bottomless pit

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Jul 2018 09:52:32

BY NOW, the nation’s Government and people should have known that offering massive loan-waivers for farmers is nothing like trying to fill a bottomless pit to its brim. For, waiving off of loans to farmers is never going to solve the basic issues that confront agriculture sector in the country. Yet, the people in politics do not seem to understand this stark reality and keep offering sops to farmers including writing off of loans in shocking cumulative numbers. A report by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) has predicted that by the time India goes to general elections in 2019, its total farm loan waivers could touch an astounding 40 billion US Dollars. Obviously, India will pay through its nose to write off farm loans or offer massive repayment concessions on those. In other words, the Indian economy will be loaded down by the heavy commitment whose spiritual impact on the larger society will be far more than the financial impact and the country will reel under it for a very long time with actually no real solution in sight. 

The BofAML Report included the latest Karnataka farm loan waiver that cost the exchequer Rs. 34,000 crore. Many States in the Indian Union have done similarly to offer mindbogling cumulative figures. Though this may seem to be a necessary welfare measure, in actual terms, it is going to act as an eternal drag on the economy. For, offering loan waivers to farmers is something like giving them a fish to eat when they are hungry. The better way of helping a hungry person has two points: one deals with the immediate need, and the other deals with preparing for a permanent response to the problem of hunger by teaching him how to fish. In other words, instead of offering the farmers charity of whatever measure, the better way will be to offer them expertise to sort out their issues so that agrarian crisis is answered.

Unfortunately, India’s political leadership does not have the wherewithal to lend the farmers the necessary expertise to tackle their challenges. So the alms that will only drain the national economy even as agrarian crisis continues.

It is because of this reason that we have often insisted that farm loan waiver is never the solution the nation needs at this point. We have often stressed the need of some systemic corrections that will not allow in future any precipitating and chronic crisis in agriculture sector. We have also insisted that what we need today is not just sops but permanent solutions so that agriculture becomes profitable proposition to farmers and a gainful condition for the economy.

The fundamental need, therefore, is to work on improving India’s villages from where there would be no continuing exodus of people for employment opportunities in cities. This means, the nation will have to build the Indian village -- in which lives the soul of India, as Mahatma Gandhi had said emphatically and convincingly -- in all aspects including urban comforts, urban education, urban healthcare facilities, and also urban sense of prosperity. All these would be possible if the nation’s planners evolve an action-plan for rural upliftment.

That would ensure that the rural outflux would be stopped and the folks in the villages will continue to stay on in their own setting, bringing about a positive cultural and economic transformation in India.