I am referring to the Times of India editorial dated today (20 Dec 21) – ‘Call It Quits’ calling on the Farmers Union leadership not to engage in electoral politics.
I disagree with this line of thinking. I am of the opinion that anyone with a social/political/economic point of view, who is felt to be unnoticed or unrepresented, this group of people needs to get into electoral politics to exert pressure.
Take the ‘Victory of the Farmers’. Have no doubt that there are deep heartburns among several Indians that a mode of protest has been allowed to get away with and the central government has succumbed to their demands. There are enough opinions that the protest was limited to Punjab, Haryana and Western UP regions – regions that have exploited farm pricing and supply to the hilt. It is fairly believed that these farmers behaved like bullies. Anyway, farmers in India aren’t very popular – subsidized water, subsidized electricity, no income tax, preferential supply prices, the list goes on of how farmer power has bent governments to their will, supposedly adding very little to the Nation. Many state very clearly that no favors are rendered by the production of food grains. Farmers are paid handsomely for the same.
As a political force (regional or national) let the farmers’ union leaders think about solutions to several agricultural problems, such as:
1) Low productivity of production output per worker or per square area. Why is agricultural productivity stagnating?
2) What are their plans to improve the lot of marginal farmers with very little land under their ownership. Generation after generation, agricultural plots have shrunk. What do farmer leaders think about this?
3) How do they propose to deal with the problem of farmer suicides? This has been raised by the media and farmer leaders because a farmer issue does not need to be addressed.
4) How do you incorporate technology into agriculture – seeds, IT, farming methods, knowledge of agricultural markets and price updates, etc.
5) How to make agriculture an economic activity that people aspire to and not a job of last resort.
Instead of blaming central and state governments, let farmer leaders start thinking and coming up with solutions. After all, form a separate political party and hopefully win seats that can help you become a center of pressure, they will have to show results.
By becoming a part of the electoral process and consequent government formation, agricultural leaders will understand the demands for money from various needy regions and how the allocation of funds to please those in need, is done. . Today it is about demanding, pressuring, making governments lose money by blocking transport, rail roko, storming entry points, etc. Now be part of the solution, even if it means diluting some of your strident demands. Just as the UK and other countries have Labor affiliated political parties, let India have a Peasant Party. Their Reality education process begins now!
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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