The Union government has often cited its vision of ‘doubling farmers’ income by 2022’. In a joint effort with NITI Aayog, the centre has drafted a framework to achieve this ambitious target. Nonetheless, lack of awareness and inability to foresee any fundamental change in their living standards have left most of the farmers dejected.
It is essential to note that farmers’ income is extremely volatile; it’s affected by monsoon rains, excess crop production, fluctuation in domestic and international market prices, MSPs and political instability. Therefore, any irregularity — results in massive protests.
On 2nd October 2018, more than 30,000 farmers led by Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait protested in Delhi against the lackadaisical approach of the union government towards reviving the stressed primary sector and improving the farmers purchasing power. Their primary demand was MSP (Minimum Support Price) hike – which is the price that the Government of India pays to procure food grains for distributing them through the Public Distribution System. Most farmers in India are underpaid for their labour inputs, and a majority of them are under heavy debts.
Therefore, Swaminathan Commission report of 2006 recommended the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to give MSP over C2 costs (comprehensive cost + imputed rent and interest on owned land and capital). The report emphasised that MSP on C2 would enhance the farmer’s income to an extent – which will help them in repaying their loans, and getting financially stability. But the lack of budgetary allocation and fiscal consolidation target didn’t permit the government to fulfil these demands. Other demands made by the farmers were the clearance of pending sugarcane payments, monthly pension for farmers over 60 years of age, loan waivers etc.
Land acquisition is another factor that makes the govt. guilty of ignoring farmer’s concerns. Unfair price, forced acquisitions and improper rehabilitation have made this entire process non-transparent and unjust.
The protest ended after the govt. assured to meet some of the demands mentioned above.
It’s evident that farmers are the most exploited workforce in our country. And this exploitation dates back to the colonial era. Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel – all of them aspired to see an independent India – of empowered farmers. Ever since India’s independence — thousands of attempts have been made, hundreds of policies have been implemented, an infinite amount of money has been spent, but no significant change has been observed in farmers’ living standards.
NITI Aayog’s proposed framework is the most meaningful strategy that the govt. intends to comply with, for doubling farmers’ income by 2022. The framework aims to increase crop production, crop intensity, efficiency of input, productivity of livestock, and also shift cultivators to other jobs. Furthermore, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, National Food Security Mission and e-NAM platforms are solid schemes that will help in amplifying the NITI Aayog’s target.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has not yet provided the intended results, as there have been complaints of severe mismanagement and the insurance companies have frequently failed to provide the necessary claims. Thus, it becomes imperative for govt. to ensure that this scheme is fairly implemented.
Again, giving high MSP (C2) is not an easy decision as the govt. as it is also responsible for the overall growth of the economy. So, several economic factors influence the govt.’s crop pricing policies. For example, if farmers get more disposable income (by getting more money for their crops, in terms of high MSP), inflation may spike up as more money in hand results in increased purchasing power. The government and Reserve Bank of India’s priorities are maintaining stable inflation to GDP ratio – like any other fast-growing economies; this makes meeting all the demands made by farmers difficult.
Narendra Modi Ji should gear up for a major battle in 2019 general elections. With protests transpiring across the country; appeasement of farmers seems to be a challenging job. Modi Ji should make special efforts to make every farmer understand the importance of his govt.’s vision and policies. Making government officials visit remote places and spread awareness about his plans can be a helpful move.
Modi Ji needs to win back the trust of our country’s farmers – as the current situation will only make it difficult for his cabinet to make a comeback in 2019.
Will the farmers who are currently facing challenges due to the government’s schemes and policies, vote for Narendra Modi in 2019? — You tell me.