Source: The Hitavada      Date: 20 Dec 2018 12:34:34

THE current nationwide wave of waiving off of loans to farmers and also of power dues to the rural sector appears to be a thoughtless affair indulged in by all political parties. As part of its election campaign, the Congress party had included the promise of loan-waiver to farmers in its manifesto. In accordance to that promise, the newly formed Congress Governments have declared loan-waivers for farmers. In other States, too, ruling parties are jumping onto the bandwagon either to waive off the loans to farmers, or offer other concessions.

This entire exercise is fully political in nature and may cost the national exchequer mind-boggling amounts of money at a time when the Government is facing a massive funds crunch. Against the background of the Centre asking for a considerable amount of money from federal reserve, this politically-driven wave of loan-waivers appears a thoughtless action that is quite likely to affect the national economy in not too distant a future. This is the reason why experts are advising the political community against any such step, though to no avail. 

The national experience of the past seventy-plus years shows that loan-waivers is not at all a solution to agricultural crisis the country is facing for an extended period. In the past 15 years, many such loan-waivers were put into effect by the Government -- of whatever political colouration. Yet, much to its disappointment, the experience was that such steps do not take the nation anywhere. Factually, such steps only deepen agrarian crisis the country is facing, because the farmers do not get any additional money and the Government ends up losing all the money it has pumped into loans to farmers previously.

Since waiving off of the loans to farmers is not any solution, as the experience shows, the best way is to make grass-root efforts to spruce up the rural economy not through populist measures but with the help of a well-meditated plan of action that will make farmers capable of handling their financial burdens. True, it will be a long-drawn process, but that path must be traversed by the nation and inevitable.

India’s political community does not seem to understand the blunder it is making just because it seeks votes from the rural sector during the elections that are just round the bend. This kind of approach is certainly detrimental to the national economy in the long run as it only drains the exchequer and does not add anything to it subsequently.

Economic crisis in the rural sector has been nagging India for the past 70-plus years. Even though Mahatma Gandhi had said famously that India lived in villages, the ruling class paid little actual attention to the long-term welfare of the villages.

As a result, the rural sector started travelling down a disappointing path of decline in socio-cultural and economic zones. Farming started becoming less and less viable and forced rural youth away from villages. The affliction continues even to this day, adding only to the nation’s woes. Despite this, the political community refused to think deeply about the crisis in the rural sector to look for a permanent solution. It has refused to listen to wise counsel that loan-waivers can be a temporary relief that will return to dog the nation with vengeance in the very next crop-cycle, and thus will continue a vicious circle.

Let us make no mistake to feel that the political community does not know the reality. It does. Yet, it refuses to give up its brazen chase of vote-bank politics with only electoral gains in sight. If the political leadership across the spectrum is willing to keep making the same mistake again and again, then how can we blame the people in the rural sector? Thus goes on a vicious electoral pursuit, no matter what damage it inflicts on the economy in the long run. This is unfortunate. This is thoughtless!