Budget 2020 disappoints AP and Telnagana

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  • Open Letter to the Prime Minister of India: Observations on — doubling of Agriculture income”

    General Observations on 2020-2021 Budget

    Sir, As usual it is a poor quality budget. Sir, however, I am sorry to say that it is worse budget of NDA Government. It directly and indirectly benefits business houses lakhs of crores but common man and senior citizens may have to lead miserable life unless they follow corrupt practices. These are clearly seen with income tax versus bank interest rates. When these groups are getting lower income by lowering bank interest rates, at least they should have been compensated by raising the “no income tax limit” in this Budget. This was not done but Finance Minister narrated beautiful poems.
    Sir, your government is killing the systems that were built by the past rulers over years, for example railways, airways, LIC, etc. for the benefit of rich Business Houses who are now controlling SEBI/Share Market. You are giving all types of protections to such groups for lavish personal spending, running in to thousands of crores with huge debts. It is clear that your budget is far, of and by the business houses.
    Sir, UPA government announced Rs. 7,000 crores towards free cell phones to farm labour. When I questioned on the veracity of this, they withdrew it. Now NDA government proposed the same but instead of farm labour they announced for Anganwadi Workers. Why the government encouraging Cell phone culture? Is it to benefit cell-phone companies?
    Sir, NDA government is not implementing in true spirit the Food Security Bill brought out by the previous government. Sir, despite huge investment in PDS subsidy, India ranks at 103 out of 119 countries in the world Hunger Index, and 21% of Indian children of age 0.5 years are malnourished despite wasting of food of around 40-50% and thus the inputs used to produce that are going as waste. That is, the government is not streamlining the waste control measures in all areas that run in to thousands-lakhs of crores. This should have been given top priority in your budget – may be goes against vote bank politics – but on the contrary providing helping hand to such activities. Your government can learn from Rhythu Bandu scheme implementation by TS government.
    Sir, Food and Fertilizer subsidies are not moving in the right direction.
    Sir, caste based funds allocation became a fashion among states and as well with centre, as major share goes in to the pockets of ruling clan. Instead the government should have initiated job creating activities with that money by not overlapping state projects.
    Sir, though your government included around four thousand crores towards pure air but no mention was made how it is achieved. Even after Supreme Court order no improvement in use of adulterated fuel, burning of waste-wood, etc. There is an urgent need to streamline drug manufacturing industry in terms of air, water & soil pollution and entry of new diseases with R & D failure in safeguarding the environment. The major issue here is how to control rural to urban migration of population and reduce the slum culture? With this, let me go to agriculture:
    Doubling of Farmer’s income

    Sir, doubling the income of farmers’ by 2022 is a “too hypothetical proposition” only as your schemes “apply to only few farmers”. In the budget no such appropriate schemes were proposed to achieve that goal. Diversifying the agriculture land to non-agricultural activities, such as generation of solar power, benefits primarily to corporate business houses only – your government has already announced “contract farming”, which is nothing but corporate farming as propagated by international agencies. Large part of the budget in fact is looking at ways and means of benefitting corporate houses only, like privatization of LIC, Railways, Airways, etc. NITI Aayog’s assessment on the profit earned by insurance companies over that paid to insurers is substantially high. With this corporate houses/banks started insurance companies by harassing customers as no government control on them.
    Sir, giving monitory benefits will not help in doubling the income of farmers. You have to understand the limitations and how to overcome them, must be the basis. But your government as well several state governments haven’t moved in this direction. Also, the monitory benefits are given to few but not all farmers. Is it not so, Sir?
    Sir, the two natural resources that are vital for agriculture are soil and climate. Man has no control as yet over the climate and needs to adapt to it. The nature of climate is sometimes complicated because of the wide range of ecological and topographical diversities and hence requires in-depth studies to develop such adaptive measures. No such attempt was made by government institutions.
    Sir, Agriculture is the backbone of the developing countries with more than 60% of the working population engaged in this sector. The dependence of the majority of farmers on rainfed agriculture and pastures has made the economy extremely vulnerable to the vagaries of weather. As a result, failure of rains and occurrence of drought during any particular growing season leads to severe food shortages. Traditional farmers adapted to this system based on their fore-fathers experiences over hundreds and thousands of years. This was destroyed in 1960s with entry of chemical inputs mono crop – irrigated technology of western MNCs – a profit driven technology that created pollution [air, water, soil & food]. To this now added GM seed, profit driven venture of seed companies at the cost of farmers’ suicides with high variations in price and yield under high input costs. Here no control on area under different crops and implementation of crop rotation schemes.

    Availability of quality seed and fertilizer:

    Agriculture production starts with availability of good seed, good fertilizer & good water, getting minimum support price for what he produces and linking of animal husbandry with farming system are essential for success of agriculture. There is a need to eradicate GM seed from India. Unfortunately, government is not giving much importance to these vital components of agriculture. Here in all these middlemen reap the riches with the tacit support from the politico-bureaucratic nexus. Centre has to put more thrust on subsidized goods reach farmers without any hassles. It is not happening. All these affect the income received by farmers. Also PDS rice is directly going in to millers that affect the paddy procurement at minimum support price.

