How PM has doubled ‘farmer’ income already

Amit Bhaduri

If you accept billionaires as honorary farmers, average income leaps

Our Prime Minister is an honourable man. He does what he says; only at times people don’t understand it.

He keeps his promise. He had promised to eliminate black money from the Indian economy. He kept his promise with a blitzkrieg called “demonetisation”, and big business converted overnight its black money into white money while the nationalised banks increased their burden of non-performing assets. The result was there for all to see. Many in the informal sector could not see it only because they did not survive the blitzkrieg.

This was just like his other blitzkrieg of a sudden lockdown at four hours’ notice with the solemn advice to us to fight the coronavirus by banging our utensils, and then by lighting lamps.

Some, of course, did not have balconies, or even utensils. Some, before they could fight the virus, died on the roads. They were the migrant workers on a long march back home.

Then our Prime Minister promised he would double farmers’ income within two years, and he has already done it. He did it under the veil of a sudden and severe lockdown. The Prime Minister is a modest man who does not like to boast of his achievements. But the country should know that its farmers’ wealth had doubled in exactly 227 days.

We learnt from a recent Oxfam report that between “18 March and 31 October, Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, and chairman, managing director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Ltd — which specialises in petrol, retail and telecommunications — more than doubled his wealth, which rose (in US dollars) from 36.8 to 78.3bn”.

The Forbes rich list for 2020 puts his wealth even higher, at $89bn. This is three times that of the second-richest man, Gautam Adani, who too kept pace.

As we know, the Prime Minister does not like to mention these achievements because he is modest. This billionaire duo could be categorised as honorary farmers with vast retail and storing (silo) interests in agricultural produce.

And, if they were counted as honorary farmers and their incomes added to the incomes of the rest of the Indian farmers, it can easily be seen that the farmers’ average income would take a mighty leap.

All pro-corporate, market-oriented economists — some here, some others in the IMF and the World Bank — may have even estimated it already. That’s why they were so vocal and confident in the media.

The farmers’ average income would go up enormously just by welcoming two corporate members into their community from Gujarat.

The Prime Minister can vouch for them as he knew them so well and cut deals with them closely when he was chief minister of Gujarat, and the bonding has gone even deeper now with airport contracts and so on.

That’s what the three farm laws intend achieving. It puzzles India’s elite also that the farmers cannot see this simple arithmetic. After all, most of India’s real rich got richer by defying the law of gravity of the severe contraction of the real economy during this period of the lockdown.

Much of this was possible because of the rise in share prices, especially of Ambani’s and Adani’s companies. This was flagged by the Hurun India list and noted by UBS in Switzerland as well as PricewaterhouseCoopers. Only the farmers obstinately refuse to see this advantage of owning shares rather than toiling on the fields for meagre returns.

So what option did the Prime Minister have when the farmers behaved like a bunch of unruly, bad students who refused to learn the lesson? They had to be taught through detention. Spikes, barbed wire, trenches were used to cordon off Delhi’s Singhu and other borders, wherever the farmers had gathered.

These days terrorists, Khalistanis, urban Naxals and foreign conspiracies are the deadly viruses competing with Covid-19, as our national intelligence knows so well. The compromised evidence planted in computers is, of course, just another instance of the “foreign destructive ideology (FDI)” that the Prime Minister has rightly warned us about.

Among the carriers of such FDI are newspapers like The Washington Post, which brought down then US President Richard Nixon in the 1970s and recently published the news about the computers of some urban Naxals being compromised.

Former US President Donald Trump knew how dangerous this media virus can be. The Prime Minister has always been alert to such dangers. Our alert Prime Minister had to warn us passionately against such “Andolan Jeevi” parasites, Khalistanis, anti-CAA students, “tukde tukde gang” members, urban Naxals.

They are all anti-nationals infiltrating the farmers’ movement, and the problem is that this infiltrating virus is so strange that the farmers become like them. They all are, if not anti-national then anti-government, and if not anti-government then certainly anti-government-policy.

Nevertheless, we can sleep peacefully at night because we are in the safe hands of a strong Prime Minister (with a 56-inch chest) who does not compromise and makes these finer distinctions.

So the farmers have been immobilised on Delhi’s borders. On the slightest suspicion, or even without any, they can be picked up.

The Prime Minister and the entire State power are prepared to meet the challenge although the farmers — men, women and children — are a non-aggressive, peaceful lot. The only weapon they have is tractors. Looks like an uneven battle the farmers can never win.

And yet the outcome of this battle is becoming less and less predictable. Not only are the farmers horrible and obstinate with unfaltering determination, they have found an almost paradoxical way of fighting this war.

They are not interested in coming to Delhi; they are not interested in the wonderfully passionate speeches or the Mann Ki Baat addresses of the Prime Minister; they are not even interested in talking to the government unless the government shows real interest in negotiating.

They are not even interested in the Prime Minister’s verbal assurances in Parliament about the minimum support price for agricultural produce. They simply want it as a law passed by Parliament.

What is more, the government is alarmed to learn they are no longer in a hurry. They are consolidating their support among the peasantry not only in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, or among the Sikh and Jat peasantry, they are spreading out across north and central India — to Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh.

Farmers’ mahapanchayats are drawing such huge crowds and enthusiastic response that go beyond caste, religion and class boundaries that the government cannot but see the writing on the wall.

South of Vindhyas in Andhra, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the movement is acquiring new energy every day, with enthusiastic farmers holding marches. It looks like the movement has so far been less powerful in eastern India, but if the huge wave of the farmers’ protest reaches the shores of the Bay of Bengal, all the BJP’s hopes will sink.

The farmers are rising as never before in India. They were meant to be encircled by the government, but they are encircling the government rapidly.

It is now up to the political parties to show whether they are capable of rising to the occasion and going beyond petty electoral seat calculations to drown — as a united force — not merely the three contentious farm laws but also their makers with the help of this farmers’ uprising.

Amit Bhaduri is an economist. In January 2020, Bhaduri gave up his status as professor emeritus at JNU in protest against the throttling of dissent on the campus


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Mar 3, 2021

Amit Bhaduri

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