Bharat: Holy Ganga and Yamuna rivers are flowing in India. Both have been heavily polluted. Government campaign and measures have inspired Bharatwasis to clean holy Ganga. Bharat is the land of Satyam Shivam Sundaram. But just like our rivers, the political campaigning in the run-up to the 2019 General Elections is also becoming vitiated. Unfortunately, all top political leaders, including those from the states, are engaged in hate speech. They are using languages which create negative vibrations in the minds of Bharatwasis. Such hate-mongering is in breach of law of the land, against the ethos and culture of our great nation. Human beings get intoxicated with absolute powers. Leaders are no exception. All scriptures are evidence of this fact. Voices/grievances of people-farmers, small and big businessmen, retailers and professionals remain unheard. As a result, leaders are not aware of the implications and impacts of any policy. Policies remain theoretically full of flaws and subject to unending amendments/modifications.
Many entrepreneurs who have taken up greenfield projects are under immense stress as a number of
such projects have become stressed assets due to external factors.
Merchandise exports from India to the US during 2018 were USD 54.40 billion compared to USD 47.87 billion in the previous year. During 2017, India was the larger beneficiary under Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Program, which enabled customs duty free imports of certain goods from India. The US trade authorities have announced termination of preferential treatment to exports from India as India has failed to give access to her markets in a reciprocal way. However, USA will hold its decision till the new government is formed in India. Despite exports and imports growing at the same rate of 9%, India’s trade deficit reached a record high of USD 176 billion in 2018-19. Exports for
2018-19 stood at USD 331 billion. Government is working on a policy to boost exports. Liberalised imports from USA will not affect trade balance as items imported like stents are few, which are very costly and sparingly used.
Agriculture: About 58% of Bharat’s population get primary source of livelihood from agriculture. It contributes a mere 17% to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Farmer’s woes need to be mitigated by management of water, floods, droughts, new technology, availability of better prices, input, better storage facilities, better logistics, procurement at support prices, easy access to free markets, regular exports policies, restrictions on imports, development of processing industries, and development of dairy and other agro-based industries.
Bharat’s yield per hectare stands at 2.3 tonne as compared to 4 tonnes overall in Asia, a difference of as much as 42%. Bangladesh’s cereal productivity has risen 4411 kg in 2017 from 1681 kg in 1961, when it was a part of Pakistan. Nearly 80% of the farmers belong to the marginal (less than one hectare) or small farmers category (1-2 hectare). On an average, only about 45% of agricultural holdings use fertilizers. More holdings need to use fertilizers to increase yield. The consumption of agri-chemicals which include insecticides, fungicides, rodentisides, herbicides and fumigants, etc. is dependent on a number of factors. Prices of agri-chemicals are not controlled by the government.
Seeds are being certified and strict quality control measures are enforced. There are central and state seeds corporations, multinational companies like Cargill, Monsanto of USA, along with Indian companies like Krishidhan Seeds, Kaveri Seeds etc.
India’s imports of agri-commodities like cotton, maize, edible oils are rising. Import of wheat is allowed though large quantity of buffer stock is rotting and being destroyed by rodents and pests. Government has increased import duties from 10% to 40% on wheat and procurement is only 30% at MSP (Minimum Support Price). Imports of agri-commodities will create surplus leading to slump in prices. Imported vegetable oils have flooded India’s markets.
Both central and state governments have taken numerous measures to augment the income of farmers. Implementation is very poor. Both governments have their agri staffs in villages and blocks levels, who are required to educate the farmers on technical issues and benefit crop rotation. The Economic Survey of India, 2017-18, says, “lack of literacy stands in the way of absorbing technologies and adopting risk mitigating measures.” Farmers should be encouraged to do sowing of mustard seeds and other oil seeds.
Demand of livestock and dairy products is rising due to urbanisation and shift to healthcare measures. The World Bank says that half the Indian population will be living in urban areas by 2050. 60% China population lives in urban centres.
Due to rising farm mechanisation, farmers use of male oxen is decreasing. Farmers are unable to keep these oxen and bull as they do not have land and finance to feed these cattle. Government should create pasture lands in all villages and create facilities to send these cattle to forests.
Government should give incentives and clearance to projects of agri-processing sectors. There’s a need to build enough silos/godowns with facilities to procure agri-products at MSPs so that every farmer has access to at least one such facility within a 150 km radius.
Farmers can be trained to grow commercial products such as spices, herbal and organic vegetable to augment their income in the small holdings. Of course the issue of water will remain. In rural areas, rain harvesting should be adopted on a war footing by the government with the co-operation of villagers.
Farmers need support at times of crisis like droughts & floods, etc. They need to be educated technically. All Bharatwasis have to feel the farmers distress and problems. While not glorifying the British rule, Bharat has to learn from them how in a short time they created infrastructure like the railways. Despite 73 years of independence, we have failed to equip our farmers with the wherewithal to tackle the various vagaries of nature and protect them from havoc of droughts and floods. Social mania is also causing distress to farmers. A great writer, Munshi Premchand, had captured the plight of the Indian farmer succinctly in his books.
Stock market: Trade war between USA and China has affected the global stock markets. In India, Nifty and Sensex have also fallen. Investors are cautious. Indian economy has also slowed down. The markets are likely to be volatile. Rising fuel price and developments in debts markets have also affected market sentiment.
IBC: M. S. Sahoo, Chairperson of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), said that stressed assets cases under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code are rising. The law should allow rectification of mistakes during the insolvency process. Commercial decisions are not in black and white. There is no mathematical formula to say that a company is non-viable and other is viable. Operational creditors should also get their money along with their financial lenders. So far lenders have taken 57% haircut in 94 cases. 378 cases ended up in liquidation. Liquidation is not the way out. The valuable assets get wasted. Employment is lost. Government needs to consider this. BE had reported that an industry passes through ups and down and if the lenders bear with the company, the money could be recovered.