֮ (֟) : ֿ ֳ ֤õ ֓ ӳ߸ ׾ֵ ָָ ־ ָָ ָ ֮ ,

ָ, Ϭ֮ ֟ ϴ ֲ ֟ , ֮ , ֟ ָ ָ™ ֋ ӡ ׾ֵ ָ ִ֟ , ֮ ֮ ֺ ִ ׾ֵ ֲ ָ , ֲ ָ ֮ ֤ ִõ ִ֮֬ օ

Sir, the Government have identified 31 districts where farmers are committing suicides on a large scale . In Andhra Pradesh, there are 16 districts; in Maharashtra and Karnataka, there are six districts; and in Kerala, there are three districts....(Interruptions)..


SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI: Yes, Sir. So, the Government has declared 31 such districts. Therefore, Sir, I know that these are not the only districts -- I know for certain --...(Interruptions)...

THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE (SHRI SHARAD PAWAR): I said, Chair is for the whole House.

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KUREAN): Yes, Chair is for everybody. So, if you increase in every State, I will be very happy.

SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI: Therefore, Sir, I will speak about all the parts of our country where suicides are being committed, but, of course, my thrust will be on the State of Maharashtra from where I come. Sir, in Maharashtra, right from 2001-05, I have seen that the number of suicides is increasing. The total number, according to my knowledge, of suicides during this period is 2,285. I have taken the figures up to May, 2006. Before that also, in some places, suicides were committed but the total figure during 2001-06 is not a small number. I personally feel that a farmer commits suicides when it becomes impossible for him to live. Under the Constitution of India, every citizen of our country has been assured the right to live. It is a Fundamental Right. But, to farmers, unfortunately, this Fundamental Right is not being given, and the matter becomes more serious when I find that after such debates having taken place on a number of occasions in both the Houses, no concrete result is coming out. I would like, therefore, to ask the hon. Agriculture Minister whether he seriously wants to stop farmers' suicides in the country. I am sure and I am confident that if the Government goes ahead with determination, with strong will, to see that these poor people do not commit suicides, it can be done. Sir, I do not want a routine reply from the hon. Minister. I know that at different places, different Committees were appointed. In Andhra, on this issue there was a Committee, namely, National Institute of Agricultural Extension and Management; in Karnataka,` Naresh Committee was appointed; and, in Maharashtra, two Committees were appointed --one was Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the other was Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research. (Contd. by 3B/PB)


SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI (CONTD.): Therefore, my first request to the hon. Minister is, not to appoint any Committee any more, because the appointment of committees has been sufficiently done. They have given their opinions on the issue. They have given their recommendations. But, unfortunately, the Government has not worked according to their recommendations.

Sir, in Maharashtra, it is not that the farmers are only committing suicides, but some farmers -- because they wanted to repay their loans -- have sold their kidneys. There was a case wherein a farmer had sold his child only because he wanted to repay the loan. In such a grave situation, a representation was made to the President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and in this representation, -- the villagers are from Vadola, a village in Vidarbha, -- they have asked the permission of his Excellency, the President of India, for euthanasia, i.e., that they wanted his permission to kill themselves. Sir, this is a very grave situation. But even for raising such a serious discussion in the House, -- this Session is almost getting over and we are debating this issue now -- we are waiting till the fag end of the Session. As a matter of fact, this issue should have been the first item of discussion in the House. It should have got the first priority among the items which was supposed to be discussed in the House in this Session. But, unfortunately, it could not be done because the farmers have the last priority, not only outside but even in this Session also. Sir, these farmers wrote to the President that they would like to end their lives instead of suffering crop losses every year. It means, they were prepared to die, and they wanted the permission of the President of India in that regard. If this is the plight of the poor farmers of this country, I don't know what the Government is going to do. I have to make a charge against the Government that they are not sincerely trying to solve this problem; and they are also not seriously attempting to stop suicide being committed by farmers of our country. ...(Time-bell)... Sir, I have just started. Sir, firstly, the debated started too late. We can sit late. You can take the sense of the House. I am sure that everybody would like to sit late. ...(Interruptions)...

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): See, Manoharji, there are 17 more speakers who are yet to speak. That is why I am saying this. Please try to be brief. Try to complete it, as soon as possible.

SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI: Sir, I will try to be brief. Sir, the Chief Secretary of the State of Maharashtra was fined for not giving the necessary information about the death of people, about the number of suicides, to the court. Is the Minister aware of this that finally on their request for pardon, they were pardoned by the court? But the Chief Secretary and thirteen other IAS officers were punished only because they could not give the information at right time. Sir, once Gandhiji had said, "The poor Indian farmers have no option but to do farming activity. He cultivates the land which he inherited from his ancestors and the agricultural activities are not profitable. But by cultivating the land, the farmer is becoming poor and poor day-by-day." So, it means, the great leader like Mahatma Gandhi, also knew the plight of the farmers.

