Thoughts On This Independence Day

Government provides independence for farmers

While we celebrate 71st Independence day this year, a sector of our population has another reason to celebrate. The government announced the waiver of farmer loans by 15th August. This announcement came two days after the government allocated a budget of Rs 36,000 crore to pay off loans of up to Rs 1 lakh taken by small and marginal farmers.

This loan waiver is expected to benefit around 86 lakh people. Ths is a huge sigh of relief for the country men.

This was a much-needed step for uplifting the spirits of farmers in India because an Indian farmer is not just a poor and helpless man who cannot pay, rather he is a man stuck in a vicious debt trap because of his income not rising with passing time.

All the states have been aligned towards this decision with Punjab being the latest addition to give the nod of approval.

Although this decision is not taken well by most of the adept economists who think that this is a moral blunder and would spread like a virus.

The root cause of criticism is a simple question – “Will these loan waivers provide permanent relief to farmer woes?”

The question posed has substance and the argument is valid. Loan waiver is a one-time medicine to the disease of debts, but will it solve the prolonged crisis that the Indian farmer has, and will be facing from time to time.

The need of the hour is to have a broader perspective, and not have short-sightedness.

Loan waivers have for sure eliminated sleepless nights for the farmers. However, this is not a guarantee to safeguard their future.

The underlying issue is the income, that is just not enough to even sustain.  It is way below the subsistence level.The crisis of income cannot be resolved by sweeping the dirt of previous debt. This is not sufficient for the longer run. The reasons are not their incompetence or inability to work hard. They are prey to situations such as adverse terms of trade, nonchalant government policies, and weather conditions that are out of their control

The crisis of income cannot be resolved with sweeping the dirt of previous debt. This is not sufficient for the longer run.

The well of their income has gone deeper with an increase in costs and expenses. This is primarily due to the political agendas that are masquerading behind the “Effective Measures” and “Relief Policies”

These schemes by the government were created to keep the crop prices down and hence provide a cheap supply of food grains. But these failed to strike a balance. This instead was a see-saw effect. While one side of the economy benefits, the farmer’s economy is beyond shattered.

Hence, over the last five decades, it is the farmers that have substantially subsidized the national economy by hundreds of crores.

Therefore it is the country that owes a debt to the farmers. The farmers’ debt is just a small chunk of the national debt that is owed to them.

There are a lot many other considerations to be taken into account while we speak of a loan waiver.

Will we be able to prevent the rural banks from crumbling in the wake of such a big waiver? Will we be able to convince the farmers to pay up the next time? What is it that we can do to prevent the farmers from getting stuck in the cobweb of future debt traps?

And above all of this, how do we address the fundamental issue of securing a minimum level of income for the farmers regardless of the erratic and unpredictable situations.

Can we do anything to help them?  Can we afford this?

To answer this we need to look out for the decision makers in us. This is smarter than forming opinions in front of the television set. We need to understand that the prosperity of India’s economy is closely knitted to the rural consumption.

We can surely afford bullet trains, tax waivers, bail outs, loan restructuring for corporates.

Then we can also afford a permanent monetary relief to the farmers.

We all should collaborate and constructively support and voice our concerns. Instead of giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to the decision of loan waiver, let us all think about a one-time farm loan waiver along with an assured income for the farmers.




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