What is limelighted today nation-wide is the dubious image of “MAKE IN INDIA”, “Digital India,” “Jandhan Yojana.”India, as a country has the potential to be an emerging economy in the world, a country with the highest numbers of billionaires in Asia etc…. But if we observe the other side of the coin, the story is different. Out of many untold stories, let’s take the condition of agriculture in India. Hardly have we heard enough about the serious problems in agriculture. From 56% contribution of agriculture in GDP during 1950-51 has drastically declined to 17.32% in 2016-17. Growth rate of agricultural output was progressively increasing in 1950-1990, and it was more than the growth rate of the population. Now, the situation is totally opposite. Still the Indian population is totally depending on agriculture. Not only farmers, even Dalits and Tribal, who greatly depended on agriculture, became unemployed. Farmers’ suicide in India is one of the highest in the world. According to the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), 17,060 farmers committed suicide in the country in 2006 with Maharashtra having the highest number of suicide deaths, following Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Punjab as per latest data.
Now the farmers of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are doing protest for fulfilling the three important demands that is promised by present government before 2014 election in their Manifesto. The demands are:
1. Demanding higher crop prices to cover their input costs.(Minimum Support Price, MSP, Govt. Promise 50% of Total cost)
2. Demand is to provide a farmer package to tide over the drought-caused losses.
3. Demand for farmers’ loan waiver
Demanding their rights, the five farmers were shot dead (official data) in clashes on 6th June,2017 in the central city of Mandsaur, about 325km from the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Government only gave promises to them telling things like Bhayut Huwa Kishan par aathyachar abki bar Modi Sarkar and even previous government made such promises. So what is the root cause of so called Agrarian Crises?
For this we have to go back in 1960 where government initiated with the experiment so called “Green Revolution” in view to benefit the farmers but, this model benefitted only the corporate MNC and TNCS situated in USA, after that in 1990s when India took her 1stEconomic Reform. The policy of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation was concretely introduced in India also termed as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). India revamps the economic crisis by accepting the conditionality of IMF, IBRD and WTO. Out of many conditionality or terms related to agriculture, first, is that the government must reduce its investment in agriculture and second, allowing the private sector to take over and third is the removal of quantitative restrictions and lowering of import duties and last is to decrease in subsidy to agriculture. Subsequently, government start reducing its investment in agriculture, removing import- export restrictions and decreasing subsidy in agriculture. After 1991 Nationalised Banks, private banks and even NABARD changed the lending pattern to agriculture sector as a consequence framers didn’t have any options left to take loan from moneylenders at higher rate of Interest thus cost increased. Such high cost products were to be sold in open market or competitive market. As a result, their product didn’t have demand in the market and had to be sold at lower price (WTO dictate market rules) causes mammoth loss and situation became even worse, as on other hand, they had to pay back the loan to the greedy moneylenders. Then after farmers falls into vicious cycle of debt and loans.The whole situation makes them to commit suicide as it was a last resort.
The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), initiated by the government by forced not by choice way back in the 1990s, is the main reason for this Agrarian crisis. The solution to this problem is to implement land reforms, bank loans should be easily made available to the farmers, and Subsidy should be restored, with irrigation and technological assistance etc. Even Government should take into serious consideration of Professor M.S. Swaminathan Report on Agriculture of 2006. In short, there should drastic changes in the present economic policies related to agriculture. There must be an Economic will to address the situation.
Mr. Sumeet Agarwal
Sikkim Manipal University