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Letters: Think beyond loan waivers

The government needs to understand the larger issues

Business Standard 

Think beyond waivers

It refers to announcement of farm loan waiver by the government. After Uttar Pradesh, another BJP-ruled state government has waived off farm loans. For UP, it was the hit of about Rs 36,000 crore, while in it would cost about Rs 30,500 crore to the state's finances. It is a very wrong precedence set by these states, just to please their vote banks with no far-sighted approach. Not long ago, State Bank of India chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said that if such waivers are doled out it would disrupt the credit discipline among farmers across the country as they will also expect their loans to be waived and they will stop paying. Protests from farmers started from and ended up in Madhya Pradesh where five people were killed in the protests.

The government needs to understand the larger issues, as it has been proven time and again that we are ill-equipped to handle both low and surplus production by farmers. The government needs to think beyond farm loan waivers, as that is only a short-term solution to the problem, and start thinking out of the box. Availability of cold storage houses and access to global markets to our farmers will ensure they are not dependent only on local consumption. 

Access to technology should not be restricted to rich and large farmers, but it must reach small farmers also so that agriculture remains a viable and sustainable profession. Otherwise we will keep reading about suicides and other farmer distress across the country.

Bal Govind, Noida

Lord Wavell echo
With reference to “Oppn guns for Shah after ‘chatur baniya’ remark” (June 11), My mind goes back to what Lord Wavell, the last but one British Viceroy of India (1943-47), had said about Gandhi in his memoirs titled “Wavell: The Viceroy’s Journal”. Lord Wavell, who had several one-on-one meetings with Gandhi and also along with members of the British Cabinet Mission (1946), said that he was not able to find a Mahatma in him, and saw only a shrewd “Hindu baniya”. 

He has emphasised on Gandhi’s shrewdness again and again.

Whether the identical views on Gandhi is just a coincidence or whether Amit Shah (pictured) has read Lord Wavell, only Shah can tell. He was born after Gandhi's death. This similarity of view between the two is interesting, if not intriguing, because while one was the representative of British imperial power in India having a tilt towards Muslim League, the other is a staunch Hindu nationalist.

R C Mody, New Delhi

Counsel farmers

With reference to “Agitation a challenge for Modi government” (June 12), instead of depending on political parties for redress of grievances, the farmers should look to people like Popatrao Pawar, the farmer sarpanch of Hiware Bazar who has transformed his village with sheer determination. In a country which has a flawed taxation system, many people declare themselves as farmers merely for the sake of skipping taxes. Hence, if the government allows en masse loan waivers, the so-called farmers will also reap the benefits despite the fact that they are capable of paying back their loans.

Although debts and finances are the main cause for farmer suicides, a majority of the cases can be avoided if we are able to counsel the farmers at the right time. For this the government should take the help of counsellors, NGOs etc. It is not only the burden of debts, but visualising a gloomy future which drive farmers to suicides. In case of failed crops if the farmer and the family can be given alternative employment, they will avoid this extreme step. 

Waiver of farm loans is only a small step to prevent suicides, but counselling and raising hopes in the minds of farmers by speaking to them and their family members, taking care of their medical and other needs by the state in co-ordination with the CSR of industrial houses is the right way to prevent suicides. By encouraging small-scale and cottage industries in villages, families of poor farmers who are unable to earn from their farm land have lost crops should be given alternative employment.

Veena Shenoy, Thane

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First Published: Mon, June 12 2017. 22:43 IST