Letter to BS: Farmers call off Mumbai protest after govt agrees to demands

This is with reference to the report “Demands met, farmers call off Mumbai protest” (March 13). The long and arduous march undertaken by the poor farmers was a success. It drew attention towards their plight and persuaded the Maharashtra government to accede to some of their demands. It won huge popular support despite the Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) attempt to denigrate it as a political stunt and as a communist conspiracy. One wishes that the BJP would reinvent itself as a party of workers and farmers. The farmers, most of whom were adivasis, represented people’s power at its best. Their legitimate demands resonated with the people.

If agriculture is now not a viable occupation, the cause lies in the government's policies. Paying lip service to farmers’ concerns is not the same as pursuing pro-farmer policies. The promise of doubling farm income and achhe din is fine to hear, but rings hollow in the absence of a follow-up action. The Swaminathan panel report and the Forest Rights Act are still on paper. On the one hand, the government cites cash crunch to explain its inability to go all out to mitigate farm distress, on the other, it infuses cash to the tune of thousands of crores into banks and the telecom sector.  The government needs to get its priorities right. The images of a debt-ridden farmer driven to despair looking for a piece of rope and a business tycoon with wads of ill-gotten currency fleeing the country after defrauding banks, mirror the kind of India we live in. 

G David Milton,  Tamil Nadu

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