Economic Survey released by the govt. fails absolutely to provide answers for declining peasant incomes, rising agricultural crises and rural unemployment in India. Its recommendations further the same policy initiatives that are aggravating this crises by promoting corporate and MNC penetration and income from Indian agriculture.
It recommends promotion of export markets and ignores the crying need to rejuvenate home markets by increasing income & purchasing power of peasants and rural labour. It pretentiously pats the govt. for ‘increasing’ Mnregs expenditure which actually less than the earlier peak, it also fails to question abysmally low wages, delayed payments, poor coverage and rampant corruption.
It identifies the rising levels of share cropping, now on 35% of agricultural land and talks of land consolidation to help use of precision technologies and mechanization, but ignores completely the task of progressive land reforms, giving land to the poor and ensuring that small holdings become economically viable. It is geared to promote contract and corporate farming by consolidating small farm plots which will further uproot small farmers from even this meagre means of livelihood.
It attacks ‘untargeted subsidies’ in power and fertilizer which will only mean a substantial rise in rural power tariffs and further stiffening of fertilizer costs. Its recommendation of ‘direct income support’ has already proved to be a farce in cooking gas subsidies and a failure for the poor and downtrodden in PDS, Mnrega and pension schemes.
The Survey recommends ‘extending irrigation but via efficient ‘drip and sprinkler technologies’ which are capital intensive, labour time consuming and cost ineffective for peasants, though helpful to corporates. Peasant organizations have highlighted the failure of big dams like Narmada for diverting irrigation water to industries, as in Gujarat’s Sanand, and have been demanding restoration and excavation of ponds and construction of lift canals to promote ground water recharging. Naturally Industry leaders, not farmers have welcomed these proposals.
The Survey wrongly blames environmental issues as the major cause. Volatility of prices is the direct result of failure to provide profitable MSP and procurement at 50% more than the cost of production for all crops and untimely and unrequired imports and hoarding.
There is total failure of the govt to promote planned agriculture development. There is a steep fall in govt. investment in agricultural infrastructure while it spends on promoting corporate markets. Its ‘NitiAyog’ ensures expenditure of more than Rs 1,40,000 crores on food imports and very high diesel prices. It is undermining subsidies which will help to reduce input costs and promote peasant income. Its welfare schemes and govt. lending is riddled with corruption, which has risen steeply since NDA is in power.
These proposals come in the background of continuously rising peasant debts, 55% rise in first 3 years of Modi govt., and high suicide rates. Shamelessly, Modi govt has made these proposals also in the name ‘addressing rural distress and doubling farmes’ incomes’.
More than 50% of India’s population, 58.2% of its workforce engages directly in agriculture. As is also noted by the survey rural unemployment is rising rapidly leading to heavy migration.
The survey shows that capital formation and savings are at their lowest and formal sector definition is being changed to project that people in informal economy is smaller than actual. Since long the govt. has relied on data and methodology manipulation to show low poverty rates and higher GDP growth rates, which this survey also does. But the real picture is better reflected by 1% of population now cornering 73% income, continuing starvation and suicides.
CEC of AIKMS has called upon peasant organizations to unite in struggle to force the govt. to radically change its anti peasant policies. No govt. can be patriotic by ruining peasant incomes and livelihood and promoting foreign profiteers, compradores and middlemen.