Let more people, politicians and experts and thinkers debate and discuss!
As elections near, farmers are getting forgotten!
Farmers as vote-banks are a different category of people!
From being debtors and litigants farmers become pampered for short periods!

agriYou see in a democratic country like India where periodic elections every five years and in many recent instances States Assembly
elections too intervene ,as for instance the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu would also see elections to 21 Assembly seats  and that makes for further complications. In India at any  rate, periodic elections mean a great deal of diversion of attention, elections mean for voters a time to earn some money. The so-called freebies include more ready-cash, plus lots of other goods including food packets, free travel to the polling booths and also other perks for all of which this time the Election Commission has  fixed prices and the candidates have to give account of his or her expenses.
So, the vote-banks get consolidated and farmers make up a sizeable commodity and vote banks!  So, agriculture in India is getting transformed every now and then and  it all depends who speaks about farmers and where one is placed when you hear his or her sermons on farmers!
Now, more attention is grabbed by spokespersons on TV news channels and given the fact of India having an estimated 400 TV news
channels, there are enough spokespersons for the agri sector and related rural distress we have enough attention-grabbing power for
this sector.

What is the current priority in agriculture?

Obviously, farm loan waivers! The subject gets priority attention and when such leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks the whole nation listens. More so the prime time TV grabs much attention and diversion too!
What is the progress for instance in one such new farm schemes introduced by the Prime Minister with much fanfare?
We mean the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana(PMKSNY)?

I think it was introduced in few states, in particular in Gujarat and in  few other states. One of the current issues in policy making be it employment, jobs and other schemes, we don’t seem to have enough data. Why even it is alleged that much of three NSS surveys-were leaked after they were approved by the National Statistical Commission  and two highly rated autonomous body’s experts chose to resign half way. Unusually those who know how the government departments work these days, it is very unusual and even bold to see such highly rated experts chose to leave the autonomous body. So, what was alleged and what was suspected for long that the government is not doing an honest job and instead of taking the public into confidence, the government has done the opposite. It is now widely alleged and also believed that the unemployment rate in India is at a 45 year high!
How to believe the government’s many claims, critics ask.

There are many such schemes too, like for instance the Budget announced Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mandham which promised for the unorganised sector workers  a direct income transfer. As far as Indian agri sector is concerned we have a very peculiar official mindset.

We have never for the past five years  had seen or heard what the Minister for Agriculture has in mind .Neither he had spoken nor had his deputies in the ministry shown their faces. It was not even often some small time bureaucrat had said some brief messages.

We do not know even now at the time of electioneering any major policy pronouncements. There is an all Indian insurance company, you know?
Anybody knows what is its work so far?  No, none at all?

How the agricultural insurance, the crop insurance scheme or schemes have performed?

It is the  absence of data, now one of the biggest scams, or scam-level allegations are flaying thick and fast that are dulling the minds and even the interest of those interested and involved in the farming programmes.  Let us know that agriculture is now a world-wide concern, food has to be produced, foods have to be distributed all over the world, there are still countries in the South American geography and also in North Korea where there is a food shortage and the governments are scurrying for help. And fortunately, the very international community, the world bodies, like the UN,FAO and the WTO are all heavily committed to improving agriculture and the food production.

Unfortunately in India agri sector is marked by farmer’s suicides. This is one back spot in the Indian government’s agriculture policy making.
Unfortunately, the humanist tragedy of hard working farmers committing suicides is very  superficially dealt with and in this one area both the ruling party and the Opposition parties are equally guilty of heartlessness and sheer utter insensitivity.
Then comes the average Indian farmer’s profile.

He is more often uneducated, poor and owning one of even less acre of land as agricultural property and also the landless labour, often
doubling as tenant farmer and also landless and we are all planning agri polices on the basis of this utterly unviable livelihood  economics!
We need an utterly new agriculture vision document, we have to face the brutal realities. We have to relax the many of the antiquated land legislation laws. Relax the tenancy security law that neigh urges the tenant to pay rent and cultivate or leave the land so that the market forces
determine the viability of farming based on somewhat market forces.