Sir, I would only talk about the points which I want to make. The reasons for suicides by the farmers are enumerated by the Minister himself. (Contd. by 3c/SKC)


SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI (CONTD.): He had said, natural calamities cause high indebtedness, and the reason for that is, failure of crops, uncertainty of monsoon, non-availability of term loans, high rate of interest, highest rates of interest of the private moneylenders, diversion of loan for marriage, sickness, education, etc., mono-crop, no supplementary income other than agriculture and much pressure on land because of the growing population.

Sir, I would like to add only two to three points to these. One of them is, the Plan outlay in agriculture, which is going down every year. Is it not necessary, and does the Government not know, that this Plan outlay needs to be increased? If you look at the Plan right from 1951, during 1951-'56 it was 14.9 per cent of the total Plan; now, if we look at the Tenth Plan, the Plan outlay has gone down to 5.2 per cent. That means that for agriculture, the outlay is not increasing, but, unfortunately, going down. Therefore, would the Agriculture Minister assure the House that the Plan outlay for this Five Year Plan and the next Five Year Plan would increase and not go down?

Sir, irrigation backlog in Vidarbha has also caused a number of suicides, as also the cotton price rise mechanism in Vidarbha, which has already been mentioned by earlier speakers. I have with me a copy of the manifestos of the Congress Party, both for the Central and State Governments. I would not take the time of the House by reading out this manifesto, but the Congress Party had promised that they would spend the maximum amount of money for farmers. What has happened to that? This is the manifesto of the Government of Maharashtra where they said that electricity would be given free of cost; the then Chief Minister is not present in the House now, but he had promised that electricity would be given free to the farmers. What has happened to that? These manifestos are deceitful and the farmers are dying because the Congress Party promised them lots of things, which they did not honour.

Sir, because of paucity of time, I would only suggest a few remedies. If the Government wants to help the farmers and stop the suicides, these remedies must be followed. And if that is done, I feel confident that suicides could be avoided. If the Government is serious about stopping farmers' suicides, the best and immediate remedy would be to waive off the debts that they owe till date. My request to the hon. Minister would be, let us not make it a point of prestige and let us waive off the total loans given to the farmers. If that is done, at least, during difficult times like this, I am sure, the farmers of the country will not commit suicide.

Sir, as regards interest on the loans that they have taken, I would say that it could be reduced, and the rate of interest that I have suggested is four per cent. It is most shocking that you could get loan to purchase a Mercedes car in Mumbai at the rate of six per cent, while the farmers have to pay 11 to 12 per cent. I don't think justice is being done in any manner. This needs to be taken care of. Here, I would like to mention that in Maharashtra, there is a case where one of the moneylenders is an MLA himself, and the rate of interest charged by him is not less than 30 per cent.

: ָ, ... ..(־֮֬)

SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI: I am not mentioning any names. I don't wish to know all the names.

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): He has not mentioned any name. How do you know which MLA it is?

: ָ, ָ™ ... ..(־֮֬) ָ, ָ™ ... , ֮- , ..(־֮֬) ִܾܾ ... ִ

֮ : ִ ׻ֵ ..(־֮֬)

: ... ָ™ .. (־֮֬) ֙ , ߿֮ ػ ֙ ..(־֮֬)

SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI: Sir, this was not denied. Over and above, it was said that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra helped that MLA when he was in difficulty. But, I am not going into that controversy.

(Contd. by 3d)


SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI (CONTD.): But I am not going into this controversy. So, the rate of interest has to be reduced; the loan amount has to be totally wiped out. I am sure, if this is done the farmers can be saved. My last point is about the Prime Minister's package and the truth about it. The Prime Minister came to the State of Maharashtra, particularly Vidarbha region. I appreciate his visit. He along with the Agriculture Minister, and also the Home Minister probably came and gave a package. His package was not appreciated at all. He provided Rs.712 crores for overdue interest. But 50 per cent of that ..(Interruptions)..

SHRI DATTA MEGHE: It was Rs.3750 crores. ..(Interruptions)..

SHRI MANOHAR JOSHI: I am speaking point by point. ..(Interruptions).. Out of this amount, 50 per cent was to be shared by the State Government. Rs. 1300 crores were for redistribution of overdue loan. It was not seen whether it is beneficial for the farmers or the cooperative banks. Sir, additional credit loan of Rs. 1275 crores was given from NABARD. NABARD has enough money. The question was of N.P.A., otherwise there was no problem. Sir, Rs.2177 crores were provided for irrigation activity, and in the package finally a number of items, which are provided in the Budget every year, were there Therefore, ultimately, this amount of Rs.3750 crores was not the amount in reality. The amount, which they provide in Budgets, was also shown and the Government tried to pretend as if they were giving a big relief to farmers, which was not really true. Therefore, Sir, I would like to request the Government that apart from the loan and the interest, seed should be made available to the farmers; customs duty on cotton coming to India should be increased; Irrigation Special Fund has to be given; electricity should be made freely available to farmers. If these few things are done, I am sure that the suicide by farmers can be stopped. But, Sir, let me warn the Government, before I conclude, if this is not done, I am sure, that farmers will take law in their hands; and farmers are not going to tolerate the incapability of the Government to provide them relief. Therefore, the Government will have to act now. It is my earnest request to the hon. Minister to act now and see that farmers get relief. Thank you. (Ends)

