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ZOOM- DRIVE A CAR- WHO BOTHERS ABOUT FARMERS

Indian Farmers Committing Suicide

At the time of Independence, 15th August 1947, at Midnight, India awake with the rich vocabulary of Prime Minister Pt Nehru. The question was, what the next target is. Naturally, Constitution Building and declaring India as Republic was target no.1. Simultaneously Institution Building was the next target with Scientific and technological temperament of Pt Nehru. Very soon, after independence, a thought dawned on Indian leaders that Industrial development of India is essential since at the time of independence, most of the items had to be imported and Britain and other European nations were highly industrialised. Though it was a fact that about 90% people were engaged in agriculture in 1947.

Therefore Industries were given importance over agriculture. A new concept of mixed economy was created in which Industries and Agriculture were made equal partners and it was thought that each shall nourish and feed on other, industrial goods shall give a boost to agriculture and in turn agriculture produce shall give a fillip to Industries. So far so good, but in attempt to copy the western industrialised nations, we missed one very important point that industries required a knowledge set and in this aspect, India was lacking badly. Therefore a need was felt to educate Indians in technology and accordingly IIT’s were set up in collaboration of industrialised nations including USSR.

One more objective was apparent to give boost to industries, that funding to Congress was mainly from Industrialists like TATA, Birla and Bajaj who were now demanding their profit and expansion from Indian Government. The other advantage of industrial expansion was to solve the problem of unemployment. The more important thing here was that agriculture mainly were handled by manual labour which absorbed large percentage of youth which were lowly paid since the farm output was very low.

At the time of late fifties, the industries and industrial expansion were permitted with licence and quota raj. Basically, the development of Indian Economy can be phased out each starting with the following developments:

  • Institution Building
  • Mixed Economy
  • Openings of IIT’s
  • Licence Quota Raj
  • Chinese attack of 1962
  • 1971 war
  • Economy openings in 1992

These seven milestones changed the economic scenario of India completely, which had long term effects. Since Economics is closely inter related with politics and psyche of people, therefore these milestones had long term effects on the psychology of Indian people which changed their attitudes.

Those were the years sometimes around 1962, when Indian agriculture got its first jolt by not paying attention to its developments and farmers were taken for granted. All their neglect was covered under the shroud of Congress election symbol i.e. a pair of oxen’s which represented basically farmers. The Indian farmers were kept happy by this symbol but no attention was paid to their woes. This development started the alienation of farmers from Indian Society but still they were having a faint hope that Congress shall reverse their action and farming shall be again a respected and paying profession. In the mean time, the sons of Indian farmers got new education in western mould where History of Mughals were taught with all their glory and Hindus were shown as slaves in highly distorted and corrupt history. The slavery of all that is foreign, the next generation of farmers started to lose the interest in agriculture and farming as a whole was taken for granted.

Then came Chinese attack and first financial scandal in Independent India in the form of Jeep Scandal erupted on the political scene. With this Indian defeat and first congress scandal, now Indian people suddenly woke up and started to look for the alternatives of Congress. Till that date, farmers got only lollypop in the form of Congress symbol of pair of oxen’s. This resulted in severe food grain shortages and India had to import red wheat from US under PL-480 scheme. The rumour at that time was that wheat grain was red because their juices have already been extracted and the residual grain was not fit even to cattle. Pt Nehru died in most humiliating manners and completely shattered.

Appeared on scene Khadi clad Shastriji who for the first time of free India gave a slogan”Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”. Indian farmers got respect not only from Indian people but also from International Community. Simultaneously Defence got a boost and defeated Pakistan in a decisive battle of 1965, though winning trophies were lost to Pakistan on the negotiating table in Tashkent.

But that much attention to the farmers remained in words only and no solid work was done for their betterment. PUSA research centre was established and farm research was kept on top priority and with the solid work of Dr Swaminathan, high yield crops were introduced and farmers were benefitted financially only with few conditions.

  • Only those farmers benefitted who were more adaptive
  • Who were more informative
  • Who took more risks because these crops required heavy doses of fertilizers and insecticides

Therefore more risks financially and thus farm loan practice stated in a big way, although farm loan practice was available right from 1947 in a small way. From that point onwards, the Schedule banks, Cooperative banks, nationalised banks were told in an unambiguous manner to sanction the farm loan freely. In fact Banks nationalization in 1968 was done only with the intention of giving loans to people in general and farmers especially in a free manner.  In fact by that time we had jumped to other extreme. The Indian people specially farmers were self-respecting people, when failed in repayment of bank loan, started committing suicides which stated from 1968 onwards.

