Modi Rubs Salt On Farmers’ Wounds!
The farmers are up in
arms. The country is burning with the fire of their anger and it is spreading
like a wildfire from MP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan to Punjab and UP among others.
Indian farmers are caught in a tragic paradox. Whether it is
a drought or a bumper harvest their life remains unmitigated. In both the
situations they remain to be at the receiving end. If there is no harvest they
are left to fend for themselves and if there is a surfeit of it, they can’t get
proper price for it. They are forced to trudge on the double edged sword and
there is no escaping, perhaps except taking shelter in flight. Never before has
the farming community been placed in such a deplorable predicament as they are
in now, thanks to the Modi government’s hoax call of relief.
They are caught in the political quagmire created by the
ruling NDA dispensation at the centre. The government seems to be playing
pranks while the farmers are dying in most parts of the country. Just contrast
the truth: 54% of the country’s population is dependent on agriculture and
according to the report of the Niti Ayog, around 53% of the farmers are below
the poverty line and struggling to make both ends meet. 58% farmers are forced
to sleep with empty stomach while about 4.70 crore families are languishing under
debt. The farmers owe 12.60 lakh crore as debts, with they are unable to pay
After the ghastly incident of farmers being shot dead in
Madhya Pradesh on June 6, the ghost of election promise made by the BJP to
farmers in the politically sensitive states of the country has surfaced to
haunt Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The reason is very simple. The rising
demand of the farmers to fulfill the bailout package, as promised by the PM
during the election campaigns, has stirred the hornet’s nest as other states
too have joined the chorus in demanding the federal government offer an agriculture
bailout package across the country.
During the hard-fought election campaign, Modi pledged that
if his party was voted to power in Uttar Pradesh, it would write off loans of
farmers. Earlier this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party formed government after
securing a significant majority, but it conveniently forgot its electoral
pledge of providing relief from the scorching debt trap on land holdings. The
hard fact remains: about 52 percent of India’s 90 million agricultural
households are indebted.
Outstanding countrywide agricultural loans as of Sept. 30,
2016 were at 12.6 trillion rupees, as farmers struggle with a decrease in land
holdings, deteriorating soil quality, high input costs and low prices for their
produce. According to the latest government data, 43.8 percent of the 18
million farm households in Uttar Pradesh had outstanding loans in the
agricultural year that ended June 2013, with an average loan of about 27,300
rupees. The debt relief program also fails to provide assistance to landless farm
workers who don’t have access to bank loans and some small farmers that depend
on money lenders.
“Farmers are virtually on their death bed, so some booster
dose will be helpful, but I don’t know for how long the farmers will be kept
alive,” said P. Chengal Reddy, chief adviser to the Consortium of Indian Farmers
Association, arguing the need for a loan waiver. But no one is listening his
The chief ministers of Punjab and Maharashtra have issued a
public plea for farm loan waivers for their states, however the government has
not indicated whether it will consider a nationwide waiver program.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, recently, did admit to the
parliament that several states had indeed requested farm loan waivers, adding
the federal government won’t adopt a selective approach to any particular state
bearing the debt burden.
The traditional rallying point to voice anger and press for
a demand known nationally as Jantar Mantar at national capital of Delhi, more
than 30 farmers from southern state of Tamil Nadu staged a protest last month
holding the skulls of farmers who had committed suicides in their region. They
were demanding farm loan waivers, saying they are not in a situation to repay
their debts because of severe droughts.
“It’s an atonement at
one end of the failure of the past policies, and an appeasement on the other,”
said Ashok Gulati, a professor with the Indian Council for Research on
International Economic Relations (ICRIER), is reported to have remarked.
“India’s agriculture sector needs significant reforms,
including land leasing, streamlining the incentive structure to promote private
sector investment as well as policy changes for essential commodities and
markets, he said. You need to have political will to carry out this agenda,”
The country has never been so undivided in realising the
blunder, it committed by voting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Narendra
Modi, a master of political hyperbole, to power with majority. The country is
becoming victim to his hyperbole and the sloganeering and the future of this
country appears to be very bleak from the standpoints of both economic as well
High levels of household debts have been recognized as a
significant cause of farmers’ distress, the use of unconditional debt relief to
improve living conditions, crop productivity and to reduce suicides is
The chief auditor in its 2013 report on the 2008 loan waiver
program found cases in which deserving small farmers were left out while
ineligible farmers were favored. The write off also took its toll on banks as
the non-performing assets of commercial banks rose threefold in nominal terms
in the four years to March 2013, according to a 2015 report from ICRIER.
Agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan said loan waivers
should be used when farmers have no other way of getting relief from distress.
Though, the farm loan waiver has been considered to be one
of India’s popular political tool to win elections ever since the UPA
government under Man Mohan Singh in a historic move waived off the farmers’
loan in tune of a whopping 78000 crores in 2008, but no government could muster
the courage to redo it. It requires burning passion and indomitable courage to
take such an action. which offered borrowers a bailout program in which 37
million farmers benefited from waivers of Rs 78000 crores.
The Modi government at the Centre for its “dismal”
performance on economic front in the last three years and said that the “dreams
of the dream merchant, called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have turned into a
nightmare for the people”.
Addressing a press conference organized as part of the
Congress’s campaign to “expose” the Modi government on completion of its three
years in office at the Centre.
The three years of PM Modi’s rule has resulted in economic
downturn owing to drop in agriculture growth, low investment and very less
employment generation, the lowest in the last 10 years… His rule is best
defined by the phrase, Adhiktam Prachar, Nyuntam Vichar (maximum promotion,
minimum thinking)”. Describing Modi as an expert in “re-branding, repackaging
The Prime Minister appropriated several UPA programmes by
changing their names. He also criticised Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana,
saying that while insurance firms collected Rs 16,000 crore from farmers as
premium for the crop insurance in the last two years, farmers got only Rs 7,000
The government for not fulfilling its 2014 poll promise of
giving farmers 50 percent profit over the cost of agriculture production as the
Minimum Support Price (MSP).
The Centre’s decision to import 60 lakh tonnes of wheat in
the last two years while reducing its procurement from local farmers.
“Government procurement (of wheat) has come down by 60 lakh tonnes in the last
two years which has been compensated by import. This is Make In India in
The same has been done in the case of pulses despite a
bumper crop last year, he said, adding that import of 50 lakh tonnes of pulses
at a rate of Rs 45 per kg on the pretext of maintaining a buffer stock and selling
it Rs 250 per kg in retail indicated some kind of “scandal”, he said. Pointing out
the falling agriculture growth, which according to him has dropped from UPA government’s
3.5 per cent to the present 1.7 per cent, the former minister said: “If there
is no growth in agriculture, the country will not progress and the gap between
urban and rural areas will increase further.”
“In February 2015, the Modi government submitted an
affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that giving 50 per cent profit over the
production cost was not possible,”.
“For the first time, there has been a scarcity of
employment. The PM had promised two crore jobs every year, but the government
figure shows that in 2016, hardly two lakh, and in 2015, hardly 1.5 lakh people
got jobs,”. The demonestisation has been a “disaster” as it severely affected
small and medium industries, resulting in fall in economic activities.
The economy is on decline with the industrial, service and
other sectors in a shambles. Agriculture continues to be in the grip of worst
crisis. Farmers continue to commit suicide. Common people, they are really in
distress. Prices of essential commodities are continuously rising, and
essential services like education and public health are out of their reach,”
the party said. “The corporates have been favoured with different financial
moves that benefited them with about Rs 50 lakh crores. In the garb of
promoting ‘Make in India”, all sorts of concessions have been given to foreign
investors as well,” the party said. “The most disastrous move was
demonetisation of the currency. Banks continue to be on the verge of bankruptcy.
The BJP-NDA Government completes three years and the
celebrations which the Government has planned, the BJP has planned, what
celebration is it, is it the celebration of the people, are farmers celebrating,
are the youth celebrating, is the labourer celebrating, is industry celebrating,
whose celebration is it? Is it peoples’ celebration? The BJP is spending Rs.
2,000 Crores on this celebration on publicity and in various events but what
have been the last three years aspirations - trust, beliefs shattered and a
Nation betrayed. Bravado, rhetoric and hyperbole of the three years are the hallmark
of the BJP Government’s three years. Telling lies, Media management, propaganda,
platitudes and accolades is what this Government is all about?
The three years of Government is only “Bhashan or Ashvasan
Yeh Hai Mera Shashan”. I would not like to delve on too many sectors but the
crucial sector I want to startup is ‘Employment’. The biggest challenge, as we
all know, is unemployment. With the largest aspirational society, the youth are
looking for employment and what do we see, with approximately 520 Million
people, who are youngsters, employment has been lowest in the last 7 years.
