Of Farmers’ Junkets & Free Tablets

Earlier this year, 172 farmers from Maharashtra were sent abroadas part of the Maharashtra government’s initiative to “educate” them. While the state government funds half their expenses — upto Rs 1 lakh — the farmers are expected to pay the remaining amount’.

Rs 10 crore has been earmarked in the budget for this scheme. The farmers can go to any places of their choice. They are accompanied by officials from the Department of agriculture as well as a translator.

State Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil says, “Several changes are taking place in agriculture marketing and technology fields which can help our farmers improve production and ensure protection from weather changes. Climate change has affected farmers across the world. We thought sharing experiences with other farmers would help.”

There is a lot of demand for Europe as it involves some sightseeing as well,” he added.

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At the same time we read that 860 farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2011 – most of them in the Vidarbha, Marathwada and Khandesh regions.

The reason for this desperation was the failure of the BT cotton crop due to lack of irrigation, scanty rainfall, and massive debt.

“These are the reasons for the suicides but the government remains ignorant,” says Dr RP Kurulkar, retired economics professor and chairman of the Marathwada Statuary Development Board (MSDB) in Aurangabad.

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Laptops and tablets are currently in fashion, finding pride of place in the election manifestos of several Indian states which recently went to the polls.

Tamilnadu is implementing a  free laptops scheme for senior secondary school students, besides students of government arts and science colleges, engineering colleges and polytechnics, in keeping with CM Jayalalitha’s 2011 Assembly poll promise.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, while presenting his maiden budget earlier this month, ‘announced a provision of Rs 2,721.24 crores for free distribution of laptops and tablet PCs to the high school and intermediate pass students’.

The Punjab government is tablets for Class XII students priced at Rs 7,000 each for a total cost of around Rs 100 crores.

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At the same time, studies tell us that absenteeism among government primary school teachers ranges from around 15-40%, with higher rates in poorer states.

‘One area of consensus is that teacher absence is reduced if there is better infrastructure—better toilet facilities, reliable electricity supply, friendlier staff rooms and easier access to schools (particularly in rural areas). It appears clear, therefore, that one area of reform is to improve infrastructure for teachers.’

It would probably follow that students’ attendance would also go up if there is better infrastructure.

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One cannot help but feel that we are choosing populist solutions to our problems which are likely to have little impact.

Perhaps we should try measures which may be less glamorous, but more effective?

Who knows?

In any case things are not likely to change any time soon. Because, after all, ‘Yeh hai India!’

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12 thoughts on “Of Farmers’ Junkets & Free Tablets”

    1. Oh yes, the government simply spends the taxpayers’ money on these populist schemes. If the government initiated measures which really worked I think most of us would not mind paying even a bit more tax. As it is, the money is simply used to get more votes.

      I read Bikram’s post- truly written from the heart!

      Like

  1. It all happens because intentions are not genuine…If they really carewd, then we wouldnt be in a mess we are..

    I always wait for your posts..why not write more?

    Like

  2. It has been so bad ever in Indian politics.It is the question of free Laddoos being distributed.
    Prolem lies elsewhere.Becaus eof thin numbers and heavy dependence on small regional parties,the entire foucs has shifted tocorruption and being reday for next elections.
    Whereve they see opputunity,each one jumps in to ensure his/her slice of votes at our cost.

    Like

  3. Thank you so much for coming over to my blog ..

    I wonder when things will change, if this continues a time will come when people will revolt , the british thought the same too look what happened to them.. the question is why do our leaders not understand that when that time comes where will they go to, they wont have a country to go to ..

    I bet when the farmers were sent abroad in that also a lot of people earned and filled their own pockets and moreover why do we need to send them abroad , we have enough places in india itslef where farming is successfull maybe we need to learn from them first .. Look at the state of Sikkim..,

    we who are called a agricultural country have to import stuff from abroad that is shamefull I can understand importing what we cant grow but we are importing stuff that at one stage we used to Export..

    if only the farmers got what they desetrved, I work for 8 hours shift and earn much much more now then I did when I worked all day long , on my land ..

    sad really sad

    Like

    1. Welcome here, Bikramjit!

      As you say, it is certainly a sad situation.

      When I read about the farmers being sent abroad, the first thing that came to mind was that someone (politicians) must be making money from this. It is difficult to believe anything good about our politicians….

      Like

  4. ‘They are accompanied by officials from the Department of agriculture as well as a translator.’ …This is the hitch. Farmers also spend but officials go abroad free of cost!

    Govt. means politicians. If there is no gain for them, they will ignore even so many suicidal deaths.

    Yes, the student attendance will improve if the infrastructure improves. I read an article in Outlook where computers are dusting in some corners in the classes because they don’t have power supply or proper wiring was not available to fix the computers.

    With some miracle, we should get a good, sincere leader, then there is hope.

    As usual, this is also a very informative post, Manju.

    Like

  5. Oh yes, I also know of schools where computers are gathering dust because of irregular electric power supply.

    In one school in a slum area, an organisation donated computers- but there was no one to teach the students…..

    Like

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