Monday, November 8, 2010

Emulate Obama and save Indian farmers, Dr. JP tells national leaders

Commending U. S. President Barrack Obama for vigorously pursuing his agenda of creating jobs back at home during his India visit, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today asked why our national leaders do not emulate him and prevent destruction of the Indian economy and millions of people’s jobs and livelihoods.

Addressing the party State Working Committee, Dr. JP said India’s dream of becoming a super power like China would just remain a dream as long as it ignores rural India. The country could not sustain 8 to 10 percent growth in the GDP (gross domestic product) if people in the countryside do not have purchasing power. The per capita income of the 60 percent population wholly dependent on agriculture is a mere Rs.40 a day.

The key to improving the purchasing power lies in ensuring fair and remunerative prices to farmers and tenants for their produce. However, successive Governments at both the Center and in the States have been deliberately suppressing food grain prices under the false pretext of warding off inflation and protecting consumers.

Dr. JP maintained that the Government could raise procurement prices by 40 to 50 percent without adversely affecting consumers. After all, in a State like Andhra Pradesh the public distribution system covers most of the people, and an increase in procurement prices will not hurt them. The Lok Satta Party will demonstrate how rice can be supplied at the prevailing market price even if the farmer is paid up to Rs.1600 a quintal for paddy.

Dr. JP said agriculture in most of the country continues to be a gamble on the monsoon. A farmer or tenant cannot lead a dignified life or consume goods and services provided by the other sectors of the economy if he does not earn a remunerative price for his produce.

Dr. JP recalled the Government of India itself had told the World Trade Organization that the aggregate measure of support to Indian agriculture was a negative 30-40 percent. In contrast, all developed countries like the U. S. go out of the way to support agriculture, some times to a tune of +40% or more.

Dr. JP said that the mission to ensure remunerative prices transcended farmers’ and tenants’ interests. The mission aims at putting village at the center-stage of development so that the country can attain sustained growth and become a super power. He called upon party leaders to visit villages and prepare farmers to lead a united movement for rescuing agriculture and rural economy.

With Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma in the chair, the Working Committee discussed ways and means of taking the movement forward by uniting farmers of different political hues.

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