Unnerved by the results in the recent assembly elections, the BJP top brass is brainstorming the potential of the farm-factor in changing the tide in its favour in the coming Lok Sabah election 2019. Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi sat with Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley and Radha Mohan Singh to discuss the matter.
Among various ideas being entertained in the govt circles is the idea of subsidizing farmers, not crops. The Telangana experience is being quoted in this context. Telangana has a flat subsidy of Rs 4,000 per acre per cropping season. KCR’s decisive victory in the recent election is said to be the result of his farmer-subsidy idea.
The idea of subsidizing farmers per acre and not the crop is not new. “Administratively simple to implement, it reduces the potential for corruption. Such a subsidy should be limited to 5 acres per family, so that it benefits poor farmers the most”, opined Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar.
In a free-wheeling chat NCUI President Chandra Pal Singh also echoed the same point of view to this correspondent. “Though indeed more research is needed to see if the benefits reach to the poor or not but at the face of it, the idea sounds good and as the NCUI President I may urge the union govt to implement the same in the country”, Yadav underlined.
The US and Europe, that once subsidised crops, have shifted to cash transfers to farmers. This protects farm incomes without encouraging surplus production, argued Aiyer.
Cash transfers to farmers also makes a farmer more competitive as he aligns his farming to market forces so that he gets maximum return. Aware that the govt is not coming to his rescue he does best in his own interest. Subsidizing crop also cripples farmers in some way, opine experts.
The bane of Indian farm sector is low quality of its product unfit for global market. Experts say that once the farmer knows that he has to survive on his own he would engage with the latest technologies to compete in the global market.
The welcome news is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has so far not shown any sign of taking the Congress bait of waiving off loans. Addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh recently, Modi castigated Congress for misleading farmers, saying the govt wants to create a broad plan that would comprehensively address concerns of farmers.