PM Modi has, during his election campaign, promised 2 Crore
jobs a year. What is the outcome? What is the outcome of these 2 Crore jobs a
year. We see that only 1.35 Lakh jobs were created in the year 2015 and by
2028, India needs to create 34 Crore jobs, how will jobs be created – by slogans
or by creating an atmosphere of trust for Domestic Investment and Foreign
What is the state on Domestic Investment? What is the state
of Bank Credit – Bank Credit is at 5.3%, lowest in the last 3 years. Domestic
Investment is again at one of the lowest level this country has seen. Domestic
Investment is at the historic low. Diversionary tactics used by the BJP of
diverting the peoples’ minds, this ‘Kalakari ki Rajniti’ is the diversionary
tactics used by the BJP and continuous assurances being given to the youth. The
question is - has more jobs been created on lost in the last three years. How
many jobs have been lost?
“We demand that the Government issue a white paper on its
employment strategy. What is the strategy, we are not interested – the country
is not interested to hear speeches, the country is not wanting to hearing
assurances. They should present a white paper to this country on what is the
employment strategy for the next two years based on the hard facts of the last
three years,” Ramesh told the media persons.
Congress Party’s general secretary and veteran
parliamentarian Kamal Nath, took the lid of the Modi’s government’s claims on
the agricultural front by saying: “The Agricultural Sector is perhaps at the
lowest - from 4.3% the Agricultural Sector has gone down to 1.3%. All the promises
made to the farmers of 50% profit, have we seen MSP for wheat in the last three
years, the percentage increase of MSP of wheat in the ten years of the UPA
Government and we see the percentage increase of MSP in the last three years.
This represents a very sordid picture.”
He raised a pertinent issue by saying that the question is
not only MSP – how much is the procurement? The procurement is not being done
and because the procurement is not being done, the farmer is being forced to
sell to the trader. Having an MSP was with the objective that the farmer will
not be under the mercy of the trader but now the farmer is forced to sell to
“We are seeing that the farmer suicides – historic farmer
suicide – 35 farmers are committing suicide every day. No other country has the
shameful record, in 2016-17, farmers suicide are expected to be about 16,000,”
With regard to ‘Agricultural Debt’ – huge amounts are
written off of the business community, huge amounts for the crony business
community, huge amounts are being written off - by some estimates Rs. 1.54 lakh
thousand crores but the ‘debt-ridden’ farmer who is in a debt trap – India’s
agriculture is in a debt trap because the farmers are taking a loan to service
a previous loan. He is not taking a loan to have incremental agriculture.
And, undoubtedly, this sad situation is being reflected in
the farmers’ suicides. Kamal Nath deflated the NDA’s tall claims by providing
facts and figures. “If we look at the total premium paid by the farmers across
the country to insurance companies, it was Rs. 17,185 Crore for the ‘Kharif
2016’. 3.9 Crore farmers got relief of 6,808 Crore. So the insurance premium which
was collected of Rs. 17,185 Crore, net profit to the insurance companies is of
Rs. 10,373 Crores So, instead of calling it the insurance companies benefit schemes,
they are calling it the ‘Farmers Fasal Bima Yojana’. This is just an example of
what is happening,” he disclosed.
“We are seeing ‘duties’ being reduced and Wheat Imports
increasing - India has to look at Imports in a strategic manner. India cannot
look at – we are an open market, you will recall that in the WTO, this was one
of the points I made that we in India have subsistence farmers - farmers who
are farming not for profession, not for business but for subsistence and a
strategy for subsistence farmer is very important. So, until we have a strategy
for subsistence farmers, the Government did not come out with any scheme other
than slogans,” the veteran leader said.
Ridiculing the Modi’s bloated claims, Shri Kamal Nath said:
“No government in the world, in its history, has given the country more slogans
than what the NDA-BJP Government has given in the last three years. No
Government has spent so much on advertising after coming to power. What they
have spent on publicity of these slogans.” “We all know the story of ‘Make-
in-India, we all know the story of ‘Start-up India’, ‘Digital India’ and the
amount spent on these schemes in its publicity is, in fact, so exorbitant that
the benefits it has accrued are minor as compared to spend,” he rued.
According to him, we have had various pronouncements, like
demonetization – fine, if it was to unearth black money, the country is waiting
to know how much black money was unearthed, how much fake currency was
unearthed. Where is the record, where is the statement from the Government.
The bottom line is: India seeks a massive political change.
This change in politics is not only going to reflect itself in the politics of
today but in the politics of tomorrow.
(by Sandesh Team)