One more development happened that when industries were protected by Licence and Quota raj, the corruption was rampant of one kind by ruling party and its cohorts and beurocracy alike. The general public was given no choice of industrial goods take it or leave it, for example a scooter was used to be received after 5 years, HMT watches were a sign of prestige, that too in   few stores only, Ambassador and Fiat were only available in very few stores. Only Cars were made available, the National Consciousness was approaching fast to the bottom.

Then came 1992 when Economy was opened and floodgates of corruption stated in a big way because leaders, politicians, bureaucratic controls were still tight whom to allow and whom not to allow. National consciousness had already hit the bottom. In this scenario English educated and English oriented people untouched with social messages, social responsibility, no milestones of honesty and service to the people and society. Indian social reforms of the yester years all forgotten, the result was a disaster. The youth could not understand the value of honesty and consciousness, all colored up in a race to earn more and more and completely submerged in materialism.

In these conditions, when money was and is sole GOD, who bothers to think about farmers. In a hulao bulao of opening of Indian economy in 1992, economy boomed and conscious hit the rock bottom, how we can imagine that Indian farmers shall get any attention. All planning was carried out to benefit industries, big contracts were planned and awarded favouring certain group of Industrialists. The interesting and encouraging result was offered by those Economists who understood nothing about Agriculture. First no investment in agriculture and when after some period, when all sectors except agriculture developed to such a rate comparatively higher, then we boasted, that since agriculture  share of GDP is quite low, therefore why to invest in Agriculture. Indian agriculture was and is trapped in this vicious cycle and farmers in a debt trap. The loan waiver was only solution for political parties who could and can not think on a larger time scale. Indians and its Government had forgotten the farmers completely but one thing is certain that after every cycle of loan waiver, the farmers were looked down as parasites on Indian society.

In modern world when Industries have been given prime importance, let us analyse the Indian position with respect to Cars production.  Car sales in India (domestic sales) has crossed 3.1 million sales  for the first time in a single calendar year in 2017 as the car makers in India sold a total of 32,29,200 units in the Indian domestic market reporting a growth of 8.90 percent over sales in 2016. Strong demand of SUV s in the UV space attracted the most growth in the passenger vehicle segment. Overall in 2017, over 21.68 lakh cars were sold at a growth of 5.13 percent and sales of Utility Vehicles (UV’s) registered sales over 8.70 lakh units at a massive growth of 20.09 percent in 2017. Car manufacturers in India had sold over 20.62 lakh cars and 7.24 lakh UVs in 2016.Look at the Cars advertisements where lot of offers, rebates are being offered along with loan facility. Why India can not offer the same on agriculture inputs and machinery.

This Car culture filled the large number of Indians with Car snobbery and they looked down all those having old models or two wheelers. One Car owner who drives an Audi A6 three-litre V6 TDI Quattro, is a brave man. “The choice was purely driven by the desire to be different, and a notch above most others driving an Audi A6. In an Audi A6 two-litre TDI, he would have found most of the features he was looking for. However, an Audi A6 three-litre V6 TDI Quattro would give him greater snob value and therefore, he went for it,” He states. Now for a change, let us imagine a situation where car owners are increasing, laptops are increasing, can we stipulate that owner of a car or lap top owner shall ever think about farmer. For them, Indian agriculture is only a necessity fulfilled by Indian farmers with profit at par with Industries and they can throw any price then eatables are bound to be produced. Here they are simply unaware of the fruits of labor in farming. For them agriculture is still a job of illiterates. When industrial growth and development has been considered a universal solution of all problems by neglecting agriculture and farmer deaths from last 40 years when car manufacturing is considered and promoted as a sign of development and as sign of pride and prestige how we can understand agriculture as a honorable profession. Not possible at all. Alas car gives you prestige over your conduct, honesty, your thoughts and actions. Indian society is bound and determined to read its own epitaph to go to cremation ground.

Indian farmers are selling their kidneys and we are sleeping on their suicides. Why we cannot treat the farm problems. A day shall come when every Indian will have car but no roti to eat. Please understand and shake up the society and government.

We must discuss these ideas over peg of whisky today evening. Farmers’ suicides is only a symbol.

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