Traditionally, farming community have always been held in high esteem in India. Therefore, if the farmers feel distressed, Indian society as a whole should feel concerned and want such distress conditions to be removed as early as possible.
In the last few months, the farming community has become very vocal in India and has resorted to agitations on one count or another.
Distress due to different reasons
In some states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, many farmers have suffered during last one year due to drought conditions and consequent fall in crop output. In other regions like Maharashtra and Telangana, farmers are distressed due to surplus crop production and consequent crashing of prices in the market.
Both are genuine issues and it is the duty of the country to help the farmers in such scenario.
Types of farmers
There are different types of people involved in agricultural operations and all of them claim that they are farmers. The question is whether all of them are justified in claiming themselves as farmers.
One section of people have agricultural land in rural areas but they live in far away places engaged in some other profession and they lease out the land. They also call themselves as farmers.
Another section live near the agricultural land they hold but never get into the land to plough or cultivate, but engage workmen to do the physical labor and pay them wages. They also call themselves farmers.
Another section hold small area of land and physically work on the land themselves. They are genuine farmers.
A fourth section of people do not hold any land but work on the agricultural field on daily wages basis. They are tillers and economically most distressed. The three classes of people described above do not recognize these tillers as farmers.
The most affected lot during the distress conditions in agricultural operations are the tillers (agricultural workers) who are left high and dry.
Benefits for farmers
The government has initiated number of schemes such as crop insurance, soil health card e marketing of agri products, kisan credit card scheme to avail quick loan etc. No doubt, the farmers are given considerable benefits by the government such as free electricity, exemption from income tax etc. There is no distinction made in providing such benefits to the large , medium and small scale farmers.
However, it appears that such schemes are not giving adequate relief to the farming community.
Demand for loan waiver
While the government has given number of relief to the farmers, the major demand of the farmers now is that the entire agricultural loan should be waived all over the country. The government and the banks find it difficult to do so as it would cause distress situation for the banks and severely affect the finances of the government. But, the farmers do not seem to care about the problems of the government and the banks.
Nevertheless, several state governments have waived agricultural loan availed by the farmers partly and in some states fully in recent years, inspite of the deficit scenario that the government will face. Such waiver of loan inevitably would affect the ability of the government and banks to implement development projects and introduce welfare measures for the poor people.
Now, the question is that while distress in agricultural operations do cause serious problems to the farmers resulting in default of loans, even in the non distress period , many farmers default on loan repayment due to many reasons including their indiscipline in personal and family finance management. Violently agitating farmers seem to ignore this view.
Violent agitation not appropriate
In any case, it is not appropriate that farmers should engage themselves in violent protests like stoning transport buses and blocking roads and rails or unseemly protests like eating rat or undressing themselves in public.
Such behavior of agitating farmers are causing harm to the good will enjoyed by them so far and many discerning observers wonder whether the farmers should resort to such extreme form of protests . Many people are also wondering whether these agitators are really the hard working farmers or some people with vested interests whose goal may not be farmers’ welfare alone.
There is no doubt that conscience of the nation feel disturbed when farmers are in distress. But, farmers should realize that such violent form or unseemly agitations do not help their cause.
It is always seen that some of the so called leaders of agricultural groups talk and behave more like politicians these days than like farmers.
Common men in the country are noting this.
The farmers need to realize that there are many people who are not involved in agricultural operations but in several other areas who are equally distressed. If everyone start violent agitations, where would such conditions end up?