Dear Shri P Chidambaram

I gather from the news channels that you have delivered a please-all budget and that agriculture was the highlight of your budget. Out of curiosity I looked up your speech on the Internet, yeah we farmers can manage to access the internet every so often. I understand you have announced a packaged to waive farm loans.

Oh by the way I noticed that your speech has mentions agriculture 16 times and farmers 11 times in stark contrast to industries which get mentioned only 10 times and mqanufacturing which gets a mention only 6 times. I also noticed that banks and credit get mentioned as many times as agriculture. I get the message you are desperately wooing us farmers.

But then it got me thinking, what exactly are you wooing us with ?

Knowing that you have an economist in Dr. Manmohan Singh for a Prime Minister and you yourself have been marketed in the media as being reform oriented, I started to wonder if you are wooing us to make us farmers competitive and look beyond merely sustainable farming. So I looked up your speech and found rather interestingly that none of the references to “sustainable” were with reference to agriculture. I also found it interesting that the words “sustainability”, “competitive” or “competitiveness” find no mention in your entire speech.

Well I thought I should give you the benefit of doubt for you are an erudite and eloquent speaker and may have a wider choice of words at your disposal from your vast vocabulary.

So are you wooing us to help us farmers create more wealth for ourselves. Well again interesting results from your speech. You mention wealth only twice and that too only in your conclusion to speak not on how to help create more wealth but to merely make the point on distributing it equally.

So Mr. Finance Minister if agriculture which was the highlight of your speech and gets mentioned 16 times but you dont speak either of making us more competitive beyond merely sustainable farming nor do you speak of wealth creation, how exactly are you helping the Indian Farmer ?

A waiver of Rs 50,000 crore worth of loans to small and marginal farmers and a settlement scheme for other farmers that would cost the exchequer another Rs 10,000 crore sounds generous and large-hearted but I have a minor problem.

Firstly, it is not your money to be generous Dr. Manmohan Singh !

Secondly this largesse that you have just announced is Government funded one time amnesty. Three crore marginal and small farmers would benefit from it while an additional one crore farmers will benefit from a one time rebate of 25 per cent on payment of outstanding loans. But then this is for overdue loans.

What happens the day after the loans are waived ?

I noticed that you propose to invest more in irrigation and provide insurance while subsidizing fertilisers.

This populism of yours may keep you in business but it does little by way of making us independent and viable. What is worse it leaves a large part of the workforce unskilled and dependent on an uncompetitive sector which itself is further ever more dependent on your benevolence and at the mercy of your inefficient and more often than not corrupt bureaucracy.

I also noticed that your political opposition in the Lok Sabha was shell shocked with this populism of yours calling an election stunt. The BJP has described your loan write-off as too little too late.

I am not surprised that the Opposition is at a loss on how to react to this largesse of yours for they have all along been advocating the same kind of populism. I have these words for Mr. Advani.

Competitive populism is a bottom-less pit into which many a political fortunes have sunk. If you havent already learnt this lesson from Narendra Modi in Gujarat it is no wonder you are left with a sour tone in parliament complaining that the Congress is one up on you in populist rhetoric. If only your party went beyond the day after the loans were written off with to articulate a vision to make us competitive and a roadmap for us to create wealth you would have sounded far more credible and incisive in your criticism of the UPA’s populism.

Unfortunately that was not to be.

I once read a piece on Offstumped on how your recommendations to solve agriculture indebtedness had 46 ideas to get us into more debt only 1 idea to get us out of all debt. That in a nutshell sums up how lop-sided your approach to solving the problems faced by agriculture are.

In closing I just have this to say. We are not here to provide you with food security. We are here to create wealth for ourselves and those dependent on us.  If you really want to helps us, create avenues for us to either acquire scale and get competitive or to exit by encashing the real market value of our assets while equipping us with new skills. Dont merely treat the symptoms of that which ails us only to realize the day after that the disease lingers on.

Originally posted here

http://offstumped.nationalinterest.in/2008/02/29/union-budget-2007-2008-unwritten-letter-from-a-farmer/#post-comments

To discuss visit Orkut Forum Offstumped

http://www.orkut.com/CommMsgs.aspx?cmm=41790982&tid=2586162227490650384&na=4

Be Sociable, Share!