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Young tribal woman inspires farming community to better livelihoods in Odisha

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A young tribal woman Raimati Ghiuria, not only proved to be a leader in conserving local traditional varieties of rice and millet seeds in her own land but also showed the path of development to the farming societies of Odisha’s Koraput district, an agricultural expert said.

Ghiuria is a leading woman farmer in Nuaguda village of Kundra block, which is in Odisha and has conserved 40 traditional landraces (lineages developed by farmers) of rice and 12 of millets and even trained about 340 neighbouring women farmers in conserving of local genetic resources.

She has also trained other women in the SRI (system of rice intensification) technique and line transplanting method of rice cultivation. These techniques have helped farmers in increasing their yields than what they were getting from traditional cultivation practices.

It all started nine years ago when Raimati became a member of a self-help group (SHG) in her village and participated in capacity-building training and awareness programmes at the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) here.

“This inspired her to lead the group undertaking various micro-enterprises. This converted the group into a model SHG which won the Most Progressive SHG award given by the district administration in 2013,” Kartik Lenka of the MSSRF told agencies.

“We develop hybrid varieties of paddy and other foodgrains. It is also equally important to conserve indigenous species to maintain the natural biodiversity,” Raimati told the agency, adding that training on value addition to the rice and millet crops is also provided to the members of 27 other SHGs.

“They took this micro-enterprise as an alternative livelihood option and each family is earning an additional Rs 2,000 to Rs.3,000 per month,” Raimati said.

Because of her passionate leadership and multi-skilled activities, she was convened the best leadership award by the district administration and Jamsetji Tata National Virtual Academy Fellowship Award in 2014 for being “a leading grassroot academician”.

She recently participated in the ‘Prajatiya Khadyotsav (an agro forest food diversity festival) organised by Tata Steel’s Sukinda Chromite Mine in Jajpur district.

“Even as conserving traditional species is not lucrative against hybrid products, we need to conserve so that these indigenous products do not go extinct,” Lenka pointed out.

Aboriginal varieties have to be conserved for further research on producing high-yielding varieties. B.B panda of the Cuttack unit of the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) said.

“We can develop high-yielding varieties through these indigenous varieties. With the unavailability of the varieties, there would be no further improvement,” Panda told agencies.

It’s important to preserve and multiply the traditional seed varieties to improve the adaptation mechanism of farmers as climate change is a major concern for the country’s farming society.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has conferred the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) status has been conferred by UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to the traditional agricultural system being practised in the Koraput region.

This means the tribal people have an aboriginal knowledge system for their various agricultural practices that they use to check the viability of seeds before sowing, maintain soil fertility and conserve their landraces.(IANS)

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Decoding the Indian Agrarian Crisis and Fake Farmers Facade

Gaurav Tyagi believes half baked measures like loan waivers just make people lazy parasites.

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farmers
An increasing number of farmers in India are committing suicide due to debt pressure. To tackle the issue, the government has come up with farm loan waivers. (VOA)

– By Gaurav Tyagi


New Delhi, September 18, 2017 : 
Indian and International media is full of articles regarding large number of farmers in India committing suicide due to debt pressure.

Instead of going to the root of the problem and analyzing the reasons for this phenomenon, Indian politicians have come up with an absurd idea of farm loan waivers.

Majority of Indian farmers under debt trap own very little land. Farming on such small piece of land is not economically feasible. This sector is highly unorganized. Most of the time, no planning is involved in cultivation, irrigation and harvesting.

Middlemen exploit farmers by buying their produce at a very low price and then selling it at a premium to the end consumers.

The irony is that a large number of Indian politicians claim huge incomes from agriculture while farmers starve.

In the province of Madhya Pradesh 24 farmers committed suicide this year over crop loss and failure to repay loans but 18 of the 20 cabinet ministers of the state have shown ‘agriculture’ as their main source of huge incomes.

How come politicians are earning in Billions through farming while the real farmers are struggling to make both ends meet?

Let’s examine the issue in-depth.

The income earned from agricultural land is exempt from income tax under section 10 (1) of the Income Tax Act 1961. Politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen in India launder their money misusing the above income tax clause.

Normally, one cannot own agricultural land in India unless their forefathers have been agriculturists. Rich and influential people in the country obtain agriculturist certificates by ‘greasing the palms’ of the local land officials.

Farmers are not required to maintain detailed records in India. This provides an excellent loophole to pass off unaccounted and undeclared cash as agricultural income. It is done by showing fake sales cash receipts of agricultural produce, which like other certificates can be purchased in India through bribes.

Approximately 800,000 tax declarants in India state exorbitant amounts as agricultural incomes while filing their annual income tax returns.

This income, a whopping INR. 874 Lakh Crores was eight times more than the cumulative GDP of India for the financial years 2011 and 2012.

The average annual income declared by these assesses comes out to be anywhere between Rs. 30-80 Crores, on which they don’t pay any taxes.

It’s obvious that the aforesaid is not agricultural earning instead it’s declared as agricultural income by these assesses just to avoid paying taxes.

