A major flaw in our land reform policies!
Agriculture is the Achilles Heal of the Indian politics! No politician of any worth speaks the truth when it comes to the agriculture sector. Vadamalai Media is committed to agriculture and so we must be having lots of experience and expertise! But who cares? Care for truth and honesty?
We know most of the farmer leaders who have contributed to the agriculture policy-making in the country. From Charan Singh, son Ajit Singh and the Maratha leader, Shetkari Sangahtna Sharad Joshi to Swanga Reddy of AP and others down the South, from the redoubtable Narayanasamy Naidu to his lieutenants, Dr.M.R.Sivasamy to Dr.Nanjundaswamy of Karnataka to many others. Of course we also know Sharad Pawar, undoubtedly the tall leader of farmers today.
Yet, what we see today about the plight of farmers. Prime Minister Modi talks tirelessly on the farming scene. He must be only knowing too well that many of his policies haven’t taken off. For instance, the much-meaningful farmers crop insurance policies. Today, in a leading Tamil daily we read about the many detailed statistics about the collection of insurance premiums collected by the private insurance companies and the amount paid as compensation. What an irony!
There are so many mismatches and yet there seems no way to draw more farmers who are deserting the scheme. The statistics makes for a very discouraging reading. Why farmers commit suicides in an unabating manner? The much touted farm loan write-offs don’t seem to discourage farmers to desist from taking the extreme steps. Why there is so much farm distress?
Agriculture is becoming more and more a complex sector. No single one solution seems to work. We at the Vadamalai Media have so much first hand knowledge. We are also practising farmers! We own lands in the village and we do cultivate crops and we do incur so much losses! Yet, we stick on to farming. May be, a family tradition and emotional attachment to the soil?
All these long years we had learnt a lot, both positive and negative. We have talked to leaders of political parties. So, everybody knows of farming issues. Yet there is some mental block when it comes to talking the truths. Farming has become more and more unviable. Droughts, excessive rains, as of now, in our part of the country and the uncertainties and the vagaries of weather etc.
One thing we see is that there is also the rapid socio-economic changes in the countryside. Villages are getting deserted, young men and women getting educated and moving on to urban centres for jobs and securing a more better future. Now, to cut the story short, we feel that the unviable holdings of the agricultural lands discourage many well-intentioned people to engage in agriculture.
So, one way surely is to relax the very stringent existing land legislation laws. The many tenancy, land ceiling laws were enacted in the 1950s, 60s when there was so much inequity in the villages. No more the conditions exist today. So, when, for instance when Karnataka Chief Minister, H.D.Kumaraswamy recently relaxed the limits of incomes of those who wanted to purchase agricultural lands there were protests from his own colleagues.
Among the many land legislations of states, it seems only the Karnataka state land legislation seems to be the most extreme, as far as we know. We just recently carried in the pages of this journal the latest NIITI AAYOG’s model land tenancy law which happily recasts the entire existing laws of the states and suggests crucially the need for tenants to pay the rents and also agreement to vacate the land once the lease period is over.
The Karnataka legislation is more severe. In Tamil Nadu, the existing provision is that you can’t evict any tenant even if he doesn’t pay one rupee as rent!
How many don’t know the ground level realities in the villages. There are many instances that political intervention is the norm of the day! If the ruling political party functionaries so want they can use the police and revenue officials and evict any unruly tenant at their swee well!
Today, many temple lands in many states are under tenancy laws and in each temple you can see the notice boards that proclaim the names of the defaulting tenants ,some of them big landlords themselves! We were recently in Chennai and visited some high profile lawyers and also saw some Law book shops!
Madras is a very old British administered territory, as everyone knows and the Madras High Court has a long and illustrious history. One law firm publishes a law journal that is now 126 years old!
Yet, with all the long traditions of law and justice system, the ground level realities is ,alas, very discouraging. Much force, police and revenue forces and high pervasive corruption all contribute not to peaceful rural living but for brutal and violence-ridden social and economic living environment only.
So, let Rahul Gandhi talk of agriculture, jobs and education as his “Deep Dive” in search of an agri policy or the PM pursue his unfulfilled policies like the crop insurance scheme, or crop insurance schemes, nothing is likely to change in the villages. Farmers would continue to be oppressed and suppressed by the existing inequities and the populist and superficial caste and other discriminations, some sections of castes would continue to be excluded by the way the political culture is shaping up.