Now, the litigation legacy is also old as the British colonial administration. Sciences have to play a decisive role. New seeds, biotech
applications, the world is now flooded with 80 percent of GM crops. New generation farm families are abandoning farming, urbanisation is
helping many poverty-ridden families to migrate to towns. This is welcome and inevitable.
Already Indian agriculture where 80 percent of land is rain-fed, so too in the outside world. Let us turn food shortages into food surpluses.

This is the only larger perspective in new have to plan our agricultural strategy.

Is there time to think of agriculture and farmers?
Yes, much has been talked about farmers, their own tales of woe and tonnes of promises to help them etc.
Rahul Gandhi has promised the moon, all farmers’ loans he promises to wipe out!

indexAs for the BJP, the Prime Minister has vowed to protect farmers, he is the chowkidar and the country is safe in his hands. As we said this is election time and you can believe or disbelieve as you want.

But one thing is fundamental. Agriculture is to stay here and agriculture would matter who is in power or out of power. Agriculture and food production are intertwined.  Only when there is enough food in the country the country is safe. Once food shortages arise then everything goes wrong.

Unfortunately, there is a series of issues, drought, climate change; uncertain rains and water crisis, from drinking water to water for irrigation are all coming increasingly to our day to day deliberation’s we write, this is world water day!

And remember the place of agriculture is now at the very centre stage of international attention. Agriculture is first and foremost and international topic, on agriculture production, export and trade international diplomacy revolves!

So, the current issues of agriculture have a long history. For a change we can discuss the history of agriculture and the world population is also bringing agriculture to our attention. World population is 9 billion; this would be in about the next few years, by 2050, hardly one generation. An estimate says that in 2013, it was 2,700 calories for each of the 7 billion people on the earth and  by 2050 2,000 calories per head is adequate for survival.

Even as we write there are food shortages in South America and also in North Korea.

There are already many international agencies, from UN to FAO and other bodies to reach out the hungry and ill-fed. However, there are road blocks, trade barriers, US and China are at almost war over trade issues and we don’t know how the equitable distribution of food would contribute to world peace and human contentment.

There are also many trade blocs, European bloc being the world’s most important food importer and with the British exit, there could be many more rules change. Poverty is still there developing countries and India, now a reasonably self-sufficient country in food requirements but scenarios can change drastically.

Unfortunately, Indian farmers are more neglected and more exploited and there is an unbridgeable divide between the urban and rural peoples’ welfare and security.  The Indian farmer is a big tragic figure, he is either a debtor or a litigant. He is the most insecure citizen and he is being pampered by the politicians for the simple reason in India fifty percent of the population is still dependent upon farming as a source of employment.

And the divide between rural India and the urban India is widening and no adequate answer, less a grand vision for India’s future agriculture is in sight. We need more and more powerful farm lobbies, as we have in the USA and UK. A powerful agriculture lobby is critical and only then we can get the farming community to get the needed subsidies and protection as enjoyed in advanced countries.

Our farmers lobbies must travel abroad, more and more to advanced agriculture economies and see how the agri subsidies work there. May be our government too is coming round to see new policies needed. Like basic universal incomes, a sort of minimum social security.

Unfortunately, there is now a type of mindset on the part of policy makers to take Indian farmers indolence as passivity. Change must be invoked in every farmers mind and farmer’s power has to be reused.

We need good and committed farmers leader and election time is the right time to pressure the politicians. There is a range of farm issues, from developed countries like USA and UK where big farms survives, in the USA 80% of farm output comes from 10% of the big farms, whereas, as in India, why even in the most backward Maasai pastrolists in Tanzania where small farmers believe they want to inherit the farms from their parents and they in turn want to hand over the farms to their successors. So too in certain manner in India too the farmers’ future depends upon how tradition and history would govern the farmers families and their inheritance.

Farm sizes is another big issues. In India, the British rule and their ryotwari system of ownership and also the creation of Zamindari, from the Mughal times’s mansabdari system and Taluqdars, there is a strong tradition of feudalism. This you can wipe out even in one generation.

