The 2008 crisis, starting in the west and making its presence felt across the globe, has taken its time to be felt all the way to the Indian wallets. But none dare challenge the heavy effect we have all felt in the past few years. It has come under many different guises, be it buying vegetables for the house or the sinful smoke after work. In 2016, and we still have fared much better than most.
It is little accepted, but a fact nonetheless, the planet’s economy is in shambles. Entire generations are seeing their financial future or the savings of their entire lives going up in smoke. While even our country has not been entirely immune to the same, the sad fact is this – someone messed up big time. We could blame other countries or cultures or any entity for it, it doesn’t change another fact. It is a mess.
There have been many disturbing trends in the global as well as local economy, whether you take the devaluation of Chinese Yuan to the Bad Debt fiasco in our public sector banks. There are many who will bay for the blood of Vijay Mallya, or worry about the financial ramifications of Rs. 1000 crore scam by 4 businessmen and 5 executives in a major Public Sector bank. There is a more relevant issue to be addressed.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been announcing various campaigns like Make in India, Digital India and Start up India; the country has been looking at a rainfall deficit in 3 out of the last 4 years. Drought like situation in many regions in Maharashtra has been a reality for many months now; and in some places for years. Farmer suicides have become a common escape for those with outstanding loans and no respite with their crops either failing or coming woefully short to cover their expenses.
It is a well expounded and accepted fact that the Indian economy is based on the agriculture sector. As go the crops, so goes the nation is crude but not too off the mark. With MeT predictions giving hope for a favourable monsoon, the markets saw a sharp rise on hopes of a good crop and a healthy economy.
But the point of concern doesn’t get addressed with such a short term view. Powering a nation of 1.2 billion people, as a country it is alarming to have the agricultural sector in a plight that it has been in the past few years. Mismanagement of crops, cultivation of high water requirement cash crops has over taken the staple of pulses, potatoes to be replaced by sugarcane and paddy. Rising loans, a depleting water table, no concrete steps towards conservation efforts putting the nature at risk and an increasingly alarming ease with which mining and other environmentally projects are put through, all set off alarm bells with regards to a sustainable growth future for the country.
While we may have one of the largest IT and Services sector, the sad truth is that there is no alternative to increasing the value addition to physical goods within the country. In trying to compete for the saturated markets abroad, we may have ignored the policy and framework requirements needed at home for continued growth. What adds to the misery is the “by the rulebook” fashion the existing policies have been implemented.
That is not to discount sectors other than agriculture. But the sad truth is, in the race to polish up other sectors, attention has been diverted from the key sector on which the rest of the economy is based. Farming, as an occupation has been relegated to those who would either follow that or be forced to work as labour in construction projects in the major cities, adding to the migrant worker crisis.
The need, rather, is an open minded and innovative approach with the goal to promote farming and to make it as profitable without having a negative impact on the environment and economy. This balanced approach can only be successful if the government functionaries at the grass root level are accountable and incentivise the same for others. The state of near paralysis has seeped into the ranks, having been followed in a blind manner both out of convenience and lack of any other approach.
We can’t let the state of our farmers continue the same. Not out of any patriotic fervour, but rather as a practical standard of functioning. The blinkers on approach not only kills any kind of innovation, but has led to the now deep seated issue of corruption. While the overall work against corruption will go on, handled by the concerned investigating authorities, it is time to wake up to the fact that this inert state will have to end for the better future. A better future not for our children, which has already been long in danger, but even for ourselves, because consequences of decades now comes home to roost.
Ranveer Raj Bhatnagar