Patiala: In pursuance of the unanimous resolution of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha adopted on March 25, 2015, exhorting the Punjab Government to approach the Central Government for the implementation of the farmers related recommendation of the Swaminathan Committee report, The Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, if sincere to the cause of the farmers, is expected to take all such measures with genuine alacrity, for the implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, in view of the gravity of the pitiably grim condition of the Punjab farmers , committing suicide almost every day. Despite the unanimous mandate of the ‘House’ no tangible initiative appeared to have been taken by the Chief Minister so far in this direction, after the lapse of more than 75 days.
Chief Minister cannot sit over the unanimous resolution and the explicitly expressed opinion of the ‘House’ without taking any substantial action in the matter. The least Chief Minister could do in this matter, that he should have written to the Prime Minister by now, seeking the structural meeting to discuss the Swaminathan commission report. If Prime Minister Narinder Modi does not listen to them on farmers issue than he should come forward to organize a Farmers Summit at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludihana on the pattern of Investment Summit held at Mohali. He should invite all Chief Ministers and Agriculture Ministers of all such States, where distressed farmers are committing suicides, besides farmer’s organization and Agriculture Scientists, to discuss the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission threadbare and also to evolve an effective mechanism for its implementation.
The National Commission on Farmers (NCF) was constituted on November 18, 2004 under the chairmanship of Professor M.S. Swaminathan. The Terms of Reference of the Commission reflected the priorities listed in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA. The NCF submitted four reports in December 2004, August 2005, December 2005 and April 2006 respectively. The fifth and final report was submitted on October 4, 2006. The reports contain implementable suggestions to achieve the goal of “faster and more inclusive growth” as envisaged in the Approach to 11th Five Year Plan.
The comprehensive report of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) was tabled in the Parliament on October 4, 2006 but was never implemented. Unfortunately such a superior and standardized research work, examining the plight of the Indian farmers, at a micro economic level with a clinical precision, has since been ignored and gathering dust in the shelves of the Agriculture Ministry, Govt. of India, in utter disregard to the distressed farmers committing suicide in India every day .
The National Commission on Farmers, chaired by Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, submitted five reports through the period December 2004 – October 2006. Following from the first four, the final report focused on causes of farmer distresses and the rise in farmer suicides, and recommends addressing them through a holistic national policy for farmers. The findings and recommendations encompass issues of access to resources and social security entitlements. This summary is a quick reference point highlighting the key findings and policy recommendations under land reforms, irrigation, credit and insurance, food security, employment, productivity of agriculture and farmer competitiveness.
Chief Minister Punjab Mr. Parkash Singh Badal and almost all Farmer organizations are rhetorically demanding the implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan report. The Punjab government has never cared to take the initiative to get the voluminous report translated in to Punjabi Language despite the fact that Punjab is basically an agrarian State. I’m of the view that Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana or Punjab State Farmers Commission should be assigned the task to translate; all the five volumes of Professor MS Swaminathan’s report in Punjabi and it should be abundantly made available to all the stake holders.
According to the disturbing figures shown by the National Crime Records Bureau, total 2,70,940 farmers have committed suicides In India since 1995, out of which 97,000 unfortunately belong to Punjab. Because of the serious lack of attention and comprehension by Central and State Governments of the pitiable agony of the Punjab farmers, the phenomenon is exacerbating social inequalities and structural marginalization, further causing agrarian anxiety. There is hardly any day when news about the Punjab farmer committing suicide does not appear in the media. But no one is bothered, life goes on as usual.
(Bir Devinder Singh is former Deputy Speaker, Punjab)