That is one more reason why litigation, the pending of court cases relating to land is so persistent. Also the fact you can’t have equal land size however much you strengthen the land reform laws, land tenancy laws.

There would be one or two big land owners in every village in India. The rest would be small farmers. Can you distribute the agricultural land as in a collective, Soviet  style farming system?

These issues have to be debated openly. Indian agriculture doesn’t have a strong media space. Vadamalai Media would continue to fight for an open society, liberal economic and social policies.

Too many government schemes, too many promises!
Also, the political parties are mobilising them to march to Delhi or Mumbai demanding too many redressed of their grievances!

modi-farmersThe PM-Kisan Scheme is the latest to catch the public attention! The Central government is to pay Rs.2, 000 out of Rs.6, 000 as minimum
income payment after the scheme’s formal launch by the Prime  Minister! The PM    as per the news must have started paying the first installment of Rs.2, 000 from February 24 at a high profile launch of the scheme.  The second  installment is supposed  to be paid, the same this time would be the PM  Samman Nidhi scheme, obvious, on the eve of the next general elections, the rural voters, it is believed, would be  cheered up and likely to vote for the  BJP.  The scheme and the second installment promise are all obviously high stake gambles and would likely turn out to be a big winner for the ruling party. Who knows?

It looks this time, the general elections itself seems to be a leap in the dark! Even if the PM or his lieutenant Amit Shah might be hoping for a second term, the people might have different ideas.  The 2014 w elections gave a rude shock to the Congress and many of its allies. In TN both the parties were wiped out and the AIADMK came back with a vengeance.

Elections in India is still a gamble. Voters, why even the parties don’t have any principles whatever, see how the DMK and the AIADMK are now ganging up. They were seen hugely happy faces when they rushed to sign the pacts, all they, the Dravidian parties and the Congress and the BJP were seen relieved to get a pact signed and they signed with a huge sense of relief, as if they had already crossed all the hurdles and almost they thought they had secured the number of seats they had a gamble at!

How does the voters think this time?
What about the much-talked subjects like jobs, rural distress and the many other disappointments like the Pak behaviour and when the whole
country caught in an unexpected mourning and the very nation is distracted by so many issues.

It looks the parties too might not care for any election propagandas; no manifestors make a sense when the country’s attention is caught in such a brutal behaviour by our neighbour.

So, this time, the political mood in the country is nor normal and let us guess even the usual PM’s high profile attacks on the rival
parties and also the high decibel orations might not make a predictable  voter sentiments.

Even the otherwise much noisy voter’s opinion survey look suddenly irrelevant and no one need to be teaching the voters how to vote.
The election outcome itself might be very unpredictable.

There is many speculative calculations as to how much money to how many farmers in how many states this would be done and the much feared leakages, a great folly of many of the farmer’s schemes, would take place and successfully plugged are all questions nobody has asked. 5 million farmers in the delta bases.50 lakh farmers in the first instalment disbursal and many of the detailed work seem to have been done. However, doubts persist.

Who are the specified agencies would be involved in this task?
Where is the Niti Aayog in this exercise?
What the economic advisers are doing?

Where is in this entire heavy-duty task the agriculture ministry or the high profile officials?

The very weakness of the agriculture ministry, the ministers seem to be adopting an inexcusable silence!

This is only one side of the whole business. There are other farmers-related schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in compensating farmers in the drought hit horticulture crops, for instance?

The farmers of Jalna in Maharashtra in planting pomegranate, mango and sweet lime and heavily lost and they about 140 farmers, for
example are left high and ry. The insurance schemes, the crop protection scheme in particular has come up for criticism. The SBI
branch in Bandapur and the insurance company in particular, IFFC Tokio all held responsible in not keeping their duties!

We don’t like to narrate the story here but it is typical of the rural farmers’s scenario everywhere. No one official takes responsibility; the SBI has not answer, nor the IFFC Tokio insurance company which doesnt have any office in the district!

