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Exclusive: Angry Farmers and Distressed Leaders

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Indian farmers
Indian farmers gather on a footpath during a protest in Chennai where they demanded profitable prices for their crops, June 9, 2017. Benar News
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– by Salil Gewali

If we want to see the worst in someone, then sweeten the person up by frequently giving him money. It is like pampering a child who could later become an unruly adult and let down his parents. Well, this is what successive governments have done for farmers. They have pampered them without teaching them robust farming methods.

Firstly, farmers were encouraged to take loans and when they defaulted on payment the loan and interest was waived. Some political parties have used the “loan waiver” as their ladder for climbing to power, as the BJP did in Uttar Pradesh. Has it not sent out the wrong message to other farmers across the country? Will a farmer from UP not teach his Facebook friends from Madhya Pradesh to demand the waiver from their leaders?

[bctt tweet=”Today every farmer is in distress, every village parched by drought and insufficiency.” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

With each passing day the farmers from various states have pretty well learned the tricks of the trade and so they now make the state governments yield to their demands. In many cases, they have arm-twisted their leaders as has happened recently in Maharashtra. But have we ever given a serious thought on how many lakh crores have so far been written off? Frankly speaking, much could have been achieved if that colossal amount of money were productively utilized instead of offering as unproductive loans?  Big changes could have been brought about in the agricultural sector.

Very advanced irrigation and storage system could have been installed across the country and efficient marketing methodologies could have been employed to sell the produce profitably. And, this could have ushered in an impressive trend in agricultural production and marketing strategies. Then automatically the socio-economic status of the farmers could have been raised and as a result, the farmers would have become self-sufficient and happy and the whole country would have been well nourished.

Unfortunately, today every farmer is in distress, every village parched by drought and insufficiency. And ultimately the governments are now left with no option but to buy the “peace” from the poor farmers by way of waivers as a short-term settlement. But for how long? I guess the government will keep beating their chest when the farmers become restive.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali

ALSO READ: Salil Gewali’s ‘Exclusive: Fall of the Draconian Roar of NDTV?’ on NewsGram

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BJP Offers Christians a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Is Religious Pilgrimage A New Playground For The Political Parties?

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community

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In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
  • The political parties (BJP and Congress ) are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage in the coming local elections of the eastern states of India
  • The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively
  • After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022

The Campaign promises during the elections times are quite bizarre nowadays, from “I’ll cut your taxes,” to “vote for me, and I’ll set you free.”

In the coming local elections in the Christian- majority state of Nagaland in India the agenda by the rival BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Congress parties are unique: “Vote for us and get either a free or a heavily subsidized pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

Yes, you read it right. The political parties are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage. The offer has been put up by the Prime Minister Modi- led BJP for the upcoming elections. Even the local partners of the Congress party are treading up the same path.

Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

The BJP has not made it clear yet if it is offering the scheme to all of India’s Christians, or only to Christians in the northeast, or only to Christians in Nagaland. The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively. Nagaland is one of smallest states of India, with the population of just under two million people.

Also Read: Muslim women can now travel for Haj without Mahram

As per the Tourism Ministry figures, around 58,000 Indian tourists came to Israel in 2017, a 47% increase from 2015.

The elections are scheduled for the February 27 in three northeastern states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura – later this month.

The AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also tweeted on the double standard of the government and lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community. But recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. The government cited the reason for the subsidy withdrawal as they wanted to utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls. After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022.

Also Read: Government ends Haj subsidy as part of a new policy

The scheme is a clear cut example of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially considering the cancellation of Haj subsidies. It seems quite contrary, on the one hand, the government is cutting down the benefit scheme for one section of the society and on the other hand, some other community is been offered the same thing. Such moves bring out the double standards of the political parties just for the sake of vote bank. In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented.

In 2011, Nigeria also did something same as that of India. For many years, their government financed a trip to Mecca for Muslims, leading to some 42,000 Nigerians visiting the country. But with the change in the government, subsidies have been cut considerably and now a 12-day pilgrimage costs around 2000 dollars. The change in stance has resulted in 78% decrease from 2011.