ןֈ ֮ (ײָ) : ֳ֬ , ӟ ֯ ׾ֵ ָ ֮֯ ֮ ָ פ, ֲ ׻֋ ֯ ֳָ

ֳ֬ , ָ ô֟ ß֮ UPA ־֮Դ և ִ ӡֵֻ ֛ ׌ ֣ և ß֮ ֮ ֵ֟ ֮ ߕ ־ ׌ ֕ ָ ֮ ֲ ֤ ָ֮ , ָ ӳ߸ ֮ ִ ֟ ֮֕ן ߵ ߕ ָ ֮ , ֮֟ ָ ֲ֕ , ָ ׾ , ָ ֮- ִֵ ֲ ֮ ָ ֮ , ٣ ׾ , ֮- ִֵ օ ָ ָ ֕ ֮ ֲ ֤ ָ֮ ? ֮ ׸ָ ֟ , ֮֟ ֕ ֮ , ָ , ָ֕ ָ ִ ֮ ָ

('3e/sch' ָ ָ)


ןֈ ֮ (֟): ו֮֟ ֟ ֟ , ֮ ֕ ֮ ֯ ӳ߸ ׾ֵ ß֮ ӡ ״ֻ , ׮׿֟ ָ ϳ־ָ ִ ׿ֿ , ָ ױ ָ ? י ? ָ -ָ ? ׾֢ ӡ ӡ ־ ãן ? ָ ָ ? ߕ ӳ߸ ־ֿ

ֳ֬ , ֟ ֲָ ־ ָ ֵָ֤ ׸ ֻ ֮ ֟ ֲ ֮ ֮ ֻ-֓ ָ׸ ׻֋ ֕ , ָ ִ , ֮ ֻ-֓ ֜ , ֮ ֕ ֮ ו֮ ֮ י ֤ , ױ ß֮ ׬ ֛ ӳ߸ ֻ ?

֕ 滵 ר ֯ ֮ ֕ ֲ ߴ֟ ֮֯ ִ 610 ֵ ׮֬׸ פ ױ ֯ ׾֤ ß֮ 900 ֵ ִ ־ ֯ ֻ ו֮֟ ֛-֛ ָ , ֮ ָߤ Ӿ-Ӿ ָ֕-ָ֕ ٛ פօ ֛ߋ ָָ ڛ ֮ ֮ ֮ פ օ ֲԤ וִָ ڛ ֮ ֮ פօ ו ו֮֟ ֻ ֮ , ꅠ ִֵ ָָ , ֕ ֲ ֯ ڛ ֟ , ֲ ֯ ֮ ִ , ֲ ֯ ֮ ֤֮ ִ , ִֵ ִ֟ ֯ և ָ

ֳ֬ , ֮ ־ֻ , ׻֋ ֓և ־ã ֮֯ ׻֋ ֮ ֵ֤ , ֯ ֮ ãן ײָ ֟ ײָ ו֮֟ ֓և ֻ ֮, ִ ֻ ֕ ֻ , ִ ֮ ֮ خ ֮֯ ו֮֟ ־ ־֋, ִ ־ ֻ ֯ ִ , ֕ ָ ֛ ãן , ָ ֮ , ֮ ֕ ִָ ãן , ׾µ Ӭָ ָ ָ ֯ ִ ? ֕ ֮ ̤֕ ֵֻ֮ ãן ֋ ãן ...(־֮֬)

ֵָ : ֛ߋ ִֵ ֮ ..(־֮֬) ָ߲ ...(־֮֬)

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN (PROF. P.J. KURIEN): Mr. Pany, please, don't interrupt. , ֯ ך ...(־֮֬)

ֵָ : ֯ ֟և ֛ߋ ִֵ ֮ ڛ ֜־ ״ֻ ...(־֮֬)

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Mr. Pany, please ...(interruptions) , ֯ և ...(־֮֬)

ֵָ : ֮ ִ ֟և ...(־֮֬) ָ -וִָ ֌־ ...(־֮֬) This is highly irresponsible statement.

THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Mr. Rahman, please continue. Please, try to wind up. ִ֯ ו֋

ןֈ ֮: ֕ ײָ ־ ֻ ָ ױ ָ ֯ ֛ ֲֻ ? ӡ , ֮֯ ֮ ֻ֟ ? ײָ ֕ ֮ ׬ ֕ ֮ ߓ ßָ ָ ֻ և , ֯ ִ ֯ ײָ ֮ ן׮׬ֵ ֣ ײָ ָָ ֣ ֟ ֮ ״ֵ ָ

ײֻ֕ ־ֻ , ָ ײֻ֕ ָ ײֻ֕ ָ ״ֻ֟

(3F/MCM ָ ָ)




ןֈ ֮ (֟) : ֮ ߕֻ ִ , ߕֻ ־ ֜ ֕ , ֮ ִ ״ֻ֟ ׻֋ ֯ ִ֬ ֮֮ߵ ӡ ֮ ™ ׾֢ ӡ ֮ ֮ ׻֙ ׻֋ ָә ָ ִ , ִ ָև ԅ ָ ֮ ֲ֕ ֮ ׻֋ خ ֛ ָ ֮ ֕ ִ ׬ ֲ ״ֻ ֮ פ֓ï ױ ֻ ֲ ִ ֮ ֻ ִ֮ ָ ֯ פ־֋, ֤ ׸, ו֋ ֯ ֜ -----(ә)--

֯ ָ ֲֻ ә ֵ֕ ׸ ָ ָ ״֮֙ ӓ- ״֮֙ ꅠ ָ ֱ ״ֻ֮

ֳ֬ (0 00 ׸֮) : ׮֋, ֯ ֙ և ӓ ״֮֙ , ֯ ֚ ״֮֙

ןֈ ֮ : ״֮֙ ֮

ֳ֬ : -, ״֮֙ , -߮ ״֮֙

ןֈ ֮ : ֮ ֮ ֻ ٙևָ ־ֻ , ߠ ״ֻ֟ , ד֟ ִ ָ ״ֻ֟  ײָ ֮ ״ֻ ֯ ִ ִ , ٙևָ ֛ ֮ ָ ״ֻ־֙ ױ ָ ӟִ֕ ֯ ߕ ִֻ ֯ ֮ ֟ ߕ ꅠ ֯ ו֮֟ ִ , ײָ ֲ ӕָ ֛ ִ ߕ ָ օ ֛-֛ ߕ ָ ׻ֵ ֮֯ ֮ פ ֮ ߕ ßֻ ֟ ꅠ ־ ֣ ֮ ֮ ߕ ֟ , ִ ֤ ֕ , ֕ ָ ߕ , ו ӕָ ֣ ִ ׬ ٙևָ ֺ ֛ ׻֋ ֳ֬ , ׮ִ׻֟ ֮֮ߵ ӡ ֓և ־ã ׮׿֟ և ֋

ֳ֬ (0 00 ׸֮) : ֓և ָ ֯

ןֈ ֮ : ײֻ֕ ӟִ֕ ֋, ֲ ָ ֮ ִ֮ פ ֋ ָ ״ ֲָָ ָָ ֲ ָָ և ָ ֻ֟ ߓ ֟ ֻ֟ ן ӓ , ִ ָ֤ ׻֋ ָ ֻ֮ ֙, 000 ־֮Դ ֲָָ ֣ ָ ־ָ ӡ ִ֟ ֻ , ֮ ֻ օ ֮ ׾ָ , ֛-֛ ָ ֕ , ֈ ֟ ֣ ֮ ן׮׬ ֮ ֟ ֳ֬ , ֮֯ ֮ ֮ פ, ֮־֤


0 ֵ֛ : ֮ ֟ ָ כ ֓ ֻ ֕ , ן , ֲ ֻ ......(־֮֬) ֓ ֻ ׸ָ .....(־֮֬) ָ ӓ ֻ ׸֛ , ֯ ֟ .....(־֮֬) (3g ָ )


THE VICE-CHAIRMAN : Shri Arjun Kumar Sengupta. Be brief please.

SHRI ARJUN KUMAR SENGUPTA (WEST BENGAL): Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, we can all appreciate the intensity of feeling on this subject which has been expressed by all concerned. May I be permitted to talk something without party motion and state what are the problems and how those problems have to be tackled?

Sir, the farmers' suicides are not new, although this has been happening over the last few years at a rate much greater than before. And, temporary actions are taken. But, it can always be said that these

actions are not enough; the work the Prime Minister did, is not sufficient. This can always be talked about. I am not getting into those discussions today. What I would like to point out are the methods to prevent farmers' suicides, that is, go into the problem directly.

Sir, one of the main issues that we should consider in talking about the problems is that we should not be guided by solutions which appear to be solutions, but which are really not solutions over a period of time. For example, the problems of Bt Cotton. I am mentioning this because I have full sympathy with those NGOs and organisers who have found many problems with Bt cotton, because it increases dependence on water, dependence on fertilizers. It has also problems related to environment and attacking other kinds of insects. All these problems are there. But, the fact of the matter is that the Bt cotton is accepted by the farmers. They buy this Bt cotton. So, what we should do there is not to stop the purchase and sale of Bt cotton or spread of technology or even trials. What we should do is to spread the story; the adverse effects of this should be told categorically, in different ways, to the farmers that if you go for this, you will be facing problems of water, facing problems of fertilizers, facing all the other problems. If, in spite of that, a farmer goes for that, I don't think we should try to stop that because that would be putting the clock back on technological progress. But we must, like cigarette-smoking, be able to point out the problems that are there.

