Skip to main content

Invisible? Union budget 2019-20 "ignores" women farmers, agricultural labourers

By Dr Soma KP*
The Government of India has placed a budget before us without attention to the analysis of its own achievements and failures, which an assessment of the economy should normally provide. In the absence of an assessment it is like shooting in dark for quick and sharp political gain and media byte by hyping what's good for the middle class who construct the discourse and debunk any debate about rising poverty and inequality.
The budget hides a reality by seeking to offer petty sops. The announcement of "income support of Rs 6,000 per family to small and marginal farmers owning up to 5 acres land" is much less than what the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh governments have offered to its farmers -- Rs 10,000 and 8000 per acre, respectively, per year.
Rs 6,000 per hectare (ha) is like a handout to be given come election time; with three installments it means that Rs 2000 per ha at election time and two more such doses to flow thereafter to families (read head of household – men) with no reference to the invisible women farmers.
As with food security benefit, they could have well assured that this amount goes to women to run their households and ensure even basic needs, but that sense did not prevail. Appeasement politics of crumbs are on offer.
For peasants and farm labourers there is almost nothing in the budget, except that they could benefit as informal sector workers for those above 60 years of age, provided of course residence proof and other requirements are met (not to mention insistence continually being on aadhaar for government scheme benefits to flow, and proof of citizenship to boot, especially in the North East).
While the poor farmers are reeling under cutbacks in schemes for health expenditure, pension and direct cash transfers rampant with potential for corruption, and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is rendered redundant with paucity of funds in timely manner, causing communities to opt for migration rather than put in demands for MGNREGS works.
Other compulsions of (private) insurance for loans for crop loans, as input costs continue to rise for Seidel, fertilizers, insecticides and seeds, all this means that there is no light at the end of the agrarian crisis tunnel and nor does there seem hope of MSP increase.
The low liftoff of produce from farmers is evident as market driven solutions prevail, causing farmers to sell farm produce and even cattle and ruminants at low prices to repay debt, which only perpetuates the cycle of debt driven suicides. There are no irrigation announcements except drip irrigation subsidies that will flow eventually to corporates.
The food subsidy bill remains almost stagnant at Rs 1,70,000 crore this year as compared to last year's figure although the finance minister throws in a comparison of four years ago! But the all-time high in defence expenditure tells us the story of where priority lies in incomes from defence contracts to feed more corporate and destructive greed in the name of national security optics.
Such is the vision of this government for the future!
The pension scheme for 42 crore workers reveals the stark reality of the level of distress among informal sector workers who must depend on government doles in the sunset years, a pension which may barely give them a square meal each day. And there is little in the budget for the unemployed young seeking to find work.
The income tax relief measures and the standard deduction as well as the second house property taxation exemption offer a silver lining to the middle class organized sector workers but are meaningless to the lower income groups, and more so for women as they can seldom gain ownership of property.
The budget is a stop gap step-up to election mode for the ruling class, wherein the poor farmers and especially peasant women farmers have been disowned and rendered potentially even more vulnerable.
Dr Soma
By undermining the imperative of redressing the agrarian crisis and the burgeoning unemployment, not to mention how all this destructive development may impact on our ecological wellbeing; one wonders at the audacity and intent behind the optics when reference is drawn to a vision for 2030!
All peasants, youth and rural women must assert their political prowess to expose this betrayal and status quoist intent evident in the urban organized sector bias in the budget and claim their space and share in the future of the nation's economic progress.
---
*With Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM)

Comments

TRENDING

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Russia, China to call the shots in Middle East, as Muslim nations turn into house of cards

By Haider Abbas* Only a naive would buy that the ‘situation of ceasefire’ between the State of Israel and Hamas would continue, as if the foiled attempt to demolish Al Aqsa this time, is not be repeated, if not in any near future then in sometime to come. Israel already has spurned the ‘ceasefire’ by storming Al Aqsa after the Friday prayers on May 21.

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.

Covid fear? Cremation rituals gone upside down, Dalits asked to do Brahminical rituals

By Abhay Jain, Sandeep Pandey*  As Covid consumes human life in a very conspicuous way we are confronted with additional problem of disposing of human corpses. Cremation grounds are lit with continuous pyres, graveyards are running out of land and now Ganga has become a mass grave potentially polluting its water.