This is one more similar story, here the farmers, name given says:@I get the suicidal instinct!

The whole point is that the over-all governance of the whole exercise lacks any rational over-all governance. Now, it is election time and very likely many other things might go away! In the near term many things might go without any   real solutions!

Farmers must face many new uncertainties. The weather, drought and the nature’s furies. Agriculture suffers many handicaps. It is too much for any government, more so like Modi’s to get things let loose their ways.

Agriculture doesn’t get top priority when it comes to media exposure. No mainstream newspapers or TV channels have any commitment for such priority sectors like agri sector or rural sector.

So, in this election too funds might flow, transparent under the name of many schemes to rural voters, farmers in particular, in states like TN, funds are openly distributed for voters!

Elections in a democracy like where poor sections get once a while money for votes, it is anybody’s guess how the elections results turn out.

Let us hope that the public perception judges the outcome rightly!

Farm loan waivers and universal basic incomes!
Two new buzz words!

farm loanAgriculture as we near the election 2019 has come to connote many a new buzz word. It is now agri crisis, agri distress and also jobs crisis and many such trendy outbursts. If you leave out the much debated Rafael deal what are you left with? Election time means much heat and rhetoric!

However, there are positive policies, the basic income support policies, as we find in the USA. Let us adopt and announce these sorts of policies as an election promise!

Election 2019 is the battle for survival for both the BJP and the Congress! The stakes are really very high for both the parties.BJP is now in a new phase of hope and despair. Hope because of its well-oiled election machine. Funds are plenty and the PM’s image is kept high by various development schemes and the voters expectations are at high alert and schemes well-propagated. The PM is everywhere, on almost all the TV screens! This was not so in the past and also the party is in absolute majority. Though the two Houses of Parliament have ceased to be anything but productive or positive.

Daily disruptions and adjournments have become another name for Parliament functioning. The 16th Lok Sabha statistics tells all about how poor we have become as a Parliamentary democracy. The productivity of the average Indian Parliamentarian is near zero. Tamil Nadu, for instance, sends 39 MPs and yet, there is no one Private Member Bill, a key instrument to grill the government on critical issues in some depth. But the contribution of the TN MPs is zero! This, out of thousand and odd Privet Bills tables by MPs from other states!

This is how the standards of Parliamentary members have fallen. Also, it is an indication how the Party presidents have becomes  so addicted with unaccountable political power, power wielding by party presidents has become so autocratic and there is no accountability whatever in our democratic system. Who has to worry about this degeneration in the polity? No clear answer and no concern at any level.
There is fear and much risk if any institution is slightly touched, be it the many sensitive institutions, the new and the old, from the traditional media to the new agencies like the CBI, ED or the various agencies from the Right to Information to  the filing of  public interest litigation. Almost at every level of governance fear pervades, fear of the government.

Of course this is not democracy, nor an open society nor any other form of government, liberal or even a capitalist society or economy. We are not even a modern government or society. The media is also undergoing   a new transformation. Take any major English language daily newspaper. No current political news as we know is reported on the front pages. Luckily or unluckily, the rise of the society and economy is such that the first few front pages of major newspapers carry colourful and even gaudy ads of real estate or sarees or jewellery! So, the newspaper owners have a perfect excuse not to put any major political stories on the front page and draw attention of the general public. We have now search for some inside pages for major political stories.

This is a society and polity, an open democracy, the world’ largest democracy with 1.3 odd souls looking for free and uncensored media.  The latest Chief Political Executives, the Prime Ministers are such they don’t care for giving a press interview in all their terms! Where are the thinking intellectuals, the real democratic revolutionaries?
No where!

There are however, many stories of many atrocities, violence’s, lynching and much social injustice abuses. India still remains poor country. The billionaires list is growing and we don’t want to bore the already bored readers, more so in a magazine that is catering to the poor and miserable farmers and farm entrepreneurs who are all there is the vast span of millions of farmers and rural interiors.
However, one good and great news is the coming of the Internet and the mobile phones. In 1985 there was no mobile phone!