Similarly, if I may say so, is the question of import duty. This has been raised by several persons that import duty should be imposed immediately. We must think about it because if you impose import duty, it would have an adverse effect on textile production. This is something which you must consider. What is the best way of protecting the farmers' interests? It is not necessarily by preventing imports; but by trying to help them to meet imports, if the imports are coming in great quantity in our country.

There is also the problem that the monopoly procurement has been stopped. We should not try to re-introduce that. But, we should have some alternative mechanism of providing a procurement network when the prices are going down. These are the ways of looking at this problem, not what appears to be the immediate problem.

Similar is the question of Minimum Support Price. I must point out -- I am quite sure that people are aware of it, but it needs repetition -- that Minimum Support Price is needed when the prices are going below the cost price, when the market prices are such that the farmers have the disincentive to carry on production. The calculation of Minimum Support Price is based on cost plus. Now, some questions were raised -- I think, I would not mention the name -- that the experts don't know anything. They are calculating these things on the basis of some paper exercise. I cannot comment on that. They must have done these exercises properly. But, the Minimum Support Price is not the same thing as market price. And, if the Food Corporation of India or the Cotton Corporation of India, whatever is the market procurement agency, they have to procure products for safety, for buffer stock, they should be able to buy from the market, at a market price.

(Contd. by ysr-3h)


SHRI ARJUN KUMAR SENGUPTA (CONTD.): Earlier this issue was there -- the difference between Minimum Support Price and the Purchase Price. This should be reintroduced, and our public sector procurement agency should go into the market.

I must also mention here about the Minimum Support Price. My CPI(M) friend talked about it. If you do not have the method of procuring from the mandi, it will only benefit the rich farmers. The agency is not there. You should ask the Food Corporations to go to the mandi, and buy it from the farmers. If you really want to do that, you should not talk about raising the price. Without the institutional mechanism, it would only help the rich farmers. What I am trying to say, Sir, is that we must have a proper institutional mechanism to tackle the problems of the poor farmers, the small and marginal farmers. Sir, these are the farmers who are suffering the most and are in distress; and they are actually committing suicide. Even in the State of Punjab, which is relatively rich, there are suicides there, and, again, these suicides are within the small and marginal farmers. The problems of the small and marginal farmers -- it is also the problem of any poor person in our country -- are that they do not have access to credit; they do not have access to market; they do not have access to technology; and they do not have access to water. The whole system is against that particular group of people -- whether it is in Punjab or Maharashtra or even in West Bengal. If I may point out, this is the situation. The whole approach to agriculture has to be now based on small and marginal farmers.

I am afraid, Sir, this Government, which is supposed to look after the poor people, is talking about a plan, which does not say anything of that kind. There is an Approach Paper which has come out, and I am sorry to say that Approach Paper does not give any idea of how the problems of small and marginal farmers are going to be tackled. I hope when the actual plan will be written, the Agriculture Minister would see that a proper plan for the small and marginal farmers is formulated. Most important requirement for that is budgetary provision. Unfortunately, the Finance Minister is not here. The financial provisions for agriculture should increase substantially, especially when this Government has come to power with a clear promise of helping the agriculture. In spite of that, this budgetary provision for agriculture has not actually gone up. The agricultural credit has almost overwhelmingly gone to horticulture and not for crop production. Something is going wrong. Something is going wrong in this system, which is trying to talk about the poor people but is helping only the rich farmers, traders, and the correspondingly rich people. So, we need an approach to a different kind of plan, and I hope the Agriculture Minister would be able to tell us the outlines of that. (Time-bell) Sir, I will conclude.

One is the question of distress. The distress of small farmers is not only that they are not getting the right prices, not only that they are unable to sell their products, but also they do not have any social security. Time and again, this question has been raised that if a farmer falls sick, then by one sickness, the whole family becomes destitute. Three-fourths of our farming population have a consumption expenditure of fifty cents a day. Sir, I must mention this for everybody to realise this thing. One dollar is considered to be the extreme poor all over the world. Two dollars per day is the international recognised line for poverty. Three-fourths of our farmers have only 50 cents per day, that is, half of what is known as extreme poor. These people have to be protected in some form of social security. Therefore, we must consider social security of the farmers, health insurance of the farmers as an essential element.

