Another set of distressed farmers protest, but does govt get a hint?

One more farmer protest in the national capital makes headlines, but it may have just added to the long list of such outcries

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 02 October 2018
Farmer protest
Police open water cannons on protesting farmers at Delhi-UP border on Tuesday. Credit: Vikas Choudhary Police open water cannons on protesting farmers at Delhi-UP border on Tuesday. Credit: Vikas Choudhary

When Mahendra Singh Tikait, leader of Bharat Kisan Union (BKU), last spoke to Down To Earth, he said that “the future of farmers lies in complete darkness” and today when BKU took out their first long protest march since the death of their leader in 2011, they faced tear gas shells, water cannons and lathicharge at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border.

This Kisan Kranti Yatra, which kicked off from Tikait Ghat in Hardwar on September 23, is to demand a full implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report so that they would get a reasonable MSP and security for small farmers, unconditional loan waiver and payment of their sugarcane dues. They are also protesting against increasing electricity and fuel prices and NGT ban on 10-year-old tractors.

This is not the first or even the last time farmers have taken to streets to express their agony. For the past three years, farmers have been protesting across India, demanding favourable policies or concrete initiatives that would get them a fair price for their produce.

Just last month, more than 4 lakh workers and farmers arrived in Delhi to demand an end to the agrarian crisis, better employment and an end to hunger. The month before that, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) called for a ‘Jail Bharo’ movement (fill the jails) in 400 districts. This call received support from a Dalit organisation and ex-servicemen’s associations.

Although the PM Modi-led BJP government claims to double farmers’ income by 2022, but in the pursuance of this target the income has not increased, but has rather stalled or decreased. In fact, according to NITI Aayog’s recent study, the growth rate of farmers’ income on real price (which adjusts inflation) is 3.8 per cent per year and at this rate, it will take at least 25 years from now to achieve the Modi government’s target.

Another recent report by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), a government agency, showed that in the past four years, the income of a farm household has increased by just Rs 2,505/month.

This is how vulnerable Indian agricultural households are when they have nothing but regularly-made big promises to rely on.

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