Letter from the Editor

Sameer Kochhar, Editor-in-Chief, INCLUSION

Hundreds of farmers’ suicides in the recent months across the country, including the one committed at a political rally in front of thousands of people in the national capital, have put the spotlight on the agricultural crisis in India. It has created a lot of noise in the media and the political circles.

The question is, is it something new? Farmers’ suicides are said to have increased sharply in the recent months due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms that caused extensive damage to crops. Obviously, this is not something new. The Indian farming is still largely dependent on the vagaries of monsoon. If the ‘rain god’ becomes unhappy nobody is there to wipe their tears.

The problem is chronic and deep-rooted. Thousands of farmers take their own lives silently every year hit by droughts, floods or some other natural calamities. All the governments make promises and at times, provide temporary relief in the form of loan waiver or may be free seeds etc but the fact of the matter is that nobody has tried to address the real issue.

Temporary relief won’t solve the problem. How long can we leave farmers on the vagaries of monsoon! Lack of formal credit and uncertainties are at the root of farmers’ distress. Efforts should be made to ensure adequate bank credit to farmers. This will also help boost productivity and bring them out of the clutches of private moneylenders. A comprehensive insurance cover would protect them from the monsoon and other uncertainties. Time is running out. If immediate action is not taken to correct the anomalies in the farm sector, we will be heading for a catastrophe.

We have been pitching for tech-neutrality and digital inclusion for years. This has now generated a lot of heat. Our lead story is on ‘Digital Dilemma’ that highlights some of the recent retrograde regulatory decisions that would stifle competition and growth in the sector. Such unnecessary barriers pose a great danger to digital inclusion. Therefore, our request to the regulator is to desist from such regressive action. ‘Let a million flowers bloom and let there be a level playing field’.

(Sameer Kochhar can be reached at skoch@skoch.in)

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