Finally, the question of market prices. We forget that the farmers are also buyers of these products. They buy from the market. The wheat largely goes to the farming community. They do not sell extra wheat. They are facing a market where if your Public Distribution System does not work, they are suffering enormously.(Contd. by VKK/3J)


SHRI ARJUN KUMAR SENGUPTA (CONTD.): And I am afraid this Public Distribution System is not working properly. I have raised this issue earlier. The Agriculture Minister once told us that there will be no dilution of the Public Distribution System, but I have the numbers to show (Time-bell) that there is a substantial cut back on the Above Poverty Line Public Distribution System where the price is Rs.6 per kilogram whereas the market price is Rs.11. This is completely a wrong approach because we must increase the supply of wheat in the market, through the PDS, and if there is any cut back, that should be restored.


SHRI ARJUN KUMAR SENGUPTA: Just one minute, Sir. I must mention this because the Finance Minister said that the solution to this problem is to increase the supply in the market. He kept on saying that this is the supply side management that has to be looked forward and that supply can be ensured only if the PDS is protected and full supply to the APL purchasers takes place. The APL purchasers are largely in the rural areas. Thank you very much, Sir.


THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Thank you Mr. Sengupta. Now, Shri Rahul Bajaj.

SHRI RAHUL BAJAJ (MAHARASHTRA): Thank you, Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, for giving me this opportunity to make my maiden speech. My family comes from Wardha and Shri Janeshwar Mishraji, who is not here, mentioned about the Ashram of Gandhiji which is Seva Gram and that is where my late grandfather Jamnalalji invited Gandhiji in the early 1930s from Sabarmati near Ahmedabad. Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, a lot has been said about this subject. I would try not to repeat it and one of the ways, I will do it is by concentrating on my hometown which is Vidarbha and which is the cotton bowl of the country. So, I will talk about cotton, Vidarbha and then, later on, a little bit about the economy and the society.

We have heard that suicides primarily are by small and marginal farmers. It is very correct. We have also heard that like any commodity, Mr. Vice-Chairman, industrial commodity in the services sector, IT or otherwise, only way you can be sustainable and you can survive is when the selling price exceeds the total cost of production. Keeping in mind States like Maharashtra and Vidarbha where less than five per cent of the land is cultivated, the chances of crop failure are obviously very high. So, if you take the cost of production of cotton in Maharashtra and Vidarbha, it is much, much higher than other places including a State like Gujarat. Wherever a human life is lost unnaturally, it is a tragedy. But when someone takes his own life, in my view, it is a catastrophe. And yet, in recent years, we have seen thousands of farmers are taking their lives with numbing regularity. What should be done? Costs have to come down or selling prices have to go up and for the time being, I would not worry about the consumer and the customer; though on onion prices, Governments have changed. But let's leave it aside because here, we are not talking of the production of an industrial commodity, we are talking of 65 per cent of the population of this country. So, there are consumers as well as producers. We have heard enough that if you don't take care of the farmer, how will India move forward? I fully share with that view because we are all inter-dependent. The Minimum Support Price for cotton, generally, in some States, has been lower than the cost of production. As Shri Arjun Senguptaji was rightly saying, MSP is done to ensure that a farmer, at least, gets something more cost-plus approach. Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, the 2004-05 report of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices estimated the cost per quintal of cotton -- I won't give too many figures, only three figures -- at Rs.1643 in Gujarat, Rs.2229 in Karnataka and Rs.2216 in Maharashtra. But there was naturally only one Minimum Support Price and, in that year, that was Rs.1916. Cost being above MSP does seem to explain and, at least, it is one major reason for the distress in Maharashtra and Karnataka. In Gujarat, because the cost was lower than the MSP, perhaps we have not heard of that many or, if any, suicides from there. (Contd. by MKS/3k)


SHRI RAHUL BAJAJ (CONTD.): So, the first point I am making, Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, is that you can take care of debt items--and I will come to that in a moment--but all those are temporary measures of help today, tomorrow. If you are to keep selling your product, in this case, cotton, or any other agricultural product, at a price lower than the cost of production, no amount of debt can take care because ultimately, the debt has to be repaid. ָ ֱ , ָ ֱ , Ù , ֋? ֕֙ ֯ ִ , , ָ ֋ So, ultimately, he must make a profit. Yes, I will talk a little about the private moneylender, about whom much has not been said except some passing reference by a few speakers.

