The farmers’ protests in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh brings into limelight the Centre’s continued neglect of farmer’s issues. The protests were mainly held on demands such as loan waiver schemes and better prices for their agricultural produce by ensuring a minimum support price for all crops to cover the cost of production plus 50 per cent profit.
The intensity of the protests forced the state governments to announce loan waivers quickly and also to fix a minimum support price for agricultural produce and diary produce. Although, the announced loan waivers are inadequate to address the problems of farm debt.
In Maharashtra, 1.36 lakh crore farmers owe of Rs 1.14 lakh crore to the banks, but the package announced by Devendra Fadnavis covers only Rs 30000 crores.
Meanwhile, in Madhya Pradesh, the state where half of its 64 lakh farmers are under debt with an average debt of Rs. 14,128, only 1000 crores has been allocated for the debt relief scheme named Krishi Rin Samadhan Yojna.
Absolving itself of all responsibility, Modi government has laid the liability on respective states. Union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s remark, “states which want to go for these kinds of schemes will have to generate them from their own resources”, exposes the hypocrisy of the Centre.
While the Centre refused to help the debt ridden farmers, it has been much more accommodative to the debit ridden corporates.
Farmers’ debts are negligible as compared to the corporate loans which have been waived off by the Centre during the last 5 years. The total Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) of public sector banks stands at Rs 6.8 lakh crore. While farmers’ are making up only 1% of the NPAs, 70% are with corporates. Under the Modi regime, the NPAs of public sector banks skyrocketed from Rs 2.3 lakh crores to Rs 6.8 lakh crore. Moreover, Rs. 2.25 lakh crores of loans, mostly of corporates, have been waived off in the past five years.
Besides this huge waiver of policies, the Modi government has forced the public sector banks to restructure the bad loans of corporate houses, through which they would get new loans to pay off their debts. Gautham Adani, a frequent name in the escort lists of PM Modi’s foreign trips, owes Rs 72000 crores mostly to the public sector banks. Another corporate giant Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Gas Transport Infrastructure Limited got a loan refinance of Rs 4500 crore with an extension of a payment period.
The Modi government which rode to power in 2014 by giving coloured assurances on the implementation of Swaminathan committee recommendations, is refusing to discuss the agrarian crisis and loan waiver. At the same time the Modi government is happy with writing off corporate debts and framing favourable policies for corporate houses. Various tax reductions and writing off loans suggest the vested interests of the Centre. The policies of government clearly show a pro-corporate, anti-people bias, which in turn reminds one of the famous term “suit boot ki Sarkar.”
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