He ploughs the fields in the burning sun. It’s raining and, he’ll still be there, on his farm. Farmers care for their crops like their own children. And what happens when suddenly a burst of untimely shower destroys his whole fields? Or when his crops welters of thirst and die a slow death in the scorching heat with no God at his mercy? Moreover, the farmer is helplessly watching them die. He cannot do anything but beg for rains.
The above two questions necessarily reflect the dilemma of 70% of the Indian farmers. India, where the primary occupation is agriculture since ages, today sees a high rate of farmer suicides. Why?
Problems faced by the Farmers
- Firstly, most of India’s agriculture sector is dependent on nature’s mercy. In many regions, inadequate irrigation facilities makes the farming monsoon dependent. Droughts, thus forms one of the primary reasons of crop failures. How are we responsible? The urban population exploits nature the most. This needs no explanation.
- Then, the high prices of fertilizers and seeds adds to the agony. On the other hand, farmers usually don’t get the proper Minimal Selling Price (MSP) of their crop produce.
- Finally, the low income or crop failures forces the peasants to opt for loans to buy seeds and fertilizers for next cultivation. Thus, the entire scene actually works like a cycle where the farmer continuously gets debt-ridden.
Fed up of this cycle, more than 3,00,000 farmers have ended their lives since 1995.
Moreover, lack of scientifically effective techniques related guidance lead the farmers to use traditional methods of farming. This has further reduced the soil quality affecting the produce.
The recent farmers’ agitation:
Recently, the farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were on a strike. The farmers in Maharashtra were demanding a loan waiver for small and medium farmers. The bandh which continued for about a week finally resulted in victory. The BJP led Maharashtra Government took a historical step of waiving loans worth a whooping Thirty four thousand crores in rupees. Although, farm waivers are welcome move, but it is not a permanent solution. The government definitely needs to work on some lasting measures.
In the case of Madhya Pradesh, the agitation saw a very ugly and shameful turn. The Police resorted to firing on the agitating peasants killing five.
It is a sad truth that the “Kisaan” who produces the food we eat, is sadly left with none.
How can we help?
Obviously, none of the urban population is going to actually take up farming. But we can help monetarily. Financially well people can help the families of farmers. Big businessmen can obviously take up for children’s education. NGO’s can help in setting up healthcare facilities.
Donating every time isn’t a feasible option, but should be done whenever possible. The NAAM foundation is one such name in Maharashtra started by acclaimed filmstars Nana Patekar and Makarand Anaspure.
At individual levels, we can strive to to conserve the environment. Environmental changes affects farmers the most.
Moreover, political parties should not use farmers for political gains. Although, this cannot be expected. The Madhya Pradesh farmers agitation even saw the Chief Minister allege opposition foul play n the protests.
At this juncture, it reminds me of Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan… “Jai Jawan! Jai Kisaan!” Today, with the debates on nationalism on rise, our brave jawans are getting a decent place in the talks of the folks. Time to also look on “Jai Kisaan” now!
Because, He toils, He sows, He reaps! We buy, we cook, we eat!
We live, he dies!
Save our Farmers. We are indebted to them.
Criticizing the Congress for ignoring the peasants, Lokmanya B. G Tilak, (in Kesari, 1897) wrote,
“The country’s emancipation can only be achieved by removing the clouds of lethargy and indifference which have been hanging over the peasants, who is the soul of India. We must remove these clouds and for that we must completely identify ourselves with the peasants – we must feel that he is ours, and we are his!”
Jai Jawan! Jai Kisaan!