– 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?
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