Kunal Diwan

NEW DELHI: Delivering the Third Sumitra Chishti Memorial Lecture here on Monday, The Hindu Rural Affairs Editor, P. Sainath, methodically demolished the “historical and unprecedented” Union budgetary farmer loan waiver stating that the worst affected farmers were rendered ineligible as they possessed more than the stipulated two hectare land holdings.

“In Vidharbha, over 50 per cent of land holdings are over 7.5 acres [around 3 hectares] and of the remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent have restricted access to banks. There is nothing in the budget that increases the income of farmers or stabilises prices,” he said.

Agrarian crisis

Speaking on the agrarian crisis, the Magsaysay Award winner said over 1.5 lakh farmers had committed suicide in the past five years.

A farmer killed himself every 30 minutes and the number of such suicides had increased from 15,000 a year between 1997 and 2001 to 17,000 a year in the 2002-06 period.

“Just like each case of child labour has a personal history behind it, every farmer suicide had a multiplicity of causes. But the larger canvas or backdrop that leads to such suicides is common and stems from certain undeniable causes.”

Enumerating these causative factors, Mr. Sainath said there had been a transfer of funds from the poor to the rich, an unprecedented growth of the corporate sector and gross undermining of local sovereignty and governance.

“Farming has been rendered so unviable at the small-scale level that there are not many takers for it and the relentless drive towards corporate farming has just hastened the demise of the small farm not just in India but the world over,” said the eminent journalist.

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