Today? The whole world of communications had changed., Some few billion mobiles phones, in India every other man or woman holds a phone in their hands and we in the agri/rural media space are able to communicate to these vast mass of humanity though our many websites and webcasts!

So, we need not educate the urban elites and thanks to the many innovative technologies we are able to keep our customers, of course the vast majority among them are poor and helpless. The average per capita land ownership is a pathetic pittance. According to NSSO (7oth round 2012-13 for the agricultural year 2012-13 rural India had an estimated total of 90.2 million households. This is about 57.8 per cent of the rural India! According to the Agricultural Census 2010-11, 85 per cent of an estimated 138 million land holdings are marginal and small holdings as compared to 62 per cent in 1960-61.

The average size of small and marginal holdings was 1.42 hectares and 0.24 hec. respectively! This, in an India where the billionaire’s boys club is getting fatter and fatter. These are the billionaires, and many more give thousands of crores in unaccounted money to the Prime Ministers’ own party and most of which go unaccounted under various devices.

Yes, agriculture to industry is a big jump and a big transformation. So, we come from agriculture to the economy and from the economy to the sort of politics in which the agri sector is a victim. So many non-stop farmers’ suicides don’t make news; don’t make front page news, why that f grim reality of rural India, the completely blacked out rural distress is going to become another victim of ruthless, arbitrary and authoritarian politics.

So any political solution, be it jobs for the youth, farm loan waivers and even the latest  assurance of the “universal basic incomes” is likely to be caught in our cynical disbelief!

What alternatives are before the people?

All the economic experts who are on loan, so to say, from the American universities, for short-term assignments come and go and the country, we are sorry to say, rot in the absence of committed politicians.
So, from promises that are mostly empty and end up as empty and elections, being what they have become, more spending and more manipulation and more authoritarian, there seems much hope optimism but a  resignation to a helplessness that is real tragic. Harsh words? But what else is there in front of us all?

For the sake of our helpless farmers, let us end with a positive note. Yes, there have been many global examples of positive action for successful farmers benefit programmes. In the US since 2002 Annual Direct Payments. Counter-cyclical Payments in the market prices are below the statutory.ily determined target prices (MSP).And lastly, loan deficiency payments or marketing loans that provide interim financing and additional income support if market prices fall below the statutorily determined prices. If the agricultural insurance moves in tandem to cover the risks of farmers’ life and crops, such distortions could be contained.

At least in the name of the distressed millions Indian farmers, we plead with the two big parties, their leaders who seem in a hurry to outwit  each other, take  some time to  come out an announce such schemes. For god’s sake!

The long-term is clear, not the short term!

IAThe 119 billionaires in India saw the rise of their wealth rising at Rs.200 crore a day! While  13.6 crore Indians who make up the bottom 10 per cent, have continued to languish in debts, continue to languish so since 2004.

Readers and conscience keepers can deduce the lessons for the future of the country’s economic ideology!
Please think of the farmers, the villagers!

This is the starting point for anyone who wants to think and understand the complex issues of agrarian distress!

Agriculture’s future: It looks there is a collective failure on the part of the Indian people that we have failed as a nation to have some optimism and confidence on the future of our country. That is reflected in the current disenchantment and despair about the so-called rural distress. Also called the agrarian distress. The rural India is no more in distress by the daily economic and business newspapers and advertisements. Take even the otherwise subdued auto sales, both cars and bikes.

The rural purchasing power is on the upswing if we are to believe the reports from such big consumer giants like the Hindustan Lever or even from the telecom companies. The sales of mobile phones remain steady and the high end phones even the Apple sales seem not diminished but on the rise, though in a subdued manner. If you look at the country’s geographical and other urban landscape, it is now seen that, as one columnist notes on the changing face of India, both rural and urban India, the 1990’s, now sees the rise of a number of new cities or expansion of the existed cities by the new urban habitations. This is what is called the millennial Urban India.