I may also mention, Sir, that in 2004-05, the Maharashtra Government offered prices of around Rs.2,500/- per quintal. Very good. But, then, it became unsustainable for their budget. Sir, in 2005-06, they reduced the price to Rs.1,918/-. I have already referred to the cost of production, in Maharashtra, of cotton, which was higher than Rs.1,918/-. And the result is for all of us to see. Of course, Sir, I cannot say to my Agriculture Minister that he has been unfair to Vidarbha and partial to Western Maharashtra. That would be a very unfair comment, Sir, because I come from Vidarbha and he comes from Western Maharashtra! But that is a fact of life. Even when we have had a Chief Minister like Vasantrao Naik, who was from Vidarbha, probably not much was done because he did not get that strength. Private moneylenders, Sir, when do they lend money? When the banks and the cooperative societies do not lend. The marginal farmer has not paid his loans. He cannot get loans elsewhere. However, he is not supplying inputs. He is also now buying the output. So, he has a stranglehold on the farmer. I understand that, nowadays, they are charging as much interest as 60 per cent per annum, Sir! I think, Manohar Joshiji or someone else mentioned 60 per cent. Sometimes, they charge 60 per cent. At 60 per cent, even the best-run industrial establishment will fall down. Whether he charges two per cent, four per cent or six per cent, is not the point. The question is--whether I don't understand it, Sir; maybe, the Agriculture Minister will tell me--that there is the Bombay Moneylenders' Act, 1946. Our Agriculture Minister was, probably, four years old at that time, Sir, and I was a little older. Now, that Act says that if the moneylender is not licensed, he cannot recover his loan; he cannot go to courts, and if he is licensed, the total outstanding amount cannot be more than twice the loan. And it also specifies the rate of interest. I do not know why. My State Government is not taking advantage of that Act. There must be some reason for that. Rajnathji rightly referred to the WTO. I do not want to take too much time on that. I would only say this. When we talk of market prices, we talk of normal market prices. The international cotton prices are not normal, 4 billion dollars. Rs.18,000 crores is the subsidy provided by the US alone to its cotton farmers only; we have heard. I do not know whether it is 350 million dollars. It is 350 billion dollars. The total subsidy for farmers by the OECD countries is 350 billion, not million. Cotton farmers get Rs.18,000 crores here. My farmer, in Vidarbha also, maybe, he can compete with the American farmer, but he cannot compete with the United States Treasurer. Kamal Nathji, in some other context, rightly said that he can compete with the wheat imported, or any other commodity, in the agricultural area, but he cannot compete with the subsidies which a country like the United States provides. And because of this, I come to my recommendations, Sir.

(MR. CHAIRMAN in the Chair.)

In the short-term recommendations--Mr. Arjun Sengupta said about the import duty--first of all, Sir, I am referring to the import duty on cotton which is not produced in this country. If it is not produced, nobody gets hurt. And the textile mill people are very influential people. You know, industrialists, big industrialists are not people like me, Arjunji. So, fine. (Contd. by TMV/3L)


SHRI RAHUL BAJAJ (CONTD.): But when cotton is produced in this country, if we import cotton from a country which subsidises its cotton farmers, then we must have an anti-dumping duty. I don't understand why it is not there. It would be WTO compliant.

THE MINISTER OF TEXTILES (SHRI SHANKERSINH VAGHELA): We are not importing cotton from countries which are subsidising it.

SHRI RAHUL BAJAJ: Fine. If there is no cotton import from such countries, fine. I am just saying, if there is cotton import, which is a subsidised variety, then I must have a countervailing duty.

Sir, why don't we hear about suicides from Gujarat? One reason is that, obviously, 40 per cent of the land is cultivable. In Vidarbha, it is four per cent. It is important that in Gujarat farmers normally have some other income from dairying, vegetables, etc., which they supply to the nearby industrial centres. Probably, that does not exist in Vidarbha.

Sir, I believe that the relationship between agriculture and industry is symbiotic. A prosperous agriculture develops industry and a prosperous industry develops agriculture incomes. I strongly believe that India can't move forward, unless its farmers move forward; and the growth is only of value, when it is inclusive.

Sir, the irony of the fact is that the cotton economy in our country has good growth in demand ahead of it. The domestic market is growing and with the end of Multi-Fibre Agreement, though China has benefited quite a bit, a very large market has opened abroad for us also. Our exports of cotton clothes are growing and we have further potential to grow.

Mr. Chairman, Sir, may I suggest six short-term measures and two medium-term measures.? I am not referring to the long-term measures because John Maynard Keynes said, "In the long run, we are all dead". My six short-term measures--some of them are being implemented or will be implemented or have been announced by the Government--are: One, a one year moratorium on repayment of debt owed to private money-lenders. This has been done for eight months or so by the Andhra Pradesh Government. A two-year moratorium--I am saying only a moratorium because I don't want to start a bad example of non-payment of loans--on repayment to cooperative institutions and banks, especially, by small farmers whose holdings are below two hectares and whose loan is below Rs.1 lakh. But the banks must step in to help such farmers. Two, Immediate disbursal of, at least, Rs.1 lakh to the families of each farmer who has committed suicide. I don't want this to be misused. If you ask ten kinds of questions like whether he has committed suicide or whether he was murdered or whether he died in an accident, he will never get this money. Three, there should be a declaration that private money-lenders and the private sector man can't charge interest above a certain rate, whatever the Government thinks fit, and I would even say 20 per cent. Four, all land transfers that have been made in the last two or three years should be reviewed, and if the cause of such land transfers was exorbitant interest rate, then it should be considered, within the laws of the country, whether that transaction can be invalidated; and, of course, the lender should be repaid his loan. Five, a review of the Minimum Support Price of cotton and the appointment of the Maharashtra Cotton Procurement Federation, in addition to the Cotton Corporation of India, as an agent to procure cotton at the MSP. Six, anti-dumping duty--I referred to it already--should be levied on cotton, if cotton, which is subsidised, is imported.

