Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In the name of Kisan

UPA government passed Land Acquisition Act in 2013 with support from BJP. It was hailed by UPA to be savior of the Kisans (farmers). It had many provisions like compensation 4 times of land price, getting consent form some 70 or 80 % of farmers and social impact assessment.

At that time also many people were of the view that it may be pro farmers! but it is anti development (As if Farming and development are two ends of a spectrum and they can not really coexist). It looked pro farmers, was  it anti development? That would have been known if the bill was made operational by state governments. They did not.

In any case there are few buzz words of Indian politics.  Despite every one in Indian polity claiming that they have been working for farmers for last 70 years (67 to be precise) the poor Kisan is where he has been. Other similar words are minorities, Scheduled Casts, Backward class (and OBCs), women, etc. While his well wishers? across political spectrum are fighting for Kisan Pie, the poor farmers has been crying for water, electricity, seeds, easy low cost loans, etc

Well, if the work was really been done for all these sections (some work does get done though) for last 67 years (as the people in politics make us believe) the face of India would have been different. It is no denying that these sections of Indian society deserved special provisions and schemes including farmers and there are schemes no doubt. But has any impact assessment of these schemes, some of which may be running from independence, been done? Has the schemes been enhanced or curtailed based on these studies? not really, they are just being perpetuated or new schemes are being launched with these sections remaining be 'जैसे थे' (as is where is). Some small groups among these politicians' ''milking cow'' sections did benefit though.

Coming back to land acquisition business. The act had some 13 eventualities where the compensation stayed at 4 times but there was no consent or social impact assessment (as garnered by me through various TV debates and news paper items). Remember UPA did it for the sake of farmers! Next government added five more eventualities to the bill making it a total of 18 such requirements. Now the fun started. Suddenly they became anti farmer for all other parties. And the government said, these provisions will bring development to villages and its population hence the amendment bill being brought is pro farmer.

Farmer  is definitely interested in retaining land of his forefathers but on the other hand, he also wants development, access to markets, education and employment for his children (as all of them can not do farming with marginal land pieces that are left with most farmers due to division of land over the generations).  A small piece of land can give his family sustenance provided it is irrigated, he has access to good seeds, finances and above all the Crop Insurance and extra source of income by way of some children being in some other vocation.

I am sure with each passing day the Kisan is getting tired of waiting to get basics from the rulers that be. There are irrigation schemes where a Asst Engg has become Chief Engg and retired but the scheme is still not complete. In this world where every thing including some singers voice can be ensured (and some times deliberately destroyed to garner insurance money) but farmer's crops seem beyond it. The farm loans, which are generally paid diligently by the farmer if crops gives him  income is costlier then the loan given to big industry houses (which  become bad loans by the dozen). Industry houses are getting their Crores worth loans rescheduled or restructured but a poor farmer is facing auction of his Bulls and lands for a loan of way smaller than the industrial loans.

He is still where he was. As for politicians, it seems that there is a real desire to put poor farmer on a pedestal to use him for the vote bank politics. If that has to be done, it is very important that the lot of the farmers (and minorities and women and ------- the list goes on) never ever improves, remains poor and marginalized so that he remains a issue, elections after elections.

Is there a solution? May be or may be the farmer has to find it himself. All the best.

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