It has been the tradition of the BJP since its inception in 1980 to invite non-party eminent persons to address its national executive meetings, never mind the political affiliation of the eminent persons so invited. Beginning with the late M.C. Chagla in Mumbai in 1980, the party has kept up this tradition till the present days. The latest example was invitation to Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the doyen of agricultural scientists of not only India but the world at large, to address members on the evening of June 25 at its national executive meeting in New Delhi.
The ?resolution on agriculture? released to the media on June 26 does not give details of the speech Dr. Swaminathan had made at the national executive meeting but the one vital sentence, quoted in the resolution, adequately sums up the grim picture of agriculture in India. That sentence says: ?The country needs to take seriously the warning given by the eminent agricultural scientist Dr M.S. Swaminathan that the situation is deteriorating rapidly and the entire farming sector is heading for a total collapse, if no rapid remedial measures are taken.?
Taking advantage of the facts presented by Dr. Swaminathan in his speech and to chalk out a technically and economically sound programme of action for the party for the benefit of farmers, the BJP might set up an agriculture cell at its headquarters. This could be in addition to the Economic Cell which has to deal with several other related topics such as the corporate sector economics relating to industry, banking etc. The proposed agriculture cell might not be an extension of the Kisan Morcha which caters to the needs of the farmers and is perceived as a a pressure group. An agriculture cell will deal with the entire gamut of agriculture in India, including welfare of the farmers.
For example, the cell could take up vigorously the question of acceptance of the recommendation of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) of which Dr. Swaminathan was the Chairman. (Actually this Commission was set up during the NDA regime with agriculture expert Som Pal, a former Member of the Planning Commission, as the Chairman). The NCF had presented five reports to the government, the last being on October 4, 2006. However, the government is still considering the reports and no decision has been taken and made public so far.
During the five-year-rule of the Vajpayee government from 1999-2000 to 2003-04, the country had achieved three records in agricultural production which have not yet been surpassed by the present government. The first was the highest production of foodgrains in any year in India till today?213.19 million tonnes in 2003-04. The second is the highest production of wheat in any year?76.37 million tones in 1999-2000. This record remains unbroken for the last seven years. This year's(2006-07) production of 73 million tones (according to third advance estimate of April 4, 2007, the fourth advance estimate and the final figure is yet to come) is considered a ?bumper? harvest although it is still less by three million tonnes than the highest production in 99-00. Third is the highest production of rice?93.34 million tonnes in 2001-02, which again has not yet been surpassed.
The BJP should forcefully demand implementation of vital recommendations by NCF. The significant is the setting-up of a National Food Security and Sovereignty Board with the Prime Minister as the Chairperson. The fact that the NCF has clubbed food security with the sovereignty of the country is significant. We have to remain always self-sufficient in foodgrains. Regular imports would compromise with our sovereignty, which appears to be the message in this recommendation.