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.