This refers to the article “Ending the debt trap & attaining food security” (March 3). The settling of debts of just one section of poor farmers who are beneficiaries of institutionalised loans will not help matters much. The government should identify those dependent on private sources which lend money at exorbitant rates. Clearing the debts in a one-time move, and glossing over it till the elections are over, is meaningless.
Our lands have become degraded and lost all productive capacity. Farmers should be provided subsidised inputs and timely buyback of their produce at reasonable rates. This would amount to teaching a person how to fish for a livelihood rather than giving him fish as a one-time generosity. Spending Rs.60,000 crore on debt relief is not enough. The beneficiaries should be made self-reliant.
M. Kamal Naidu,
Hyderabad * * *
After championing the farmers’ cause both in and outside Parliament till the day of budget, it is politically dishonest for the opposition to cry foul when the government has actually announced a massive relief plan to help farmers overcome their distress. The opposition’s inconsistent stance makes one wonder whether it was only exploiting the farmers’ plight for political ends.
Puttaparthy * * *
The waiver is like providing food to the hungry in the morning who become hungry again in the evening. Does the Finance Minister propose to clean up the accumulated dust year after year? Instead, Rs.60,000 crore could have been spent on educating the farmers, providing them with water, seeds and fertilizers, setting up food processing units in every district and buying the produce at a fixed price.
Bangalore * * *
The debt relief does not fully mitigate the farmers’ problems in India. In fact, it will only encourage them to evade the repayment of bank loans. In the long run, the waiver will do more harm to farmers because financial institutions will hereafter be wary of advancing big loans to them. The government should evolve better remunerative prices for agricultural produce.
A. Madan Mohan,
Chittoor * * *
Will the debt relief actually solve our farmers’ tribulations? The fact that most of the farm borrowings is from moneylenders has been overlooked. The Finance Minister could have ploughed the funds towards welfare measures which would have assured earnings. The farmers would have then earned enough to repay their loans.
Chennai * * *
The waiver announcement has come a little too late. Had it come earlier, some precious lives could have been saved. It has also created an anomalous situation. Honest farmers sacrificed many things while honouring their schedule of repayments. Many who were unable to repay loans resorted to suicide. Both these categories do not benefit from the waiver. Isn’t it cruel?
Mumbai * * *
The agricultural loan waiver has essentially proved that the policy of economic liberalisation drawn up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not worked and that the Finance Minister could not do anything to take the so-called liberalised markets to the rural masses. Election-eyed loan waivers to one and all will only ruin the economy in the long run.
S. Subramaniam Balaji,
Chennai * * *
Who is going to foot the bill for the Rs.60,000 crore of loans that have been waived? The honest taxpayer. The service tax, a modest 5 per cent when it was introduced, has been enhanced to 12 per cent. Its net too has been widened. It is most unfortunate that instead of stemming the skyrocketing prices of essential commodities, especially food articles, the government has levied service tax on commodity trading, which is going to push up the prices beyond the reach of the common man.
Chennai * * *
Repayment of loans in the agricultural sector has virtually come to a halt. Non-performing assets will only increase in spite of all waivers. This will be a blow to the public sector banks and, at the same time, a boost to private, new generation banks because agricultural loans are distributed mainly by PSUs.
M.V. Suresh Babu,
Kochi * * *
The waiver of farmers’ loans amounting to Rs.60,000 crore is laudable. However, it may set a bad precedent. In future, farmers may take loans and wait for the next elections and a waiver. It will also serve as a disincentive to those farmers who pay off their loans regularly.
Wg. Cdr. V. Sundaresan (retd.),
Secunderabad* * *
Rather than arguing whether the waiving of the loans has been done with an eye on the elections, we should think of setting up credible structures to ensure that our farmers do not get into the debt trap again.