INDIA’S AGRICULTURE MINISTER COUNTS ‘LOVE AFFAIRS AND IMPOTENCY’ AMONG REASONS BEHIND FARM SUICIDES

Now this is really crass and sounds blasphemous when it comes from the Agriculture Minister of India.

India is the world’s largest democracy.

It is also the world third largest economy.

It is now the fastest growing economy of the world.

It is also projected to have the world largest share of middle class by 2030, a ‘must’ market for transnational corporations and economies.

It is the founder member of the New Development Bank of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) grouping, an important global block of emerging economies with potential to drive the world economy (and the geopolitics). It also joined Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this month.

It is a proven global power in space technology.

Its information-technology industry is among the best in the world.

India is being seen as a true global power. Nations across the globe are accepting it. Suddenly, Pakistan is no match for India. Until now, the comparison has been about how China is far ahead of India – especially on economic indicators – and therefore, the development they bring. Now, the analyses are mostly about how China is slowing down and saturating and how India is poised to become the next global economic powerhouse.

It has had a Narendra Modi led government since May 2014 that is seen excelling in promoting Brand India on different global platforms.

But, in spite of the all the claims and realities, India is still an agrarian economy – with number of people dependent on it.

But, in spite of employing some 55% of the populations, agriculture’s share in the national GDP has shrunk to just 14%.

In spite of the fact that GDP has expanded and services and manufacturing have major shares now, the share of people dependent on agriculture has not come down in that large a proportion. It means a GDP contributor that has seen consistently reduced pie in the overall chart has much more people to support than other sectors of economy. If we follow the simple logic of ‘supply and demand’, ‘supply’ of people dependent on agriculture has far outdone their demand for a resource that is growing scare in, i.e., land area has remained the same but has always been cursed to support an ever increasing number of population directly dependent on it. That leaves most of its dependents in a perpetual state of instability, i.e., farmers.

Growth in the number of agricultural labourers since the independence has surpassed that of cultivators by a large margin. India had around 70 million cultivators in 1947 while agriculture labourers were at around 27 million. But in 2011, agricultural labourers surpassed cultivators by around 26 million (118 million cultivators to 144 million labourers).

P. Sainath writes that some 2035 farmers lose their ‘cultivator status’ daily. They obviously join the class of landless farmers or agricultural labourers.

Every year, thousands of farmers are forced to commit suicide due to financial problems and dependent social evils. And it has been an unending black spot on India for decades. Unseasonal rains during first few months of this year forced more than a thousand farmers to take their lives in Maharashtra alone.

In spite of all its economic advances and industrial growth, India has not been able to address many glaring sociological gaps prevalent in the country.

In spite of its increasing global stature, India is yet to find a way to address its increasing social disparity, the widening gap between haves and have-nots.

India has still hollow and questionable answers to debates like ‘India Vs Bharat’, Metro India Vs Small Town India and Urban India Vs Hinterland India’.

And the ways to the way go through our political establishment, elected to run the country, since the first elections were held after the independence.

And when a minister from that political establishment, from an elected government, expresses such insensitive remarks, we feel so low – the nation, once again, is forced to feel that India would never be able to bridge its ‘class gaps’ with such policymakers.

And Radha Mohan Singh’s is not a standalone case.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FARMER SUICIDES AND POLITICAL APATHY

Agriculture employs some 55% (54.6% exactly) of the people of India but over the years, its share in the national GDP has reduced. As of now, it contributes just 14% to the GDP.

So, even if the GDP has expanded and India is slated to become the third largest economy of the world soon, the share of expansion gone to agriculture has been less than what went to services and manufacturing.

Services, manufacturing and other trade related activities getting prominence over the agriculture – that was bound to happen in an economy advancing to enlarge itself.

And so, it was expected from the policymakers that they would do something about it.

But they didn’t have any answer to this expectation. And over the years, the sensitivity with which they looked at the problem gave way to apathy.

Results – tens of thousands of cases of farmer suicides each year – in official records (say National Crime Records Bureau) – irrespective of which political group was at the helms of affair!

Think of the unofficial estimates! Sure to outdo the official figures.

And the trend has continued over the years.

With increasing insensitivity of the political establishments and total apathy of the governments!

So much so, that debate now has elements like ‘why to become a farmer when it is economically suicidal’ to ‘small Vs big farmers’.

75% farmers have land-holdings up to 1 hectare only. 10% farmers have holdings of 1-2 hectare while just 0.24% farmers have land-holdings above 10 hectare. And these are official figures, drawn from a report of the National Sample Survey Organization.

