Anyone associated with or interested in India around year 1965 would know that the then Prime Minister, Lal bahadur Shastri, had given a national slogan, ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. That meant ‘ Hail Soldiers, Hail Farmers’. The role of Kisan in the life of India was seen as important as the role of army soldiers. Soldiers provided border security. Farmers provided food security. During early 1960s India had been experiencing food shortages and had to import wheat to meet its needs.
Green Revolution- Not the Making of Farmers Alone
Then came Green Revolution from 1967 onwards. From a food deficient country, India became a food surplus economy. While the farmers’ role can’t be underestimated in bringing Green Revolution, but it will be utterly wrong not to recognize the role of many others including agricultural scientists, technical workforce, agricultural equipment manufacturers, institutes of technical education, universities and institutes of Agricultural Research, media, and the government. It is stated that the Green Revolution was a technology package comprising material components of improved high yielding varieties of two staple cereals (rice and wheat), irrigation or controlled water supply and improved moisture utilization, fertilizers, and pesticides, and associated management skills.
Circa 2020. India, in addition to COVID-19 challenge, has been experiencing farmers’ protest.
What has changed so much that India is facing farmers protest?
Agriculture is one sector that has been always ‘blue eyed boy’ of every government in every country. The reason. Agriculture is prime source of food security for a country. As a result, every government provides multiple subsidies to agriculture. At the World Trade Organization, all members accuse each other of over subsidizing their agriculture and dumping their agriculture products in the others country. President Trump and his team worked hard to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to protect American interests including American Agriculture.
Questions are being raised in the world free trade forums: can India legally guarantee minimum support price, or MSP, and provide multiple subsidies to its farmers without contravening its obligations under the World Trade Organization law?
If you want to read about the agricultural subsidies in India , may please visit: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1607343
I wish WTO doesn’t visit this.
The Indian Government has been smartly defending its MSP and multiple subsidies to Indian agriculture by arguing for food security of India, livelihood protection for poor farmers and high subsidization of agriculture by developed countries like USA, Canada, EU.
India’s Landed Aristocracy
India and its two former parts (presently Pakistan and Bangladesh) have been known as agrarian economies and landed aristocracies. There was a novel titled ‘Unche Log’ by Gurudutt, published in 1950s, where he wrote that after Independence (better said, partition, because in effect, India never got real Independence) of the country in 1947, overnight, those landed aristocrats bought and started wearing that patented cap worn by congress leaders and workers, and became political leaders. His message was, they are ‘Unche’ which in English mean ‘highly placed’, not ‘barde’, which in English means ‘Great’. Politics in India has been always dominated by landed aristocrats.
India has no Agricultural Income tax.
India has no capital gains tax on agricultural land.
In an article by Amit Retharekar ‘Sowing tainted money in Indian Agriculture Sector’ (https://indiaforensic.com/certifications/agriculture-money-laundering-in-india/)
“Some mind boggling numbers from a statement made on the floor of the Indian Parliament under Right to Information (RTI) query were:
- Between 2010-11, area under cultivation, agricultural production remains constant; but agricultural income exceeds GDP by nearly 20 times.
- Hardly 2% of Income Tax Assessee declare agricultural income, yet the amount runs in trillions of rupees. (Under Income Tax Law, Agricultural income is declared for rate computation on non- agricultural income, not for taxing agricultural income.)
It is rather interesting to note that, the spike in agricultural income is during the same time, when Indian Government started investigating black money in offshore accounts. Just a mere co-incidence?
In 2016, when the Government of India announced demonetization of currency notes, Income Tax officers suspected that income attributable to non-agricultural activities was declared as agriculture income. Income Tax returns (ITR) revealed excessive income without adding to income tax liability.”
Here below is a pictures from current farmers protest in India.
Do you think it is a protest by poor farmers?
It is neither a protest by poor farmers nor by All India’s farmers.
It smells like a CPI (M) led political protest, supported by opposition political parties like Congress, AAP and others.
Do you know who is coordinating this protest?
His name is Vijoo Krishnan.
Is he a farmer?
He is the Joint Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), CPI (M)’s farmer wing.
He is the JNU alumnus. He was the President of the JNU Student Union.
JNU, as you may know, is the (in)famous land of ‘Tukre-Tukre Gang’. ‘Tukre- Tukre Gang’ means JNU students who wish and work towards division and fragmentation of India in multiple part.
For the Starters, JNU is one of the Central University of India, funded by Central (Federal) Government of India.
And you can see the outcome of that University of India, and its contribution to Nation Building.
CPI (M) and all left parties of India have a long history of protests in that country.
India has by now its own brand of activists by profession.
Their method of organizing ‘huge’ and ‘extended’ protests is also standardized. That is called ‘Issue based protest’.
‘Issue based protest’ is like a temporary marriage of convenience by strange bed- fellows.
And India, by and large, till date, being an agrarian society and landed aristocracy, ‘poor farmers’ issue is ready to blow up, despite all those subsidies and MSP.
The World has moved towards Sales- Profit= Cost. That is the target costing approach to achieve efficiency of operations.
MSP is Cost + Profit=Sales
That is putting premium on cost efficiencies. Worst, it is like monopolistic pricing.
Jai Kisan, for every Indian, no two opinions. But Jai Dirty Politics, no way.
Let me leave you with a fun fact. A video which is currently doing the rounds in social media is about a protesting farmer who says, even if Modi agrees to all demands, I would not go back. B’cause here, at the protest site, everything is free; free, good quality, timely, all varieties, unlimited food; free shelter; and all unaffordable conveniences like massagers, washing machines, etc.
“A daily loss of Rs 3,000-3,500 crore is resulting in the economies of the region from the value chain and transport disruption because of the protests,” says industry body, ASSOCHAM.
(The author is son of a refugee family of partition of India in 1947, that toiled as petty farmers in Punjab, India, and a Professor of Finance and Financial advisor by Profession. He is former Director, IIM Indore India).
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.