Sir, the two medium proposals are: One, to increase irrigation in the region through irrigation schemes and village level initiatives to conserve rain run-off. Mr. Sitaram Yechury and Shrimati Brinda Karat are not here. Two, as I said, the relationship between agriculture and industry is symbiotic. So, we must encourage industrialisation in these areas.

Sir, we have 60 per cent of the population living on agriculture. America has only two per cent of its population living on agriculture and it produces more than what it needs. Today, we are employing 60 per cent in agriculture. But we can't continue to absorb 60 per cent in agriculture. It is not two per cent. It may come down to 40 per cent or 30 per cent or 20 per cent. Where will they go? They have to go to the industry and they have to go to the service sector which are complementary to each other. So, I would suggest that we must encourage industrialisation in these backward areas by providing infrastructure. This is what is required. Industry does not want money incentives. In fact, that distorts our decision-making. (Contd. by RG/3M)


SHRI RAHUL BAJAJ (contd.): In Himachal and Uttaranchal, I was against extending the benefits given by three years; that distorts the situation. Even I am going there. I didn't want to, but there are such benefits that you cannot ignore them. Sir, in these backward areas, if we provide the right infrastructure, and, my friend would not like it, a flexible labour policy -- don't give them in areas where I am already there, but only in those areas --then, a lot of industries will come up in these areas, and both agriculture and industry would benefit. What we need are a few but effective measures...

MR. CHAIRMAN: I think this is your last page.

SHRI RAHUL BAJAJ: Last but one page, Sir. I will take five to ten minutes more. Sir, you have got a very good eyesight, better than my eyesight.

What we need are a few, but effective measures. In our governance, we have come to be obsessed sometimes with the form, and we are unmindful of substance. There are, for example, 29 Government Resolutions of the Maharashtra Government on Cotton as of 24th May, this year. I don't know whether they are only on paper. I may add that someone has to be responsible to implement all these plans. Right now, everyone from PMO downwards is responsible which means, perhaps, no one is responsible. I would suggest, especially for Maharashtra, that a Cabinet Minister level or a Deputy Chief Minister level person is appointed, and this position be created in Maharashtra with the sole responsibility of improving the state of agriculture in Vidarbha. A young and a dynamic person -- he is not here; otherwise, he will shout at me -- like Shri Praful Patel, who is considered to be one of the best Ministers in the Centre, should be given this responsibility.

Sir, since this is my maiden speech, I seek your indulgence in saying a few words to outline my broad perspective on our economy and society. We pledged at our independence to take India forward. We have taken it forward, but nowhere near as much as it can be taken, or where it was capable. The glass is still only half filled. We still have unspeakable poverty, which was referred to by Dr. Arjun Kumar Sengupta, where 28 per cent of our people, that is, 300 million people, are living on less than one dollar a day, a poverty which crushes human dignity, stalking our land. Our poor governance, in my view, has, by and large, been a drag on our development. It is the tenacious spirit of India, alive in the hearts and minds of every Indian, whether he is a worker, farmer, businessmen, entrepreneur, or, I do not know whether I should say, politician, and their spirit, hard work and entrepreneurial ability have taken and continue to take our country forward.

I believe that we stand at a propitious moment in the history of our nation. While we acknowledge the challenges, -- there are many challenges -- a world or opportunity also awaits us. As you know, in the world, India is not just a flavour of the week or the month or the year. We are the flavour of the times. Previously, it was only China. Now it is China and India. Both in the services and manufacturing sector, we are poised to gain from the developments in the world economy. We are becoming internationally comparative despite the serious handicaps of lack of infrastructure, right from social infrastructure, health, education, drinking water, sanitation and, of course, physical infrastructure. The key reason, however, for my optimism, as I said, Sir, is the quality and entrepreneurship of our people. Though as low as a percentage of our population, we must strive to increase this. We are the world's largest pool of smart, hardworking manpower, be it in IT, manufacturing or finance. And, this is very important and we are conscious of it that demographically, we will remain a country of the young even in 2025. We have to ensure that we encash this demographic dividend by investing in their education and their skills. With education and skill, India will become a great country; we shall capture the world in the next 25 years. But if our youth are not educated, are not skilled, instead of becoming a great asset, they will become a great liability. Sir, we need good governance to achieve these goals of inclusive economic growth. This will come from changes at the top and pressures from below. (Continued by 3N)