Guarantees of Modi Government A Betrayal

Date: 
April 03, 2024
Author: 
Vijoo Krishnan

Hoardings across the country and advertisements in the media loudly proclaim Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee (Modi Government’s Guarantee) and claim that different promises or guarantees in the BJP manifesto have been implemented successfully because Modi Hai to Mumkin Hai (Modi makes everything possible). In reality, the BJP Government led by Narendra Modi has failed in implementing the guarantees to farmers and the toiling masses. Modi Sarkar Ki Har Guarantee Fail (every guarantee of Modi Government failed) should be the tagline of this regime; his rule has made everything possible only for the likes of Ambanis, Adanis, the most glaring example being the pro-corporate Farm Acts brought at the behest of the International Finance Capital and at the expense of millions of Indians.

Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee: End to Agrarian Crisis and Farmers’ Suicides.

The suicides by farmers and agricultural workers have crossed about 1,12,000 in the 10 years. Suicides by daily wage workers between 2014 and 2023 have crossed 3,12,214 as per the NCRB data (taking average for 2023). Many States have not revealed the truth or have fudged the data. Even according to these conservative estimates about 4,25,000 farmers, agricultural workers and daily wage workers who are also of agrarian origin have committed suicide during the Narendra Modi led BJP regime. These figures do not include women farmers and agricultural workers, landless, tenant cultivators, forest workers, fish workers and others. Such an unimaginable human tragedy unprecedented in the entire history of human-kind is policy-driven; Narendra Modi and his team are culpable of the crime of abetting their suicides.  
Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee: Assured Minimum Support Price as Per C2+50% Formula.
Farmers were enticed by Narendra Modi and the BJP in 2014 with an attractive promise that their produce would be procured at a Minimum Support Price (MSP) at least one and a half times the comprehensive cost of production according to the C2+50 per cent formula (C2 = All paid out costs plus imputed value of family labour plus rental value of owned land and interest on fixed capital). The BJP Government however, filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that it would not be possible to determine the MSP according to its promise as such increase would distort the market.

The regime has conveniently shifted goalposts from C2 to A2+FL cost (Paid out cost plus imputed value of family labour). This does not include rental value of owned land and interest on fixed capital; in most crops this is way below C2 costs. There however, is a catch even in the prices calculated as per the A2+FL formula. The Commission of Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) reduce the actual costs for each State and take the all India weighted average to compute the MSP. The estimates of projected cost of production for paddy by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal are higher than CACP projections. It does not take into account increasing input costs or factor in the inflation.

In paddy if CACP C2 costs (Rs.1911/Qtl) are taken C2+50 % would be Rs. 2866.5/Qtl.  The MSP is only Rs.2183/Qtl. At the weighted average of States’ C2 cost (Rs.2139/Qtl) C2+50 should have been Rs.3208.5/Qtl. Farmers will accrue a loss between Rs.683.5/Qtl and Rs. 1025.5/Qtl respectively at these costs. A farmer in Andhra Pradesh with a productivity of 6 Tonnes/Hectare will incur a loss of Rs.41,010/Hectare and Rs.61,530/Hectare respectively at these costs. This will translate into a loss of anything between Rs.9020 crores to about Rs.13,540 crores per season for farmers of the State (Paddy is cultivated in more than 22 lakh hectares in AP).

In cotton the CACP C2 for cotton is Rs.5786/Qtl, C2+50 would be Rs.8679/Qtl while the MSP is merely Rs.6,620/Qtl or a loss of Rs.2059/Qtl. The Telangana State C2 projections are Rs.11031/Qtl while the CACP projections are far below at Rs.6264/Qtl that is Rs.4767/Qtl lesser. State C2+50 would be Rs.16547/Qtl or Rs.9927/Qtl more than the MSP. Taking an average production of 15 Qtl/Hectare the losses at these prices will range between Rs.30,885/Hectare and Rs.1,48,905/hectare respectively. Given that the State has an acreage of about 19 lakh hectares, the losses will be ranging from about Rs.5868 crores to Rs.28,291 crores. One can imagine the huge disincentive to a farmer and the reason why farm suicides are rising in the cotton belt.

