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Look Beyond Waivers for Kisan 2.0
When Lal Bahadur Shastri first shouted ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ at Delhi’s Ram Lila Maidan in 1965, he fleshed out a cardinal truth about India’s political imaginary: the idea of the brave soldier and the hardworking farmer as bulwarks of the nation. BJP, in the past three years, has adroitly managed to hook its political messaging to the martial constituency with its uncompromising nationalist rhetoric and chest-thumping machismo The question is whether growing kisan unrest from Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan will prove to be an unexpected political googly as we head towards 2019.
After all, the imagery of the hardpressed exploited farmer running the engines of the nation deified from the beginning of the republic in films like Mother India and Do Bigha Zamin remains an unshakeable shibboleth of the Indian political imagination. So, will the kisan agitations prove to be an effective political lever for a desperate opposition looking for evocative handles to block BJP’s electoral juggernaut or will this crisis taper off?
At the political level, BJP has, of course, been acutely focussed on the power of the farmer vote. Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly declared his government’s intent to double farmers’ income by 2022 and BJP’s 2014 manifesto promised to ‘ensure a minimum of 50% profits over the costs of production’ in agriculture. Yet, at the policy level, it has been confounded by the fact that the toolkit that our governments have traditionally used for managing agriculture is outdated and faulty. It is essentially trying to fix the wrong questions with the wrong answers.
The irony of MP’s predicament is instructive. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan farcically went on a fast after his own police fired at farmers but agriculture is the one thing he has focussed consistently on since taking power in 2005. As the agricultural economist Ashok Gulati and his colleagues point out, the state’s agricultural GDP grew at a staggering 14.2% over the past five years and over thrice the national average over the last decade. “This is unprecedented in the annals of India’s agricultural history. Even Punjab did not grow at this rate during the green revolution period.” Yet, despite this, average earnings of agricultural households in MP continue to lag far behind the national average. This is basically because while farmers have been producing more, their input costs water, diesel, fertilisers, etc have increased substantially while prices for their products went down. A TOI analysis shows that between 2004-05 and 2014-15 in MP, the cost per hectare of fertilisers and seeds for wheat doubled while irrigation costs also increased substantially. This is of piece with the national agriculture story where after two years of drought, Indian farmers finally delivered a good crop for most commodities but saw their net margins going down in many cases into the red. That greater farm production in 2016-17 would lead to a glut in the market, prices would collapse and farmer incomes would consequently go down is Economics 101. Yet, the problem is that most of our policies have been fixated on giving farmers a minimum support price (MSP) and not enough on creating conditions for market mechanisms to play out effectively. Government fixes MSP for 23 commodities but official procurement is limited to only two wheat and rice and that too in only a few states. It is estimated that over 90% of India’s farmers do not get the MSP price and are dependent on markets, which are circumscribed by arbitrary government over-regulation and the shortage of godowns and mandis.
A good example of policy as a problem is the case of pulses farmers. After a bumper harvest, in February 2017, the India Pulses and Grain Association petitioned the Union commerce secretary to remove an old 2006 export ban since market prices in India had slipped below MSP. Tur dal was being sold at the time between Rs 35,000 and Rs 47,000 per tonne in MP, Karnataka and Maharashtra, against the MSP of Rs 50,500. Yet, inexplicably , the ban remains in place, along with limits on stocks, making it impossible for farmers to even recover their costs. Artificially choking the market and not letting it play out is a recipe for disaster. Second, farmer loan waivers only push the can further down the road. They don’t solve the problem. After BJP came good on its UP loan waiver poll promise, Maharashtra caved in to a similar demand and Haryana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are all facing the same music. In Punjab, Congress came to power promising exactly this.
States simply don’t have the money for such largesse The combined debt-tostate GDP ratio of all states taken together hit an alarming 3.6% in 2015-16, breaching the mandated 3% ceiling under fiscal prudence rules. It will go through the roof with new waivers. A similar waiver by UPA in 2008 had no discernible long-term impact on improving agriculture. As TV pictures of the kisan agitations show, the blue jeans and T-shirt clad farmers of 2017 are very different from the downtrodden peasants of our collective national imagination. They ask why only big corporates should get loan waivers. It is a fair question. Yet, instead of temporary sops each year, government must do a fundamental rethink and address this Kisan 2.0 with a new deal on market pricing and a comprehensive deregulation of policy instead of old mai-baap sarkar type solutions that are past their use-by date.
Magical Vocabulary from ” The Indian Express”
- Cardinal (Adjective) मौलिक/ आधारभूत : Fundamental, of the greatest importance
Synonyms: Basic, Chief, Foremost, Prime, Principal,
Example: The rest of them, save the one single cardinal that keeps evading my lens, I’m not sure what they are.
Related Word: Cardinal (Noun): A leading dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church.
- Bulwarks (Noun) बांध/मजबूत दीवार : A defensive wall
Synonyms: Barrier, Bastion, Defense, Embankment, Fortress,
Example: As a bulwark against the Spanish, the colony was successful, but as an economic experiment it was a failure.
- Adroitly (Adverb) दक्षतापूर्वक/ होशियारी से : In a clever or skilful way.
Synonyms: Ably, Capably, Competently, Deftly, Expertly, Neatly, circumspectively, pawkily, warily.
Example: “Be quite easy,” he continued playfully, as he adroitly took the gold coin in his palm.
- Machismo (Noun) मर्दानगी : Strong or aggressive masculine pride
Synonyms: Macho, Manliness, Masculine, Virile
Example: Also in the rural areas, some of the more traditional machismo , an aggressively strong masculine character associated with patriarchy, prevailed.
- Shibboleth (Noun) सिद्धांत: A custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people.
Synonyms: Aphorism, Catchword, Dictum, Percept, Slogan
Example: “Sawch Bharat” is the shibboleth often repeated by the BJP’s followers.
- Farcically (Adverb) विनोदपूर्ण : Ludicrously, laughably inept
Synonyms: madcap, zany, slapstick, comic, comical, clownish, amusing, hilarious.
Example: Amber has been known to behave farcically when she is under the influence of marijuana.
- Staggering (Verb) चौंका देने वाला : Astonish or deeply shock.
Synonyms: Amazing, Astounding, Shocking, Stunning
Example: Can you believe the television actor earns the staggering amount of three million dollars per show?
- Substantially (Adverb) वास्तव में/ काफी हद तक : To a great or significant extent.
Synonyms: Considerably, Essentially, Extensively, Materially, Significantly
Antonyms: Insignificantly, Negligibly
Example: Sales grew substantially when we moved as less time was being spent on staff management issues.
- Inexplicably (Adverb) बेवजह/ बिना किसी स्पष्टीकरण के : Unable to be explained or accounted for.
Synonyms: Peculiarly, Queerly, Ridiculously, Strangely, Unusually
Example: She was aware that she was babbling, but for some inexplicable reason she was nervous.
- Largesse (Noun) दरियादिली/ उदारता : Generosity in bestowing money or gifts upon others.
Synonyms: Assistance, Contribution, Endowment, Fund, Relief
Example: We have a fairly patrician government that in the past handed out largesse that kept us going.
Courtesy And Official editorial link :- The Times of India
You may also Download:
|Weekly Current Affairs One Liner : June 11 to 18, 2017 PDF
|The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary Weekly PDF – 11 to 18 June 2017
|Weekly Current Affairs One Liner : June 1 to 10, 2017 PDF
|The Hindu Editorial with Vocabulary Weekly PDF – 1 – 10 June 2017
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