On December 13, 2021, PM Fasal Bima Yojna that had its launch in 2016, completed 5 years and Prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi addressed the nation and congratulated the beneficiaries of the scheme for its successes and achievements. But do we really have something to congratulate about? Let’s find out.
The Fasal Bima Yojna launched in 2016 aimed at providing financial support to farmers suffering from crop losses or damages arising out of unforeseen events and to stabilize the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming. It also had encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practice as one of its objectives. PM Modi, in his monologue today to the nation, congratulated crores of farmers that were benefitted by this scheme in terms of the said objectives. He also pointed out that the scheme helped the farmers to mitigate risk and increase coverage. Well, a rather ironic time to make these bold statements, don’t you think? Because if you look at the condition of farmers on this very day, they’re out there on the roads, begging the government to give them safety, security and stability. And as we’re witnessing, the government is not very ready to give them those things.
In his tweet addressing the beneficiaries of the scheme, PM Modi used the hashtag SafalBima4SafalKisan implying successful insurance for successful farmers, and we may agree to disagree on that because had the policies, schemes and government’s approach towards the farmers been a successful one, we still wouldn’t have had the need to beg the government for accountability and responsibility towards the protesting farmers.
The nature of the scheme primarily revolved around providing security to the hardworking farmers from the vagaries of nature and bring about some stability in their income so as to ensure that the feeders are being fed well. Despite having a beautiful motive, there are a lot more things that are required to make a scheme successful and thus, congratulations-worthy, which includes but is not limited to proper implementation, follow-ups, structured delegation and accountability, most of which was missing from the long course of 5 years. The basis for this can be taken from the result that we all are witnessing with eyes wide open.
This crop insurance scheme has enrolled within more than 5.5 crore farmers every year, according to the data presented by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The Union Agricultural Minister Mr. Narendra Singh, on the day of 5th anniversary of Prime Minister’s Fasal Bima Yojna, urged farmers to get their crops ensured under the scheme if they haven’t already. The scheme, on paper, operates in a manner of comprehensive coverage by assessing crop losses of farmers from sowing to post-harvest periods by using advanced technology and programmes. As fancy as it may sound on paper, its proper implementation actually would’ve been of help to the farmers considering more than 5 crore farmers, each year, lose their entire livelihood during the said particular periods due to crop insecurity and debt traps and are forced to either take their lives or accept labour for their life. Not just that, the scheme turned out to be pretty lethargic in terms of delayed settlements and unfair claims. The impact was such a flop that the government had to make it voluntary for farmers to enroll in the scheme after they acted as a strong united opposition. The scheme also attracted criticism for benefitting private players at the expense of farmers.
However, the correct discussion here wouldn’t be a farmer’s issues and difficulties because we all are well aware of it. And if we are, so is the government. So, the correct discuss here would be, ‘does the government care about the farmers enough to ease their hardships and solve their issues?’ The looks of the schemes and policies that on paper are being presented have had no real impact of farmers lives, not only since the NDA government but even before that. So the answer to the proposed question can’t be given by looking at the fancy schemes proposed or by celebrating their 5-year anniversaries, it can be given by acknowledging what we are witnessing and believing in facts more than presumptions.
Prime Minister Modi, while addressing the farmers during this months-long protest, has repeatedly asked them to ‘trust’ him in matters concerning the minimum support price (MSP) or curtailed procurement in the new farm laws. But that’s the key to the entire farmers’ protest- they don’t and can’t ‘trust’ this government. And to be honest, who can blame them? The government has failed terribly at its promises and is maintaining a record of continuous lies.
To name a few-
Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Narendra Modi promised the farmers to change the entire course of how MSP is set, saying “There will be a new formula- the entire cost of production and 50% profit.” However, according to the report from the commission for Agricultural and Prices, the promise has simply not been fulfilled. Oh, in fact, after these new farm laws, the farmers aren’t sure if they’d have MSP at all.
To reduce the dependence of farmers on monsoon as a source of water supply, the NDA government promised improved irrigation sources and low water consuming techniques. Under the scheme launched in the said respect for more than 5 years now, only 10% of the promised projects have been completed. The central government’s contribution to the scheme has been Rs 8000 crore out of a total of Rs 32,000 crore spent on the scheme, the rest paid by the state from its own budgetary pocket. All the farmers have from this government are hollow promises.
To bring stability and regulating crop supply, the then finance minister, late Mr. Arun Jaitley promised the ‘Operation Greens’ to assure storage spaces and warehouses to farmers. Since 2019, there has been almost no mention of the operation and what it aimed.
And these were just some few, the list is definitely not exhaustive. Again, who can blame the farmers for not trusting the government when all they’ve got are hollow promises and inconclusive delays. Ask yourself, does this government really cares enough about the farmers?