In 2011 a rubber farmer was getting Rs.230/Kg which has now fallen to Rs.124/Kg. A farmer with 1 hectare produces on an average 1000 Kg. The income was Rs.2,30,000 which in 2023 fell to Rs.1,24,000 or a loss Rs.1,06,000/-.  The faulty trade policies including the unequal Free Trade Agreements pursued by the BJP Government like the India-ASEAN FTA are responsible for this situation.
Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee: Doubling Farmers’ Incomes by 2022.
On 28th February 2016, on the eve of the Union Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made yet another promise of ‘Doubling Farmers’ Income’ (DFI) by 2022, as India completes 75 years of independence. The 77th round of Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households released in 2021 however, shows that the estimated monthly income of farm households in 2018-19 was merely Rs.10,218 per month in nominal terms. This will be about Rs.1,22,616 annually, which although midway before the targeted 2022 deadline for DFI is nowhere close to the targeted income of Rs.2,71,378 at current prices or Rs,22,610 per month. This is in a situation where more than half of India’s agricultural households are in debt, with an average outstanding debt of Rs 74,121; this is an increase of 57 per cent from 2013 when it stood at Rs.47,000. The number of indebted farmers has sharply increased from 9.02 crores to 9.30 crores between 2013 and 2019, i.e., the pre-COVID years with the average outstanding loan increasing by 1.6 times the 2013 amount. The post-COVID scenario is even more bleak.

Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee: 200 Days of Work and Higher Wages under MGNREGA

In reality, the allocation for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has been drastically curtailed. If in FY 2014-15 the allocation was 1.85 per cent of the overall Budget, in FY 2023-24 it plummeted to an abysmal low 1.33 per cent only. Even as more than 2 lakh crores are required for successful implementation of 100 days of work the allocation in 2023-24 was merely Rs.60,000 crores a substantial 33 per cent decrease from the previous year. In revised estimate for 2023-24 it was Rs 86,000 crores and it has not been increased in the estimate for 2024-25. This is in a situation where thousands of crores of wage arrears are also pending and the Union Government owes over Rs.7,000 crores to West Bengal alone, where incompetence of the Union and State Governments have ensured that millions are denied wages for work done. If we consider the last 6 years which includes the pandemic years the average working days per year is less than 50 days. According to a report by LibTech India 7.6 crore job cards have been deleted from the system over the last 21 months. Average wages paid to workers is less than Rs.240/day. Exclusionary measures, including Aadhaar-based payment systems, online attendance, caste-wise fund allocation, have affected majority of workers, and despite the scheme’s goal of providing 100 days of employment, it remains only on paper.
Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee: Risk Mitigation and Insurance Cover for all Farmers.

Reality is that farmers are being denied insurance while Insurance companies are raking in super profits. Since the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in Kharif 2016, the gross premium collected has been around Rs.197657.20 crores (Rs 1.97 trillion) till the end of FY22, against reported claims of Rs.1,40,037.88 crores (Rs 1.40 trillion). During 2016-17-2021-22, Rs.57,619.32 crores has gone to Insurance companies. According to the BJP Government about 4 to 6 crore farmers enroll under the PMFBY but only Rs 3,878 crores was paid in claims to merely 7.8 lakh farmers during Rabi 2022-23 exposing its utter failure. It will be better to rename the Scheme as Pradhan Mantri Corporate Bima Yojana!

Seven big States such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and even the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home-state Gujarat had dropped out of the scheme because of the high costs and low claim ratio. This indicates its failure and unpopularity amidst farmers as there are major flaws in the Scheme and farmers’ claims are not settled. The area under PMFBY which was 570.8 lakh hectares in 2016-17 drastically fell to merely 487.4 lakh hectares which is in 2022-23 which is less than one-third of the total agricultural land (1540 lakh hectares).  The allocation for PMFBY in 2024-25 is also lower than the revised estimates for 2023-24 and the BJP government capped the Centre’s liability in the premium at 30% for unirrigated areas and crops and 25% for irrigated areas or crops. This will increase burden on States which will have to bear additional premium subsidy.

Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee: Har Khet Ko Pani/Irrigation for All Fields