According to National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Delhi, with hardly any farming land has more farmers indulging in agriculture than Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal provinces.

Delhi’s so called ‘farmers’ received Rs. 22,077 Crores in agricultural loans during 2009. In reality, these ‘self proclaimed farmers’ are the owners of big farm houses on the outskirts of the capital.

The authorities are well aware of this malpractice. The Tax Administration Reform Committee in its report in November 2014 said, “Agricultural income of non-agriculturists is being increasingly used as a conduit to avoid tax and for laundering funds, resulting in leakage to the tune of Crores in revenue annually”

The Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley on 26th April said that the government of India does not plan to tax the farm income.

farmers
Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley, wikimedia

It reveals that Indian politicians cutting across party lines indulge in this malpractice, 27% of the winning Lok Sabha M.P’s in 2014 elections have declared wealth of over Rs. 1 Crore, majority of which has been mentioned as agricultural income.

Indian opposition politicians blackmail the political party in power by indulging in spurious farmer agitations.

If there is a bumper crop then the opposition parties start shouting that prices have crashed due to over-supply in the market. When farming cultivation fails due to the vagaries of nature, then they start throwing statistics about farmers suicide.

A group of ‘self proclaimed’ farmers from Tamil Nadu province camped at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, the Indian capital city during March this year and indulged in cheap theatrics to draw attention to their protests.

The leader of this group, P. Ayyakannu is demanding that all farmers should be given loan waivers from banks and quoted highly inflated figures of farmers suicides in Tamil Nadu.

The Tamil Nadu government on 28th April, 2017 conveyed to the Supreme Court of India that no famers committed suicide in the state and clarified that a few, who took this extreme measure did it due to personal reasons.

Many farmers died due to old age and other medical issues. Ayyakannu clubbed all of them together to gather national as well as international attention.

ALSO READ Farmers welfare: What Indian agricultural sector needs to learn from Denmark?

Ayyakannu called off this whole play in Delhi on 23rd April after 40 days, when the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu came to meet these protestors.
He said that their group is giving a one month’s time-frame to the government in order to fulfill their demands otherwise, they would resume their protests in the national capital from May 25 on a bigger scale.

This impostor farmer leader Ayyakannu again came back to Delhi again on 16th July with his gang of ruffians to continue their drama.

Ayakannu as per media reports is not even a farmer, but a lawyer, who makes huge amounts of money through out of court settlements and personally owns hundreds of acres of land.

He and his bunch of hooligans all look quite healthy and well-fed. They don’t appear like destitute farmers as claimed by them.

Fake farmers like the aforementioned Ayyakannu are just the front faces of this façade in the name of farmers.

The remote controls of such characters remain in the hands of politicians, who use them for their narrow, selfish, corrupt agendas depending on the political situation at the state and national level.

The governments of Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan & U.P. provinces have waived off agricultural loans worth Billions. This has set up a very bad precedent for the rest of the country.

ALSO READ Exclusive: Angry Farmers and Distressed Leaders

There are no ‘free lunches’ in this world. These half baked measures like loan waivers just make people lazy parasites.

The following steps would go a long way in helping the real distressed farmers;

  • Scientific soil and climate testing should be done across all farming regions in India. Farmers can then be educated about which crops to grow profitably, in how many cycles; depending on the soil conditions and climate of the region.
  • Implement agricultural reforms like farming co-operatives, where farmers having small agricultural land holdings can be encouraged to come together and pool their land plus resources together.
  • Crop storage infrastructure should be built and maintained in every village so, that farmer can store their surplus produce rather than sell it desperately at a low price.
  • Crop insurance must be compulsorily introduced all over the country wherein, farmers by paying a nominal amount need not bother about their crops getting destroyed through excessive rain or drought.
  • Organic farming needs to be encouraged instead of over-reliance on chemical fertilizers. The food waste produced by an entire village can be easily turned into biodegradable compost, through innovative schemes like Vermicomposting.
  • Vermicast can replace fertilizers in the agriculture fields. This would save money for the farmer and provide high quality chemical free crops.
  • The APMC’s (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees) have created a coterie of middlemen, who along with the complicity of these committees, form a virtual barrier between the farmer and the consumer, paying the former a pittance for his produce and charging the latter exorbitant amounts for fruits and vegetables.
    Vegetables are purchased at Rs. 2 or 3 a kg from farmers and then sold at 30 to 40 rupees per kg to urban consumers.
    This setup has been going on for decades in every town and city of India. Millions of urban Indians pay artificially higher prices and majority of farmers are underpaid due to this flawed system.
    The profits are made by middlemen, who do not pay taxes on these huge earnings. It is a common practice for them to store money in cash and not in banks.

These APMC’s must therefore be abolished immediately. Farmers should get direct access to the end consumer through the elimination of middlemen. This would ensure a better monetary return for farmers.

  • Private moneylenders in and around the villages charge a very high rate of interest from farmers. This unscrupulous sector should be bought under government regulation by bringing down the rate of interest to a rational level.
  • Government schools in villages are in shambles. They need to be upgraded so, that quality education at an affordable price is available to every child in the village.
    This would uplift farmers children through educational empowerment. It will enable them to make a transition to non-agricultural professions in future and enhance their family earnings considerably.

