Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a pray,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay
Princes and Lords may flourish or may fade,
A breath can make them, as a breath has made,
But a bold peasantry, their country's pride,
When once destroyed, can never be supplied.
– The Deserted Village
Oliver Goldsmith, 1770
History is being repeated. What prevailed in Great Britain in 18th Century is prevailing in India today as well.
The present agrarian crisis in quite a few states of India, in general, and in Punjab, in particular, is the cumulative result of economic, environmental and political, social and cultural factors. Rise and expansion in globally linked market forces, skewed governmental policies such as lack of adequate investment in the agricultural sector, inadequate remuneration for agricultural produce, exorbitant increase in agricultural inputs, shrinking of land holdings, comparatively lesser development and expansion in tertiary agricultural sectors, like dairy, poultry, piggery, fisheries etc., farmer indebtedness both due to lack of availability of low interest and easily available credit line to the agriculture from the banking sector, as well as peasantry's senseless expenditure on social and family functions and adoption of unsustainable urban living styles by the Punjab peasantry, lack of skill providing education system and resultant unemployment among the unskilled Punjabi/Sikh youth coupled with the Green revolution of 1970s having peaked and reaching its optimum yield, degradation of soil fertility due to excessive and indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, depletion of underground natural aquifers due to excessive drawing of water and consecutive crop failures due to ecological and environmental imbalance and chemical-resistant insects, irresponsible populist and profligate political regimes together with the prevalence of rampant drug addiction among the desperate Punjab peasantry and the irrational craze among Punjab Sikh Youth for foreign pastures without having any skill, and their exploitation by unscrupulous travel agents and finally the tragic collapse of Sikh value system based on earnest hardwork, contentment, sharing and maintaining moral integrity in the face of various kinds of temptations and government -builder nexus in urbanizing primarily agricultural Punjab State without creating any commensurate industrial entrepreneurial corporate income generating structure - have all taken a toll on Punjab peasantry and created an Agrarian crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Daily occurrence of suicides among marginal farmers and landless labourers holding demonstrations and blocking rail-road highways and distress sale of agricultural produce are visible manifestations of this grave agrarian crisis. Near bankruptcy of the State exchequer and burgeoning state debt indicates a bleak future both for the State and its majority agro-based population. Instead of providing piecemeal redressal of these endemic and symptomatic aberrations like meager compensation for crop failures and victim families of suicide cases, it requires a paradigm shift in government policies in Punjab and Sikh religious, social and cultural reforms.
The government needs to generate employment avenues and provide jobs to the unemployed youth. Its recent announcement of filling up of one lakh fourteen thousand vacancies now in one year exposes its dubious credentials. Had the Government gradually been filling these vacancies over the last ten years of ruling party's rule, majority of these jobs would have gone to Punjab's rural youth and many a marginal farmers and landless labourers would not have been compelled to commit suicides. A sizeable section of Punjab's youth would have also been saved from addiction to drugs. The political-builders's nexus and its senseless urbanization of Punjab by acquiring fertile agricultural land without creating commensurate regular incomes for the prospective dwellers in these multi-storied apartments through the setting up of small-scale manufacturing units is another act of faulty planning and choice of a wrong model of development for an agrarian State like Punjab. Sale of spurious pesticides, corruption in distribution of subsidies, seeds and other inputs under the very nose of the concerned ministers and bureaucrats have further aggravated the agrarian crisis. Sikh clergy at the helm of topmost Sikh shrines could easily put a stop to the unproductive, ostentatious Sikh weddings serving alcohol at the obnoxious sprawling marriage palaces through the issuing of edicts/Hukamanama directing the Sikh weddings to be solemnized at Gurdwaras followed by a vegetarian lunch at the Gurdwara premises and bidding farewell to the wedding party from Gurudwara itself. Similarly, the Dharam Parchar Committee of SGPC with allocation of crores of funds have contributed little to the check the rampant drug addiction and promotion of the triple Sikh fundamental doctrines of inculcating the virtue of earnest hardwork, sharing with the needy and obedience of spiritual and moral law. Collapse and dilution of Sikh way of life and culture among majority of the Sikh rural youth is the sociological and cultural aspect of this agrarian crisis. The present crisis is a wakeup call both for political leadership and Sikh religious organizations as well as the badly suffering peasantry of Punjab to realize their responsibility to save Punjab and its rich heritage.
Hurry up! Please its time
Hurry up! Please its time.
Feeling concerned at the deplorable state of affairs in the agriculture sector, the Institute of Sikh Studies held a round table conference at its premises on November 15, 2015 to discuss ways to find a wayout of the grave crisis. Participation of the stakeholders - farmers, farmer leaders, intellectuals, authorities at the helm of the affairs and journalists - was ensured. The fact that a large number of participants from all walks of life came as concerned stakeholders felt to the gravity of the situation. It is pertinent that due attention is paid to the problem because the whole situation a very serious one. It is the duty of the authorities not to let the situation deteriorate. Doing so well be at its own peril. A memorandum was sent. It is hoped that the authorities will wake up in time and will not let the situation go out of control.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2015, All