MP farmers’ agitation: why PM Narendra Modi should be worried!

The MP farmers’ agitation has unfortunately turned violent. A few people have lost their lives in firings and our heart grieves for their families. These killings should not have happened at all, particularly when the monsoons are just round the corner. We need more helping hands to grow more.

If not controlled, this MP farmers’ agitation might haunt Modi in the 2019 polls. 

MP farmers' agitation: why PM Narendra Modi should be worried!
Farmers throw their produce on the highway in Mandsaur. Image- Livemint

MP farmers’ agitation – the real cause?

You will be pleasantly surprised to know that the rate of growth of agriculture in Madhya Pradesh is 20%. This growth is above the national average. According to the Economic Survey 2017, agriculture growth will be 4.7 % (2016-17), up from 1.2 % in 2015-16.

Please visit this link to know more:

Indian Economy to grow to 4.7%

The Madhya Pradesh agriculture stats are here > Growth of agriculture in Madjya Pradesh

However, the farmers are still angry and we must know the reasons behind their anger.

1. Very less profit compared to investment

Did you know that in India, farmers profit very very less from agriculture?

For example, if a farmer spends Rs. 1000 in cultivating and irrigating his field, he gets just Rs. 20 as his profit! Amazing, isn’t it? This is why the farmers of Madhya Pradesh are feeling so agitated.

But there are other reasons too behind this agitation. Let’s analyze the statistics behind the MP farmers’ agitation.

2. Good Monsoon, more supply hence less price

Farmers are worried because this year there has been an over- supply of certain crops like cereals, pulses, soybean, and onions. We know that when there is a high supply of certain goods, then the prices crash. This is what has happened in Madhya Pradesh.

So, what did the government do to help the farmers?

The Madhya Pradesh government bought onion stocks worth Rs. 198 crores to help the farmers out of this crisis. However, this step was taken a little late.

MP farmers' agitation: why PM Narendra Modi should be worried!
A woman grieves by the side of the body of her dead relative in Mandsaur. Hindustan Times

3. Biggest job sector but yet no taker

But, agriculture is no longer the mainstay of the Indian economy. It contributes to just 18% of the national GDP. In the earlier days, this sector was the pillar of our economy. Not anymore. However, agriculture still employs a large number of people. This sector employs 60 % of all employed Indians. And herein lies the fundamental problem of Indian agriculture.

Agriculture- problems galore

The rate of growth of employment generation in this sector is abysmally low. In the 1990s, the rate was just 0.01 % while in the 80s, the rate was somewhat better. As India marches ahead, the agricultural sector loses its attraction for millions of Indians. But the dissatisfaction also grows simultaneously, after all, soo many millions of Indians are employed in this sector.

The reason why lesser number of people come to agriculture is that the returns are very low. It is not that agriculture is doomed to be a low-return industry. Unless farmers take to value-added agriculture, they will continue to lose out in this sector.

Agriculture is a low yielding industry

It is because the input costs are very high. For example, farmers have to pay market rate interests to the banks for getting loans. The costs of fertilizers, urea and pesticides are also very high. Electricity and water, however, are cheaper in comparison to the other input costs. These two factors are directly under the control of the Central and State governments.

Why should Narendra Modi be worried

PM Modi should be worried by the MP farmers’ agitation because it might spread over to other states. And it may as well.

This time, a large number of youth is supporting the farmers. At least, this is what I have seen in the Mandsaur TV footages. They wear jeans, T-shirts and don’t look like farmers at all. The five people who died recently in this agitation were non-farmers. The dead seemed to be students, probably looking out for jobs at a potential tie-up between the unemployed youth and distressed farmers?

MP farmers' agitation: why PM Narendra Modi should be worried!
Five people have died so far in the MP farmers’ agitation

Are we seeing at a potential tie-up between the unemployed youth and distressed farmers then?

Please note that there has been little or no employment growth in India over the past 3 years. A report in Livemint says that India recorded her highest unemployment figures in 2015, over a six year period. There has been an insignificant growth in jobs in 2016-2017 as well.

All this must be music to Rahul Gandhi’s ears, no!

The state of the BJP

Unfortunately, there are no dissenting voices in the BJP that can stand up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and show his flaws. His electoral victories have emasculated the voice of the Bhartiya Janata Party. Everybody in the party knows the perils of jobless growth but nobody has the guts to stand up and question Mr. Modi’s policies.

The supporters of the Prime Minister say that the real growth of employment is coming from the MSME sector. They point out the loan disbursals under the Mudra scheme. Under this scheme, any small scale business having a turnover of Rs. 10 lacs or less can get an unsecured loan from the government.

However, there is little data that supports the theory of massive employment going on in the MSME sector. Supporters of Modi say that the Labour Ministry does not and cannot collect data about enterprises employing less than 10 people.

The Prime Minister must realize this and take up corrective action, else it would be difficult to pass through the 2019 elections, unsinged.

The NaMo Brigade

It helps no one when the NaMo army does not reflect upon the real causes of the MP farmers’ agitation. I have seen some members of the Modi fan club question the backgrounds of the 5 people who died in Mandsaur. ‘They aren’t farmers”, was the standard refrain of a cross section of the Modi army. Twitter and Facebook were awash with images of the faces of the dead people. I found this reasoning grotesque. Mr. Modi’s media managers should put a stop to this nonsense.

Finally, the Pappu Army

Not surprisingly, Mr. Rahul Gandhi has let this situation slip away from his hands. He was all over the national television- running on the streets, riding a motorcycle and even pushing and shoving a policeman on duty. All this made excellent headlines, but his party men have made monkeys out of themselves.

MP farmers' agitation: why PM Narendra Modi should be worried!
Rahul Gandhi and his two minutes of fame. Financial Express

Here was this lady, on television, commanding the crowds of Mandsaur to burn a police chowki! There were other reports too of Congress leaders encouraging the protesters to go and burn public and private property. How crazy can that be! Only an amateur organization can behave in such a manner. I don’t think that the Congress has learned its lessons well in the recent elections. The party is still leaderless.

To conclude

Mr. Narendra Modi must focus on job creation. This must be his singular objective in the next two years. Unless new jobs are created, agriculture would suffer from unproductivity and lack of employment. A vast part of our population is actually underemployed while dooing farming jobs. Mr. Modi must design policies to lift them up from their present sorry state.

Posted by Swayam Tiwari

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