The aforementioned steps would cost the government far less than what it is losing in the absurd loan waiver schemes, which anyways don’t help the poor marginal farmer at all.
As regard dealing with the fake farmers of India.

The solution entails; no farm loan waivers and bringing the agricultural income above a certain threshold under the tax bracket.

The aforesaid measures would prevent the fake farmers façade spreading rapidly all over the country, while resolving the agrarian crisis of India by assisting needy farmers of the country.

The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China. 


 

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Woman IAS officer Gauri Parashar Joshi saved Panchkula when Local Police Ran Away

When violence escalated, Gauri Parashar Joshi went to her office, issued an order to hand over the situation to the Army that helped to reduce the chaos of the situation.  

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Panchkula Voilence
Panchkula Voilence. VOA
  • Gauri Parasher Joshi tackled the ruckus caused by Dera followers
  • She didn’t flee from there even when her clothes got torn and had injuries
  • Had the Army not come in, the residential area would have seen the unprecedented devastation

Panchkula, Haryana, August 28, 2017: Haryana Police ran away from the spot, leaving innocent people in danger when violence caused by Dera followers increased. This happened after the conviction of Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh on 25 August 2017.

It was then Gauri Parasher Joshi, Panchkula Deputy Commissioner, IAS officer took matters in her hand to tackle the ruckus caused by Dera followers. When she was trying to calm down the agitators, police guards fled the spot as soon as they saw an angry mob of Dera followers who were coming to attack with stones, sticks.

Also Read: RapistRamRahim: Kamlesh Kumar from Rajasthan Lost his Wife at Dera 2 Years Back

Soon violence increased, but she didn’t flee from there even when her clothes got torn and had injuries. She took a wise decision, went to her office along with a PSO and issued an order by which the situation was handed over to the Army. This was a clever move as it helped to avoid further damage in the situation.

A local expressed his disappointment over the cowardly act of the local police.  According to Economic Times report, Satinder Nangia, a local from Panchkula said “Had the Army not come in, the residential area would have seen the unprecedented devastation. We have been serving the local police with tea and biscuits for last few days, but the moment the Dera followers went on a rampage the local police was the first to run.”  It was the Army which prevented further deterioration of the area.

Also Read: Dera Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Being Treated As Ordinary Prisoner, Clarifies Haryana DGP (Jails)

Gauri Parasher Joshi reached home at wee hours, around 3 am but she went home after going around, checking every place with possible danger in the city and thus making sure that the situation was under control and rioters were not causing any more trouble.

She has served in Kalahandi, the Naxal-affected district in Odisha in the past and may be that helped her in tackling the situation with such competence.Betty Nangia praised the efforts of Joshi, “It’s time the patriarchal state, with abysmally low sex ratio, looks up to such woman and take a lesson or two.” She was disturbed as she witnessed the Army men shooting two Dera followers who were at close proximity from her house, as the locals tried to enter their homes in panic.  We need more woman IAS officers like Gauri Parasher Joshi.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
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Maharangajodi Village: The ‘Village of Widows’ in Odisha

The men of Maharangajodi Village are dying of deadly lung diseases, pushing women to battle the misery and survive

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Village of Widows
50 men working in mining company of Odisha lost their lives to a fatal lung disease. Wikimedia
  • The Maharangajodi Village in Odisha is increasingly becoming known as the ‘Village of Widows’
  • The men have lost their lives to deadly lung diseases while the women are expected to carry the burden of survival
  • No compensation has been provided to the widows by the government or the mining company

July 22, 2017: In Keonjhar District of Odisha, the Maharangajodi Village has witnessed the deaths of men because of lung disease. Their women are left with no option but to seek ways of survival in this ‘Village of Widows’.

Also Read: Odisha Felicitates Indian Athletes with Cash Awards at 22nd Asian Athletics Championships

In 1982 a mining company called Pyrophilites was inaugurated in the village. It was responsible for the production of lime and sand stone.

The 50 men in the village, who worked at this mining site and earned living for their families, saw their health being degraded. Gradually, these men became weak and also faced trouble in breathing. It was discovered that the exposure to silica had an adverse impact on the health of these men.

The men lost their lives to deadly lung diseases they had developed over the course of employment. Silica affected the men with a fatal disease known as Silicosis.

The village was branded as ‘Village of Widows’ as none of the workers survived the disease.

The village was branded as 'Village of Widows' as none of the workers survived the disease. Click To Tweet

Pyrophilites was shut down eight years ago. However, no compensation has been given to the women or the families of the men who succumbed to the fatal exposure.

Sarojini Khuntia told Odisha TV, “The company paid very less wages to the men. Even after exploiting them, the company did not do anything to mitigate the problems of the workers diagnosed with respiratory disease. Neither have we been compensated after their deaths”

Furthermore, the government has remained insensitive to the issue. The party in power had failed to provide any compensation or even assistance for these widows to take care of their families.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394