This refers to your Diary “Pro farmer budget will revive agriculture economy” (March 3). As per Census 2011, 52 per cent of the country’s workforce is engaged in agriculture. The agricultural sector is India’s biggest employer but over the past few decades, agriculture has been systematically starved of financial resources, and continuing neglect and apathy has turned farming highly uneconomical. Without hurting any section of society, Jaitley’s well-thought-out proposals are bound to stimulate industrial growth, boost exports and open up additional opportunities for employment. The focus on the rural economy, particularly agriculture and rural development, deserve to be appreciated. The announcement for an increase in expenditure on MGNREGA and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is welcome in this regard.
I feel that farmers’ distress has not been correctly read by those who advocate steps for their emancipation. The commitment of the government to increase spending on agriculture will certainly come as a relief to millions of farmers in rural India in the long run. The increased allocation for MGNREGA reaffirms the fact that it is still the way to ensure the uplift of the rural poor. One hopes that support to the agriculture sector will be used to promote agro-based industries including marketing assistance, credit, warehousing and cold storage facilities. It is acknowledged that the magnificent edifice of our market-based economy rests on the strength of farmers and the agricultural sector.
Vinod C. Dixit
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)