Agrarian Distress in India
The crisis in the agriculture sector in our country has been brewing for a long time. Short-term relief measures, including increase in minimum support price for crops, subsidy in inputs and team waivers, have not helped. Over a fifth of farm households have income below the poverty line.
As per the 70th Round of Situation Assessment Survey of NSSO conducted during the period of July 2012 to June 2013, the average monthly income of an agricultural household is Rs 6,426 and expenditure is Rs 6,223, leaving only Rs 203 in the hands of the farmer. A non-agricultural worker earns almost three times as much as a farmer, shows NSSO data, explaining why farmers are pulling out of agriculture – the number of cultivators in 2011-12 (the latest data available) was 14.62 crore, down from 16.61 crore in 2004-05
In recent years, farmers have fared even worse. Farm income, from a growth of 5.52 per cent in real terms in the period between 2004-05 and 2011-12, dropped to a negative 1.36 per cent between 2011-12 and 2015-16. To double farmers' income by 2022-23, the annual rate of growth required is 10.4 per cent. The committee headed by Ashok Dalwai has suggested incentivising land pooling among farmers, enncouraging Farmer Producer Organisations, modernising agriculture marketing, and revamping the departments of the agriculture ministry to focus on agri-logistics and capital investments to tackle farm distress. It has also recommended an annual "case of doing agri business" survey among States to promote competition. We hope the Centre will think on these lines.
Moreover, there needs to be focused lending to vulnerable sections of farmers. The Centre may address some of the anomalies in farm credit. It is expected that the total amount of lending to agri and allied sectors will increase more. It is also expected that the Centre may extend the scheme of interest subvention to long-term farm loans too, to improve capital formation in agriculture.
Satish Kumar Sarma,
Look at the Audacity!
After a recent statement issued by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat regarding the Bangladeshi influx in Assam, the matter has now snowballed into a political controversy. The Army Chief’s observation regarding the changing demography in Assam is a matter of concern. The situation must be very worrisome. Otherwise a person of the Army Chief's stature hardly speaks any subject. One is hardly worried if there is any rise in the indigenous Muslim population, but things turn serious when one observes the upsurge in the population of suspected tiolity, in which case they have changed the demography of certain places. But our special breed of people often referred to as politicians never fail to do politics on the Army Chief's statement. The controversial MP Asaddudin Owasi had the audacity to challenge the Army Chief over his remarks. For people like Owaisi, tiol security and integrity do not matter so long as they can do politics on religious ground.
Dr Ashim Chowdhury,