The Indian farmer as a political prop and why the Congress is fighting a lost cause

Every two bit reporter knows that crying about “farm distress” is an easy story to do. Since most of their viewers or at least most of the viewers they care about live in towns and cities, they know nothing about farmers. The image they have is of a man tilling his field with a plough and two bullocks from dawn to dusk every day.

So, cry “farm distress” and every urban or semi-urban viewer will feel guilty. Most news channels even have a standard background picture ready for such stories : an old farmer with a wrinkled face, wearing a dhoti either with his hands spread out in despair or with his face in his hands, crying. Behind him is a panel of dry land that is cracking up…

It is true that lakhs of farmers suffer. Farmer suicides are a blot on the country.  Whoever is in the opposition always wants you to believe it is the fault of the ruling party. But what is really killing the farmers is their own land. It’s a harsh truth that no politician wants to tell the farmers. Instead they want to tell the farmer that they have a magic pill to solve their woes … raise the minimum support price, waive the farm loans, etc.

Except that these things have never worked. Ever. They have only kept Indian farmers on a slow death drip.

Modern agriculture is exactly that … modern. It requires sophisticated technical knowhow and modern equipment. It’s not a low skill occupation like journalism 🙂

Farming is a high skill job. You need to ensure maximum productivity despite uncertainties of weather, rainfall, possibility of drought and disease. Scientists work on this stuff their whole lives in big labs. To implement the outcomes of their research, you need people with high skills and training.

Instead, farming in India is done by people with almost no skills. Yes, I have a lot of respect for the “hands on experience” handed down by generations. But that’s no substitute for modern technology. That is why Indian farms are among the most unproductive in the whole world.

The other thing is that farming is a business. Each farm is a small business and needs a business like mind to run it. Are our small and marginal farmers really capable of running a business?

So what is the solution? Not everybody can be trained to have high technological and business skills. The solution is to do exactly what every other country in the world has done : you have to have corporatization of the farm sector.

And what happens to the small farmers who work on the land now? Well.. they work either on corporate farms OR they get jobs in the industrial sector. And that’s actually a way better life. Not everyone can run a business.

Right now the Indian farmer lives through a cycle of uncertainty every year. He begs before the government for hiking the minimum support prices and for loan waivers. He prays to God for better rainfall. All this pain can end once and for all if the farm sector is finally corporatized.

But in our socialist country, “corporate” is a dirty word.

The Modi government started out the right way, by introducing the Land Acquisition Bill. But then it developed cold feet over the suit boot ki sarkar jibe and withdrew the Bill. Has the Bill actually passed, the process of finally moving India’s low skilled labor out of agriculture sector would have started. But alas…

What is happening in Madhya Pradesh (and Maharashtra) today is but a logical outcome of the farm loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh. You cannot give a farm loan waiver to farmers in one state without farmers in other states asking for the same. And when the state government makes a bad mistake, like in Mandsaur the other day, the Opposition will feel like they have a chance to claw back into reckoning.

Not this opposition. No. Rahul Gandhi can come for a day and fly back to Delhi. Nothing will move on the ground. Rahul is yet to realize that these episodes of getting over-excited over a specific event are not paying dividends. They cried buckets over Rohith Vemula. What was the outcome?

On the ground, Shivraj Singh Chouhan is a much more effective politician than any of the Congress troopers in the state. A mistake has been made, but the government and the media will move on. The election is more than a year and a half away.

The mistake that Rahul and most of his media are making is that they think the Modi mandate is built on sand. They keep thinking in terms of “Ek dhakka aur do“. Just one push and farmers, Dalits, youth…whatever will desert the Modi camp en masse. The Modi mandate will collapse.

Rahul made a tour of every campus in the country… FTII, JNU, University of Hyderabad and perhaps more… hoping to get the urban youth on his side. Results? He is probably the biggest joke among the urban youth today.

Rahul and the entire secular opposition thought Rohith Vemula had given them their one big opportunity. Results? The BJP not only won Uttar Pradesh, they held on to practically every single vote they had got in 2014.

In between, the Congress has been lending moral support to various agitations : Jat agitation, Patidar agitation, Kapu agitation, Maratha agitation. Every single one of these proxy attempts failed.

What happened to “Jat anger” in Western Uttar Pradesh? I think BJP’s strike rate in the region was around 90%! In Maharashtra, Fadnavis successfully got the Maratha morchas to fizzle out and the BJP has only tightened its grip with every local election there. And we all know what is going to happen to the Patidar agitation in Gujarat later this year.

The Congress cannot make it as a part time political party. ALL of these movements and causes that I mentioned above could have become vote getters for Congress and the opposition in general if they had the leaders to channel the anger properly. The problem is that these “movements” are happening in the hands of jokers like Hardik Patel or Jignesh Mevani. Or that Chandrasekhar fellow who is leading “Bhim Army” in Uttar Pradesh. Or they simply go leaderless, like the Maratha Morchas in Maharashtra.

