Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, unveiled a 60-feet tall statue of a great Jat leader, Sir Chotu Ram, and spoken high of the pre-Independence day leader of farmers.
Sir Chotu Ram had mobilised the people, peasants, to emerge as beneficiaries of many development projects, the Bhakra Nagal dam in particular that made Punjab and Haryana as frontline agricultural states.
Of course, the PM also said on the occasion that the government raised the MSP twice and this showed his government’s concern for farmer’s welfare. No doubt about that. You see agriculture is a very basic industry; it touches the lives of people at many levels. The non-farmers, the poor and the weaker sections, in the villages in particular are dependent upon agriculture for their livelihood, for various reasons.
And remember, agriculture is Indian economy’s backbone. All this and much more we all know, those of us who live in the cities and also those who managed to live in Delhi and run the government, both the political netas as well as the bureaucratic machine.
There was a time when the agricultural leaders went to Delhi; they were treated in a condescending manner. But days seem to have hanged, these days farmers’ marches to Delhi have frequented much more and they, the farmers and their leaders have also become a frustrated lot and they no more believe any of the government assurances. So, they learnt to march towards the PM’s residence itself!
And also much more to the good side of the government that the second time rise in the MSP was announced on the eve of the farmers pledging to march further from Ghaziabad towards the Lyton’s zone and hence before dawn the government announced the MSP rise and bought peace!
So, the days are changing for the farming community. Also, the farm scene is also changing faster. The urbanisation, the migration to cities, the migrant labour from UP and Bihar to states like Gujarat saw recently an exodus and likewise, there are likely to be new types of state level resistance to outside labour.
Or, there can be utterly unexpected acceptance and even open demand for labour from other states. In sum, the Indian agriculture is likely to become modernised, let us hope so, new technologies have already penetrated the Indian agricultural scene. Everyday new machines, new tools for various agriculture functions are entering the sector and also agriculture in some pockets in each state are suited to year-round farming, specially the vegetables and fruits and also agri incomes are becoming regular.
Yet, it is a sad feature even now there are tragedies and farmers suicides take place even in some rich parts like the sugarcane belt of Mandya in Karnataka for instance and of course there is the unending news of former’s suicides in Maharashtra and even in the PM’s backyard, Gujarat!
So, these developments, signs of prosperity on the one side and sign of tragedy on the other side characterises the Indian agriculture. And also, one more point here we want to highlight.
The choice of ministers for the agri portfolio. Any agriculture minister of India and his deputies must be seen as travelling ministers. They must be seen in all the states. Unfortunately, while Mr.Modi is energetic and active, the same can’t be said about some of his colleagues.Many are unsuited to the portfolios they hold right now, even after four and half years of the present regime.
We don’t want to name them, nor the portfolios; in particular, the agri ministers are not senas active and hey say many things that are not sympathetic to the farmer’s causes. Farm debt is notoriously difficult to tackle. This requires a genius, if not a more gifted individual or individuals.
The BJP government is seen as a party with a paucity of talents. If we can say so, it is not a sin if we seek a competent person even from outside the party. Next to farm debts, is the litigation sin of the farming community? Our various land legislations, tenacy, land ceiling laws etc are now seen as totally outdated and proving to be the hell for progressive farmers, farmer investors.
Do, we welcome the model land reform legislation laws as propounded by the NITI AAYOG and we would urge the PM to give a go-by to give legislative shape even before the 2019 elections.
Let the PM enter into a village, one in the North and one in the South and personally test for himself what we say here. We need liberalisation of the land reform laws. Some we can write-ff. Who wants to live in the village and undergo all the negative features of village life?
If any young man leaves his village and travels to Bangalore for instance, he or she can earn a very decent income, for sure. So too the other youngsters from the North East we see in other states. They can be seen even in remote places, in the wayside hotels as service hands. They all seem to be happy. So, we can draw a policy towards enabling the interstate labour migration. For instance, the Odisha government has constructed an Odisha House in Bangalore to help students and youngsters from the state. Similar state houses can be built so that there can be easy interstate migration and also the solution to unemployment and easy migration.
For an energetic agri minister or officials there are unlimited work at the Krishi Bhavan!
Let us energise the agri sector with new enthusiasm. Minister, please move out of your comfort zones in the capital!