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