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/

FARMERS MAY CONTINUE TO COMMIT SUICIDE BUT POLITICIANS FEEL THEY ARE IN A SEPARATE CLASS

They range from 600 and go to over 850 – based on different reports. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh continue to hold the ignominy of maximum farm suicides in the country.

Telangana which was officially carved out of Andhra Pradesh on June 1 last year has inherited the issue from its parent state. And has been performing even worse after that.

Its first chief minister is busy in affairs of his family and the ministerial council. He has converted the entire state into his fiefdom it seems. Had it not been so, his MLA would not dare to say that ‘no farmer has committed the suicide in the state since KCR (K. Chadrashekar Rao) took over in June 2014’.

And such MLAs (and ministers) are duly rewarded by KCR.

The minister who said this is a so-called ‘progressive farmer’ and is headed to Israel for the International Agriculture Exhibition. He is part of the delegation of eight such ‘farmers’ who will go to Israel on the study tour and would implement the learning of the ‘place’ back home.

So, Telangana is looking to grab an opportunity that would get it rid of all negative publicity. Isn’t it?

But then negative publicities are galore. And they are not without reasons.

But then, they are politicians of the day, of the lot they come from, of the land called India.

Even all the media fury and political opposition’s arguments couldn’t bring the chief minister out to speak on it.

Probably none would be so appealing for him; probably it was not bothering him. After all, for such petty issues, like farmers committing suicides, government nepotism, administrative corruption, government sponsored junkets, etc., his deputy chief minister, ministers and MLAs are there.

After all, he is a person who warns media outfits to ‘bury alive’ if its members ‘insult the state’.

Farmers are dying in Telangana but it’s a non-issue for KCR and his ministers. Drought, unseasonal rains and the mechanism of compensation to farmers have created a mix that has exacerbated the plight of farmers.

But the politicians are enjoying their time-out, like these four along with four others are going to have in Israel.

And it’s symbolic of the overall political culture in India.

‘Politicians are a class above us’ they believe. And it was once again reiterated by the union government of India when its Minister of Civil Aviation, Ashok Gajapati Raju.

He ‘assured’ his fellow parliamentarians (of the political lot) that they will continue to avail the VVIP treatment at the airports.

Now airports are one of the most secure places and an MP can go like you and me to any airport in this country.

While writing so, we must keep in mind that very few of the overall Indians (the common men, the biggest but amorphous votebank) travel by the air and thus have the opportunity to see the airports.

Yet, our parliamentarians think they are above even the selected very few. After all, once in the hallowed halls of Indian policymaking, they feel themselves several notches above even the persons who avail the air travel facility in India (the world’s largest democracy, but with maximum number of poor). Once in the hallowed halls, they feel in a separate class altogether.

And the demand to continue the VVIP treatment at the airports is just one such of many reflections.

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