Agrarian crisis in India is probably as old as Indian civilisation. This year the nature has been unfavourable at many places and the crisis seems to be much deeper. Farmers committing suicides is also quite routine now. But it is very difficult to understand why they are taking this extreme step? No real study is available on this. Can failure of crop lead to taking one’s life? Can a man abduct his responsibilities like this easily? It is very interesting that only men seem to be committing suicides. Now that is strange. Women also are involved in farming so why is it that they are not committing suicide? When a family suffers everyone in the family suffers, so why are women not taking their lives? Are they stronger and are willing to fight the hard times like Nargis in Mother India?
The crisis is an all round failure. The government has tried but failed in freeing farmers from the crutches of moneylenders. Farmers in spite of loan waivers off and on don’t seem to have learnt any lessons, and expect the same again and again. They have very little land in many cases which makes survival impossible. They are it seems wedded to traditions and are unable to break those shackles.
In the last 10 years MSP has gone up between 80 and 100%. People like Dr, Surjit Bhalla argue that this has pushed up food inflation. It must have but it has also put more money in the pockets of the farmers and has probably increased their spending may be on non-essentials and they are living beyond their means. But the food grain production has also increased by almost 50 million tons. Many youngsters from farming community do not find farming worthwhile is a fact. In many families there are just too many people who are dependent on a small piece of land. The youngsters who go out and get educated are helped by the family sacrifices. It is possible that these youngster migrate for jobs and adopt a life style of urban excesses and thus have no spare money to send back to the family.
If farming is not remunerative then small farmers should actually welcome the LAB and offer their lands to the industry or the government! As we saw in Singrur and also in Raigarh in Maharashtra in spite of the possibility of one member of family getting employment in industry they opposed land acquisition. On the other hand we have seen farmers selling their land at a very high price at places like Gurgaon and Hinjewadi near Pune and spend all the money on big houses cars and gold and becoming paupers few years down the line!
If we watch krishi Darshan on DD, I am sure hardly anybody does and that would include farmers themselves, one hear many individual success stories of farmers experimenting reaping huge financial rewards. Others can learn from this. Basically the Gram Panchayat model of governance has failed miserably in this area. Very few villages have done concrete work in the field of water conservation and harvesting. Every village has to do this on their own. The state governments and central government through its agencies like NABARD have many schemes to help such villages. The money allocated to agriculture has grown steadily but real useful assets have not been created. The major blame for this must lie with the farmers. They refuse to unite even at village level. Caste divides have not helped. Local politics has not only not helped but has made sure that small farmers will remain at the mercy of these politicians and the middlemen.
I find it strange when politicians from Punjab and Haryana say the government has done nothing for farmers. The biggest beneficiaries of Green Revolution are these two states! The farmers here are rich. Those who are poor are marginal farmers.
It was interesting to read yesterday that the actual farming community in India is 13-15% of population and not 60% as being believed. This means the others are marginal farmers who cannot produce enough to sustain or are landless labourers.
I have argued for some time now that we need to stop pampering the industry which will never be satisfied with anything and divert major resources of government to create loaclised water bodies for irrigation and drinking water, road connectivity to markets, abolishing APMC, creating cold storage chains and educating farmers to market their own produce without the middleman. Only this will help farmers.
We cannot blame politicians for everything. Farmers have to unite instead of becoming slaves of politicians. Enormous amounts have been spent for years in the name of farmers but little seems to have reached them. Gradually withdraw subsidies and let the markets decide the prices of their produce. Consumers’ may have to pay a higher price initially but then things will even out.
What I am surprised about is that in spite of claims of crops being destroyed in major parts all kinds of vegetables and seasonal fruits are available in plenty! If there is so much crop loss how has this miracle happened? Are farmers overstating their losses?
I am convinced the future of farmers is in their hands and they will have to take up the challenges and there are many. They cannot depend on politicians to deliver. The sooner they appreciate this better it would be farming community.
Dear farmers committing suicide is not the answer to your woes, when you go leaving you family to fend for themselves you are committing a bigger sin.
Dear Media and political parties stop glamorising suicides, Star condemning them. Stop giving compensation for suicide, this compensation is an incentive to commit suicide. Instead help such families to educate their children in some skills that will help them live a life of dignity.