On looking back the year 2017, it could be acknowledged that it was a year of ‘Agrarian‘ significance. It kick started from southern India as the youth protest for Jallikattu. This leaderless movement in Marina and rest of Tamil Nadu, besides demanding to lift the ban on Jallikattu sport, had also voiced the concern towards native breeds of cattle and Organic Agriculture. Then soon after the formation of BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, debate on farm loan waiver took to the centre stage. Eminent economists warned it as “bad idea”, but it became an inevitable obligation to Government owing to repeated drought seasons.
Farm loan waivers in a few states, continual sufferings of rural economy by demonetisation and distressed selling had triggered farmers protest across India. In June, Pipliya Nandi near Mandsaur became a spotlight of protests which turned violent resulting in killing of nearly five farmers. In addition to these events, Government’s notification on Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of livestock markets) Rules 2017, that bans sales on animals for slaughter in cattle market questioned the livelihood of agrarian community of country, though it was recalled later.
Farmers protest reached its climax on November 20 – 21 when farmers across the country assembled at National Capital to burst out their sufferings and to remind the Government it’s commitment to double their income. They organised the Farmer’s Relief Parliament or the Kisan Mukti Sansad to make a collective demand. Two bills were drafted, One is to relieve farmers from immediate debt burden (Farmer’s Freedom from Debt Bill, 2017), Second is for the prompt implementation of Swaminathan Committee recommendations to increase remunerative prices for their produce (Farmers’ Rights to Assured Remunerative Prices for Agricultural Produce Bill, 2017).
These events show us that 2017 was just another year of sufferings for farmer. But repeated failures of successive governments to make farming a profitable enterprise united farmers across the country. In future, Farmers associations will turn into unstoppable pressure groups if reforms fail to turn into reality.
Let us all hope and pray for a successful year for our Agrarians.
(This article was originally published as ‘Letter from the Editor‘ in ‘The Agraria’ e-Magazine. You can Subscribe it here)