This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by The Sensible Writer. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Can We Achieve Productivity And Sustainability Amid Policy Paralysis?

More from The Sensible Writer

There is no country in the world where agriculture doesn’t need the support of the government. If the policies of the government are supportive enough, farming flourishes. In the Indian scenario, the case has been different. It’s not that the government policies are anti-farming per se, but the fact established over a period of time is that these policies have not been effective on-ground, thereby not making any concrete solution to the overall situation.

PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Launch
PM Modi launching the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi.||Credits: Zee Business

Although it seems difficult to assess each and every scheme of the government, it can be argued that populism is the major force driving agricultural policies, take the recently launched Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) for example. In this scheme, income support of ₹6000/- per year is provided to all landholding farmer families across the country, irrespective of land size, in three equal instalments of ₹2000/- every four months.

Let’s analyse it. If I am not weak in the basics of mathematics, ₹6000/- per year means ₹16.43/- per day. I do not understand this. Providing someone just ₹16 per day is not income support in any way, at least for me.

Moreover, it provides so-called income support to all landholding farmer families irrespective of land size. I don’t know why prosperous farmers with large landholdings require income support? What about tenants or those who are not owners of land and merely work as agricultural labours?

Many agriculturalists and economists appreciate this scheme. For me, it’s just another fancy scheme launched by the government to gain votes. It is nothing but another unnecessary burden on the state exchequer.

Organic farming
Organic farming under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana.||Credits: Krishi Jagran

Unfortunately, a plethora of such useless schemes exist at both the central and state level. Exponents of such schemes describe them as farmer-friendly, but we know the reality.

The problem is that our approach is not clear.

We are aiming to achieve productivity and sustainability at the same time. After realizing the adverse consequences of agrochemicals, we are planning to adapt to organic farming in the form of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana. On the other hand, we are thinking of bringing the Green Revolution in the North East, further devastating the land already degraded by practices like shifting cultivation. It’s high time the government give up this hit-and-trial approach.

Launch of Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana
Launch of Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana||Credits: Mujeeb Faruqui / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

When the policies are made without consulting the stakeholders involved, it is highly likely that political and bureaucratic efforts are going to be in vain. Madhya Pradesh government had launched Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana, touted as India’s first price deficiency payment system, in 2017. It hoped to provide support to the farmers by compensating them for the difference between the minimum support price (MSP) of the produce and the price at which farmers sold their produce in the market.

Like what always happens, the idea was noble, but implementation was not.

First of all, the scheme considers average district yield for calculating the potential income of the farmer, rather than an individual farmer’s yield. Sudhakar Gummula, in his article, wrote that these district’s average figures are highly unreliable as they are based on sample crop cutting experiments as conducted by the agricultural department.

Further, the absurd thing about the scheme is that if the price is higher than the modal price and lower than MSP, he will be paid less by the government. Sumedha Pal reported that the farmers who had sold their rabi produce were taken aback when the news of crop being returned by their mandi broke. Return slips of over 350 quintals of rabi produce were handed over to the farmers as the details of the farmers could not be successfully logged into the government portal.

Another major shortcoming is that the scheme excludes farmers selling outside the mandi system. In short, it can be concluded that the experiment remains complicated and disincentivizing, which explains why the registration of farmers on the portal remains insignificant.

A study on agricultural policies in India by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, an organization for economic cooperation and development, and co-authored by the renowned farm economist Ashok Gulati, was published with startling revelations. It concluded that the restrictions on agricultural marketing amounted to ‘implicit taxation’ on farmers to the tune of ₹45 lakh crore from 2000–01 to 2016–17. This is nearly ₹2.56 lakh crore per year. No other country does this.

Farmer in front of his potato produce
Policies have to designed and framed by considering the ground realities.||Credits: CNBC

Multiple schemes exist for a single objective. What else can we expect in such a situation other than a fiscal deficit or extravagant expenditure, to be precise? Whether it’s Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana replacing erstwhile crop insurance schemes or Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana subsuming older schemes, it’s nothing but old wine in a new bottle, to be frank. Policies change because of the change in the government not because flaws have to be corrected. Welfare schemes, thus, remain only fanfare.

There is something terribly wrong with our approach. We have now started talking about Farming 3.0 which is primarily and largely about a technologically-driven environment. It basically assumes that all the farmers have high-tech smartphones in their hand in which they can see weather forecasting updates, sell their crops to distant locations and so on. But the fact is that we have miserably failed in Farming 1.0, which was all about bringing land reforms and Farming 2.0, which aimed at improving productivity and attaining food self-sufficiency thereafter.

Policies have to designed and framed by considering the ground realities, analyzing socio-economic profiles in rural areas, and understanding geographical, climatic and edaphic diversity. Reforms (to be discussed in next parts) are to be introduced considering the needs of our own system. Our growth model doesn’t need to be in line with growth models of the western world.

I believe, one factor, unsure if it is major or minor, behind policy paralysis pertaining to agriculture lies in the fact that agriculture, as per our constitution, is a state subject. The Center is free to make model laws, but it’s all up to states to accede to it or not. Had the subject been in the concurrent list, it would have been easier to establish harmony between the Center and the states regarding policy formulation associated with farming.

Part 3 of this series is available here. You can also read part 1 and part 2

You must be to comment.

More from The Sensible Writer

Similar Posts

By Maneka Yadav

By Priyanshi Mehra

By Jagriti Singh

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below