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Distressed farmers want to be heard
By d-sector Team

At the conclusion of Kisan Swaraj Yatra, farmers travelled far and wide to reach Rajghat to share their concerns and pains.


Hundreds of farmers assembled at Rajghat for culmination of
Kisan Swaraj Yatra

Hundreds of farmers assembled at Rajghat for culmination of Kisan Swaraj Yatra

Even the chills of Delhi could not diminish the energy of farmers who came from all over India to warn the nation about the grave consequences of ignoring crisis in Indian agriculture. The zeal in the crowd was noticeable and it seemed for many farmers the freedom struggle wasn’t over in spite of the nation getting political freedom. The gathering at Rajghat, the memorial for Mahatma Gandhi, for the culmination of the 71-day long Kisan Swaraj Yatra had representatives from all parts of India and defined its diversity.

The nation-wide Kisan Swaraj Yatra was an initiative to bring together people from all sections of society on the issue of sustainability in Indian farming. It travelled through 100 districts of 20 states and interacted with farmers, consumers, agriculture scientists, political activists and others through public meetings, informal interactions, field visits and citizen forums. The Yatra was organized by ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture), a network of NGOs across the country.

More than 200 farmers and activists travelled by bus across the country to share sustainable agricultural practices with farmers and to give them a message of hope. It also appealed to all citizens to save our food and farming systems and to pose a challenge to the governments that are adopting anti-farmer policies.

“Kisan Swaraj Yatra calls for a comprehensive new path for Indian agriculture – a path that will provide livelihood and food security for our farmers, keep our soils alive, and our food and water poison-free,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, co-convenor of ASHA, who led the Yatra.

“Farmers are indeed struggling to have a dignified living through farming and to hold on to their resources in most places. Farmers repeatedly raised the issue of high costs of farming coupled with non-remunerative prices pushing them into distress,” she added.

Dr G. V. Ramanjaneyulu of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture put forth the demands of the Yatra: “The government has to guarantee income security to all farming households, ensure environmental sustainability in our agriculture and protect the rights and resources of farmers including on seed and land. Only then can we have sustainable livelihoods assured for our annadaatas”.

Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, President of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, declared that the time had come for a second freedom struggle, this time to regain our land, water and other natural resources from the grip of the MNCs. He said that the latest ploy of the agrochemical companies was to take over the most essential component of our farming – Seed.

The farmers and representatives of the ASHA later met UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and briefed her about the Kisan Swaraj Policy, a charter of demands to ensure sustainable farming, protection of the livelihoods of the farmers and farm workers and food safety and security of the nation.

Write to d-sector  |  Editor's Note

 Other Articles by d-sector Team in
Socio-Economic Development  > Indian Economy > Agriculture
 Other Articles in Socio-Economic Development
Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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