The Budget 2020 is out now. Two things that I observe every year are, the urban class’s eyes looking for relief in tax slabs and fluctuation of share market, which both to me are an urban class thing.
Now, I have nothing against urban class per se; in fact, I am an integral part of this class. But I also come from the agriculture background family. So my eyes have always been interested in looking for the development required for agricultural push (rural class thing) in the budget. I tried to read the budget 2020 through the lens of rural class, and like every year, nothing significant nor necessary developments have been announced to correct the inefficiencies of Indian agriculture.
Though are our economy (which is presently not strong) is dominated by the service sector ( around 55% of the total size of the economy) hence more developments and reliefs in this regard are understood in the budget plans. The Indian agriculture( around 16% of the size of the economy) still holds the majority of the working population involved in it. Not to forget, many service sector companies like food and beverages, merchandise are also highly dependent on it. So neither the government nor people should disregard the contribution of agriculture to our economy.
Indian agriculture is in shambles, the financial inclusion has increased, but income inequality is widening. The technology is spreading, but digital literacy is still low. The subsidies are present but benefit more to big farmers than small marginal farmers(82 percent of farmers being small and marginal). The MSP is in place, but farmers are still getting a lower price. The facilities provided for today’s farmers are more, but the farmer’s suicide is also on the rise. The loan waivers are there, but the lack of storage structures and the rise of pest attacks is still a grave concern
Of course, we judge most things through the urban class’s cliche of “nothing is perfect”, “every coin has two sides,” etc. While I support the cliches in many areas but not in this case of poor growth of Indian agriculture. Here we cannot blame farmers for the inadequacies they encounter. Yes, the climate change is also responsible for the suffering of agriculture. But the lack of significant developments in the 21st century has been majorly accountable for agricultural woes, be it any government. Also we cannot normalize their ignorance, be it in the budget announcements or the discussions of national television.
The Budget 2020 announces a 16 point action plan to double the farmer’s income by 2022. Two things in the action plan I found amusing were the ideas of Kisan Rail and Kisan Udaan to transport the perishable goods through railways and airways, respectively. While not to discredit the noble intention behind the concept but to me, it seems to be an ultimate mockery to small and marginal farmers. They are unable to sell their produce at the local market at the actual price, and here the budget makes them believe their produce will fly to international markets and will receive better prices.
My sincere request to the government both at the Centre and States is to give the deserved attention to the agrarian economy seriously. The Indian agriculture needs structural and multi layered solutions provided the diversity of Indian agriculture. If they wish to give tribute to Mahatama Gandhi in the real sense, they should empower people involved in agriculture. Ignoring their problems and plights has become so mainstream and a thing of urban class. I try to wonder like the urban class,
Are farmers excited to hear or read the budget ?
Are there surveys to take their feedback on the budget announcements ?
Is there any mechanism or channel for farmers to make them understand the benefits of budget plan and how to reap them ?
Remember, the urban class thing that we all take pride in is very much related to this rural class thing. The least we could all do is to recognize the inadequacies of Indian agriculture and not ignore it, which we have been doing intentionally/unintentionally.
Link for Budget 2020- https://www.indiabudget.gov.in/