The farmers’ demand at the pre-Budget consultations with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for an income security law, even though impractical like the concept of universal basic income, needs to be viewed in the perspective of economic distress in rural areas. As pointed out by the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, the median agricultural income of Rs 1,600 a month is insufficient to sustain a farm household. The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data for 2012-13 (70th round) had revealed that nearly two out of three farm families were unable to earn enough to meet the household expenses. Besides, a recent discussion paper of the NITI Aayog has revealed that about two-thirds of rural income now come from non-agricultural sources. Nearly 80 per cent farmers are not covered under the minimum support prices mechanism. Many of them do not even recover their production costs. The need for farmers to earn a reasonable living cannot be disputed.
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