From the time of Green Revolution in 1970s, Punjab has had the distinction of being the ‘Granary of India’, replacing West Bengal from the coveted position. Punjab’s decent per capita income is driven largely by its agriculture and farming sector. However, the condition of its farmer has deteriorated in the recent times and has even culminated into increased suicides.
Although, official figures have not been released by the incumbent government, estimates suggest that 70 farmers have committed suicide since the new government has taken over. The silver lining provided by the Punjab government is Rs 10 lakh and a job to a kin, which the opposition BJP says is still awaited by the beneficiaries.
BJP’s State party Vice President, Harjit Singh Grewal said, “Thousands of acres of crops have been damaged due to fire, rains and hailstorm and the farmers are awaiting compensation of Rs 20,000 which you had promised.”
However, the previous government’s performance was no better. In 2016, after Maharashtra, it was Punjab with the highest number of suicide cases in India among the farmers. Then minister of state for agriculture, Mohanbhai Kundariya, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha said, ‘number of suicides committed by farmers due to agrarian reason as reported by the state governments’, indicating the reported suicide in India has been 1,690 cases in 2015 involving 10 states.
The maximum number of farmer suicide cases was reported in Maharashtra at 725, followed by Punjab at 449, Telangana 342, Karnataka 107 and Andhra Pradesh 58.
This throws open a fundamental question: what purpose does Prime Minister’s (and some case chief ministers also) foreign trips to bring in multinational companies or talking about growth rate, smart cities, and ‘make in India’ serve when the farmers of our country are forced to end their lives? Are the farmers not part of India? Or India is only few metro cities with glitzy shopping mall and fast driven cars? It seems the priority of our development policies is highly lopsided. The government has probably thought few urban pockets are all that we need to develop! It is high time that our governments set the priorities right of the segments that should be developed and focused upon. Otherwise, the backlash can be quite severe and the incumbent government’s fall is imminent.