Maharashtra kisan rally: A model protest
- By demanding six-day March of nearly 200 km from Nashik to Mumbai by thousands of farmers, with the aim to protest the Maharashtra Assembly and sensitise the government to their problems, was
- The demand that caveats to the State’s loan waiver scheme be dropped so that genuine small farmers are not excluded is also being considered.
- The efficacy of loan waivers in alleviating farm distress is limited at best.
- A few droughts or disruptions later, another waiver would be called for if no institutional reforms are undertaken to free constricted agricultural markets.
- However, having announced a waiver scheme, the State should ensure that small farmers don’t get left out.
- A six-month deadline has been set for changes that will take some doing, with a written assurance that some of the demands will be pushed through immediately.
- A large number of the marchers were tribals with no land titles; therefore, the promise that the 2006 Forest Rights Act will be implemented in letter and spirit is welcome.
- Somehow announced a waiver scheme, the State should ensure that small farmers don’t get left out.
- Maharashtra’s farm sector shrunk by over 8% in 2017-18, but the distress goes beyond its borders and demands for raising the minimum support price in line with the M.S. Swaminathan Commission report are spreading, with Haryana farmers picking up the baton on Tuesday.
- The BJP-led government at the Centre, which has been promising doubling of farm incomes and higher prices, and is to seek re-election a year from now, would do well to take note too.