is not in a good position to play the leader of the world but it is also causing unilateral role in blocking for instance, Iranian oil to countries including India. As for China, with all its admirable achievements in the economic development sphere, its political arena is an anathema to liberal parts of the world. People have to live in a sense of peace and open society.

Open Society? Ah, how many in India today might have read of Karl Poppar’s “Open Society and Its Enemies”. Also, we haven’t heard of one word about liberalism!

Why, the election rhetoric of both Mr.Modi and Rahul Gandhi have been completely new and the standard of exchanges, to borrow a word from an editorial, “nasty”. What is the history of the world? It is a process of evolution from monarchy, to imperialism of all sorts towards Republic (Rome and Democracy (Athens).

Are there not lessons for all the people of the world to learn some wisdom and restraint from wars and war threats?

How can one leader threaten his own people and people in the other countries with a nuclear threat?

Now, the world is more fragile and more unsettled and more dangerous. Also, inside India, our mentality seems to have degenerated faster into one of name calling by each one of the politicians.

The very many institutions, Parliament, Judiciary and bureaucracy, why, the media, the Election Commission and the various other agencies like Income Tax and CBI and Ed are unusually active. Even the CJI, the top court is not spared. There are various undercurrents. What has so far appeared in the press gives cause for dismay.

It requires enormous wisdom of the Indian people, the various classes, upper, middle and lower classes irrespective of their educational and social distinctions to rise up as one man and vote out the undesirables, vote in the upright and morally strong leaders.

To save democracy and sustain it is our bounden duty.