These jokers who “lead” sudden mobs have no depth, no strategy and no ideas. They make too many tactical errors and soon everything fizzles out. This is exactly what will happen in Madhya Pradesh. So, a few mobs went on a violent rampage in the state for 2-3 days… which by the way, is a great way to lose support. There’s a good monsoon in the offing … and farmers need to get busy. On top of that, Modi is a very practical politician … and all these farmers will get a loan waiver anyway before the next election comes around. The Congress is not even in the picture.

I hope Rahul ji enjoys his 1-2 day stay in Madhya Pradesh. Get some pictures clicked. Go to Bandhavgarh National Park. Do some sightseeing in Khajuraho. It’s not going to matter.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “The Indian farmer as a political prop and why the Congress is fighting a lost cause

  1. What the Congress lacks now is any kind of momentum. In politics, as in a steam engines and in cricket, momentum is everything. Steam engines have a heavy flywheel to regulate the ups and downs of the coal burning. But if the flywheel does not have momentum, a push may take it about a inch forward and then it will stop. This is exactly the state with the Congress now.

    This momentum cannot be built in a day or in an isolated incident of destruction. It cannot be built by waiting for some bad news and showing up at that location. It takes great governance for a long time. Modi built the momentum on a sustained basis for twelve years before 2014. That momentum is being sustained now and added to.

    Like

  2. I might differ from your view on handing over farming to corporate. That would be a disaster to food. Already, we are depending on lots of chemical fertilizer & pesticides. If corporate takes over the farming they would definitely introduce GMO foods which are the main cause of growing cancer all over the world. We should go back to our roots of Organic farming was practiced in India since thousands of years. The great Indian civilization thrived on organic farming and was one of the most prosperous countries in the world, till the British ruled it. In traditional India, the entire agriculture was practiced using organic techniques, where the fertilizers, pesticides, etc., were obtained from plant and animal products. The cow, not only provided milk, but also provided bullocks for farming and dung which was used as fertilizers.

    Right now the corporate companies are killing our food all over the world. Currently, our Govt is thinking of introducing GMO mustard (which I am totally opposed to). Also, I am not sure why Govt was very much going forward to extract Methane/Hydrocarbon in a place called Neduvasal in TN. The farmers & locals protested heavily & the Govt withdrew their decision. Extracting Methane will kill the fertile land & we would not be able to do agriculture in that land. Eventually, BJP got bad name in TN (of course, they do not have much support in this state). I hope the Govt rethinks on this, supports natural agriculture and oppose GMO, stop chemical fertilizer & totally stop pesticides.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know much about farming and about a typical farmer’s life, but in one gathering, knowledgeable persons were discussing that the farmers get bank loans to buy seeds. That money in hands is very tempting for the farmers to buy booze, plus as the tilling etc. is hard work in a large farm and the farmer is all alone. Under this condition, one pack would lead to one more and one more. So if not wholesale changes to corporate farming, four or five farmers should work together, on each farmer’s field. This is like doing morning exercise if you have company, you tend to continue.

    I totally disagree with Anand about GMO foods. We have been enjoying ‘seedless’ grapes, water melon etc. for a long time. Only thing when they were developed, they were not called GMO foods. Just Google GMO foods and America, you will find more than 95 percent of acreage of corn planted in USA are GMO corn. Americans have been eating GMO foods directly or indirectly (GMO grains are fed to all animals) for more than 25 years and the life expectancy there has gone up not down. Besides GMO foods not requiring (or requiring much smaller amounts), dangerous pesticides, productivity per acre is also much higher. We need these benefits in India.

    One cannot find better study on GMO foods that more than 330 millions people eating GMO foods for longer than 25 years to study its effect on human beings.

    Like

  4. I’m afraid I have to agree with Anand (and disagree with PB Josh) on the issue of organic vs non-organic farming. Studies on GMO are always sponsored, and it isn’t rocket science to figure out what the results of those studies will be.

    As for the GMO and life expectancy relation, how does one determine that one way or the other with a practice that is only 25 years long (this timeline itself is disputable when you get into the nitty gritty details of the actual population tested, nature of testing, etc. but let’s leave that aside for the moment) ?

    As for quality of life, and undisclosed side-effects of non-organic farm produce, it is really unknown. Have we ever wondered why kids born in the US in this generation tend to have more allergies ranging from simple to really severe cases (ask around and you’ll be surprised) than those born in India ? For a number of years until recent times we were blissfully unaware of the A1 vs A2 milk issue. What happened to all the milk studies in the intervening years that didn’t discover anything ? And let’s not even start on the soya hype. Every food item produced in the US/West – from milk, bread, soya, vegetables, fruits, you name it – is artificially modified at some stage or the other for higher yield, greater visual appeal and longer shelf life (and not necessarily better health for the consumers), driven not in the least by the requirements of the fast/junk food industry. Never mind that these modifications cause hormonal imbalances in people, especially young children. It is not just an accident that the US has the greatest obesity problem today. Sadly, India is going down the same road by repeating the same mistakes, driven by the same forces.

