Thursday July 18, 2019
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India’s Farmer Protests Highlight Increasing Rural Distress

Political analysts also said the growing rural anger could erode support for Prime Minister Modi in the countryside ahead of next year's scheduled elections.

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Indian what reaches Afghanistan via Chabahar Port
FILE - Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad. VOA

Vimla Yadav, a farmer from India’s Haryana state, says agriculture costs, such as fertilizers and seeds, have soared, yet produce prices have plunged, leaving her family of 10 with virtually no profit from their four-acre farm. “We don’t even get the fruits of the labor that the entire family puts in on the farm, although we slog day and night,” she laments.

Yadav is one of the tens of thousands of angry farmers from around the country who poured into the Indian capital recently, demanding a special session of parliament to discuss their demands: better prices for farm produce and a waiver by the government from repaying loans taken from banks.

The protest highlighted the deepening distress among the population in the countryside, where there is growing concern about diminishing agricultural profits because many are being driven into debt.

In a country where half the population of 1.3 billion depends on agriculture, low farm profits have long been a challenge and prompted promises by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to double rural incomes by 2022. But the growing disenchantment among the farming community could pose a challenge to Modi as he seeks re-election next year.

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Police try to stop farmers during a protest demanding a better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

According to the government, the average income of a farmer is about $100 a month. But many make less, said Yogendra Yadav, one of the main leaders of the protest and founder of the farmers group Jai Kisan Andolan. The Yadavs are not related.

“For a majority of them, the income is probably less than $50 a month. That is the level at which they survive. And one of the principal reasons for that is that they don’t get enough price for their crops,” Yogendra Yadav said.

Low prices for crops are not the only problem: increasingly erratic weather patterns pose a new challenge in a country where nearly half the farmers lack access to irrigation.

In eastern Orissa state, for example, back-to-back droughts over the past two years have brought widespread distress.

“There has been very little rain this year,” said Lakhyapati Sahu, a farmer who traveled from Orissa, one of India’s poorer states. “We face a massive problem due to successive droughts.”

According to various studies, nearly half of Indian farmers have said they want to quit working on the land but cannot do so because of a lack of alternate livelihoods.

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Police use water cannons to disperse farmers during a protest demanding better price for their produce on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. VOA

Despite the challenge of finding work, Parul Haldar, a farmer from West Bengal, said she wants to migrate with her entire family to the city. “I will give up farming and go to Kolkata and look for work to make a living. There is no money to be earned from the farm,” she added.

Although the rural crisis has been festering for many years, economists partly blame the deepening crisis on a sweeping currency ban that led to widespread cash shortages two years ago and affected their incomes.

“Many farmers lost working capital, they had to borrow money from the banks or from the local moneylenders at high interest rates, so their costs went up,” economist Arun Kumar said. “So if costs go up and revenue comes down, then income gets squeezed.”

Protests by farmers have intensified in the past two years as they try to draw attention to the usually forgotten countryside — their recent march was their fourth and largest to Delhi so far this year. They have also held marches in other cities like Kolkata and Mumbai. In June, farmers in several parts of the country threw their produce on the streets to highlight low prices. And last year, farmers from southern India protested in New Delhi with skulls to draw attention to suicides by farmers.

Farmer
The Farmer Portal provides all the relevant information and services to the farming community and private sector. Wikimedia Commons

“Farmers are saying enough is enough, now something needs to be done,” Yogendra Yadav said. “Both the economic and ecological crisis is leading to an existential crisis, farmers are committing suicide, they are quitting farming.”

Also Read: Millions Of Urban Children in Worse Condition Than Rural People: UNICEF

Political analysts also said the growing rural anger could erode support for Prime Minister Modi in the countryside ahead of next year’s scheduled elections. Farmers make up an important voting bloc.

“Opposition to Modi is growing. Unless you have rural support, no party can win on [the] basis of urban support only,” said Satish Misra, of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “The distress is real. The agriculture issue needs to be addressed in a very focused manner.” (VOA)

  • P. B. Josh

    Everything works on supply and demands principle.

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79% Smartphone Users in India Using Over-the-Top (OTT) Apps

The OTT platforms installed on the devices are in addition to the casual entertainment apps such as YouTube and UGC

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Hotstar is the most-penetrated OTT entertainment app with 49 per cent of smartphone users having it installed on their devices. Pixabay

Seventy-nine per cent smartphone users in India are using over-the-top (OTT) apps for entertainment and as many as four out of five users have at least one OTT entertainment platform on their device, a new report said on Thursday.

Hotstar is the most-penetrated OTT entertainment app with 49 per cent of smartphone users having it installed on their devices.

The OTT platforms installed on the devices are in addition to the casual entertainment apps such as YouTube and UGC (User Generated Content) platforms like TikTok and with such as penetration, OTT entertainment apps have become the ‘most-penetrated’ app category for smartphone users in India after social networking, chatting and e-commerce Apps, revealed the report by market research firm techARC.

“Over the past three years, we have seen a lot of enablement both from the smartphone OEMs as well as operators’ sides. This has facilitated the growth of OTT entertainment services as well as consumption.

Smartphone, Users, India
Seventy-nine per cent smartphone users in India are using over-the-top (OTT) apps for entertainment and as many as four out of five users have at least one OTT entertainment platform on their device. Pixabay

“While 4G has undoubtedly created this category, it has been complemented by the smartphone industry that has innovated to save every micron on the screen for full-screen viewing, backed by a powerful battery and stereophonic sound,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC.

One of the main factors for Hotstar’s growth has been its sports content, especially cricket.

Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video has slightly better penetration than Netflix in India. Prime Video penetration is 15 per cent as compared to 13 per cent of Netflix.

Also Read- Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins Returns to The Exact Spot where He Flew to Moon 50 Years Ago

This is a result of Amazon’s close relationship with some smartphone OEMs where Amazon apps like Amazon Shopping and Amazon Prime Video come pre-loaded in the device. (IANS)