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Group of people who depend on agriculture and the monsoon in India, are in shambles. With so many relief activities carried out by the UPA Government, the suicide rate in Maharashtra is still shocking, at about 3 deaths per day. This is really heart breaking.

Also the policy to provide compensation to the affected families seem to be flawed. A thorough investigation is done for all the claim applications and this cannot be ruled out. But comparing the trend between 2006 and 2007, a lot more applications have been rejected this year due to the reasons that the deaths were not related to ‘agricultural suicides’. According to the policy, eligible reasons for the suicide must be the following – farmers who committed suicide must have taken a bank loan, must have a cultivated land and defaulted on the loan before death. But, how does it take into account those farmers who are not provided loans because of their bad financial status and those who committed suicide because of family commitments like daughter marriage, that are indirectly related to agricultural grievance?

Government directive to the banks to provide loans for those farmers who already have open loans and unable to repay, only increases their debt. They are in double debt now! Also the farmers are not properly guided to make the best use of the existing money. They invest their money in stuff like Bt Cotton seeds, which turn out to be a failed strategy.

I think, the following should be the strategy to make sure that the distribution system improves

  • Make a complete survey of the worst affected villages. Take a list of all farmers and provide then unique identification numbers
  • Record the status of each farmer like whether he has a land, he has taken a bank loan, etc.
  • Match all claim applications against this database and take appropriate decisions
  • Plan all subsidies based on the data collected. Instead of providing additional loans and burdening the farmers, better strategy would be to provide subsidies
  • With the help of leading agricultural institutions in the country, educate the farmers about the best strategy in worst times. This will make sure that all money the farmers get would be used in the best possible manner

Government is so busy providing subsidies to wheat imports and other forms of export.  But there is a whole class of people waiting for them, within our country.  India has bought wheat at very high rates, in the recent past.  The justification was to save it for the future.  But, please consider the present grievance!  Saving for the future is necessary, but ignoring the present plight is far more serious.

I greatly admire the steps taken by the Government to help these farmers.  But what is needed is a bit of tweaking, so that the policy really makes sense to these farmers and make them live longer!

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