    Share of different sources of irrigation in India by 2013-14 are as follows at all India level under different sources of irrigation:

    Source 1960-1961 1999-2000 2013-14
    ——– %/Mha ——–
    Canals 42.05/10.37 31.29/17.45 23.90/16.278
    Tanks 18.50/04.56 05.18/02.94 02.70/001842
    Wells 29.56/07.29 57.81/24.70 62.32/42.438
    Others 09.89/02.44 05.73/02.93 11.07/007542

    All these are highly unevenly distributed over different parts of the country. Area under well & bore-wells increased steadily but with the over exploitation of groundwater and contamination of groundwater play negative role in coming decades which is already reflected in 2013-14 data. Government has to control on these. Sir, can the government do something realistically on this issue?
    With introduction of solar powered motors this will further aggravate the problem. Availability of solar power varies with latitude and season on the one hand and on the other hand maintenance problems a huge burden on farmers. The effectiveness of solar pumps under deep bore-wells has serious limitations. Though solar pumps/solar energy production is not new, in the past they were not successful with politico-bureaucratic-middlemen nexus. The previous Modi government in February last year had unveiled the PM KUSUM scheme. While presenting the budget for 2020-21, the Minister said that 15 lakh farmers would be provided funds to set up grid-connected 15 lakh solar pumps. Will such scheme help doubling the farmers’ income? No, not at all!!! As usual this will benefit manufacturing industries and create huge waste as it has short life.
    Sir, in fact some states are providing free power to agriculture. Since 2004, undivided Andhra Pradesh has been providing free power to agriculture. Will such farmers move to solar pumps? It is a big question!!! Also, solar pumps scheme is not for all farmers similar to insurance, loans, etc.
    Sir, under tank irrigation the area is drastically coming down with the time. This will be further affected by diverting agriculture lands to non-agricultural activities like real estate, establishing industries, solar power plants, etc. However, large sum of money is wasted under the disguise of tanks renovations.
    Sir, under canal irrigation, several factors play major role: Currently one third of the cultivated area is irrigated [68.1 Mha]. Two-thirds still is at the mercy of “Rain God”. “Percentage area” under canal irrigation has been gradually coming down. So far majority of the disputes on sharing of water are yet to be resolved. Here CWC is the major culprit. Recently, it comes out with misleading “inflated water availability” estimates in India Rivers that is creating more hurdles in resolving the disputes – here politics play major role. This may be a political game plan. This aggravated the crisis. A classic example to this is Polavaram multipurpose project in Andhra Pradesh. Because of such attitude of CWC the area under canals more or less stagnated. This must be changed to move forward the irrigation projects to bring down the risk in crop production. As long as this is not implemented there is no chance to achieve the said budget goals. Here climate change plays vital/important role.
    Climate Change: Climate change plays major role in the occurrence of droughts and floods. Indian government and government departments and Environment Minister Think it is “global warming and carbon crediting” that provide honeymoon trips to officials to go for COP meetings of UN. This is clear that the way the vested groups are projecting a 17 year old Swedish Girl Greta Thunberg, who has no knowledge of science of climate change, as great saviour and promoting her to get Nobel Peace Prize. So, this has become a money spinning activity [earlier IPCC & Al Gore received the Nobel Prize and the conclusions they made to get this award were withdrew (we raised this issue with UN Secretary General) from their reports after receiving the award money]. Now governments of individual nations are looking at getting a share in Green Fund [around $500 billion per five years]. Unfortunately Indian scientists are making survival research to get funds.
    The reality climate change in the Indian context is that it is a tropical country wherein temperature is not a limiting factor for agriculture as crops are adapted to temperature regime of the season and place. Also the so-called global warming is insignificant – IMD manual brought out by scientist at state level and latest NASA global map showing temperature trend.
    In fact through open letters I brought to your kind notice some of these issues in the past but Finance Minister simply repeated what the earlier Finance Minister presented in his budget. These are discussed in the following three books of mine [revised versions], namely: (1) “Agroclimatic/Agromeorological Techniques: As Applicable to Dry-Land Agriculture in Developing Countries”, (2) Workable Green Revolution: Agriculture in the Perspective of Climate Change”, & (3) Water Resources Availability in India”, Brillion Publishing, New Delhi.
    In tropical regions moisture is the limiting factor for crop production. This is associated with rainfall. Rainfall presents natural variability, a major part of climate change. For example all India annual rainfall presents 60-year cycle. The same pattern is seen in Godavari River water availability, frequency of occurrence of flood years in north western Indian rivers. Through characterizing these for region/local-wise the drought and flood risks could be minimised to improve the productivity. As per agriculture and water availability, government must stop wasting time on global warming and carbon credits issues and ask the scientists also change their attitude from “time pass” research mode.
    Food quality: chemical inputs causing food pollution and water pollution. Also water is polluted by several other ways. We use such water to produce food items that creating new diseases – health hazards.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

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