Down to Earth reports: Despite bumper production, volume of import of cereals like wheat and maize increased by 110 times between 2014 and 2017. Traders now find it cheaper to import from Australia than to procure locally. India’s already distressed farmers are the hardest hit by the fall in the prices caused by the rising imports.
Narendra Modi government
From The Hindu: The government’s recent decision to approve the construction of ten 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors deserves to be scrutinised carefully. The government claims that this displays “India’s commitment to sustainable development”. But does the path to sustainable development run through a source of electricity that’s expensive, hazardous and antithetical to equity?
From Counterview.org: The Sabarmati River Front has been in the news lately as a model of “river beautification”. When in reality, it is a dead river, filled with effluents and sewage. It was “rejuvenated” with Narmada water, which came at a great cost of the displacement of lakhs of people and destruction of the environment.
From The Indian Express: It’s a dark satire to tell a farmer that the Minimum Support Price (MSP), CPI and WPI changes reflect farmer incomes are doubling and farmer suicides are declining. The trigger for the recent farm agitation remains the depressed farm gate price compared to previous years —that’s what matters on the ground.
News Click reports: The Ministry of Environment plans to amend the National Green Tribunal Act, which was passed during the UPA regime as part of India’s commitment under the Rio Declaration. The move will result in a dilution of the powers of the body, widely regarded as the most effective environmental court in the world.
From The Wire: From its environmental track record, one thing that emerges is the current government’s penchant for innovation, be that its earliest initiative – wanting to ‘reform’ (or dismantle) key environmental laws – or the subsequent interventions that have ended up in subverting the management of natural ecosystems, spanning forests, rivers, coasts and wetlands.
Devinder Sharma writes: In the past 21 years, over 3.18 lakh farmers have committed suicide; that’s one farmer ending his life every 41 minutes. Every death on the farm infuriated the farmers, their families. But political leaders have always ignored the warning. Not realising that the day farmers wake up, Indian politics will change forever.
From Down To Earth: About 70 per cent of India’s livestock is owned by 67 per cent of the small and marginal farmers and the landless, who shifted to livestock in face of uncertain rain and dwindling income. New restrictions on cattle slaughter will severely cripple the livestock economy which is now bigger than crop economy.
From Eartha Mag: The game of migrating farmers to GM seeds has a familiar marketing line: We cannot feed the millions without GMOs – the exact line they fed us in the 50s during the Green Revolution. With the government’s adamant attempts to introduce them without public consultation or scientific debate, Sandeep Anirudhan raises some basic questions.
Fifty-six years after the foundation stone for the Sardar-Sarovar dam on the Narmada was laid, the Gujarat government has got permission from the Centre to shut its gates. It will open the gates of misery for more than 100,000 people, whose houses and land are likely to get submerged. A Down To Earth ground report.
From The Hindu: For long, we’ve said that the solution is to get people off farming. While we need more manufacturing jobs, latest projections show rural India will still have 800 million people in 2050. Moving people to the cities could deepen the urban imbroglio. So solutions have to be found for agriculture, and fast.
Prem Shankar Jha in The Wire: When nearly 350 million vehicles have to be charged every day, not only will an entire nation-wide, and therefore expensive, recharging infrastructure have to be built, but the power these vehicles will consume will have to be generated first. Nearly all of this will have to come from coal.
R. Jagannathan, Editor, Swarajya Magazine, writes: It is time for a mea culpa on demonetisation. This writer has been largely positive on the medium-to-long-term benefits of notebandi, as opposed to its short-term downsides. Now, especially after the farmer agitations for loan waivers, I believe the negative side is larger than the positive. It has failed.
From People’s Archive of Rural India: From farmers being shot dead in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, to those across Maharashtra out on the streets, to those from Tamil Nadu on hunger strike in New Delhi not so long ago, this has been a season of agrarian discontent. Why is this happening, which way will it go?
A recent article by Tim Worstall on the Forbes website states that, in effect, India’s farmers should be allowed to go bust because that’s how economic development works. This response from Countercurrents.org traces the criminal role of neoliberal policies in undermining farmer’s independence and livelihoods to favour global agribusiness. The article has since gone viral.
This series of timely reports from Hindustan Times surveys the explosive situation in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district, epicenter of the violent protests that left six farmers dead from police bullets. The lead article looks at the impact of demonetisation in creating the crisis, while another report examines the role of social media in organising farmers.
Nitin Sethi writes: Whatever a government might do to run the economic engine of the country or its politics, it has to continuously claim that it is a win-win for both the environment and development. It will talk about its moves to set up zero-effect and zero-defect industries. We all know such an idea does not exist.
IndiaSpend reports: A plentiful harvest in 2016 and imports drive some prices down 63%. A shortage of cash because of demonetisation. Despite Rs 3.5 lakh crore– invested over six decades to 2011, more than half of all farms depend on rains. These are the three factors agitating India’s 90 million families who depend on farming.
From The Tribune: Two developments seemed to have triggered the current protest. On the one hand, bumper crops have led to crashing down of crop prices for the farmer. On the other hand, the crop loan waiver announced by the newly elected BJP government in UP has reminded the famers of their long unfulfilled demand.
Former Union Cabinet-Secretary T.S.R. Subramanian writes: The promises of higher yield and lower pesticide usage which induced many, including myself as the then Textile Secretary, to welcome Bt cotton have now been belied… The main advantage now trotted out in favour of GM mustard is increased yield—there’s sufficient evidence that this claim is a myth.