In 2015 the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (the Prime Minister’s Agricultural Irrigation Scheme/PMKSY) was approved and it was claimed that an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore for five years, or an average outlay of Rs 10,000 crore per year would be made to ensure that the poll promise of water to all fields ‘Har Khet Ko Pani’ was guaranteed. This has now been extended till 2026 . Every year the allocation has fallen below the Rs.10,000 crore and on an average the allocation has been lesser by more than Rs.30,000 crores in comparison to the promised Rs.1,00,000 crores. The PMSKY itself is an amalgamation of schemes that were already existing such as the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP), Command Area Development and Water Management, and the subsidies for micro-irrigation. The utter failure of the Scheme can be understood when we see that under the groundwater component of Har Khet Ko Paani, spanning a period of six years from 2015 to 2021, merely 35,953 farmers have benefited from the creation of wells or the installation of pumps. Under the AIBP, 99 projects having an irrigation potential of 76 lakh hectares was expected to be completed by December 2019, but only 24 lakh hectares of new irrigation potential was created between 2016 and 2022. This is far below the potential created in the 10th (45.9 lakh hectares) (2002-2007) and 11th (57.7 lakh hectares) (2007-2012) Five Year Plans. The existing provisions for providing subsidised micro-irrigation equipment to farmers have also remained inadequate.  are also insufficient. The “Per Drop More Crop” component of PMKSY aimed to increase the area under micro-irrigation technologies by approximately 10 million hectares during 2015-2020. However, the achievement has fallen short of the target, with only about 6.2 million hectares covered under micro-irrigation by 2022.

Even now about 14 crore farm holdings have no irrigation from any source. It is also notable that from 2015-2021 Indian farmers were adversely affected by drought and resultant crop loss in about 35 million hectares (taking into account regions where crop loss was 33% and above) according to data obtained by journalist Vivek Gupta under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, provided by the drought management cell of the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare. The 2016 drought in South India was the worst after 1876. The marginal and small farmers, the tenant cultivators who account for more than 80 per cent of the total farmers are the most vulnerable to extreme weather events.  All talk of Har Khet Ko Pani is empty propaganda and this is yet another of Modi’s failed guarantee.

Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee: Pension for Farmers on Reaching 60 Years

Instead of a pension to all farmers above the age of 60 years, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Mandhan Yojana promises a minimum fixed pension of Rs. 3,000/- to eligible small and marginal farmers. The Scheme is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme, with entry age of 18 to 40 years, so far no farmer has got even a single rupee; the credibility of the Scheme is so low that merely about 22 lakh farmers have enrolled in it. This is yet another Jumla of Narendra Modi and BJP.

Shall Not Forget ! Shall Not Forgive !

All other guarantees like provision of cheaper inputs, Price Stabilisation Fund etc., have also failed.  The utter callousness of the Narendra Modi led BJP Government to the plight of farmers can be understood when one considers that amidst the acute agrarian crisis the Ministry of Agriculture surrendered more than Rs 1 lakh crore from its allocated budget over the past five years. In times of acute distress the BJP Government further tried to bring the three Farm Laws to corporatize agriculture by dismantling State-controlled markets, public stock-holding and also promote contract farming. It is going ahead with privatisation of electricity and pre-paid Smart Meters that will break the farmers’ back. Faulty trade policy, the India ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, import at zero duties and so on at the behest of corporate cronies further pushed farmers into crisis. Even in the election year, the Union Budget 2024-25 (Interim) had nothing substantial to offer for the rural economy and the agricultural sector. When compared with 2022-23, the allocation for agriculture and allied activities in 2024-25 budget has been cut by a whopping 81 thousand crores. In overall allocations for agriculture and allied activities there is a decline of 22.3 % compared to actual expenditure in 2022-23 and 6 % decline vis a vis the 2023-24 revised budget. Revelations on the Electoral Bond are exposing the deep-rooted link between corporates and the agricultural policy pursued by the BJP.

Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee for farmers has been the most brutal repression exemplifying how innovatively barbaric the State can be. The farmers shall not forget the trenches dug on National Highways to stop them from reaching Delhi; they shall not forget the water-cannons, pellet guns, rubber bullets, use of drones to drop teargas, the huge iron spikes, the concrete barricades on roads, the disconnection of electricity, water and internet, the attack unleashed on farmers and their families like against enemy soldiers. The farmers shall not forget the nearly 750 martyrs of the historic united struggle including those mowed down by a vehicle belonging to the son of Cabinet Minister Ajay Mishra Teni. Farmers shall not forget nor forgive. Against the false promises and policies promoting corporate loot as well as corporatization of agriculture farmers have been incessantly on the struggle path. Let us sow fear in the minds of people’s enemies and ensure that our hard-won rights are protected. To ensure a pro-farmer, pro-worker alternative, to defend our democracy, federal rights and secularism, farmers and workers will work unitedly to ensure defeat of the Modi Government with the slogan Stop Corporate Loot! Save Farmers! Defeat Modi! Save India! Modi Hatao Desh Bachao.