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Unattended and unending woes of Karnataka farmers

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By Nithin Sridhar

351597-farmer-draughtAs many as 29 farmers committed suicide in the sugarcane hub Mandya district. The death count was 197 by July 29. Many lost their lives in districts, namely, Mysuru, Belagavi, Tumkur, Dharwad and Davanagere.

Increasing farmers’ debts due to loans from moneylenders on exorbitant rates has escalated suicides. Farmers with less than two acres of land manage loans from banks and co-operative societies with great difficulty.

Consequently, they are forced to take money from private moneylenders who slap high interest rates.  Though the law stipulates that the moneylender should not charge more than 14% annual rate of interest, many unscrupulous moneylenders charge 2- 3% interest per month and sometimes it shoots up to as much as 36% interest per year (As per Frontline, GC Bayya Reddy,President, Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha KPRS). This issue has hit the farmers

When Newsgram asked about this farmers’ dilemma from Mysore University professor Assadi, he explained moneylenders facilitated quick money to farmers in need. Every time a farmer is in distress and needs money, a moneylender will be the first person the farmer would approach.

The professor, who is also the Chairman in Political Science department, said-

“In many cases, moneylenders are also seed-providers. In such cases, the moneylenders will provide the seeds to the farmers and later purchase their commodities. This provides an opportunity for the moneylenders to completely exploit the farmers. In days of yore, feudal lords, like the moneylenders today,used to exploit farmers by usurp their lands in case they fail to repay loans. But, now moneylenders exploit farmers not by confiscating their land, but by increasing their debts and exploiting the commodities produced.”

The drought this year in at least 16 districts of the total 30 districts is another factor that has severely affected farmer

Karnataka farmers. The drought has caused crop failure at many places and has further increased the farmers’ woes.

Analyzing the issue of drought from an Ecological perspective, Dr. Assadi termed drought as man-made and human greed has led to deforestation and global warming. Therefore, multiple factors like drought, crop failure, and loan dilemma have aggravated the agrarian crisis that has taken place in Karnataka.

Measures that could help tackle agrarian crisis 

According to Dr Assadi agriculture should be unyoked from global market dependence. Agriculture should be declared as an industry and provided advantages like any other industry. A new policy must be implemented wherein further fragmentation of the agricultural lands must be prohibited, as it has led to countless farmer woes. A distress cell must be introduced in villages wherein the farmers can be counselled.

On a similar note, Report on Farmers’ suicide (2006): Meeta & Rajivlochan

  •  Improve the efficiency of various infrastructures present at the local level like Primary Health centres
  •  At least one trained medical nurse must be present in each Panchayat who can provide succour and guidance to the people
  • Appropriate vocational education must be provided at village and taluk levels to assist people in understanding the complexities of the present day production and marketing techniques
  •  Ex-gratia payment to the families of suicide victims must be stopped (as many may commit suicide so that their family gets compensation)
  •  The farmers should be provided direct cash subsidies instead of their indirect counterparts

The relationship between agriculture and globalization must be deliberated upon so that a holistic and pragmatic solution can be achieved to address farmers’ issues. Various short-term initiatives and long-term policy changes must be carried out to tackle the agrarian crisis.

Next Story

ISRO Sets up Regional Academic Centre for Space in Karnataka

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) set up a regional academic centre for space at the National Institute of Technology (NITK) at Surathkal in Karnataka’s southwest Dakshina Kannada district, an official said on Saturday.

“The centre at NIT-K will conduct joint research and development in space technology applications to meet the needs of our space programmes,” space agency’s director for capacity building P.V. Venkitakrishnan said in a statement here.

The state-run ISRO will provide Rs 2 crore grant annually to NIT for the R&D projects and promotional activities through the year.

The space agency and the engineering institute signed an agreement on the industry-academic collaboration on Friday at Surathkal, about 380km from Bengaluru.

“The centre, fourth in the country, will also facilitate promoting space technology in the southern states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and be an ambassador for capacity-building, awareness and research and development (R&D), said Venkitakrishnan on the occasion.

A joint policy and management committee will guide the centre in optimal utilisation of the research potential, infrastructure, expertise and experience of the space agency and the autonomous institute.

“The committee will plan activities like research programmes of common interest and reviewing their projects periodically,” said the director.

ISRO’s visiting scientists and experts in space technology and NIT faculty members and researchers will direct the centre’s activities, including projects.

ISRO
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan, left, and Junior Indian Minister for Department of Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh address a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

“Students of under-graduation (B.Tech) and post-graduation (M.Tech) will be involved in one-year short-term research projects and 2-4 year long-term projects in advance space programmes,” said NIT K. Umamashewara Rao.

The intellectual property rights (patent) generated in the projects will be jointly owned by ISRO and NITK.

The other three such centres are Malaviya National Institute of Technology at Jaipur in Rajasthan, Gauhati University in Assam’s state capital and Kurukshetra University at Thanesar in Haryana.

In a related development, the city-based space agency also tied up with the state-run Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for cooperating to develop space situational awareness.

Also Read: Here’s How Diet Affects Your Mental Health

“The agreement envisages utilisation of IIA’s expertise in astrophysics and astronomy for developing advanced technologies for inter-planetary space explorations,” said the space agency’s scientific secretary R. Umamaheswaran.

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects.

“Collaboration will help us progress in various fields of astrophysics and astronomy,” said IIA Director Annapurni Subramaniam on the occasion. (IANS)