The announcement of farm loan waivers in two successive BJP-led states – and the possibility of more states following suit – can by no means be a long-term solution to the problems facing farmers there. nor can the union cabinet’s decision to extend the interest subvention scheme by one year, effectively reducing the rate for short-term crop loans up to ₹3 lakh to 4 per cent. Indeed, agricultural distress is often viewed as a short-term phenomenon in which farmers look for support from various quarters on account of being unable to get a gainful return due to price crash, poor marketing facilities, rising credit burden, increasing cost of inputs and frequent occurrence of natural calamities. In the current context, demonetisation, which hit price recovery due to the serious cash crunch, was also a trigger. Agricultural distress has thus become a permanent feature, due to the failure of elected governments to find a lasting solution. The Modi government, which did little on this front during the last three years, is now reaping the bitter harvest.
The irony is that, while agricultural production is rising, farmers are out on the streets protesting. Some are even pushed to the brink of committing suicides, if not throwing their produce such as vegetable and milk on the roads to mark their helplessness. This time around, in desperation, they have even clashed with the police, as in Mandsaur, the ground zero of farmer protests, resu