If I say that there is not even single farmer exists in India having his own land under his possession, selling more than even 1 tonne of even Wheat may surprise many but is crude reality.
Those registered as Farmer in the govt data are owners of very small land piece which feed them barely two meals a day, while most of them are Mid & Big size Land Sharks (Mafia) who are directly or indirectly connected to ruling alliance or strongest opposition party in particular state. It is noted that, National Parties e.g. Congress and BJP dont indulge in such activities but they do forge alliance with these parties and hence during rule of any Govt there is no criminal action on Mafia, while every Govt holds flag of zero tolerance to Corruption.
Despite Nationalisation of Banks by Mrs Indira Gandhi, Banks remained out of reach for villagers and especially Farmers in a country which have over 50% population as Farmers. This resulted in exploitation of Farmers for loans for Crop etc taken from Money lenders (mafia) who with time gained political power becoming Sarpanch etc as most of the villagers were their creditors, were in no position to repay even interest and also their valuables as security were held with these mafia.
Problem turned severe with mushrooming of Cooperative Banks in 70’s era, which were dominated by the regional party members who were actually money & land mafia in the villages. Earlier, as money mafia they had already grabbed valuables of farmers now they had forced farmers to pledge land papers to the Banks/ Money Lenders.
With every Crop either getting damaged by flood/drought the farmers reached a point where their debts kept pilling up with money lenders/cooperative banks. The year Crop did well these mafia forced Farmers to sell the products at rock bottom price and earned huge profits by selling it to big fat distributor.
With increased money power these fat distributors /their masters became more ruthless and now had entered into active Politics posing electoral challenges to key regional and national parties. By now as these mafia had started earning huge income from Agri products they also started enjoying tax free income benefits as Farmers/Income from Agri Products.
With decade of 1980, almost all the States started forming APMC (Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee) legalising activities of these mafia as Registered Entity under State Act. This system not only increased exploitation of Farmers but also started indulging into cartelisation rigging up prices of vegetables, fruits and grains especially on arrival of new Crop.
Historically, at the time of arrival of new Crop, prices used to be very reasonable and people used to store grains & cereals etc for the year and people used to celebrate festivals with full zeal due to seasonal vegetables and fruits available at cheaper price but now scenario is reverse. To rig prices these mafia at times create fake shortage of these commodities too.
The greed of mafia didnot stop here. By mid 80’s decade, they had started controlling political parties through funding and claiming village constituencies. With this their atrocities on Farmers started becoming inhumane and initiated killing farmer for waiver of loan became new trick, becoming big political issue across nation as Farmer Suicide.
In 1990, Prime Minister VP Singh was politically forced to declare Farmers loan waiver scheme for Rs 10,000 Crore, first time in Indian history. This initiative of Govt of India opened a new regime of black-mailing by mafia to almost every Govt at Center and State ruled by any party. Consequently, either Govts give in every year for Farmer’s loan waiver or number of farmer suicide increase substantially to shake the Govt as opposition parties and media would use this as tool to create negative public sentiments. While ground reality was that loan waiver funds never reach the poor farmers.
In reality the funds of loan waiver is being pocketed by these mafia who are registered as mid – big farmers, having turn over in 100s of Crores annually. This loan waiver has become such a big monster that it would cost India in FY 2020-21 to alomst 40-50 billion USD which is approx 2% of GDP.
Over the years all those who were actual owners of Agri Lands have become labour in their own farm-land as their lands have been grabbed by money lenders in lieu of Loans while big farmers & land mafia are growing exponentially gulping Agri Income and Loan Waiver funds.
Reports by all committees on Farmer loans and RBI have recommended to abolish farmer’s loan waiver as these are working negatively for economy as number of default to Cooperative Banks are increasing rapidly increasing number of NPAs too.
NDA Govt has started good initiative of DBT and GPS based Land records digitisation so that soonest possible original land owning farmers are free from clutches of these mafia but success of this mission will depend upon committed efforts of State Govts.
Moving furthers, Govt must also look at options to :
a. Reduce burden of Loan waiver on Budget and eventually abolish it
b. RBI control on Cooperative Banks for regulation and Management
c. Ways to eliminate mafia from Agriculture sector
d. Increase Agricultural contribution to GDP which has fallen to approx 12-14%
e. Set up all weather Agri Product Storages network to preserve crop produce
f. Fund Crop and buy 100% product at MSP & preserve produce in Cold Storages
g. Develop mafia free efficient Logistics & Supply Chain
h. Make Agri Income Taxable
i. Dis-allow direct/indirect control of Farming land by Individual/Group of Individuals/any other Entity