So, the smallest land-owners form the largest chunk and they have to be ready to bear all the anomalies and brutalities – man-made and natural.

Even in normal course, their expenditures outdo the earnings. So, think of the times when nature plays the villain and when the man acts apathetic.

We cannot do anything with the nature even if this is partly political – at least, not in the short term.

But when we have to say the same thing about the ‘men acting apathetic/insensitive’, it is outrightly humiliating – because that is totally political.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL SPEAKS – #RAHULROAR VS #PAPPUMEOWS

I took three snapshots of Twitter today, for its India trends – at around 6 PM – at 7 PM – and at around 9 PM.

In the first two, though the hashtag #RahulRoar was number one, it was followed by #PappuMeows on number two.

But in the third, at 9 PM, while #RahulRoar was still at number one, I could not locate #PappuMeows. It was out from the trending list of Twitter for its India-wide trends.

While #RahulRoar is launched by Rahul Gandhi’s fans, #PappuMeows is launched by Rahul’s detractors.

Rahul Gandhi-6PM

Rahul Gandhi-7PM

Rahul Gandhi-9.30PM

While Rahul didn’t speak anything new in the highly publicised farmers’ rally yesterday, he looked and sounded more confident today, taking on Narendra Modi and his government – over the issues ranging from farmers’ suicides pushed up by unseasonal rains to the land acquisition act.

And his fans are buoyed by him today it looks – at least his fans who use Twitter.

But there are many beyond Twitter. And that includes his mother Sonia Gandhi and the political rivals of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance government. While Rahul was delivering his speech the Lok Sabha the Budget Session of which resumed today, the faces of MPs surrounding him were worth watching. They were all elated as if Rahul’s sabbatical had extended its benefits to them as well.

It is 9:30 PM now, the time for the last Twitter snapshot of the day and #RahulRoar is still trending at the top of India trends, followed by the known IPL trend of #DDvsKKR at number two.

Rahul Gandhi-9.30PM

Will it change anything on the ground?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RAHUL SPEAKS – FROM THE OPPOSITION BENCHES IN LOK SABHA

So far, Rahul Gandhi had made only two speeches in the Parliament worth remembering. And going on his political career so far, he had failed to live up to.

He failed to speak in the Parliament, and among the public. He failed to own up when Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation was at its peak. He failed to speak on time when the agitation against Delhi gang-rape of December 16, 2012 was on peak. He failed to own up Congress’ low while Congress’ decline touched a historic low.

Yesterday, he spoke, after a series of debacles and humiliating losses, but he could not offer anything new, even if he had taken some two months to think over the rout (as claimed). The projected mega rally of farmers at the Ramlila Ground turned out to be a routine affair.

And today, he spoke in the Lok Sabha. In all probability, it was his third speech in the lower House.

Budget Session of the Lok Sabha reconvened today again after a hiatus of 30 days and it was headed for a stormy session given the controversial statements of leaders and ministers (like we saw in case of Giriraj Singh today) and issues like ‘land acquisition ordinance’ and communal harmony among others.

Rahul Gandhi was better today. He looked confident and sounded more confident when he spoke. Though the Robert Vadra tag will not leave him anywhere, until he finds a honest remedy to it.

The farmer that is getting angrier or is in two minds and the common man – on Narendra Modi’s land acquisition ordinance and the anti-poor policies – will certainly react negatively when it will come to the issue of Robert Vadra’s status.

Yes, Robert Vadra as such is no issue. But his VVIP status, his riches and allegations of corruption are something that would make the common man an angry soul. This is something Rahul Gandhi needs to work on. And if his task is made difficult by the humiliating electoral losses of Congress, he has also a window of opportunity in portraying the government pro-rich, anti-farmer and anti-common man. But for that, he needs to do the cleansing of his house first.

Also, there were words about Sonia Gandhi fixing the time for Rahul’s speech. Reportedly, she had spoken with some opposition parties for Rahul’s speech and had issued a whip for Congress MPs. But only 28 of the 44 Congress MPs were present in the House when Rahul was speaking (from the opposition benches, for the first time).

For the moment, we are going to take everyone’s observation with a fistful of salt. It is difficult to believe on the verity of different data-sets.

Rahul came with his own. Government came with its own. States have differing versions. In centre were two issues – farmers’ suicide pushed by unseasonal rains and land acquisition.

The fact midst all this is – farmers are dying, pushed to the extremities by the rain gods and the policymakers at the centre and in the states.

And land is a sensitive issue for this country of some 1.25 billion, the world’s largest democracy. Most of its farmers are small land occupants and marginal labourers and the condition has worsened over the years.

