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– 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.
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.
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.
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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By Rohit Vaid
Till now, activities associated with laying of power and telecom transmission and distribution lines, roads, highways, railways and construction of facilities such as hospitals, affordable housing, power generation units, water treatment plants, SEZs and certain type of hotels amongst others were given such status.
Besides, these sectors are a part of harmonised master list for infrastructure sub-sectors. However, in April 2021, exhibition-cum-convention centre was included in the list. "Given the focus around electric vehicle, and need for significant investment in charging stations, if the government adds the sector in infrastructure list, the benefits arising out of it will be significant," said Vishal Kotecha, Director, India Ratings and Research. "Infra tag on sectors increases ability to raise funds, access to dedicated funds and lenders, foreign capital, lower interest rates among others."
Given the focus on electric vehicles, the advantages of including the industry in the infrastructure list will be enormous. Free SVG
In recent years, lenders have taken a severe hit on their books consequent to cater to the unique financing requirements of the infra sector. This necessitated regulatory changes and government support from time to time. "The pandemic has hit the retail, hospitality and automobile sectors hard and the need for credit and liquidity support is real and urgent," said Vipula Sharma, Senior Director - Ratings and Head - Infrastructure Ratings, Brickwork Ratings.
"Any likely move to reclassify lending to these sectors as infrastructure lending will enable the banks to lend at concessional rates and extended timeline which in turn would give the sectors time to recover from the three years of repeated extended closures and rebuild their businesses. It would also enable access to funds from a larger set of institutions and funds."
Furthermore, as the economy continues to recover from the prolonged pandemic, the sustainability of the recovery is clearly the key fiscal and monetary policy objective. Consequently, Centre would need to focus on not only enhancing public capital expenditure further in infrastructure but also encouraging the private sector including foreign players to invest in the sector.
The economy is still recovering from the pandemic, and the recovery must be sustained. Unsplash
Lately, the Centre has already taken an initiative to kickstart private sector capital expenditure through the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) programme that has already covered 13 sectors with an aggregate outlay of Rs 1.97 trillion spread over the next few years. "We believe there is a case for considering 'infrastructure sector' status to the healthcare and the EV charging eco-system. The criticality of adequate healthcare infrastructure across the country has increased significantly after the pandemic and the 'infrastructure' tag can be extended to not only hospitals but also diagnostic centres," said Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer, Acuité Ratings & Research. "As regards EV, the government has started to provide cash subsidies for EV purchases but the need of the hour is to build the charging infrastructure in an expeditious manner. The 'infrastructure' tag can clearly help attract funds to the EV ecosystem." (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: lending, power, hospitals, rate, capital, government, pandemic, funds, budget, ratings, sector, infrastructure)
A team led by chief scientist Ravi Shankar, is working on two combinations to provide the safest medication to coronavirus patients. "Experts say that a combination of antivirals with different mechanisms can be more effective to counter the viral pandemic. We are working on two combinations - Umifenovir with Molnupiravir (an antiviral) and Umifenovir with Niclosamide (anti-parasitic)," he said.
Also read: Antiviral Remdesivir Receives FDA
Molnupiravur drug has received only Emergency Use Authorisation in India and abroad. Though its usage showed reduced hospitalisation during clinical trials, its biggest drawback are the side-effects, he added.
"Now, we are trying to keep a low dosage of Molnupiravir in its combination with Umifenovir which may weed out the side-effects such as the risk of cartilage and muscle damage. If successful, it will make Umifenovir more effective in Covid-19 treatment," said the chief scientist. The other combination is Umifenovir with Niclosamide.
Niclosamide is known for its efficacy for Covid treatment but the biggest challenge is that its high dosage is required for treatment and that leads to side-effects. A safe and efficacious combination of Umifenovir with Niclosamide is being researched on for the exact dosage in the combination that can give positive results, he added.
CDRI director Prof Tapas Kundu said: "CDRI is working round-the-clock to develop drugs that can help in treating all variants of Covid-19, besides being economical and safe for people. We have achieved a major breakthrough with Umifenovir and are hopeful of developing a new drug to win the pandemic battle."
Molnupiravur drug has received only Emergency Use Authorisation in India.Wikipedia
(Keywords: CDRI director Prof Tapas Kundu, Niclosamide, Covid treatment, Umifenovir, Molnupiravir, safest medication, coronavirus)
"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."
– Soren Kierkegaard
No matter what obstacles life throws at you, it always creates a means to overcome them, whether via determination, persistence, or both. With so many things going on in our lives, it is easy to forget to be grateful for the valuable life that we have been given. To remind people of the value of life, it was determined that there should be a day when people take a close look at their lives and be appreciative of the experiences and memories it has brought us.
Celebration of Life Day, which occurs on 22nd January, was established to recognize and celebrate newborns. | Unsplash
In case you haven't heard of, or celebrated Life Day before, read the article below to learn more about the celebration of life.
When is the Celebration of Life Day celebrated?
Celebration of Life Day, which occurs on 22nd January, was established to recognize and celebrate newborns. But, it has evolved to represent everything that is beautiful about being alive and breathing. The day serves as a reminder that every child and every life should be treated with the highest compassion and respect. The fact that we are alive is something which is easy to underestimate. Take a moment to reflect on how much more there is to be thankful for in this life than there is to be sad about. Take some extra time today to enjoy your life since it is valuable, one-of-a-kind, and a tremendous gift.
The fact that we are alive is something that is easy to underestimate. | Unsplash
When was the Celebration of Life Day established?
Originally known as 'National Sanctity of Human Life Day,' Former US President Ronald Reagan established Life Day in 1984. As a result of people's hectic modern lifestyles, it became essential to offer those living in the modern lifestyle a day on which they may reflect on their past and appreciate it rather than looking ahead and becoming concerned about their future. On Celebration of Life Day, people may take a day off and rejoice with those close to them.
On Celebration of Life Day, people may take a day off and rejoice with those close to them. | Unsplash
How can I celebrate this day?
1. Jar full of gratefulness: Write about the things you are grateful for in life on chits of paper, fold them, and keep them in the jar. Whenever you feel ungrateful about your life, you can pick a piece of paper and remind yourself about the blessings in your life.
2. Bake a cake: Watch an easy tutorial to bake a cake or cookies with your family and make sure that everyone participates and contributes to the overall baking process.
3. Take a walk: Wear your mask, take a walk in a nearby park with your family, and indulge in activities that you enjoyed as a kid, like playing jump rope, badminton, handball, or even cricket.
(Keywords: Celebration of Life Day, life, obstacles, celebrate life day, bake, cookies, cake, newborn, modern lifestyle, National Sanctity of Human Life Day)