There is a real steady rise in the number of the 35 million-plus cities have boomed to almost the double the size, the 35 million cities today, as per the estimate in the said column is 53 cities in 2011 and likely to zoom to 75 cities in 2021.We need not expand further the current urbanisation rate and the real estate growth also would confirm that there is a steady growth in urban and also rural India.

If anything, the villages today are getting depleted by working age population and the migrate rates for every state, from UP, Bihar and Odisha to other states, a steady outward migration internally, not to speak of the educated number migrating abroad.

So, the point here is that there is a growth paradigm both in the rural hinterland to the big urban and expanding cities like Bangalore which is exploding at the edges. So, the so-called rural distress and the agrarian distress have to be newly redefined and better perception of the rural distress have to be articulated. Now, as for the agriculture scene, one is likely to be disappointed for the sheer neglect or lack of proper articulation. The BJP agriculture minister has spoken about his latest position at a Business Standard conducted summit that we have to wait for the budget announcement for the announcement of the new sops.

This is a weak statement. The hon’ble minister must articulate his ministry’s various positions on various sections. Agriculture is to produce enough food stocks for internal consumption, for exports and for internal distribution under the various social schemes like PDS and also to maintain food prices to contain food inflation etc. The portfolio is a very heavy one and calls for various initiatives. Unfortunately, we don’t gat such a reassuring picture of the basic portfolio.

The farmers of this country have paid a heavy price for trusting the government to announce one or two major policies.

There is, as we in this media say often, a macro-economic and micro-economic perspectives in the agri sector.

There is the huge confidence among the countrymen about the future of the Indian agriculture sector. India is one of the largest producer of the critical grains, both wheat and rice.

India exports huge quantities of rice and wheat and as per the latest data; Indian farm exports now crosses, in the six months period, from
April-September period, the farm product exports in dollar terms crossed 9 billion dollar mark and this has to be further analysed and explained to the general farm public in simple and easy manner. This is not happening and we at the Vadamalai Media are engaged ion doing just that. Agriculture is a very serious priority for us and we like to empower and educate our farming public with what we, as farmers are engaged in.

How high priority is agriculture?

Agriculture is the very soul and psychology of the majority of the Indian people. India is an agrarian economy. India is an agriculture nation.

So, every step in safeguarding the very foundation of the Indian economy must start with the Indian agriculture development. Agriculture has to be seen as basic to our very way of life. So, the hot political topic of farm loans waiver and other assurances to the farmers have sort of sacred value for every policy maker.
Who are all agriculture policy makers?

Not the routine secretaries and joint secretaries and other major and minor bureaucrats?

Farm loan waivers as announced and assured by various state governments have to be seen with a realistic and responsible way.
Farmers suicides also need to be more seriously discussed.
Farmers lives in the villages are governed and driven by various socio-cultural and economic factors.

Farmers want to live by honour and self dignity. So, the farmers debts are a matter for both their economic security and self-honour.

So, we have to give a kisan credit card that should be very flexible and must carry lots of flexibility. A farmer won’t go away from his traditional occupation like, say, any other businessmen or other business ventures.

So, the farmer’s identity is very different. We see farmers in the historic context. He is both a debtor and a litigant.

Farmer as a litigant has emerged as a new phenomenon
The various land reform legislations have turned farmers into both debtors and litigants.

That is one basic reason why farmers suddenly turn into debtors. The land legislation laws, in our opinion, have to be liberalised. In fact, we need new legislations to ensure that the traditional rural land ownership is not so radically cast. Make land ceilings relaxed. The Niti-Aayog has come out with a model land legislation law. Of course it is now too late in the day, as we are nearer the 2019 General Election and so it is very unlikely the government can meddle with these tricky and in a sense unworkable land laws.

This is a reality that everybody concerned avoiding  the topic altogether!

Rural reality is much more complex than what the establishment seems to be imagining. Rural reality is historically formed. So, we have to take much time and labour to create a new climate of mind change for the experts, academics and political ideology seekers.

We have to bring in both the Leftists and the Right-wingers and also the new avatars as caste parties and also rural landed feudalism wherever it is entrenched.