I have a dream….

I have a dream for the Invisible Indians. Those Invisible Indians who are starving every moment, who are committing suicides due to prolonged crisis in their life, who are malnourished to the extent that they hardly look like humans and those who work day and night on a small piece of land and still fail to earn a livelihood. My concern is for that 41.6% of our nation’s population which according to the World Bank is still earning less than $1.25. India is slated to be the fastest- growing economy of Asia in the coming years but the despondent irony is that India is still home to the largest number of hungry souls in the world and 47% of its children are severely malnourished. And these Invisible Indians aren’t just confined to 6.5 lac villages of the country, they can easily be spotted in the desolate nook and corners of growing cities as well. And this renders our progress meaningless and incomplete.

Unlike our government which is unabashedly basking in the country’s so-called economic prosperity, I ponder over the situation and I realize that one of the major causes of the seemingly never-ending poverty of the country is the pathetic state of the agricultural sector which employs millions of people. All major problems like population explosion, unemployment, rampant corruption, terrorism are inter-dependent but I strongly feel that the revival of agricultural sector will help mitigate the effect of these problems to a great extent. It is a widely known fact that farming in India as a profession is in jeopardy especially these days when the country is going through the worst agrarian crisis of past four decades. Developed countries in the world give 2.39% of their GNP while India gives a meager amount of 0.5 % to agriculture. While IT sector’s growth rate has been 21 to 24 and its contribution to GDP 5.5%, there is the agriculture sector which is growing at a rate of mere 3% and contributes less than 20% to the nation’s GDP. Sadly these facts raise serious questions about the wisdom of our country’s policy-makers. Or do they really think that they can easily fool the masses by highlighting the growth of sectors which hardly contributes to a nation’s GDP? The fact that progress of the sections of society who were already living their lives comfortably has not seeped in to help those people who are starving is disheartening. Undoubtedly, the primary reason for all this is that there has not been a serious and focused effort towards helping the farmers of the country.

It is about time that some stern measures are taken and farming is a made a lucrative vocation. The manifold schemes initiated by the government should be implemented more sincerely and it should be made sure that the people actually get the benefits they ought to get. It is imperative to hone the primary education system because most of our farmers are illiterate and hence not very aware of various benefits they can avail. What I strongly feel is that without undermining the importance of basic education, government should make a sincere effort to produce more efficient, rational and practical farmers. And this can be done by initiating special programs for them wherein they are guided to become farmers who are certainly smarter and more in sync with the latest technology. An institute in every district which provides perhaps a degree for specialization in farming or anything similar would actually help the situation. The course structure should be such that the students are given complete insight into how to improve the agricultural production, what kind of crops to be grown, nature of fertilizers to be used as per the texture of soil they work on and many other essential things. Except a few states, mostly farmers aren’t aware of the schemes and policies being launched for them. They still take bank loans at an interest as high as 10-12% so there is an imperative need that there is an awareness created about various loan schemes, technologies and market policies that are beneficial There are several similar programs running but it should be presented in a manner that precisely meets the requirements of the farmers. In villages, people generally don’t send their wards to schools for myriads of reasons but a course like this is sure to attract many people and benefit them too. Government can also take help from corporate sectors and NGOs to execute these plans effectively. Serious attempts should be made to produce smart “professional” farmers who earn lavishly as this will build a solid foundation for a highly productive, internationally competitive, and diversified agricultural sector.
My dream is that farming should be a coveted and respected profession in the country and that agricultural sector should be one of the most profitable sectors. It is feasible, isn’t it?

Srishti Gupta

[Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/photocracy1/2864462636/]