Over the past few years, majority of the world population is in the grip of countless natural calamities. India was no exception to this havoc, which lead to untold deaths and significant damage to properties and livestock. A group of population had to face the brunt of these disasters more prominently – The poor farmers.
Agriculture is an area in India that has been lacking technological advancements and relies on Nature. With the nature being unkind each coming year, this distressed sector needs immediate rescue efforts. However, since recent years, this issue has become more political than humanitarian. Has the promise of crop lean waiver become a free pass to a political party? Let us examine the issue in brief.
Previous few years have witnessed either a heavy rainfall or draughts all over India. Occasionally, the rainfall was unseasonal and some regions also had hailstorms. Farmers became debt-ridden and over 11 thousand farmers decided to end their lives in the year 2016, with Maharashtra accounting for most suicides.
The genie of farm loan waivers was opened by the UPA government in 2008. This was the major ground for UPA returning to power in 2009 elections. Other political parties started to follow the suit and it became one of the important assurances for every election. Surprisingly, it worked for many parties and is considered a reason for defeat of BJP in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhatisgarh.
Crop Loan Waiver provides instant relief to farmers and any party which does not mention it, can not stand the elections. The INC in upcoming Jharkhand Assembly Elections has promised to waive farm loans in its manifesto. The new Maharashtra government is also in a hurry to fulfill its pre-poll promise to waive farm loans- even when the state has Rs. 4.7 lakh crore debt.
Even though such an instant is much appreciated by voters, it significantly hurts the Economy. Instead, the focus should be on to make farmer’s self-sufficient to repay their loans. This can be achieved by promoting the use of new technology for farming by the government. Government-backed irrigation projects can actually improve the distressed agricultural sector than the poll freebies. The crop insurance scheme launched by the Modi government might serve as the first step in this direction.