    Personally, my son who was born in the US has had the intake of non-organic stuff during his initial years, when I was woefully uninformed about the stuff, and that has caused umpteen health complications for him (that neither me nor my wife nor our parents/ grandparents/relatives have had). It is only after switching to organic living in the last few years that a solution seems in sight (even if a large amount of hardwork is ahead for us). If the proof of the pudding is in the eating (pun intended), it is clear to me as daylight that non-organic and/or GMO farming, in the guise of more yield, has caused the biggest damage to our ecosystem. It has driven out self-sufficient small farmers by forcing them to invest in crops that require high-maintenance post the initial euphoria, has made them borrow more and more over time and settle for ever decreasing margins. It has driven out native variety of crops suiting a particular geo/climate in favor of non-native produce based on the global food industry considerations. It has caused a number of health issues among the next generation that no one dares to study.

    I’d say this: GMO farming is a one-way street. Once we’ve made extinct the natural varieties in favor of the GMO stuff, sooner or later, we’ll be left without a baseline to even know how good it could’ve been. We simply won’t be able to unring the bell.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course, we are allowed to bury our head in the sand, but facts of the matter is India is a forth largest country for cultivating GMO crops (29 million acres) after America, Brazil and Argentina. Of the 38 countries rejecting GMO foods, 90 percent allow import of GMO foods for animal feeds and they are not vegetarian countries. So I would say, about eighty percent of world population is eating directly or indirectly GMO foods. And with India’s regulation, who knows who is already eating GMO foods or non GMO foods?

        Like

  5. Two important trends to observe in our state ,i don’t know about other states.-one is forest getting encroached for agricultural activities, another is fertile irrigated agricultural land kept idol for lot of reasons like the very small piece of land they have ( due to ancestral property division) ,land surrounded by other properties hence no approach ,etc.
    Instead of corporitization ,I think its good to go co-operation way , where land should be held as shares and owners of land should be given jobs in farming/agri.

    Like

  6. CW,keeping aside the issue of waivers and farm structures and GMO and whatnot,which can be debated at length,i would disagree with the idea that UP’s loan waivers led to what happened in MP.There are many indications that the entire thing was just congress stooges propping up some goonda’s and using them to spread chaos.First,that area in MP is infamous for growing opium,which was hurt by DeMo.Secondly,there is now even video evidence of congi’s inciting people.There are even Congress leaders on the run from the police.The time is now for the govt to punish heavily anyone involved in this.

    A good example in this things has been set by Yogi.The head of bhim sena is being investigated for inciting violence.That’s how you deal with these cretins

    Like

  7. I agree with the idea of cooperative farming which comes with the benefit of collective land use and technological advantages possible mostly with larger land mass. Politics apart, a solution must be found out by people and institutions, political included, to farmers vows and resulting protests which ultimately end up in loss of lives and state property, a burden for all taxpayers.

    Like

  8. “Thane mein aag laga do!” (Burn down the police station!) A video has surfaced where a Congi woman leader is openly inciting the mob. She of course would have stood back and the cornered cops would have fired in self defence. Who likes to be burned out like a nest of wasps? The dead bodies which would result would make it a great success. A few more bereaved families for Pappu to visit with his camera teams. And the nagging feeling remains the firing victims were corpses on order from someone totally unscrupulous, totally frustrated by loss of power.

    Like

    1. Just think of the probability. Out of hundreds of agitating (so called) farmers, five who got killed randomly, none of them were actual farmers ! And only two actually worked on farms as farm-hands. One was only a nineteen years old high school student ! So how many Congress and other opposition stooges were agitating? And we thought sucker stooges for sacrificing their lives were available only in J & K.

      Like

  9. I would like to know what readers of this blog think about the following question. By now there is enough video evidence that several Congress “leaders” instigated the rioters in Madhya Pradesh. Should the MP government go after them, or not? What is the likelihood of the Congress goon leaders gaining sympathy if the police were to act against them? It is one thing for us the so-called “educated” people to say “hang them all,” but I really would like know how the rural population in a poor state like MP would react. Any thoughts?

    Like

    1. Prof,under normal circumstances i would advice caution but also strictness.Situations like these require tact and careful consideration.Just look at what Yogi did,first bring the situation under control,talk to the parties and sort things out,and then go after the inciters(Bhim Army).

      In MP’s case though,i think Shivraj Singh is untouchable.The appeal that he has is simply absurd,and any sort of Goondagiri by Congi’s will only harm them.Today,he has decided to go on a fast and is talking and meeting with farmers from different areas.

      There really isn’t anything the Opposition will get out of the whole incident.Right now there videos floating around of congress people causing trouble,even the optics are very bad for them

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s