ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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No Panacea for Agrarian Distress

Loan waivers do not address the deep-rooted problems of India’s farmers.

The vagaries of the monsoon and the consequent droughts, floods, or crop failures that immiserate vast sections of farmers and agricultural labourers in India, are a matter of routine even seven decades after independence. In fact, the crisis has only deepened. With inadequate agrarian policies to confront systemic structural issues, rural India continues to suffer. The evocative images of farmers from Tamil Nadu protesting in the capital for over a month now, holding dead snakes and rats in their mouths (as that is all that is available in their fields to curb hunger), and skulls of their kin who died due to destitution, have brought home the extent of the agrarian distress.

After two consecutive drought years, though the south-west monsoon was normal in most parts of India, there is a severe drought in particular parts of the country due to the failure of the north-east monsoon. The central government has declared eight states—Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh—as drought-affected. In January 2017, the Tamil Nadu government declared the state to be drought-affected and waived cooperative bank loans of small and medium farmers (who comprise around 92% of all farmers in the state). Later, a high court order directed the state government to waive cooperative bank loans of all farmers (30% of the total cooperative bank loans were given to larger farmers). Today, Tamil Nadu farmers are demanding further relief from the central government in the form of a waiver of farm loans from nationalised banks and better compensation for crop failure. The newly-elected Uttar Pradesh government has declared a farm loan waiver expected to cost the state government ₹36,359 crore.

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Updated On : 28th Aug, 2017

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