Congress party has been known for making lofty promise to get votes. The party gave the slogan of ‘Garibi hatao’ back in early 1970s and ruled the country more than three decades, but one third of population still lived in poverty when Congress was ousted from power in 2014. The party again made many populist promises like farm loan waiver, unemployment benefits, etc in 2018 Assembly Elections in the state of MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. It won elections in all three states but dithered on loan waiver promise. Only a small percentage of farmers benefitted from loan waiver and majority of farmers are still under heavy debt.
Unable to deliver on loan waiver promise, the state of MP and Rajasthan have started enrolling the farmers under PM KISAN scheme. Earlier these states were reluctant to enrol the farmers under the scheme and a very small percentage of eligible beneficiaries got the benefits.
These states started enrolment of more and more farmers of the state after BJP registered 303 seats in 2019 general election. Three months ago, only 12,000 farmers were registered in the state of MP and 13 lakh in Rajasthan. Within the short period of three months, the number shot up to 48 lakh farmers in Rajasthan and 36 lakh farmers in MP. Another Congress ruled state, Chhattisgarh has also submitted the names of 12 lakh farmers in the beneficiary list.
The huge enrolment in last three months shows that all the criticism of the scheme by Congress party was just a poll gimmick. The BJP government argued against farm loan waivers and went for direct benefit transfer to pull out the farmers from vicious cycle of debt and poverty. So far, more than 6.8 crore farmers of the country have benefitted from the Modi government’s ambitious scheme which is aimed to boost rural economy.
The farm loan waiver credits the credit culture while it benefits only a small percentage of farmers with large landholdings. The farm loan waivers are also ‘regressive’ in nature given the fact that loan amount is often proportional to land therefore large farmers benefit more than small farmers.
It is a well-known fact that a very small number of small and marginal farmers have access to institutional credit. The aim of rural welfare schemes is to increase the spending power of rural households, pull people out of poverty which is more prevalent in rural areas, and end woes of farmers. PM-KISAN outsmarts both farm loan waiver and MGNREGA it all these aims.
The previous governments misunderstood the cause of farmer’s problems and rural distress. Consider this, the country faced droughts in 2014 and 2015 which hurt the farmer’s income, but in 2015, 2016, 2018 – the country had record produce. However, the record produce resulted in a ‘crash in price’ given the fact that the country is sitting on huge stockpile of food. The produce is growing at the pace of 3 percent while the population growth is at 1 percent. Therefore, the best solution to the farming problem is pulling more people out of farming and rural areas and PM-KISAN would effectively do that.