The verity about data-sets will come only with time and proper implementation, something that we have missed so far, irrespective of the ‘policy in question’.

And the whole political lot is to share the blame for it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FARMERS. KILLED BY NATURE. KILLED BY MEN.

They are forced to kill themselves after they find they find they cannot take it anymore.

And it has been happening for long, giving rise to studies, claims, counterclaims, lines of thoughts and the rampant politicking (obviously, with the inherent political apathy).

And the triggers are many.

No monsoon, erratic rains, ill-timed rains, low yield, high output (and low prices), state policies, social evils, and the cost of existing in the society!

They are killed by the nature.

They are killed by the man.

Like the spate of farm suicides now, adding to the toll of the year gone by!

In an economy, that has been famously agrarian, with agriculture witnessing a consistent downward slip in its contribution to the Indian GDP!

From some 60%, agriculture’s share in Indian economy has come down to some 15%, but not the haunting ghosts of farm suicide.

The discourse over farm suicides has got deeper, with sensitivities on the flow, trying to counter and sensitize the apathy.

Farmers continued to commit suicide in this economy that is projected to surpass the economies of Japan and Germany taken together.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

DOUBLED SALARY BONANZA AMIDST 400 FARM SUICIDES: WAS THE TELANGANA FIGHT FOR IT?

“I myself will represent the Telangana government and argue before the Krishna tribunal. I will create a history by arguing the case in my capacity as CM.” – K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Chief Minister, Telangana

Now, this statement could have been seen as a routine overstatement coming from a politician who likes to boast and likes to brand himself as a forerunner of his political breed.

But, no, this comes to us from K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), the Telangana chief minister, the top most administrative functionary of India’s newest state, who has been a big letdown after assuming the office when Telangana came into existence officially on June 2 this year.

The central reason behind the decades old Telangana struggle was the contention that the Andhra counterparts had ignored the Telangana areas totally leaving the concerned population in poverty and backwardness.

KCR projected himself as the champion of the cause and though he cannot take the sole credit, going by the political equations of the time, he was rewarded by the Telangana electorate in hopes he would bring home the change. But the downward spiral began from the day-1.

As soon as he took over, the dynast in him came out. He is chief minister who made his son and nephew ministers. His daughter is a member of the Parliament (MP). And he defends and justifies it with an ‘air’.

When the agenda should have been reconciliation and synthesis till the whole process of bifurcation of revenue and resources is complete, he chose to indulge in cheap politics of sloganeering, not delivering on ground, and finding an easy escape in anti-Andhra Pradesh slogans.

And rational minds know that is not going to work.

But, the latest KCR move shows that was never his priority probably. The latest move is certainly a prime issue of national outrage that could not find its due on airwaves as other major rating-worthy stories broke out simultaneously, dominated by the round the clock developments around the controversial Haryana godman Rampal who refused to accept the orders of different courts including the high court and his arrest came after violent clashes and a long drama.

Anyway, that is a typical Indian flavour where fake religious gurus have been exploiting the insecurities of human lives in a country where universal norms of a dignified life do not come even in dreams of the majority of the population.

And Indian politicians are not much different, the political history of independent India tells us, and KCR’s latest move reaffirms that.

In an outrageous and anti-human move, the Telangana politicians, led by KCR, came together to hike their salary by 100%. Now the salary of a Telangana MLA (Rs. 2 Lakh) would be more than that of the President (1.5 Lakh) and the Prime Minister (1.60 Lakh). While doing so, the atmosphere was of almost consensus, something that we have seen so many times in ‘doing so’, including in the Indian Parliament. The bitter TRS-TDP war of words or the Congress or the BJP voices – we could not hear them.

The doubled salary bonanza came at a time where the state is facing aftermath of drought.

Different reports say, the authenticity of which we can safely accept, that around 400 farmers have committed suicide in Telangana after KCR took over in June. 350-400 farm suicides is the range of such reports and the government attempt to put them at around 80 easily blows out when we read the reports.

The burden of the hike that the state will face (Rs. 75 crore in five years) could have easily saved the lives of these farmers had they been given the loan waivers or financial assistance in time.

But that would have happened only when the people would be the priority. The brazen defence of the salary hike by the Telangana government and KCR tells us they don’t care at all.

KCR may blame Andhra Pradesh and Chandrababu Naidu for Telangana farm suicides but that would not stop the farm suicides.

KCR’s efforts to justify the MLA salary hike and deflect the blame to Chandrababu Naidu – amidst 400 farm suicides – was the Telangana fight for it?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/