Intro: By sustaining pressure against the contentious Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at WTO, the NDA government has finally ensured Food and Farmer’s Security for India. Simultaneously, by unveiling his vision for Green Revolution II, PM Modi has taken a step forward to boost India’s agriculture growth.?
For the first time any Prime Minister of the country, in very plain and clear words, called upon the agricultural scientists to find ways to boost the income of farmers from agriculture. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the 86th Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Foundation Day in Delhi, exhorted the agricultural scientists to work towards a two-fold objective of enabling the Indian farmers to feed the nation as well as the world- (Kissan Rashtra aur Vishva ka Pet Bharen) and farming should be profitable (kisan ki jeb bhare).
Emphasising on this point, the Prime Minister clearly said if the farmers feed the world and their pockets remain empty, we cannot achieve the objectives that we have visualised for the nation. We have to think in this direction. At the same time the PM, who was greeted with a ‘standing ovation’ at the function, called upon the scientists to give a ‘standing ovation’ to millions of farmers, who have played a key role in changing India’s destiny.
It is a paradox of Indian agricultural system and Green Revolution that the sons of Punjab farmers, who feed the whole country, are forced to go to Gulf countries and work in highly inhuman conditions to feed themselves and their families. Why is it so? Remember the days of 1965, when Indian farmers devoted themselves to achieve food self-sufficiency just on a single call of the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. In those days, we were bound to import wheat from America on their terms and conditions to feed ourselves. It was a hugely humiliating and embarrassing situation for India.
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Indian agricultural scientists and farmers worked together and successfully achieved the goal of food sufficiency. It was a miracle of Green Revolution, when the world food experts were painting a very grim picture for Indian food situation; the Indian farmers changed the whole picture in a revolutionary way. Since then we are marching ahead every day. Our foodgrain production, which was 78.2 MT in 1965, increased up to a record 214.2 MT in 2011. On the other hand, in 1965 we imported 7.4MT foodgrain, but now we export since 1995. In 2002, we exported a record 6.7 MT foodgrain.
This is a rosy picture of our agriculture. But the opposite side is highly grim as well as disturbing. Our farmers’ economic condition did not improve despite their valuable contribution in Green Revolution. Due to various economic constrains and debt net, suicides by farmers have become so common that for media it is no more news now.
Governments after governments, during the last 50 years, displayed sympathy for farmers. They waved off their loans, issued them credit cards to avail more loans; but they calculatedly deprived them of the right remunerative prices for their crops. The support price for wheat in 1982 was Rs 180.00 per quintal and in 2012-13 it was Rs1350.00—an increase of 7.5 times. One the other hand the per capita annual emoluments of employees of central government PSUs, in 1981-82 were Rs 18,029 and it increased to Rs 8,28,612 in 2012-13—an increase of more than 45 times. And above all there is guaranteed increase in DA for the employees.
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The eminent question is whether price rise affects only the government employees and not the farmer at all? Why this discrimination with farmers who feed the country and liberated the nation from American clutches? Can we sustain growth rate in such a partial condition and achieve the goal of a prosperous Bharat?
Now the same question has been raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of galaxy of Indian Agricultural scientists. Shri Modi expressed genuine pain and anguish for crores of farmers when he said that; it’s true the farmers should feed the nation and the world but at the same time agriculture should fetch good income for them. It’s unjustifiable that very farmers who feed the nation starve and commit suicide.
Undoubtedly, the agenda set by Prime Minister for agricultural scientists is a challenge for them. To fulfill the aspirations of the farmers, it is necessary to work in a holistic manner. It is time to genuinely change the fortunes of the farmers, who played a key role in changing India`s fortunes.
-Dr Ravindra Agrawal? (The writer is a senior journalist and can be contacted at [email protected])